Advertisement
The processor or Central Processing Unit is the central nervous system of any computing device. This is where all the processing of data and information happens, so that we get what we want out of the computing device in a form comprehensible to us. The processor is responsible for following the instructions of a computer program and carrying out activities as instructed by that program. When speaking about the different types of computer processors available, we often get inputs based upon various aspects, most prominent among them being a classification based upon the brand name and manufacturer. Other parameters of distinction include two separate aspects of processor architecture that affect the performance of the computer in terms of processing speed and multitasking capabilities - the width of the data bus (remember the 32 bit, 64 bit stuff?) and the number of cores present on the processor. Let's take a look at each category of differentiating parameters, in the following segment.

Classes of Differentiating Parameters

Brand Names and Manufacturers
Based upon brand and manufacturer names, there are two major types of processors available - Intel and AMD. Intel's Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Celeron, Pentium II and III Xeon, Pentium M, Dual Core Xeon, Intel Core and Intel Core 2, Intel Pentium Dual Core, Dual Core Xeon LV, Pentium Duo, Core 2 Quad and Intel Pentuim 2 Dual Core Processor, are some of the most popular processors from Intel that are used in their products by a lot of PC and laptop manufacturers. On the other hand, AMD's Athlon, Duron, Turion, Sempron, Phenom and Opteron processor ranges are equally popular, especially for those computers and laptops that are specifically targeted towards prospects who are heavily into multimedia and gaming.

Computer Processor Varieties Based Upon Design Parameters
When it comes to the architectural parameters of processors that affect its functionality, there are two aspects that determine the processor category - data bus width and number of cores. Let's take a look at both classes.

Classification Based on Data Bus Width
Do the terms '32 bit processor and 64 bit processor' sound familiar? I'm sure it does! So what are these bit-figures all about? What functionality of the processor do they point towards? Well, these figures indicate towards the width of the data bus. The number of bits that a processor is tagged with refers to how many bits of data and memory address size the data bus can accommodate at one go. Therefore, a 32 bit processor can process data and memory addresses that can be laid out in 32 bits, while a 64 bit processor has a data bus that is wide enough to process data or memory addresses which are capable of being laid out in 64 bits. The more bits of data and memory address a processor can process at one go, the faster it is considered! Previously, there were 4 bit processors, 8 bit processors as well as 16 bit processors available. However, nowadays, we only see and use either 32 bit or 64 bit processors. When you compare computer processors speed, the wider a data bus is, the faster the processor works. However, certain other hardware and software upgradations are also required for faster processors to come up with their best performance.

Types of Processors Based on Number of Cores
What do Dual Core and Quad Core technically mean? I mean, I know they sound really hip and cool, being the latest jargon to do the rounds of the processors market, but what do they really mean? Well, a core on a processor is like the brain in the nervous system. This is where the actual reading and execution of program instructions takes place. Now, imagine yourself having two or more brains instead of just one - would that make you capable of thinking and acting faster on a given stimulus in a given situation? Wouldn't those complex differential equations and calculus sums get solved more accurately and in less time when the problem itself gets divided among two or three cerebral processing centers? Wouldn't you be able to handle more tasks than usual? Well, that's exactly what happens when the number of cores on a processor increases from one to two, four, etc. More processors enable the computer to perform multiple tasks at the same time, without having to wait for the completion of one task before starting the next. On these lines, we have single core processors, dual core processors, quadruple core processors, and so on.

Those were, roughly, the most significant classes or types under which various available processors can be categorized. When checking out the processor and performance specifications while buying a computer or laptop, these are the main areas of concern that influence the buyers' decision to a significant level. Based upon individual computing requirements (ranging from basic Internet browsing and mailing to upgraded business use to high-end gaming and multimedia purposes), a buyer would settle for a processor that succeeds in striking an equilibrium between his computing needs and his budget.