Types of Processors (Definition, Function, Components, and of Course Types)

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Types of Processors

Among the most well-known processor manufacturers in the world are Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Motorola, Samsung and IBM. You’ll find the speed of a processor measured in either MHz (megahertz) or GHz (gigahertz). While a CPU’s responsibility within a computing system is enormous in scope. It’s not the most important piece of hardware for the overall functionality of a device like your laptop. Still, to help you understand how it works, we’ll discuss some of its basic functions, its different parts, types of processors and even give you suggestions on some of the best CPUs currently on the market. If you’re ready, let’s get started.

What Is a Processor?

A processor, often called the brain of computer systems, is a small chip that’s responsible for carrying out instructions to run a computer system. You can find them in all sorts of devices, like desktops, laptops and even cars.

The Function of a Processor

There are many ways in which a microprocessor works. But to carry out any type of task, the processor follows the fetch-decode-execute cycle:

Fetch

The first part of the cycle is fetching input data. It retrieves data in the form of instructions passed from the main memory unit, the RAM (Random Access Memory).

Decode

A circuit called the instruction decoder performs this part of the process, which converts the instructions into signals that the central processing unit (CPU) understands.

Execute

The parts of the CPU needed to carry out the operation get activated in this step. And the decoded instructions are passed to them. Then, the results are produced, and the task is completed and stored in a CPU register for later reference.

The components of a Processor

The efficiency of your CPU depends on the condition of its components.

By examining the components of your processor, you’ll have a better understanding of the function of each one. This gives you the ability to carry out the right troubleshooting steps if your device malfunctions.

Control Unit

The control unit (CU) is the component that controls the whole computer system through electrical signals. It directs the operations to perform instructions, but it doesn’t execute any instructions.

Arithmetic Logic Unit

The Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) is a circuit within the processor that’s responsible for all of the processes associated with arithmetic and logical operations.

Register

The register is a type of memory that access instructions immediately. It receives, stores, and transfers data required for processing information.

Cache

This is a high-speed storage unit that’s a smaller, much faster form of memory than RAM. Cache memory temporarily stores data that the processor uses all the time.

Types of Processors

In general, all of these functions and components are found in all processors. But every processor operates differently.

Single-core

A single-core processor is the oldest type of processor. From its name, the single-core CPU can only execute one operation at a time. It’s not an efficient CPU for multitasking. If multiple operations are fed to it, its performance slows down significantly.

The way this type of processor handles multiple operations is through the FIFO (first in, first out) model. What this means is that a single-core processor will prioritize operations based on what’s fed to it first.

You can get some multitasking done. For instance, many programs will work simultaneously with this type of processor. You can check your email while surfing the internet just fine.

The single-core processor is burdened with limitations, however. It’s slow and can’t handle heavy operations. If you tried to run a modern program, it’ll freeze and likely remain unresponsive.

All processors developed up until 2005 were single-core processors. They’ve been discontinued, and modern processors are now developed with a multi-core arrangement.

Multi-core

All processors manufactured after 2005 are multi-core processors. They’re made from two or more cores embedded in one integrated chip called a die. Each core processes multiple data and instructions simultaneously through hyper-threading.

Multi-core processors deliver better performance since the cores are placed at a distance that allows for the data to travel a short distance. This way the data gets processed more quickly.

Since different programs are managed by different cores, any failure in one of them won’t affect the other programs. In this regard, you can rest assured that your multi-core laptop can handle errors considerably well.

Ideally, the part of the processor that is operating will be the only part that uses power, which means that battery usage is decreased. But if your operating system (OS) isn’t compatible with the processor, this may cause the computer to consume more energy and generate more heat.

Dual-core

A dual-core processor is a CPU made up of two cores within the same integrated circuit. It functions as one CPU but each core has its own CU (control unit) and cache memory. This allows it to handle multiple operations simultaneously.

Even though the dual-core processor performs twice as fast as the single-core processor. The OS may not be able to utilize the two processors fully.

For the dual-core processor to work efficiently, the OS must have a simultaneous multi-threading code embedded in it. Intel has labeled this code as hyper-threading.

Hyper-threading is a process that splits each physical core into threads. This enhances the performance of your processor, which makes it more efficient. It also enables your processor to perform two tasks at the same time.

Quad-core

In 2007, Intel released the first-ever quad-core processor. There are four cores within one CPU in this processor design. It functions by dividing operations among its cores. This allows the processor to work as effectively and quickly as possible.

