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What are the Components of a CPU?

Phil Shepley
Phil Shepley

At the “heart” of every computer lies the CPU, or central processing unit, which is responsible for carrying out arithmetic and logic functions as well as executing instructions to other components. The components of a CPU work together, and depending on how they are made, determine exactly how fast these operations can be carried out along with how complex the operations can be. Each of the separate components of a CPU on their own are relatively simple. Some of the primary components of a CPU, also known as a microprocessor, are the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), the control unit and the registers.

To begin with, the arithmetic logic unit is the part of the CPU that, as its name implies, carries out the mathematical functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It is often thought that these functions are all the CPU does in a computer, but this is not true. The ALU works along with, and as a major part of, the other components of a CPU to run many complex processes. A CPU can contain more than one arithmetic logic unit, and these ALUs can also be used for the purpose of maintaining timers that help run the computer.

A Central Processing Unit (CPU).
A Central Processing Unit (CPU).

The control unit is another fundamental part of the CPU. Essentially, it regulates the flow of information through the processor. The functions that a control unit performs can vary based on what a particular CPU was built to do. Mostly, this component receives, decodes, stores results and manages execution of data that flows through the CPU. More complex control units need to schedule when and how this great amount of information is to be processed and make sure that the data is sent to the correct components of the computer.


More components of a CPU that are vital to its operation are the registers, which are very small memory locations that are responsible for holding the data that is to be processed. The most important of these registers is known as the instruction pointer, which directs the CPU to the next memory location from where it is to receive information. Another type of register is the accumulator, which is responsible for storing the next values that will be processed by the CPU. Together all of these components of a CPU are becoming faster, more compact and more powerful as time goes on and technology advances.

Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - The problem is that there is such a wide variance in CPU prices depending on what you want your computer to do. If all you want is a meek little laptop to surf the internet, then that's not going to cost you an arm and a leg (although if that's all you want, you probably aren't the type to build your own computer anyway).

If what you want is to play the latest video games, or render video, then you really need to figure out the latest and greatest available CPUs and how much you can afford. There's never going to be a one size fits all. You have to compromise on one thing or another most of the time.


@anon70408 - If you want CPU prices, you should have a look in online computer parts stores or one of those sites that aggregates all the prices. I should warn you though that most of the time the CPU is the most expensive part of the computer and if you're having serious issues it's probably because your computer is getting on in years.

From what I can tell, you will need to get the exact CPU to fit with the other components of your computer, or it won't work. It might be cheaper to just get a new computer, honestly.


what is the name of the components that contain the control unit and arithmetic and logic unit.


thank you for your information on my research and assignment, what are the differences between registers and memory of CPU?


What is the other name for a CPU?


This is definitely a very short, brief and to the point description of the CPU and its components. Thanks.


Please include information about smps, ram etc.


i am experiencing some problem with my cpu and wanted to read about it. i want to know how much each component costs and is it fixable -- that's the information i want. not a girl doing acrobatics.


awesome! very nice! short and sweet, perfect for my research paper. Thanks!


just wanted to see the different components of a CPU and their functions. thanks! ^.^


what about l1 l2 l3 cache?


Give me a brief description about hardware components of CPU: i.e SMPC, FDD, HDD, motherboard, fan, heating sink.


I do not understand why the CPU notice says I am using 4% and in an instant it says 100% and freezes up. Why?


a good brief look into a CPU.. just what i was looking for, thanks ;)

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