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What is the "brain" of a computer?

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Quick Answer

The central processing unit, or CPU, within a computer is commonly referred to as its "brain." All commands and instructions are handled through this component, which acts as the relay station for all data, whether incoming or outgoing.

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Full Answer

A single CPU typically contains both an arithmetic logic unit and a control unit. While the control unit extracts instructions and information stored in the memory files, the arithmetic logic unit helps to direct that control and apply logical and arithmetic operations when called upon by the control unit. However, even a single CPU chip can contain multiple processors, each capable of performing its own operations. These are known as multi-core processors.

Some computers contain more than one CPU, and each may contain multiple processor cores, making it possible to greatly enhance the computational power of a single device. As a comparison, the first CPUs, developed in the early 1970s by the Intel corporation, were capable of up to 60,000 operations per second. As of 2012, in comparison, the fastest computer on Earth was capable of achieving 10 quadrillion operations per second, using a total of 82,944 CPUs. As a function of Moore's Law, the effective performance of new CPUs is expected to double every 18 months.

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