What is a CPU?

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the main processor, processor and colloquially the “computing core”. The CPU is the center, from where all important processes are controlled. The best-known manufacturers for PCs are Intel and AMD, while Qualcomm is the most well-known manufacturer for cell phones. For computers, the CPU is usually a separate component that is plugged onto a socket, which makes it easy to replace.

On AMD CPUs, there are small pins on the underside that press onto the contacts of the socket. With Intel CPUs this is the other way around. Therefore, it is important to be careful, as it is very prone to damage. In the case of cell phones, the CPU is usually firmly soldered, which means that replacement is much more difficult and should only be carried out by a specialist.

Functionality of a CPU

  • The CPU calculates everything that happens in the computer.
  • If you open a program, for example, the CPU calculates its execution and when it is displayed on the screen.
  • All this happens based on mathematical calculations, which in turn are carried out by internal machine commands.
  • These take place in the processor’s arithmetic and control unit, which only calculates with zeros and ones (0 and 1) in the binary system.
  • For example, a simple machine command would be a simple addition of two numbers.
  • For a better understanding: An Intel Core i7 5960X from 2014 clocks at 3.5 GHz and can execute 336,000 machine commands per second.
  • The more machine instructions a CPU can execute, the more powerful and faster it is.

All commands that you enter on the computer are converted into a language that the PC can understand and then calculated. If you want to print out a page on your PC, you give a command to the operating system for printing out a page. The operating system converts the request into a calculation and forwards it to the CPU. After the calculation, the result is sent to the printer with a command. Finally, the printer prints your page. Depending on how many user inputs, programs and machine commands are executed at the same time, the CPU may get overloaded. You can always check the current load in the Windows 10 task manager.

Different functions of the CPU

Arithmetic operations: The main processor is responsible for a large part of the tasks in an electronic device. Whenever arithmetic operations are requested by the user or an application, the processor is used.

Bus systems: The data transfer in bus systems is controlled by the CPU. The processor recognizes and analyzes the successively arriving bits and puts them together as coherent parts to process them further. All data transfers via the network adapter or USB are implemented internally via the central processing unit.

Control: The main processor checks whether the tasks assigned to it can be completed on time and otherwise sounds the alarm. The Central Processing Unit continuously compares the ongoing processes with target standards. This behavior can be observed in the following scenarios: For example, the processor can display the download progress during an active download. Additionally, the CPU issues error messages if a command could not be executed.