Types of Microprocessors and Their Functions

A microprocessor is a type of computer processor, allowing for the central processing of the computer to be conducted on a single integrated circuit. Despite their small size, a microprocessor is composed of millions of transistors, resistors, and diodes, allowing the component to undertake the binary operations of the system based on instructions stored in computer memory. In this blog, we will discuss various types of microprocessors available, as well as each of their applications and functions.

The CISC, or complex instruction set computer, is one of the primary microprocessor types. CISC microprocessors are specifically designed to handle complex instructions, allowing for a reduction in instructions per program. Common instructions that the CISC is capable of executing include arithmetics, storing data on computer memory, and reading data. To complete a set of instructions, a CISC microprocessor may have to operate in multiple cycles. Due to its hardware, CISC microprocessors are beneficial for systems that have higher hardware, making up for its lower ability to operate complex programming or software.

The RISC, or reduced instruction set computer, serves as the opposite of the CISC through its use for simple instruction sets. With the use of simpler instruction, the RISC microprocessor is able to execute processing time much quicker, allowing for a completion in one clock cycle. To achieve such speed, an RISC microprocessor requires that program codes contain many more lines, and more computer memory is required in order to store instructions. For applications, RISC microprocessors are most beneficial for the use of pipelining, or parallel execution, allowing for lengthy code to be read quickly while exerting less load on the hardware.

Beyond the CISC and RISC type microprocessors, there are also a variety of special purpose microprocessors, each providing their own capabilities and benefits. Coprocessors are a type of processor that act as an assistant to a main processor, aiding in completing complex tasks. With a coprocessor, the main processor can have its performance increased with borrowed processing power, and this leads to reduced load times and stresses. Typically, coprocessors are used for applications such as graphics, complex arithmetics, single processing, and I/O interfacing operations. As a coprocessor is a separate, independent device from the main processor, it cannot be used in lieu of a CPU or take its role.

A DSP, or digital signal processor, is a microprocessor type that specializes in the processing of signals such as radar, audio, speech, image, sonar, and more. Typically, DSP processors are utilized for the conversion of analog to digital, and vice versa. DSPs are also capable of processing multiple signals at once, utilizing parallel operations. Input/output processors, or IOP, are another processor type that conducts the input and output operations of a computer system, and they handle the mouse, printer, keyboard, display unit, and other peripherals.

Another major type of microprocessor that is commonly found in computer systems is the graphic processor, or Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). With a GPU, a computer can render and process the creation of images. GPUs have processing times that are faster than the CPU, utilizing parallel instructions to render images for CGI and video games. GPUs also benefit other devices such as smartphones and gaming consoles, providing the same benefits that they do for computer systems.

Depending on your need, there are a variety of microprocessor types that can benefit a diverse set of applications and systems. When it comes time to begin sourcing the microprocessors, integrated circuit components, and computer memory that you need, let the experts at NSN Stocks help you procure everything with ease. NSN Stocks is a leading online distributor of aviation and electronic parts, providing customers access to an unrivaled inventory consisting of over 2 billion items. Get started on the purchasing process today and receive a personalized quote in 15 minutes or less.


February 19, 2020
August 6, 2019

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