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A small computer. often contained in no more than a few small semiconductor chips. is a .

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     A . microwave-oven controls. which can combine many electronic functions and large memory storage on a single chip much smaller than a postage stamp. video games. Microprocessors were made possible by advanced integrated-circuit miniaturization techniques. telephone switching systems. automobile emission-control and timing devices. including use in digital watches.. security systems. It has many applications. of course. thermal controls in the home. in calculators and other types of computers. and.

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such as transistors. Most microprocessors use standard. Each chip normally consists of active devices. These microprocessors are much cheaper to produce than are specially designed. or logic circuits. such as resistors and capacitors. is made of integrated circuits. Such connections are the parts in a . diodes. single-purpose microprocessors. or semiconductor chips (or may consist of a single such chip). mass-produced chips with the specific program built in by the manufacturer as software. combined with passive components. Every effort is made to integrate as many electronic and logic components as possible within the chip and thus reduce external connections.

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as a result of ultra-large-scale integration (ULSI). with each bit being a binary digit. A 256-Kb chip actually has a storage capacity of 262. the heart of the . The key process in the development of increasingly compact chips is microlithography. or million bits) of data. These chips can each store as much as 512 Mb (megabits. and then photographically reduced to a size where individual circuit lines are less than one thousandth the width of a human hair. either a 1 or a 0. which were referred to as large-scale integration (LSI). chips can be made that contain more than 100 million transistors in an area the size of a postage stamp.144 bits. that are most prone to failure. resulted in the production of the popular 256-Kb (kilobit. or thousand-bit) memory chip. As in large computers. Early miniaturization techniques. usually with the help of computers. In this process the circuits are laid out. Today.

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The CPU performs three functions: it directs and monitors the system's operation. and it serves as the primary memory. it performs the required algebraic or logical operations. system is the central processing unit (CPU). A . storing information that is to be processed.

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Since all operations must be synchronized-that is. itself may act as the CPU for a larger computer. Frequently. additional storage memory is required. This can be provided by another chip on the same printed circuit board as the CPU. . they must work together in the correct sequence-a crystal oscillator clock is also installed to regulate the timing.

with nearly 20 million trillion possible binary-digit combinations per word. Today 32-bit microprocessors are common. The first microprocessors were 4-bit processors-they could recognize groups of four bits. A . the greater the number of different bit patterns available for use. which were the basic components of early personal computers. the distinction between microprocessors and minicomputers has become blurred. and 64-bit processors are available. many current microprocessors are more powerful than the minicomputers designed in the late 1970s. Word length is the term used to indicate the number of bits that are coupled to form a symbol-the greater the word length. As a result of the increasing bit storage capacity of chips. Next came 8-bit processors. In fact. Microprocessors use different numbers of bits to represent a symbol (a word. or 24 = 16 different binary combinations of 0s and 1s. These early units were used in simple control and security applications. number. followed by 16-bit processors. or command). They therefore could respond to 16 different operating instructions.

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stores its information in different ways. depending on how it is to be handled. Information stored in RAM is lost when the power supply is disconnected. since the user does not need to change this program. Information that can be altered by the user is stored in a random-access memory (RAM) portion of the chip. Each type of . The actual operating program is normally stored in read-only memory (ROM) or in a permanent logic array. while information stored in ROM is retained even if power is lost.

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High-level language programs can also be readily transferred from one computer to another. or Java. the operand specifies the data to be used and indicates where they should be stored.sirs. however.elibrary. or in binary form consisting of only patterns of 1s and 0s. which uses commands based on words and mathematical notation.prod. The op code states the operation to be carried out. An instruction consists of two parts: an operating code (op code) and an operand. most programs are written in a high-level language. http://0- discoverer.org/discoweb/disco/do/article?urn=urn%3Asirs%3AUS%3 BARTICLE%3BART%3B0000223655 „ . has a particular set of instructions that it understands. To increase programming efficiency and simplify use. FORTRAN.com. These programs are then translated in the processor into the machine language that the unit understands and can execute. such as BASIC. Within the processor these instructions operate in machine language.mel.