A computer processor, or central processing unit (CPU), is the brain of a computer. It runs the operating system and application software installed on the computer to do whatever the user wants to do. CPUs handle most computer operations, but some are handled by specialized tools such as graphics processors (GPUs).
The purpose of the CPU
The purpose of the computer processor is to perform practical calculations performed by the computer, including managing the memory of the computer, processing input from the user, sending the output to them, and performing any necessary calculations.
The processor is an essential part of any computer because, without such a chip unit, it cannot perform any operation or run any software. Computer software is encoded in machine language, which is the code that the CPU understands and processes as a series of simple commands. The CPU communicates with other devices installed on the computer, such as inputs and output devices and memory chips.
Popular CPU manufacturers include Intel and AMD, processor makers for desktops and laptops, Qualcomm and ARM, chipmakers designed primarily for smaller devices such as smartphones and embedded tools.
Comparison of CPUs
In addition to the brand name and style of the CPU, there are statistics that you can use to compare different processor chips.
The most commonly cited statistic about the CPU is its clock speed, which refers to the number of program commands it can run in a second. This speed is usually measured in megahertz or gigahertz.
Another important measurement for comparing CPUs is the number of cores in the chip. A core is a standalone processor in one processor that can run commands parallel to other cores. There is a limit to the number of software that can be broken down into command units that can run simultaneously, so adding additional cores only speeds up some computers, but in general, CPUs have more cores that run faster than CPUs with fewer cores.
Depending on your needs, you may want to see the power consumption of a particular CPU. Faster CPUs sometimes use more power than slower CPUs, but computers have become more efficient over time.
Other processing units
Computers usually include additional processing units in addition to the CPU. The most common type is the graphics processing unit designed to display video on a computer screen.
Other specialized chips exist for other applications, including audio processing and specialized applications that work with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.