Microprocessor: what is it and what is its utility?

Microprocessor: what is it and what is its utility?

Hide into the computer, the microprocessor is one of the most important component of a digital computer. It acts as the brain of the computer system. Since a couple of years now, the technology has progessed and they have become smaller, faster, and capable of doing more work per clock cycle.




A microprocessor (also called CPU for Central Processing Unit or processor) is a processor that has several electronic components, small enough to fit in a single integrated circuit (miniaturized circuit in the extreme to contain thousands or millions of components in a small box). This processor allows the execution of computer instructions.






The first microprocessor (Intel 4004) was invented in 1971 by Marcian Hoff and Frederico Faggin, a duo of engineers working for Intel. This invention will revolutionize the world of computing, since before the 1970s, it was impossible to fit different components into a single integrated circuit. Its creation has led to many advances: reduction of energy consumption, increase in operating speed, increase in reliability, but especially the development of much smaller computers.

Two major microprocessor manufacturers

– Pentium: The first Pentiums were released at 66 and 60 MHz clock frequencies. Versions subsequent to 75, 90, 100, 120, 133, 150, 150, 166, 200 and 233 megahertz have gradually become available.
– Core 2™ Duo by integrating two cores instead of one into their processors, Intel bypasses the limitations of traditional chips

– AMD Athlon: award-winning processors that deliver exceptional performance to meet your digital needs.
– AMD Sempron: Reinvent everyday computing with built-in security and extraordinary performance.



Features and characteristics

The main characteristics of a microprocessor are as follows:

– The instruction set that the microprocessor will be able to execute: add two numbers, compare two numbers to determine if they are equal, compare numbers to determine which is the larger, multiply two numbers. A microprocessor can execute several tens, even hundreds or thousands of different instructions.

– The complexity of its architecture, which is measured by the number of transistors contained in the microprocessor. The more transistors in the microprocessor, the more complex operations it will be able to perform, and process large numbers.

– The number of bits that the processor can process together. The first microprocessors could not process more than 4 bits at a time. They therefore had to execute several instructions to add 32- or 64-bit numbers.

– Current microprocessors can process 64-bit numbers. The number of bits, memory and processor is related to the ability to process large numbers quickly, or numbers of high accuracy

– The speed of the clock. The role of the clock is to clock the rhythm of the microprocessor’s work. As the clock speed increases, the microprocessor performs more instructions per second.


In practice, depending on the processor architecture, the number of clock cycles to perform an elementary operation can vary from one cycle to several tens per execution unit:
The combination of the above characteristics determines the power of the microprocessor, which is expressed in “millions of instructions per second” (MIPS). In the 1970s, microprocessors carried out less than a million instructions per second, but today, they can carry out more than 10 billion instructions per week.



The structure


The CPU of a microprocessor essentially consists of:

– An arithmetic and logical unit (ALU) that performs the operations

– Registers that allow the microprocessor to temporarily store data

– A control unit that controls the entire microprocessor according to the program instructions


Microprocessor operation

The microprocessor is a very important electronic chip that makes it possible to operate the computer, and it is also the main element of the computer. He will take care of processing the instructions one after the other. The microprocessor core consists of several registers, counters, multiplexers and a non-volatile memory that is composed of microcontrols that determine the states of the multiplexers dependent on the current assembly control.


The chip that corresponds to the microprocessor will perform the necessary calculations so that the operating system and applications can work. From a more functional point of view, the microprocessor will perform calculations whose data are stored in the computer’s RAM memory. The computer software will be able to work thanks to the paths between the RAM memory and the microprocessor.

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