Introduction to Microprocessors

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In the age of computers, it is hard to find someone unaware of basic computer functions or possessing basic computer skills. Many people take for granted that they are able to push the on/off button on their computer and it boots up allowing for the creation of documents or browse the internet. How does this process work? What makes the programs load making it possible to perform tasks utilizing the computer? How do we benefit from this technology? What would make us not want it? There are many companies who create a basic component that make it possible to own a computer in our home. Who are they? How long have we had this technology? All of these questions and more will be answered soon enough. What is a microprocessor and how does it work?

The microprocessor is labeled the “brain” of the computer. Whether you operate a desktop, server, or laptop, there is one commonality. They all have microprocessors that give these machines their ability to perform simple addition to complex multi-stage operations flawlessly. Microprocessors perform three main tasks: read/write to memory, process information, and communicate with peripherals.

The process of reading/writing to memory is one of the most important functions of the microprocessor. Reading from RAM enables the processor to pull start-up function and instructions to power-on the system being utilized. With this, that system enables main functions of the program and initializes them to be utilized by the operator. Without this, programs would be required to be initialized each time from some sort of boot sequence. This would not only be aggravating, but time consuming. The ability of the microprocessor to pull information from RAM (Random Access Memory) significantly increases the capability of the computer to perform more efficiently. This also decreases the amount of time the CPU (microprocessor) consumes in start-up processes and enables that time/power to be utilized performing other functions.

After receiving the information from the RAM, the microprocessor must do something with it. Embedded onboard microprocessors are sets of instructions. These instructions initiate commands to be performed in accordance with guidelines set by the initial programmer. As the microprocessor receives information from the RAM, it will interpret it and perform the desired task by applying the required instruction to the given command. This is how all programs in a computer are initiated. When we click on the Microsoft Word icon, that instruction is sent to the CPU which interprets it into rules to process opening the program. Consumers take for granted the intricacies involved in opening a single program and what is involved within the computer system involved.

Once a CPU is able to receive instruction from the computer’s RAM and interpret it into usable tasks to open a program or file, there is one last step a CPU is responsible for. Without a keyboard to put commands in or a screen to see the commands, a computer would be useless. It would be a box full of high-dollar electronics deemed unusable. This is where the final mission of the microprocessor comes in to play. It is required to talk to the peripheral devices attached to the computer, receives commands from the keyboard, processes them, and displays them to the monitor. As an interpreter of instructions, the microprocessor enables all components of a system to perform in harmony with each other. It is also responsible for the transmission of information from a program to the hard drive for long term storage. Anyone who has not adequately “saved” their work realizes how important this process in the responsibilities of the microprocessor.

Now that microprocessor functions have been established, the method for communicating these commands needs to be known. Within all computer components there is a set of instructions that commands a microprocessor’s ability to understand them. These “building block” are...
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