The processor, also known as a CPU, is the brain of the PC. Its main functions include managing the operating system, executing applications, and coordinating the different devices that make up the computer.
In the physical aspect, it is not more than a small silicon tablet, which is covered with what we call encapsulated. This is inserted into the motherboard over a connector called a socket. Although this is not always the case, on a laptop, it is normal to solder directly. There are three encapsulation models, PGA, LGA, and BGA.
The board thus becomes in charge of the connection with the other devices, such as RAM, graphics card, or hard disk, using a set of circuits and chips that you find on it, which we call chipset.
From a historical point of view, the processor is one of the elements of the PC that has evolved the most, both in its manufacturing process and in its internal architecture.
Thanks to these improvements, it has been possible to include more functional blocks inside. At first, it was the memory controller, then the graphics card, and very soon, we will move from the processor concept to what is called SOC, that is, a chip with all the elements of the motherboard inside, thus improving the size and reducing consumption.
What components does a processor have?
Keep in mind that not all are the same, but most of them include, among other elements:
A core is nothing more than a miniature processor. Modern processors have several of them, which means that they can speed up certain types of applications and avoid crashes.
The cache memory is the element of the memory system of a PC that is inside the micro. It is used to accelerate the speed of access to RAM.
The cache is organized into several levels, each one slower and larger than the previous one. It will be the micro’s job to leave the most used data as close as possible in order to speed up the execution of the programs.
This was one of the first elements that were integrated, accelerating access to RAM memory. This has a drawback and is that you can only use the type of memory for which your processor is prepared.
This has not always been the case since before the type of memory you could use depending on the motherboard, and it was not unusual for it to be prepared to work with various types of RAM.
If they integrate this component, we are no longer talking about CPUs but about APUs. We would no longer be in front of a conventional micro if not in front of a hybrid between processor and graphics card currently, and it seems that in future developments, almost all the microphones you come across will be of this type.
The mics have incorporated even more functionality than was previously on the motherboard. For example, the PCI Express controller, increasing the speed with which the micro can communicate with other devices.
How does a processor work?
The entire system is governed by a clock that is used to synchronize the different functional blocks. The speed at which it changes state is called the operating frequency and is related to the computing capacity of the system.
The operation of a processor can be divided into the following stages:
Read instruction from memory.
The instruction set of any current processor includes more than a thousand different ones, and it grows over time. They are added to improve the processing speed of certain applications.
Looking for data
Some instructions will require data to perform their calculations that may not be found within the processor and will, therefore, have to be searched in the memory system.
The operation is performed.
Once you have everything the operation is executed, this may require the work of several blocks, such as the logical arithmetic unit or the floating-point unit.
What should I take into account when buying a processor?
It will be your needs that ultimately decide which processor you should buy. Acquiring a PC to study is not the same as playing to give you two examples.
As technical characteristics, what differentiates one micro from another are, among others, its operating frequency, its amount of cache memory, and its number of cores.
Among those other technologies we find:
Thanks to Hyper thread technology, which is typical of Intel microphones, it is possible to simulate that you have two logical cores on top of a physical one. It is interesting for certain applications such as those dealing with graphics and videos.
CMT is an AMD technology that allows joining two cores and sharing certain resources that they occupy less area and therefore include a greater number of them.
Turbo Boost and Turbo Core
Turbo Boost and Turbo Core are two technologies, the first from Intel and the second from AMD capable of speeding up processors when they don’t consume much.