Monday, April 19, 2010


The microprocessor is sometimes referred to as the 'brain' of the personal computer, and is responsible for the processing of the instructions which make up computer software. It houses the central processing unit, commonly referred to as the CPU, and as such is a crucially important part of the home PC. However, how many people really understand how the chip itself works?

This tutorial aims to provide an introduction to the various parts of the microprocessor, and to teach the basics of the architecture and workings of the CPU across three specific sections:

CPU Structure
This section, using a simplified model of a central processing unit as an example, takes you through the role of each of the major constituent parts of the CPU. It also looks more closely at each part, and examines how they are constructed and how they perform their role within the microprocessor.

Instruction Execution
Once you are familiar with the various elements of the processor, this section looks at how they work together to process and execute a program. It looks at how the various instructions that form the program are recognised, together with the processes and actions that are carried out during the instruction execution cycle itself.

Further Features
Now that the basics have been covered, this section explores the further advancements in the field of microprocessor architecture that have occured in recent years. Explanations of such techniques as pipelining and hyperthreading are provided, together with a look at cache memory and trends in CPU architecture.

Each section also concludes with a multiple choice quiz with which you can test your knowledge, while some also contain interactive animations in order to improve your learning experience. These animations are in Macromedia Flash format, and will require Flash Player to be installed on your computer. If it is not, please visit the Macromedia website in order to download and install the browser plug-in.

The first section of this tutorial related to the structure of the central processing unit.
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