Alternately referred to as a processor, central processor, or microprocessor, the CPU (pronounced sea-pea-you) is the Central Processing Unit of the computer. A computer's CPU handles all instructions it receives from hardware and software running on the computer.
Tip: The CPU is often referred to as the brain of the computer. However, it is more appropriate to refer to software as the brain and the CPU as a very efficient calculator. A CPU is really good with numbers, but if it wasn't for the software it wouldn't know how to do anything else.
Note: Many new computer users may improperly call their computer and sometimes their monitor the CPU. When referring to your computer or monitor, it is proper to refer to them as either the "computer" or "monitor" and not a CPU.
The picture below is an example of what the top and bottom of an Intel Pentium processor may look. The processor is placed and secured into a compatible CPU socket found on the motherboard. Processors produce heat, so they are covered with a heat sink to keep them cool and running smoothly.
Computer CPU (Central Processing Unit)
As you can see in the above picture, the CPU chip is usually in the shape of a square or rectangle and has one notched corner to help place the chip properly into the CPU socket. On the bottom of the chip are hundreds of connector pins that plug into each of the corresponding holes in the socket. Today, most CPU's resemble the picture shown above. However, Intel and AMD have also experimented with slot processors that were much larger and slid into a slot on the motherboard. Also, over the years, there have been dozens of different types of sockets on motherboards. Each socket only supports specific types of processors and each has its own pin layout.