*Image courtesy of koko-tewan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*Image courtesy of koko-tewan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So you’re asking yourself this, “What are computer processors?” Okay let me explain as best as I can. The processor also known as the central processing unit interpreting carries out the basic instructions that operate a computer. Simply part is the brains of the computer and the faster this processor is the better it can communicate with the computer. It significantly impacts overall computer power and manages most of the computers operations. A basic computer only needs one processor to do a whole lot a tasks. The newer version of the processor, the faster you can perform applications without waiting; that’s basically it really.

Now when people tell you a computer has more processors, they are referring to mainframes and supercomputers that power users utilize on a daily basis. Hmm let’s see… What is a good example I can give you? Ah, remember how meteorologists use mainframes and supercomputers to accurately tell the conditions of the weather and forecasts? Yeah, something like that. Even better, what about how NASA uses these mainframes and supercomputers to communicate with astronauts effectively? Yeah, that.

Very important here, this is where I get right down to it. Processes contain a control unit and arithmetic logic unit or ALU. These works side-by-side to perform processing operations. Like I said before is much like the brain in this case when it comes to computers. Let me put it this way to you almost all devices connected to the computer has to communicate with the processor in order to perform functions effectively.

The ALU performs arithmetic, comparison, and logical operations. It is much like mathematics in the eyes of the processor, and like most cases it does not understand letters and numbers. What it understands is on and offs like the switch you see on your desktop or laptop. Most of it understands ones and zeros. Arithmetic operations like basic calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division a lot faster than way back in the 1940s. Comparison operations needed for database entries; you know stuff like what is graded then, equal to, or less than the other item. More important usage of this is business when the employer has to determine overtime pay. Logical operations such as and, OR, and not; again important for business operations. Software that uses these operations in full what I have experienced is Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access.

All processes have to go to a set of instructions. Okay let me explain this to you a bit to understand. Okay let’s say you want to enter a mathematic problem into the computer. All right, let’s say you want 42 x 56 and imput it into the computer. The first process is the fetch operation which is basically obtaining a program instruction or data item from memory. The next part for the control unit to do is to decode that data for it to be sent to the ALU. That part is the process of translating that instruction into signals the computer can execute. The ALU then executes this command and performs the necessary calculations needed on the day that was sent to it. Basically it was executing 42 x 56 = 2352 as the results. Now the last part is to storage of this data or storing it. It just means writing the result into memory, but don’t get confused as this is not storage medium. Besides, it was just giving you an answer of 2352. By combining all of these instructions, it is known as the machine cycle of the processor. Keep in mind that processes back in the old days perform only one instruction at a time.

You may not notice this but you should be grateful for a concept that most modern processors have; this is known as pipelining. This just means that more instructions can be processed instead of having you wait. This is why modern known processors are so powerful because there are more pipelines for you to do many instructions with. Think of it more like employees that do the same thing as their job description. The more hired hands, the more people can get done whereas only one person you have to wait until their job is done. In a logical computer sense, by the time the first instruction is in the last stage of the machine cycle, the other instructions sent to it could have finish before it. Makes more sense if you open up more than one application on your computer to put it bluntly.

Let’s talk about things like registers (yes they are also part of the processor but not the part of the memory). You may heard of things like cleaning up your registry data but you really don’t know what this is don’t you? Well, they temporarily hold data and instructions. Registers come in different varieties all with a specific function. When I talk about the machine cycle, registers store practically what happened during the process.

Very important here, the process relies on a small personal circuit which is known as the system clock. You may wonder why people talk about overclocking your processor. Well ladies and gentlemen this is the source material of it the first grasp and understand. Just like the heart in the human body has to beat in order to keep it alive. So does the functions of a system clock. It generates regular electronic process, or ticks, that set the pace of components of the system unit. The clock speed is part of the pace of the system clock which is measured by the number of ticks per second and it is measured in hertz. More processors today range in the gigahertz. The actual system clock is one of the major factors that influence the computer speed. The faster it is the more instructions it can give per second. Please note that this does not affect on other devices such as the hard drive and the printer. Remember the process is actually put on the motherboard and it is the brains of the computer.

Quite a bit of info about the processor but I hope this post clears up the information about what the actual processor is and why it is so important on the computer.

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