How Do Central Processing Units Actually Work in Practice?

In 2021 in the United States, the CPU market topped $100 billion in sales for the first time.

A lot of things we use in our daily life require a CPU to function. The computers we search the net on and the phones we have in our pockets, all require CPUs to function. CPUs are central processing units. You can think of it like the brain of the computer or phone you’re using.

How does a CPU work and what makes it the brain of our digital world?

How Does a CPU Work?

Central processing units work by managing data in a three-step process. The first step is to recall the necessary data. The second step is to decode that data, and the final step is to display that data via an output.

The CPU is always following the instructions of a computer program. For many of us, the one program that is always running is the operating system. This program has a great impact on computer performance because it keeps the CPU busy doing things all the time.

Step by Step

While the three steps above are the basics, let’s break them down into more detail for better understanding. We begin with a computer user selecting a program or application they want to run and clicking or tapping it.

Step 1

The first thing that happens is the computer gets the requested instruction out of memory. In this case, memory is defined as your hard drive. This is a storage component that keeps massive amounts of data and instructions installed and ready to go.

Step 2

The instruction is decoded, and the CPU gets to work figuring out how to operate the program. This involves processing data in a certain way. A program contains all of the instructions to use the data. The CPU follows these decoded instructions.

Step 3

The executable file is run by the CPU which then performs operations based on its program. This creates data which is then displayed or output to the user. Think of a game coming up and activating on your computer monitor or cell phone screen.

Do All Computers Use CPUs?

Yes, every single computer that is created uses a CPU. Modern CPUs are a bundle of dozens of processors which all work together in order to decode and execute complex instructions. While there are many types of computers out there, the CPU remains the same.

Different CPUs

There are different types of CPUs that are used depending on what their intended use is. Some are cheaper than others, and some are denser and can handle more information. There are performance and costs to consider when purchasing a CPU.

You can learn more about that by checking out this xeon CPU article.

Central Processing Units

Central processing units are a landmark invention that has changed the entire world. They have made mathematical processes that once required rooms full of people to take moments to complete.

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