Processor (computing)


Circuits of a microprocessor at 200x magnification


In computing, a processor or processing unit is an electronic circuit which performs operations on some external data source, usually memory or some other data stream. The term is frequently used to refer to the central processor (central processing unit) in a system, but typical computer systems (especially SoCs) combine a number of specialised "processors".



  • CPU – central processing unit
  • If designed conforming to the von Neumann architecture, it contains at least a control unit (CU), arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and processor registers.
  • In some contexts, the ALU and registers are called the processing unit.
  • GPU – graphics processing unit
  • VPU – video processing unit
  • TPU – tensor processing unit
  • NPU – neural processing unit
  • PPU – physics processing unit
  • DSP – digital signal processor
  • ISP – image signal processor
  • SPU or SPE – synergistic processing element in the Cell microprocessor
  • FPGA – field-programmable gate array
  • sound chip