This section provides an overview for microprocessors as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 9 microprocessor manufacturers and their company rankings.
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A microprocessor is a semiconductor chip that serves as the brain of a computer, performing various arithmetic operations and controlling peripheral devices.
Until around 1970, the brain of a computer consisted of a large printed circuit board made up of multiple semiconductor chips, but advances in semiconductors have made it possible to create a single chip, and the first microprocessor was shipped in 1971.
In addition to microprocessor, computer components can be categorized into memory, graphics, HDD drive units, Ethernet communication interfaces, and other input/output devices. When microprocessor first became available, the components other than the above microprocessor were provided on separate semiconductor chips, and these were combined to make computers.
With the subsequent progress and sophistication of semiconductor microfabrication, memory, graphics, and various interface functions, which used to be on separate chips from the microprocessor, have been incorporated into the microprocessor, contributing greatly to the miniaturization and weight reduction of devices.
Microprocessors are used in almost all devices that require computation and control.
In computer systems, microprocessors of different sizes are installed in everything from supercomputers to high-performance computers for business use, consumer computers, notebook PCs, smartphones, and tablet devices.
They are also found in a wide variety of consumer and professional devices. These include cell phones, smartphones, televisions, recorders, various audio devices, cars and motorcycles, and various measuring instruments for professional use. Many of the microprocessors installed in these devices are also called single-chip microcomputers, and they contribute to the miniaturization of devices by incorporating peripheral hardware and other components that are optimized for their field and application.
Microprocessors execute operations and control by reading instructions from memory and decoding and executing them. Specifically, it performs the following operations:
By repeating the above steps 1 to 4, for example, a spreadsheet, video display, or room temperature control can be executed.
Microprocessors are available in different models for different applications. Microprocessors are broadly classified into two categories: personal computers and embedded systems.
Microprocessors for PCs have high processing power and support large memory capacity, so they can process large applications and data. Also, if Windows is used, many applications can be used and development costs can be reduced. However, the cost of mass production tends to be higher than that for embedded use.
Embedded devices are relatively inexpensive, as they are equipped with input/output functions, such as timer functions, AD converters, and D/A converters. However, their processing capacity is lower than that of PCs. Also, since applications are not available, it is necessary to determine the scale of software development.
CPUs (central processing units) are similar to microprocessors.
Basically, microprocessors and a CPU are the same thing, and both serve as the central processing unit in a computer.
Historically, in the early stages of computer technology, computers were large and CPUs consisted of many units. As technology developed, microprocessors that were integrated into integrated circuits were created, and they came to be commonly used as CPUs. However, since other microprocessors, such as GPUs, also exist in the computer-related field, calling a CPU a microprocessor is misleading. Therefore, in recent years, it is more common to refer to them as CPUs.
Microprocessors have a fixed amount of data that can be processed in a single operation according to a standard. Initially, microprocessors could only process 4-bit data, but in recent years, 64-bit data has become the norm.
In the past, operating systems such as Windows were designed for 32-bit microprocessors, but in recent years there has been a shift to 64-bit operating systems. Since the two are not compatible, software built for 32-bit cannot be used on 64-bit systems. Therefore, the transition has taken a long time.
In addition, microprocessors operate internally according to periodic signals called clock signals, and the higher the frequency of the signals, the faster they operate. Microprocessors operating in the GHz class are common in recent products, meaning that they can perform one billion operations per second.
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Texas Instruments Incorporated was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Texas Instruments is a producer of high tech equipment for industrial, automotive, personal electronics, communications equipment industries. Texas Instruments designs, manufactures, and sells semiconductors to electronics designers and manufacturers in the United States and internationally. Texas Instruments operates in two segments: analog and embedded processing. The Analog segment offers power products, including battery-management solutions, DC/DC switching regulators, power switches, linear regulators, voltage references, and lighting products. The Embedded Processing segment offers microcontrollers that are used in fields such as electronic equipment and digital signal processors for mathematical computations.
Infineon Technologies AG (Infineon) is headquartered in Neubiberg, Germany. Infineon designs, develops, manufactures, and markets semiconductors and related system solutions worldwide. Infineon’s automotive segment produces microcontrollers, discrete power semiconductors, IGBT modules, industrial microcontrollers, power and radar sensor ICs, SiC diodes, MOSFETs voltage regulators, comfort electronics, infotainment, powertrain, and security products. Industrial Power Control segment provides bare dies, discrete IGBTs, and driver ICs among other components. Power & Sensor Systems segment offers gas and pressure sensors, MEMS microphone chips, control ICs, and GaN power switches among others.
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