What Is the Definition of CPU?

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The definition of a CPU is the Central Processing Unit of a computer, which includes the main chip that controls the operation of math functions. Understand the importance of the CPU with information from an experienced software developer in this free video on computers.

Part of the Video Series: Computer Information
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Dave Andrews. Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about CPUs. Now CPUs stands for Central Processing Unit. That is basically the brains of any computer, it is the main chip that controls the operation of math functions and ties all of your hardware together so that it could do operations such as showing programs on your screen or sending text to a printer. I'm going to pull up a diagram of a CPU here. And this is a very simplified diagram obviously. CPU consists of basically your interface to memory which in a computer that we use in modern terms would be called RAM or Random Access Memory. And it has an instruction fetcher which will pull the instruction that is to be executed from memory. Now a single instruction would be add, subtract, store a value, instructions like that. Those then go into the instruction decoder which is a system by which the processor decides what it's going to do with the data that's being fed to it. If it gets an add command, it needs to know where to store the result, what the two values it needs to add is and it stores those into registers which is one of the larger portions of a CPU. These are basically values that store a single number. There's 16 or 32 depending on the size of your processor, there can be a lot of registers and they will each store single numbers that the processor is currently operating on. With that said, it's important to remember that a processor will only do one things at a time. It only looks like it's doing a bunch of things at a time because it does it so fast. Those registers feed into the arithmetic logic unit inside of a processor or the ALU and that is probably the more complex system inside of a CPU that does addition, subtraction and all of the different mathematical operations that causes the processor to work. My name is Dave Andrews and I've just showed you a little bit about CPUs.


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