central processing unit (CPU) is popularly referred to as the brains of
the computer because it is where most of the processing, such as the
interpretation and execution of program instructions, occurs. The
microprocessor, which is a single chip that carries out all the tasks of a
mainframe CPU, can aptly be called a “CPU on a chip,” and the terms
CPU, processor, and microprocessor are often used interchangeably.
How does the
CPU fulfill its vital role of being the brains of the computer? You can
dig deeper into what goes on within the CPU by looking up the Web sites
Resources You can review the components of the CPU at www.webopedia.com/TERM/C/CPU.html.
explains the inner workings of a microprocessor by showing how
instructions in a short C language program are compiled, fetched, decoded,
and executed. Also discussed within this site are growing trends in
microprocessor design, such as 64-bit ALUs.
This Intel Web
features a tutorial that walks you through every step a microprocessor
takes when adding two numbers together. Intel is the world’s largest
microprocessor manufacturer, with AMD following on its heels. All types of
processors, such as the Intel Pentium and the AMD Athlon, are described at
Aside from processor definitions, ComputerHope.com (www.computerhope.com/help/cpu.htm#01)
offers CPU ABCs, details about known CPU bugs, and a history of CPUs, with
the Intel 4004 being the world’s first commercial processor.
At this link (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_design),
Wikipedia relates some CPU history, with focus on hardware design and
architecture. In addition, if you are curious about multi-core processors,
that is, microprocessors that combine two or more independent processors
in one package, look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-core_(computing).