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What is a CPU?

A computer's central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of your desktop computer, smartphone, laptop, tablet or other computing device. The CPU, also called the processor, carries out the commands that programs and apps deliver to the computer. The processor interprets inputs from hardware like the mouse or keyboard, and helps manage multitasking. Slow and old processors will be taxed more easily when running multiple programs in different windows simultaneously.

Most processors today are multi-core, which means they combine two or more separate CPUs in a single processor so a PC has increased flexibility to manage demanding software. The standard types in many current computers are dual-core processors, which include two CPU units, and quad-core, which have four CPUs.

Uses of a multi-core CPU in your computer

  • Prioritizing tasks so you can run multiple programs without slowdown
  • Using more demanding programs like media editing or new games
  • Improving tablet and smartphone technology means these devices increasingly feature processors comparable to PCs