Such a processor is amazing at multitasking. If you’re running multiple programs at the same time, each core handles each program. This ensures that each program runs smoothly. You can also render videos and play video games, but at a lower resolution.

You might think that a quad-core processor will work at four times the speed of a single-core processor, but that’s not the case.

The performance of any multi-core processor depends on your usage. The kind of programs you use. And how compatible the processor is with the other hardware.

Hexa-core

Another multi-core processor, the hexa-core CPU works more rapidly than the dual-core and quad-core processors. It’s made up of six independent cores on a single integrated chip – you can find them most often in gaming laptops.

While the quad-core processor limits your usage of videos and games. The hexa-core CPU lets you play videos and games at a higher resolution. It can also handle heavy operations and process them quicker.

Another advantage of the hexa-core processor is that it has a maximum of 12 threads which doubles its efficiency. This way, it can perform any difficult task effortlessly.

Octa-core

It’s obvious now that the more cores there are, the more rapid and more efficient a processor becomes. The octa-core processor is made up of dual quad-core chips. Each core is independent, and the tasks are divided among them according to their type.

One set of the chips is low-powered and the other is high-powered. The low-powered set handles most operations. The other is high-powered and becomes activated when heavier tasks are being processed.

With the octa-core CPU, any pro-gamer, video editor, graphic designer, or engineer will find that their programs run smoothly at incredibly high-resolutions.

Deca-core

This processor is the latest in the market. It goes without saying that it’s the most efficient processor available. It processes and executes operations much quicker than any other processor, and it’s phenomenal at multitasking.

The deca-core processor can handle video editing, 3D gaming, streaming, and pretty much any high-performance task without slowing down.

The deca-core processor sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Any program that requires heavy multitasking will run smoothly and rapidly.

The hexa-core and octa-core processors perform efficiently and quite rapidly. Using the deca-core is perfect when you use it to its full potential with heavy programs and multitasking.

Best Processors

There are many brands and sub-brands of CPUs, and each one is home to an extensive list of processors. To spare you from having to look through all of them, we have a few recommendations.

Best Entry-Level CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100

This processor is the best to buy when you’re just starting out with multi-core processors. It’s the first of its kind, giving us the first quad-core processor with 8 threads for the budget conscious.

Available at around $200, the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 is a stellar CPU if you’re looking to start gaming and using heavy programs.

Best Home Processor: Intel Core i7-9700

If you’re looking to upgrade your PC from a Core i3 or i5 to something that get can really get the job done, then this processor is the one for you. With 8 cores and 8 threads, the Intel Core i7-9700 is fantastic for running heavy programs.

For around $200, this processor also offers excellent graphics for design-heavy programs.

Best High-End Gaming CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900 X

This is the number one processor recommended by pro-gamers. It has 12 cores and 24 threads, making it one of the fastest processors in the market.

You can find the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X for a little over $500, but that’s if it’s not out of stock. Being crowned the best gaming CPU means that everyone wants one.

Best VR CPU: Intel Core i5-10600K

This 10th generation processor functions with 6 cores and 12 threads. It’s an affordable multi-core processor that delivers astounding performance.

This processor rivals its counterparts in gaming and multi-threaded work. With a friendly price, ranging from $200 to $500, the Intel Core i5-10600K uses technology that’ll allow you to use pretty much any VR headset.

Best Performance Processor: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

This processor is nothing short of amazing. Offering 24 cores with 48 threads, the Threadripper is amazing at single and multithreaded performance. It’s ideal for content creators, like 3D artists, filmmakers, and software developers.

Sold at a range of between $1,000 and $1,500, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper still remains on the lower end of the high-end desktop (HEDT) market. This doesn’t take away from its excellent performance, though. If you’re looking to upgrade your PC, this one will deliver the goods and then some.

In Summary

As illustrated by this small example, there are many different processors in the market. But whether you’re purchasing a laptop or building a computer from scratch. Putting some thought into this component will go a long way to ensure you enjoy your system in all the tasks you have planned for it. The CPU is the piece of hardware within a computer most responsible for executing commands according to a program. As relating to the peripherals, the processor is also vital to the management of calculations and commands transferred between the computer and them. And while multi-core processors go a long way in improving multitasking, you don’t need a processor with the most cores to get the best performance.