The microchip revolutionised electronics and forms the central part of any circuit board. Commonly referred to as a processor, their job is to take information and literally “process” it based on its programming. Processors are found in most modern consumer electronics from your Smartphone to your Smart TV, but the most powerful in the domestic setting can be found in your Home Computer.
At the centre of your computer lies the CPU (Central Processing Unit). If you looked inside the case it would stick out as the largest chip on the motherboard (main circuit board) and often has a fan or heat sink attached to draw away the heat it produces. The speed of a CPU is measured in Hz or GHz now that processors have become more powerful. For example, a 2GHz processor would generally be considered to be quicker than a 1.6GHz processor. However, this has become more complicated by developments such as having multiple cores. Most modern CPU’s actually have several processors all working at the same time within the same chip which makes them faster, particularly at multi-tasking.
The CPU market is dominated by two key players: AMD and Intel who compete to develop faster processors, with the fastest in the market demanding a high price tag. Intel is often considered to be leading technologically and to often have the slight edge in performance. However, AMD CPU’s are often cheaper and a wise choice for the budget buyer wanting to balance cost and performance.