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Processor




Processor and Memory

The processor and memory are essential components that enable a computer to process commands. The processor carries out instructions given to the computer. These instructions are stored in the computer's memory. In this section, you will learn how the processor executes instructions and the different types of memory a computer has.

Processor Basics

  • Processor
  • Instruction Execution with the CPU
  • Performance: Factors and Measures
  • Types of Processors

Processor

A computer's processor is usually referred to as the microprocessordue to its size, which is about the size of your fingernail.

Figure 1 Microprocessor chip

A microprocessor processes all the instructions given to the computer (for example, add two numbers, execute program instructions, or print documents). Physically, the microprocessor is a single chip known as an integrated circuit (IC). Each chip is made out of silicon and it contains millions of transistors packed onto a chip.

The Intel Pentium M Processor, introduced on March 12, 2003, has 77 million transistors, and the width of the smallest wire on the chip is 0.13 micron, or 0.00000013 meter. As a reference, 0.13 micron is about 1/800 of the width of a human hair.

The microprocessor is referred to as the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The job of a microprocessor is to execute a series of machine instructions. These instructions are procedures to carry out a task written in a form that the computer can understand.


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