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Central Processing Unit (CPU)

What is a CPU?


Central Processing Unit - Intel Xeon E3-1200 CPU

Intel Xeon E3-1200 CPU (Front and Back)

© Intel

What is a CPU?

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands from the computer's hardware and software.

The CPU could be considered the "brains" of the computer.

The CPU is Also Known As

processor, computer processor, microprocessor, central processor, "the brains of the computer"

Important CPU Facts

Not all central processing units have pins on their bottom sides, but in the ones that do, the pins are easily bent. Take great care when handling, especially when installing onto the motherboard.

Each motherboard supports only a certain range of CPU types so always check with your motherboard manufacturer before making a purchase.

Popular CPU Manufacturers

Intel, AMD

CPU Description

A modern CPU is usually small and square with many short, rounded, metallic connectors on its underside. Some older CPUs have pins instead metallic connectors.

The CPU attaches directly to a CPU "socket" (or sometimes a "slot") on the motherboard. The CPU is inserted into the socket pin-side-down and a small lever helps to secure the processor.

After running even a short while, modern CPUs can get very hot. To help dissipate this heat, it is necessary to attach a heat sink and a fan directly on top of the CPU. Typically, these come bundled with a CPU purchase.

Other more advanced cooling options are also available including water cooling kits and phase change units.

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