The central processing unit inside your computer system is the brains of the operation. Central processing units are extremely tiny little chips – which is why they are also sometimes referred to as microprocessors – that fit into your computer system's motherboard. They are then covered up with a little contraption called a heat sink that is then covered with a fan to keep things cool. The heat sink and fan form a seal with the central processing unit via means of a bit of silver paste called thermal compound that helps to evenly disburse heat. This is because ce
Every computer system has a microprocessor, whether you have a desktop computer, a laptop computer or one of the new mini netbooks out there. Computers originally performed the same processes that modern CPUs perform, but were unable to do it using just one small chip. Instead, they had to use a collection of chips to get the job done. The CPU in your system basically processes all of the data involved in running a computer, whether it is opening a Word document or playing a game or even just using the calculator.
When you are purchasing a central processing unit, there are some things to look out for to make sure you get a chip that is going to work the way you want it to. Central processing units have several different aspects and numbers that describe the different speeds and similar that the CPU will run at. These numbers and aspects allow you to compare CPUs against one another, as well, to tell which is better, and include transistors, microns, Data Width, MIPS, and clock speed.
The transistors number simply tells you how many transistors there are on the chip. As newer and newer central processing units are designed and produced, the number of transistors you will find on them has gone up. Microns are a unit of measurement and describe how wide the smallest wire on the chip is. The lower the micron number, the higher the transistor number, usually – small wires mean there is more room on the chip. Data Width describes the width of the ALU on the chop. The higher the Data Width, the more information can be processed by the CPU at one time. Clock speed is a term that describes the maximum speed the central processing unit can run at, and MIPS stands for “millions of instructions per second.” The millions of instructions per second measurement is a rough estimate of the performance of the central processing unit, as in, how much information your CPU can process in a second. Each of these different facets interact with each other to determine the overall performance of your central processing unit. And while you will not always find all of these numbers or aspects listed on the packaging of every CPU to help you out when you are shopping, you will definitely find that understanding the terms and what they mean will go a long way towards helping you to better understand your microprocessor.
In the next installment in this series on central processing units, we will take a more in depth look at CPUs and what they do.