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CPUs or Central Processing Units are items that everyone has seen and almost everyone has used. For everyone that was raised with the liberty of creating language shortcuts, such as myself, CPUs were referred to as Computer Towers, or the big thing that hummed when the blue light indicated that the computer was turned on. What we didn't know is that the Computer Tower holds and protects the CPU, which is often referred to as the Microprocessor, it looks a little something like this:

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Definition: Simply put, the CPU is the part of the computer hardware that controls all of the other computer parts. Dictionary.com defines CPUs as, "the key component of a computer system, which contains the circuitry necessary to interpret and execute program instructions", (Dictionary.com, 2011).


Standard Specifications: CPUs or Microprocessors come in a variety of standard specifications or types. Through the developing years of computer technology microprocessors have been designed and redesigned to keep up with increasing demand for 'faster', 'better' and 'stronger'. Microprocessors have evolved from 4-bit to 8-bit, 32-bit and more recently 64-bit. Intel and AMD are the two companies that jumped into the business of creating and developing microprocessors and today these two companies dominate the microprocessor market. (TechiWarehouse, 2010). Currently the different types of microprocessors are as follows:

Intel Microprocessors

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices)

Core 2 Duo

Athlon II X2

Core 2 Quad (Power)

Athlon II X4

Celeron (Budget)

Phenom II X2

Celeron 2

Phenom II X4


X2 (Dual Core CPU)


Phenom X3 (Power)


Phenom Quad (Power)


Sempron (Budget)

Each company has a Power CPU and a Budget CPU and price is a big factor in determining these (PantherProducts, 2006-2009).

In a more understandable language, instead of techi-tongue, each company has microprocessors that are made for 'faster', 'better', 'stronger', and those CPUs will cost more money than the Budget CPUs, which are the CPUs that cause extreme frustration better known as "Why is my computer so slow?" rage.


Function: The short version of the description of a CPUs function within the computer was quickly stated in the simple definition: CPUs control all the other parts of the computer. Unfortunately because you are visiting a website that is titled Everything You Needed To Know About Computers that explanation probably won't cut it. A CPU must carry out five functions: "Fetch instructions, interpret instructions, fetch data, process data, write data." (CPU Structure and Function [PowerPoint Slides]). Instructions are the small pieces of information that are coded and that determine the activities of the CPU, while Data are the small, coded pieces of information that the CPU recognizes and processes. Each computer has Programs, such as Microsoft Word 2007, iTunes, or even Solitaire and each of these Programs consists of a group of coded instructions that are logically ordered. When you get home from a long day of work and all you want to do is play Solitaire on your computer and you double-click on the little "Solitaire" icon on your desktop, the CPU dives into its memory and "reads" each logically ordered instruction for Solitaire and starts the necessary actions to start-up that program. (Web100, 1997). Even the most experienced computer user would watch a CPU open Solitaire and be completely unaware of the number of instructions that the CPU had to read and process in order to achieve that action, except maybe Bill Gates because he makes his living being aware of those aspects of a computer. The CPU uses external ports to display these processes to the outside world or the individual using the computer on a monitor, for example. To sum up the functions of a CPU, "The CPU unifies the system. It controls the functions performed by the other components." (Web100, 1997).


How It Effects the End User and Example: The example used above of the computer user opening the Solitaire program demonstrates the effects of the CPU on the end-users of computers. Computers have become so sophisticated that unless your profession surrounds engineering CPUs, you won't notice the work the CPU does in order to "read", interpret and process programs. Another example of the CPUs function and how this effects computer users is the process of shutting down your computer. You click the "start" button, click "turn off computer" and one more time click "turn off computer" from the options presented. The words "Shutting Down" appear and then blackness takes over your screen and there is no more though processes that you, as the user, go through because on your end of things, your job is done. Meanwhile the CPU had to recognize the function of "Shut off Computer" from the memory then interpret that function and proceed with initiating the necessary actions to shut off your computer. Even after your screen goes black the CPU is still "reading", interpreting and processing instructions and data from memory to turn off the computer completely.

CPUs are the brains of the computer and without a CPU a computer wouldn't function, and the majority of the time those using computers take for granted the amount of work the CPU incorporates in its functions. As I'm writing this CPU wikipage I am not thinking about the various instructions I am sending the CPU, or how the CPU is interpreting those instructions, I am however thinking about how effective my instructions are for you. I hope this page clarified the questions you had about CPUs.


Fun Fact!: "Ted Hoff, Federico Faggin and Stanley Mazor of Intel are credited with the invention of the microprocessor." (TechiWarehouse, 2010).


The video below will take you through the process of how a CPU is made.


Resources Utilized for Page:
WPClipart.com, 2011. Computer Tower [image]. Retrieved from http://www.wpclipart.com/computer/PCs/PC_tower.png
Dictionary.com, 2011. CPU. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/CPU
photodictionary.com, 2010. Microprocessor [image]. Retrieved from http://www.faqs.org/photo-dict/phrase/6869/microprocessor.html
TechiWarehouse, 2010. Types of CPUs (Processors). Retrieved from http://www.techiwarehouse.com/engine/2151418b/Types-of-CPU's-(Processors)
PantherProducts, 2006-2009. What is your CPU – A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from http://www.pantherproducts.co.uk/Articles/What_is/What_is_CPU.shtml#Types of CPU
CPU Structure and Function [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from http://umcs.maine.edu/~cmeadow/courses/cos335/COA12.pdf
Web100. (1997). The Functions of a Computer. Retrieved from http://www.ordersomewherechaos.com/rosso/fetish/m102/web100/docs/intro-computer.html
exenter2. (2009, July 18). From sand to chip – How a CPU is made [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQmtITMdas