Scott discusses features of central processing units.
- You might have heard the central processing unit or CPU referred to as the brain of the computer which is kind of true but also misleading because CPUs aren't really smart. They're just so unbelievably fast at doing basic math that they seem brilliant. Because there's so much math and jargon involved though, it's often intimidating to learn about CPUs. So let's start off with a simple analogy. My college roommate, Charles Percival Unger, nicknamed CPU, was an interesting roommate. He was the fastest human being I ever met.
He was super cooperative and good at following directions, but he was kind of an idiot. Let me explain. CPU was great at doing what you asked him to do, but he applied literally no common sense to your directions. He would always do exactly what you asked him to do. So if you asked him to pick up his room, he would literally try to lift his entire room. If you asked him to keep it down, he'd lay on the ground. And that one time I asked him to take out the trash, wow, that was bad. Dealing with him took patience and attention to detail.
If you wanted him to clean his room, you would have to break down the entire process into a series of concrete steps and then ask him to do each step discretely. He'd complete them almost instantly but if you didn't ask in the right way, things would go wrong. This in a nutshell is how computer CPUs work. They perform a series of simple individual tasks, but they do them so fast that they seem complex. All CPUs have a couple of characteristics that matter for a basic discussion. Speed and complexity.
The most basic measurement of a CPU is its speed or how many things it can do in one second under perfect conditions. A CPUs speed is measured in hertz, spelled like the rental car company, which is a measure of frequency that means one cycle per second. Modern CPUs are so fast that they're measured in gigahertz or billions of cycles per second. That means a CPU can do several billion individual tasks every second. The second characteristic is complexity.
I'm going to throw two numbers at you and then explain. You find modern CPUs as 32-bit processors or 64-bit processors. Those are binary numbers. Check out the Basics of Binary episode at the end of this chapter if you really want to understand how binary numbers work. In practical terms, here are the differences. 32-bit CPUs support 32-bit versions of software including operating systems and applications plus they have a cap on how much memory they can use. We'll discuss memory in the next episode.
64-bit CPUs are vastly more powerful and complex than 32-bit CPUs. As you might guess, they support 64-bit versions of software. To run a 64-bit version of Windows 10 for example, a computer needs a 64-bit version of CPU. Plus they support a lot more memory than 32-bit CPUs. Not double, not 10 times as much, think millions more, in theory at least. Well there you have it. Stories of my odd college roommate Charles and the basics of central processing units.
This course was created and produced by Total Seminars. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- RAM and memory
- Input, output, ports, and peripherals
- Data storage and sharing
- Setting up and configuring a PC
- Operating systems
- Managing files