How-To Geek


The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is the proverbial brain of the computer. Modern CPUs are made from silicon and have a very high density of integrated circuits etched into silicon wafers.

The distinguishing characteristic of CPUs of most concern to consumers is the clock rate–the number of computational cycles per second the processor is capable of undertaking. Clock rates are measured in hertz such as megahertz (early personal computers had processor that maxed out at only a few megahertz) to gigahertz (modern computers frequently sport multi-core processors that run at upwards of 3 Ghz each).

Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, is frequently cited as a guide post for CPU development. In 1965 Moore predicted that the density of integrated circuits on a microchip would double every year (Moore based this prediction on the trend of the previous 7 years). The prediction has held true since and modern CPU manufacturers set their yearly goals structured around meeting (or exceeding) Moore’s Law.

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