What Is the Function of the CPU?

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A CPU is the brain of a computer, according to About.com’s Tim Fisher. Short for “central processing unit,” the CPU interprets commands before executing them. The CPU is also called a processor or central processor.

A CPU uses complex algorithms and programming to interpret signals and code. Many computer processors feature multiple cores, which help them process information more efficiently and quickly. A CPU retrieves information from the code within programs. It reads it to understand what the code is for, and then it executes the instructions.

A CPU is a small, square, internal piece of a computer that sits on the motherboard in a specialized slot made to hold a certain style or model of central processor. Many CPUs are connected to the motherboard with clamps and pins that are easily damaged. Since a CPU is the main component that processes data, it gets very hot as it works and needs a heatsink and fan to prevent damage, according to Fisher. Alternatively, some computers use water cooling systems.

The two most popular CPU brands are AMD and Intel, and these processors are found in a variety of electronics, including phones, laptops, desktops and gaming consoles. Processor speeds are measured in megahertz and gigahertz.