Microprocessor - A Revolutionary Invention

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

A microprocessor is a small, silicon programmable chip that forms the heart of the Central Processing Units (CPU) of all modern computers today. It won’t be wrong to say that you are able to read this article due to the backend processing your device’s microprocessor is doing for you. This intelligent chip takes digital input, performs its instructional computations on the data, and produces the required output.

micro-chipMicroprocessors are now an integral part of all digital devices including household appliances, car accessories, cell phones, DVD players, toys and various others. Therefore, whether it’s about telephone communication or washing machines, word processing or frequency counters, reservation systems or regular computers, microprocessors are the key devices.

Before the advancement in technology, computers were not as speedy and computationally strong as they are now. The main processor was formed by combining hundreds of transistors together onto a printed circuit board (PCB). This complex circuitry not only caused wastage of energy but also an unbearable delay in processing due to the long chain of devices involved. Imagine how annoying, using a computer that responds to a single click in matter of minutes, would be. All thanks to microprocessors, we are spared from that torture.

Microprocessors brought a revolution in the digital world where a number of logic circuits could be embedded on to a single integrated circuit (IC). The complex circuitry was confined in a small chip which reduced processing cost and delay. Today, various types of microprocessors are available in the market to choose from. The major characteristics of a microprocessor that differentiate one kind from another are its instruction set, clock cycle and its bandwidth. The instruction set includes all the instructions to be executed by the processor. These instructions are, in a computer, initially set by the BIOS and later by the application program. The clock cycle is the execution speed of the instructions and the bandwidth is the total bits that can be processed in a single instruction for example 4-bits, 8-bits or 16-bits.

micro-pins The first, microprocessor called ,Intel 4004 was embedded in an electronic calculator which could work on 4-bit words. With continuous increase in microprocessor’s capacity, an 8-bit and 16-bit microprocessor was used to make the first microcomputer. In 1971, Pico electronics introduced their first microprocessor made for yet another calculator. This IC had a proper ROM (Read Only Memory), RAM (Random Access Memory) and an arithmetic and logic unit (ALU). Intel also moved ahead to make Intel 8008, the world’s first 8-bit microprocessor which made the use of personal computers common throughout the world. After that, a series of developments started with the introduction of a 12-bit processor, followed by an even better 16-bit and 32-bit.

Today, 64-bit microprocessors are commonly being used in most personal computers with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and even Linux. Modern computers nowadays have dual-core or multi core processors where multiple microprocessors are used to increase the processing speed drastically.

small-chip As previously mentioned, a microprocessor needs to be ‘programmed’ in a particular fashion to suit our need. The programming language that a microprocessor understands is known as ‘assembly language’. The instruction sets that are loaded in the instruction register of a microprocessor have to be in assembly language for the chip to execute them easily. Assembly language has a specific syntax that can be easily understood and remembered by human beings. Learning various binary strings by heart is almost impossible especially when thousands are involved.

So, all thanks to microprocessors, today we are able to enjoy the privilege of having an affordable personal computer with an exceptionally good speed at our home. As new microprocessors are being introduced, super computers are evolving. It won’t be long when super computers will replace all our personal computers.

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