The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is often referred to as the "brain" of the computer. It is a primary component of the computer that performs most of the processing inside the computer. CPUs manage the fundamental computational work of the system.
Modern CPUs are microprocessors, meaning they are contained on a single integrated circuit (IC) chip.
How CPU works
The CPU processes instructions by executing a series of steps. These instructions usually come from the computer's memory. The CPU performs the system's tasks by completing each instruction in a series of steps known as machine cycles.
Steps involved in a typical machine cycle include:
- Fetch: Here, the CPU takes an instruction from memory.
- Decode: The CPU decodes or translates the fetched instruction into several specific tasks.
- Execute: The CPU executes the instruction.
- Store: The results are stored back in memory from the CPU's registers.
The CPU also interacts with other components of the computer to perform tasks. For example, it may use the computer's memory to store or retrieve data, or it may use the computer's input/output (I/O) devices to interact with the user.
This cycle repeats billions of times each second. The CPU does all this using a clock which pulses at a high frequency. The speed of a CPU, often referred to as its clock speed, is measured in Hertz (Hz). This is a critical factor in determining a computer's performance.
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