The computer’s central processing unit (CPU) refers to the electronic circuitry that processes instructions and tells each part of the system what to do. It’s arguably the most critical and defining component of a computer. Without it, your PC will not be able to do anything.
If your PC were a restaurant, the CPU would be its head chef. The quicker the chef works, the faster the food can be served to customers. Similarly, a CPU with higher processing power can perform more tasks faster.
Read More about a “Central Processing Unit (CPU)”
What Is the Main Purpose of a CPU?
A CPU’s primary use is to process data. It is where most processes, including calculations and searches, occur. Early computers used to have only one CPU capable of performing a single task at a time. These days, a CPU can process tons of data that run on multiple programs.
What Are the Components of a CPU?
A CPU has three main components—the control unit, the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), and the memory or storage unit. These parts are used for:
The control unit manages the flow of data within a system. It is responsible for making all the CPU components work together synchronously and smoothly. It monitors all the communications that occur between hardware, controls data input and output (I/O), checks that all signals are delivered successfully, and makes sure that data lands on the appropriate place at the right time.
Arithmetic Logic Unit
The ALU is the CPU component responsible for performing all operations. Each task that a computer does is completed here. Every time you type something on your word processor, the ALU translates the inputs to binary so you can see what you’re doing on your computer screen. The ALU also does mathematical calculations using two parts. Its arithmetic part performs basic mathematical operations like 1 + 2 = 3 while its logic part carries out logical comparisons like 1 < 2.
Memory or Storage Unit
The storage unit is the CPU component that holds all the data and programs you currently use. You can compare it to a calculator that stores all your data inputs while it performs calculations.
How to Boost CPU Performance
A basic CPU can work well when running simple cycles. But you can employ multiple strategies that boost its performance such as:
Improving the Instruction Cycle
In the past, CPUs were designed to work on one task at a time. That amounted to wasted time if tasks could be done simultaneously. To fix the problem, CPU manufacturers decided to make parts of the instruction cycle overlap to make computers work faster. That allowed users to use different parts of the CPU at the same time.
Another method that boosted CPU performance was hyperthreading. This process allowed a single processor to work like two CPUs. It does so by providing two data and instruction streams for each instruction cycle. In this case, if one execution stalls, the second one continues the processing.
How Far Have Today’s CPUs Come?
Today, CPUs are not only better. They differ by so much from what they were in the past. Not only have processors become much smaller, they also perform faster. The introduction of multiple-core chips allowed CPUs to work at clock speed and perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Regular CPUs of today can have as many as 16 cores and 32 threads. They can reach speeds of 4.9GHz that peak at 5.3GHz. That’s a massive improvement from the first microprocessor, Intel 4004, which had a clock speed of 740kHz.
The CPU has definitely evolved and improved throughout the years. Today’s computers now come with immense processing power, allowing users to carry out a host of operations simultaneously without crashing.