CPU - Central Processing Unit
Pronounced as separate letters, CPU is the abbreviation for central processing unit. Sometimes referred to simply as the central processor, but more commonly called processor, the CPU is the brains of the computer where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system.
On large machines, the CPU requires one or more printed circuit boards. On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor. Since the 1970's the microprocessor class of CPUs has almost completely overtaken all other CPU implementations.
The CPU itself is an internal component of the computer. Modern CPUs are small and square and contain multiple metallic connectors or pins on the underside. The CPU is inserted directly into a CPU socket, pin side down, on the motherboard.
Each motherboard will support only a specific type (or range) of CPU, so you must check the motherboard manufacturer's specifications before attempting to replace or upgrade a CPU in your computer. Modern CPUs also have an attached heat sink and small fan that go directly on top of the CPU to help dissipate heat.
Two typical components of a CPU are the following:
Top 5 Related Questions
Related Webopedia Technology References
- Enterprise Mobility Exchange results show continued growth and emphasis on mobility. CIOInsight breaks down the numbers here. »
- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
From the widest view, everything that we include under the heading of mobile has irrevocably changed IT's relationship with the rest of the... Read More »Choosing an Enterprise Storage Implementation
When you deploy a new enterprise storage system, you must decide whether to design and build your own storage system or to utilize a cloud-based... Read More »Big Data Analytics Expert Predictions
In this Webopedia Did You Know...? article we look at three big data expert predictions for 2014. Read More »
Keeping track of big data trends, research and statistics gives IT professionals a solid foundation to plan big data projects. Here are 15... Read More »Enterprise Storage Vendors
There's a number of vendors that sell enterprise storage hardware or offer cloud-based enterprise storage. View Webopedia's Enterprise storage... Read More »50 Cloud Computing Terms Defined
From planning a private cloud project to finding an online cloud storage provider, Webopedia's A-Z Cloud Computing Glossary will help you... Read More »