Non-nerd's Guide to Computers/processor

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The CPU (At the Heart of the Process)[edit]

As far as computing power goes, the (CPU) Central Processing Unit is the most important component of a computer system. When you run your web browser, write your poems, doodle on Paint, etc. you're using a CPU. The CPU carries out each instruction of the computer's program in sequence, performs the required arithmetic and logical operations, and directs the (I/O) Input/Output operations of the system. In short, the CPU is almost literally the computer's "brain."

Two typical components of a CPU are: the (ALU) Arithmetic Logic Unit, which performs arithmetic and logical operations, and the (CU) Control Unit, which fetches instructions in sequence from memory, then decodes and executes them, using the ALU if necessary.

Personal computers have a CPU contained in a single microprocessor chip socketed on the motherboard, bearing a heat-sink with its own fan to dissipate the considerable heat generated by modern high speed CPUs.