The most important element in a computer, its “brain”, is a microprocessor – an electronic circuit that performs all calculations and information processing (Fig. 2). The speed of its operation largely determines the speed of the computer.
At first glance, the processor is just a silicon crystal grown using a special technology.
However, this pebble contains many separate elements – transistors, which together endow the computer with the ability to “think”.
The processor consists of several important parts: the actual processor is a “calculator” and a coprocessor is a special unit for floating–point operations.
Currently, computers use processors developed by Intel, AMD and IBM. Processors differ from each other in two characteristics: type (model) and clock frequency. The higher the clock frequency, the higher the performance and price of the processor. The clock frequency indicates how many elementary operations (clock cycles) are performed in one second. The clock frequency is measured in megahertz (MHz). Modern Intel processors reach a clock frequency of 3800 MHz (Pentium 4). AMD, which is their biggest competitor, produces processors up to 2400 MHz. It should be noted that different generations of processors perform the same operations (for example, division or multiplication) for a different number of clock cycles. The higher the processor generation, the less clock cycles are usually required to perform the same operations. For example, an Intel Pentium IV processor runs twice as fast as an Intel Pentium III processor with the same clock speed. Over the twenty-year history of the mass development of the computer market, seven generations of Intel processors have changed: 8088, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, PentiumII, PentiumII, PentiumVI. In addition, in each generation there is also a whole series of models that differ from each other. For example, there are three of them in the PentiumIII generation: the “regular” PentiumIII, the “lightweight version” of the Celeron and the heavy-duty Xeon designed for large industrial computers.