The heart of a computer, stored on a tiny silicon chip!

What is a Microprocessor?

A Microprocessor is an integrated circuit that contains all the functions of a central processing unit of a computer.

How does a Microprocessor work?

A microprocessor is an intergrated circuit on a tiny sillicon chip that contains thousands or millions of tiny on/off switches known as transistors. The transistors are laid out along microscopic lines of superfine aluminum that store or manipulate data. These circuits manipulate data in certain patterns, patterns that can be programmed by software to make machines do many useful tasks.

How are Microprocessors used?

One of the biggest tasks microprocessors perform is acting as the brains inside a personal computer. The number of transistors on a chip has grown from 2,300 in 1971 to 5.5 million today. These advances have made today microprocessors 1,000 faster than their predecessors, so they are capable of doing more at a faster speed.                                                                        Computers are not the only way in which microprocessors are used. Microprocessors also help many devices--your telephone, thermostat, car, or a traffic light, for instance--to remember and adjust to incoming information. This lets your phone redial, your thermostat automatically adjust, and thousands of other devices process details of daily life.

Special purpose designs

Most microprocessors are general purpose systems, however, several specialized processing devices have followed on from the technology.  For example, microcontrollers integrate a microprocessor with periphal devices for control of embedded system and a digital signal processor (DSP) is specialized for signal processing.                                                                Graphic processing units may have no, limited, or general programming facilities. For example, GPUs through the 1990s were mostly non-programmable and have only recently gained limited facilities like programmable vertex shaders which is used to manipulate properties such as position, color, and texture coordinate.

What is the speed of Microprocessors measured in?

The rate of a computer processor is measured in GHz or Gigahertz. It determines how fast the CPU can finish an electronic circuit cycle and then helps decides the speed of the computer processor. "GHz" refers to the number of calculations a computer can complete in a second. 

The history of the Microprocessor

There were three projects that delivered a microprocessor at about the same time; 1, The Itel 4004 is generally regarded as the first commercially avaliable microprocessor and was first advertised in November 1971. 2, Texas Institute (TI) engineers Gary Boone and Michael Cochran succeeded in creating a microcontroller, also called a microcomputer, in 1971. The result of their work was the TMS 1000, which went commercial in 1974. 3, In 1970, Garrett AiResearch created a microprocessor called the Central Air Data Computer for the main flight computer in various military planes. These were all 4-bit processors, until 1972 when Itel released the first 8-bit microprocessor - the Itel 8008, although this was quickly replaced by the faster 8080 in 1974 which offered more improved performance and relied on less support chips and many others by other companies.The 16-bit processors were also designed in 1972, while the 32-bit appeared in 1979. While 64-bit microprocessor designs have been in use in several markets since the early 1990s, the early 2000s saw the introduction of 64-bit microprocessors targeted at the PC market.