What is a CPU; The processor (CPU) is the mastermind of the computer and is responsible for an important part of the system. But what is a processor in simple terms, and how does it function as an important part of a computer? It should be noted that in this article we will focus more on computer processors. As you probably know, different types of gadgets use a processor that, while similar to a computer processor, also has some differences.
What is a CPU ?
Zeros and ones
Thanks to more powerful processors, computers that once could hardly display a simple image can now do a variety of compelling tasks. The processor is an engineering marvel, but ultimately it is based on the concept of binary signals, or zero and one.
Early computers relied on punch cards and vacuum tubes for very simple processing, but now, thanks to processors that use billions of transistors, they can process billions per second very quickly.
Building a processor is by no means an easy task. Overall, the underlying structure of a processor on which transistors are placed is made of silicon. Silicon is a semiconductor metal because it does not completely conduct current and does not insulate current.
Transistors are simply switches that turn on and off when a voltage is applied or cut off, thus expressing the zero and one logic states of the machine language. Because there are billions of transistors in the processor, they can perform complex tasks very quickly.
Of course, more transistors do not necessarily mean higher CPU speeds. However, this issue is very important; This is one of the main reasons why the phone in your pocket has much more processing power than all the computers that were active during the first human trip to the moon.
Before we get into the basics of the processor, we need to point out that a processor executes machine code-based instructions called instruction sets.
For example, almost all current Windows and Mac computers, regardless of the Intel or AMD processor, are based on the x86-64 instruction set. However, Apple announced some time ago that it will soon begin migrating to ARM-based chips that use a different set of instructions. ARM chips are the beating heart of phones and many other gadgets, and of course, some Windows PCs have come to market with these types of chips.
Core, cache and graphics
Now it is better to deal with different parts of the processor. The image above is of the Intel Core i7-4770S processor and shows what parts it is made of. It should be noted that this arrangement is related to the processor in question and other processors use different layouts.
As you can see, this processor consists of four cores, and long ago processors were equipped with only one core. Now that we have multi-core processors, they process instructions faster.
Apart from the subject of cores, we must also mention the thread. Strings are actually a set of instructions that are sent to the kernels. Cores also use a feature called hyper-threading or simultaneous multi-threading (depending on whether the processor is Intel or AMD), which simply puts one core for a computer as two cores. Thanks to this feature, the processing speed is further improved.
Also in this image, you can see a section called L3 cache or L3 cache. This type of memory, also called cache, is the fastest memory that the processor has access to. Processors typically use three levels of cache. Level 1 cache (L1) is the smallest and fastest cache in the processor. Level 2 cache is usually slower than L1 but uses more capacity. Level 3 or L3 cache is larger and slower than the previous two caches, but still has a higher speed than RAM. Usually, each kernel uses Level 1 and Cache caches, and Level 3 cache is shared between all cores and therefore has more capacity.
Finally, we must refer to the integrated graphics processor, which acts as part of the CPU or CPU. Although these types of GPUs are usually weaker than graphics cards, they can still meet the needs of users to a large extent. Not all processors use such a part. AMD’s Zen desktop processors, for example, lack this feature, so computers based on it need a graphics card to display any graphics on the screen. Also, some Intel desktop processors do not use this feature.
Connect the processor to the motherboard
After explaining some of the features of the processor, it is now best to look at how it connects to the motherboard. Processors use connectors called sockets to be installed on the motherboard.
When the processor is placed on a socket, other parts of the computer can be connected to the processor via something called a bus. For example, RAM uses its own bus, but many computer components use a special type of bus called PCIe.
Each processor uses a certain number of PCIe paths. The AMD Zen 2 processor, for example, has 24 paths that motherboard manufacturers separate with AMD guidance.
For example, 16 paths are commonly used for an x16 graphics card slot. Then 4 paths are allocated for fast memory such as M.2 SSD. Of course, these four paths can be divided into two paths to the M.2 SSD, and the other two paths can be used for slower SATA-based drives such as hard drives or 2.5-inch SSDs.
This means that 20 paths were used and the remaining 4 paths are for the processor itself, which is supposed to act as the system’s mastermind. As you can see, the sections with heavier tasks take up more paths. Of course, the processor is not the only part related to system processing, and a number of different parts of the system, such as the graphics card, use the parts related to processing.
But in the end, many of these processors embedded in different parts usually perform specific tasks. However, the CPU is a versatile component that can perform any computational task required of it. That’s why the CPU inside your computer has the most power, and the rest of the system relies on it to do its job.