A central processing unit (CPU), also referred to as a central processor unit, is the hardware within a computer system or smartphone which carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The term has been in use in the computer industry at least since the early 1960s. The form, design, and implementation of CPUs have changed over the course of their history, but their fundamental operation remains much the same.
On large machines, CPUs require one or more printed circuit boards. On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single silicon chip called a microprocessor. Since the 1970s the microprocessor class of CPUs has almost completely overtaken all other CPU implementations. Modern CPUs are large scale integrated circuits in packages typically less than four centimeters square, with hundreds of connecting pins.
Two typical components of a CPU are the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and logical operations, and the control unit (CU), which extracts instructions from memory and decodes and executes them, calling on the ALU when necessary.
Not all computational systems rely on a central processing unit. An array processor or vector processor has multiple parallel computing elements, with no one unit considered the "center". In the distributed computing model, problems are solved by a distributed interconnected set of processors.
Famous quotes containing the words central and/or unit:
in celebration of the woman I am
and of the soul of the woman I am
and of the central creature and its delight
I sing for you. I dare to live.”
—Anne Sexton (19281974)
“During the Suffragette revolt of 1913 I ... [urged] that what was needed was not the vote, but a constitutional amendment enacting that all representative bodies shall consist of women and men in equal numbers, whether elected or nominated or coopted or registered or picked up in the street like a coroners jury. In the case of elected bodies the only way of effecting this is by the Coupled Vote. The representative unit must not be a man or a woman but a man and a woman.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)