The Central Processing Unit


Microprocessors, also called central processing units (CPUs), are
frequently described as the "brains" of a computer, because they act as the
central control for the processing of data in personal computers (PCs) and other
computers. Chipsets perform logic functions in computers based on Intel
processors. Motherboards combine Intel microprocessors and chipsets to form the
basic subsystem of a PC. Because it\'s part of every one of your computer\'s
functions, it takes a fast processor to make a fast PC. These processors are
all made of transistors. The first transistor was created in 1947 by a team of
scientists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Ever since 1947 transistors have
shrunk dramitically in size enabling more and more to be placed on each single
chip.
The transistor was not the only thing that had to be developed before a
true CPU could be produced. There also had to be some type of surface to
assemble the transistors together on. The first chip made of semiconducitve
material or silicon was invented in 1958 by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments.
Now we have the major elements needed to produce a CPU. In 1965 a company by
the name of Intel was formed and they began to produce CPU\'s shortly thereafter.
Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, predicted that the number of
transistor placed on each CPU would double every 18 months or so. This sounds
almost impossible, however this has been a very accutate estimation of the
evolution of CPUs. Intel introduced their first processor, a 4004, in November
of 1971. This first processor had a clock speed of 108 kilohertz and 2,300
transistors. It was used mainly for simple arithmetic manipulation such as in a
calculator. Ever since this first processor was introduced the market has done
nothing but soared to unbelievable highs. The first processor common in
personal computers was the 8088. This processor was introduced in June of 1978.
It could be purchased in three different clock speeds starting at 5 Megahertz
and going up to 10 Megahertz. This CPU had 29,000 transistors. Then came the
80286 and 80386 processors. The 386 was the first processor to be introduced in
the DX, SX, and SL versions. Next came the 80486 processors of which there were
even more choices here. The first 486 processor had 1,200,000 transistors and
the latest have 1.4 million transistors. There clock speeds varied any where
from 16 MHz on the first ones to 100 MHz on the most recent 486 processors.
Some of which are still in use in homes all around the country. Next came the
Pentium Processor, March 1993, running at clock speeds of 60 & 66 Mhz. These
first pentium processors had 3.1 million transistors, and had a 32-bit data path.
Now the pentium processor range anywhere from 90 MHz to 200 MHz and are the
most widely used processor today. Intel is currently producing two new pentium
processors with MMX technology. These two processors, running at 166 & 200 MHz,
are made to accelarate graphics and multimedia software packages. Currently the
newest processor to be introduced in a 400 MHz processor made also by Intel.
This new processor illustrates the performance potential of the new P6
architecture. It contains 7.5 million transistors and also includes the new MMX
technology.

Category: Technology