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CPU
Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 

Abbreviation of central processing unit, and pronounced as separate letters. The CPU is the brains of the computer. Sometimes referred to simply as the processor or central processor, the CPU is where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system.

On large machines, CPUs require one or more printed circuit boards. On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor.

Two typical components of a CPU are:

  • The arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and logical operations.
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    related categories

    Microprocessors

    related terms

    ALU

    chip

    CISC

    clock speed

    CNR

    coprocessor

    fab

    fabless

    Intel microprocessors

    microprocessor

    MMU

    multiplier lock

    oscillator clock

    picoJava

    PowerPC

    RISC

    scratchpad RAM

    silicon

    UMA

    VLIW

    Von Neumann machine


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