The Central Processing Unit, or CPU for short, is the heart of the computer. It does all sorts of different processing tasks and calculations. So, How Do CPU Cores Work? And what are CPU cores in the first place?
A modern CPU is made out of multiple cores (usually 4 to 8, but some CPUs can have up to 64, like the Ryzen Threadripper). A single core can work on one task at a time. You may have also seen something called a “thread”. A thread is a virtual CPU core that serves the same purpose. Usually, CPUs have twice as many threads as cores. For example, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 has 6 cores and 12 threads. That means two threads for every core.
How do CPU cores work with these threads? Most CPUs can utilize the numbers of cores to maximize performance. This is called multithreading. It is especially useful in games, where many different tasks are happening so that each thread can do a different task.
CPUs are very complex. If you wish to know the answer to, “How do CPU cores work?” in greater detail, then keep on reading.
How Do CPU Cores Work?
CPUs utilize principles of digital logic. CPUs are born on silicon wafers by creating millions (or even billions) of tiny binary switches called transistors. Transistors, also known as gates, are then combined into circuits that have very specific functions. There are many different functions and combinations. These simple circuits are typically combined with other circuits. Together they can perform multiplication. We will not go into great detail here as it would take hours to explain all of them.
Another important aspect of CPU design is that CPU cores have to store data. For storing information, CPUs use embedded memories (also called registers) which are addressable by rows and columns. The CPU provides an address to retrieve the stored data from the location.
For all this to work, it has to be synchronized. The synchronization is done using a system called “clock”. Clocking allows all the different operations on the CPU to be done at the same time. This is why clock speed is so important on a CPU. Generally, the faster the clock speed, the better the performance.
Clocks are also utilized to manage the input and output of the CPU. In other words, it controls the communication between the CPU and other devices like the system memory. These devices can be both analog and digital. There is also something called Phase Locked Loop Circuit. PLL distributes the clock pulses on the chip. It does so by using repeaters or splitters to adjust the clocks and account for the time during which the signal travels on the chip.
The I/O ring is usually around the outside part of the chip. It receives and sends the signal from external devices, such as your monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, speakers, and similar. We can say that the I/O controller is responsible for the communication between you and your computer.
All these different parts work together and allow your CPU to get the instructions from programs, read values, do calculations and other operations, and then output and distribute the rest throughout other components, for example, your graphics card. The microcode of the CPU is responsible to manage how your CPU operates. It allows for the instructions to be implemented and work correctly.
This is just a simplified explanation. CPUs are extremely complex, which is why only a few companies create them. It is truly fascinating how you can play realistic video games, make amazing videos, and talk to someone on the other side of the planet without actually understanding how the device you use even works.
CPUs are the foundation of modern society. They are the beating heart of your computer that makes everything work. CPUs process all the data you input and output through extremely complicated instructions that humans could never perform so quickly. That is all thanks to the millions of transistors that work all at the same time. A single CPU has millions of transistors that can perform many more calculations than any human in a fraction of a second.
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