central processing unit
<architecture, processor> (CPU, processor) The part of a computer which
controls all the other parts. Designs vary widely but, in general, the CPU
consists of the control unit, the arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) and memory
(registers, cache, RAM and ROM) as well as various temporary buffers and other
The control unit fetches instructions from memory and decodes them to produce
signals which control the other part of the computer. This may cause it to
transfer data between memory and ALU or to activate peripherals to perform input
A parallel computer has several CPUs which may share other resources such as
memory and peripherals.
The term "processor" has to some extent replaced "CPU", though RAM and ROM are
not normally considered as part of a processor. This is particularly true of
common modern microprocessors though there have been microprocessors which
include RAM and/or ROM on the same integrated circuit.
The CPU Info Center lists many kinds of CPU.
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