what is cpu
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CPU (Central Processing Unit) definition & meaning

CPU stands for “Central Processing Unit” which is the heart of the devices that makes all of the calculations to run a system. The CPUs evolved as transistor CPUs, small-scale integration CPUs, large-scale integration CPU’s and finally today’s microprocessors.

Types of CPUs

The types of CPUs are often related to the core count, such as 1-core CPU, 2-core CPU, etc. However, it would be better to separate them with their purpose; like IoT CPUs, mobile CPUs, desktop/laptop CPUs, and enterprise CPUs. The desktop and enterprise processors are meant to be installed onto motherboards, matching their socket type. The motherboard makes the processor communicate with all other necessary and optional hardware, including memory.

CPUs consist of billions of transistors. Those transistors are arranged to enable the electrical power to be translated into zeros and ones (binary system). The modern processors have several cores which can be assumed as several CPUs are packed into one chip. The cores run with fetch > decode > execute > store cycles; repeating millions of times a second.

CPUs are sometimes confused with GPUs. The difference between CPU and GPU is, while the CPU is the heart of the whole system doing all kinds of calculations, GPU is only responsible for the visual side most of the time with its incredible amount of lower performance core counts that make FP32 / INT32 calculations.

Enterprise CPUs are mainly used in data centers and servers. Those processors are top-tier chips of their brands; providing the maximum amount of core counts to handle the heavy parallel workloads needed in servers. Currently, Intel processors are widely used in data centers. However, AMD is catching up with Intel thanks to its current core-count superiority.

What are the biggest CPU companies?

The biggest CPU companies are Intel and AMD for the enterprise and desktop/laptop CPU categories with x86 / x64 architectures. For the mobile and IoT side, Qualcomm dominates the market along with MediaTek with ARM-based CPUs. Apple is also developing its ARM-based mobile chips since the first iPhone. However, the company introduced an ARM-based M1 chip for their laptop and desktop products, completely leaving x86 / x64 architecture behind, unlike Intel and AMD.

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