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What Is a CPU?

The CPU, or Central Processing Unit or processor, is considered the brains of a computer. The CPU is comprised of the internal components that can be found inside the computer.

The earliest CPUs were developed and used during the 1960s. These CPUs were designed to work as a part of a larger computer. This design made computers quite prohibitive in price. But the moment engineers finally arrived at a solution that allowed for the mass production of CPUs, personal computers became easier to produce and cheaper to manufacture and sell. The development of integrated circuits in the 1970s has made it possible to make CPUs smaller than ever before. This new innovation has now made it possible to turn the large, room-filling computers into portable devices like desktop computers and laptops.

A CPU’s function is to execute the pre-stored instructions, which is also known as a program. A majority of CPUs adhere to the von Neumann architecture. This architecture states that the CPU must be able to do the following: fetch, decode, execute and writeback data. The CPU should be able to do this very rapidly.

Because the CPU plays an almost indispensable role in the computer’s functions, its importance is reflected in its price. CPU’s are the most expensive part of a computer.

Another name that has been associated with CPUs are microprocessors. Introduced in the 1970s, microprocessors have a smaller word size – from 32 bits to 4 bits. The reduced size is a way to allow transistors of logic circuits to be able to be placed on a single part.

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