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Microprocessors- the power behind your personal computers

A microprocessor is a single integrated circuit (either an IC or microchip) which has all the functions of the central processing unit of a computer. It processes the digital data input as per the instructions it contains in its memory and gives the output of results. Other properties of microprocessor include its being programmable, multi purpose, clock driven, and register based. Almost all kinds of micro processors run on binary data which comprises of binary code and binary numbers. That is why they are also termed as binary digital computer processors. The Harvard architecture used separate memories of instructions for processing data and for data inputted to be processed. The modern Von Neumann machines have a single memory which contains the controlling data for processing and the data the microprocessors process.

During the 1960’s, computer processors contained small and medium scale integrated circuits. The IC has transistors which range form ten to hundreds in numbers. Further research in the area yielded the first microprocessors in 1970’s. The use of binary coded decimal arithmetic on 4 bit words was the initial working. These were used in electronic calculators.

Advantages of microprocessors

The microprocessors are very cost effective. They greatly reduce the cost of processing by having the whole CPU on a single chip. The cost is reduced in many ways. The assembly and labor cost during manufacturing is reduced. The amount of material required for computer and CPU manufacturing also gets reduced, further reducing the cost of computer manufacturing. With the decreased size and weight of computer, their operating costs also lower as the computers now required less amount of cooling and electricity consumption. Because of reduction in weight, the packaging and shipping now involves lesser costs and was more simple and easy. The speed of the computers increases with the help of microprocessors, which adds to their efficiency. The number of chips that can be fitted into the microprocessor chip doubles after every two year. This is also called the Moore law; hence we get faster microprocessors after every year or two years.

Types of microprocessors

Most of the personal computers across the world use 64 bit microprocessor since the 1990’s. They have evolved over their 8, 16 and 32 bit counterparts. The current era can be termed as 64 bit era of microprocessors. AMD has introduced the 64-bit architecture which is backwards-compatible with x86, x86-64 specifics. It is also called the AMD64 and was launched in September 2003,

Intel has also launched fully compatible 64 bit extensions, also called intel64. They were initially called em64t. The AMD and Intel 64 bit processors can run the 64 bit software as well as the 32 bit applications with ease. It can run on all programs such windows vista, xp, UNIX, Mac os etc that are able to run the 64 bit software. It also doubles the general purpose registers which yield to their high level of performance. Extra processors are now added to the computers and keeping up with Moore law and doubling the transistors is becoming more and more challenging and difficult. Hence multicore processors are devised which have more than one processors on the single chip. The greater number of processors exponentially increases the computers performance. Second level cache and bus interface can be shared between the cores. The physical intimacy between the cores helps them in communicating at faster rates. Hence we get an overall increase system performance. The launch of first dual core processors was in the year 2005. Today, dual core and quad processors are used in personal computers, workstations and servers. Some example of dual core and multi core processors are inter core 2 extreme qx9775 (dual core) and Niagara and Niagara 2 of Sun Microsystems (eight core). After the launch of Intel i5 and i7 microprocessors, quad core processors have overtaken the dual core processors and are now considered the mainstream microprocessors.