What Is the Function of a Computer Processor?

Updated February 21, 2017

Computers perform numerous operations on a daily basis and process vast amounts of data to run these operations. This is done with the help of an integral hardware component called a processor.


A computer processor, or CPU, is the central processing unit in the computer. The processor is composed of a microchip which connects to the computer motherboard.


Computers processors are used to direct the operation of all other hardware devices and execute application instructions. Processors carry out these functions by processing digital information, receiving data and providing data.


When an application is opened, the processor pulls the digital information from computer memory. The data can be stored in RAM, random access memory, or ROM, read only memory. The processor reads the digital information and determines the best processing method via its ALU. The ALU, or Arithmetic/Logic Unit, is a circuit that enables the processor to execute complex mathematical computations. The processor then sends the digital information back into memory storage. A computer processor also routes data through the system bus, or primary data channel, located between the memory and processor.

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