Processors FAQ

Q What is a CPU?

A The brain/engine of computer which is responsible for performing calculations.
A CPU (Central Processing Unit) or Processor is the part of a computer that is responsible for performing calculations. A CPU in a computer is analogous to that of a brain in a person or an engine in a car. Fast CPUs are generally desirable because they allow computers to complete tasks quickly. There are several different classes of CPU including Desktop and Laptop. Laptop CPUs need to be as energy efficient as possible whereas Desktop CPUs are more performance focussed. Each class of CPU comes in various flavours including: single core, dual core and quad core. A single core CPU is only able to perform one stream of operations at a time. A dual core CPU is able to perform two simultaneous streams of operations at the same time. Say, for example, that you open two programs on your computer at the same time. If each program independently takes 10 seconds to open, then on a single core computer you would need to wait for 20 seconds whereas on a dual core computer you would only need to wait for 10 seconds. A quad core CPU would be able to open four similar programs in 10 seconds whereas it would take a single core CPU 40 seconds and a dual core CPU 20 seconds. Typical consumer workloads do not exceed four busy cores so there is normally little benefit in having more than a quad core desktop processor.

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