Are CPU And Processor The Same? [Clear Your Doubts 2024]

Written By Steven Arends

You may hear or use the term processor in place of CPU on numerous occasions. But deep down in your heart, you may still doubt whether a CPU and a processor are the same things.are-cpu-and-processor-the-same

In this article, I will answer that question. I will also explain the similarities & differences between the CPU and processor.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

Are the Processor and CPU the Same Thing?

Technically speaking, a CPU (Central Processing Unit) and a processor are the same. Besides the word variation, there is no difference. You can use the terms CPU and processor interchangeably. Sometimes people misconception the PC tower as a CPU. But that is not true.

You may ask, how can a CPU and a processor be the same? Let’s look at their definition & function, and then you will understand effortlessly.

What is a CPU and What Does It Do?

A CPU is the brain of a PC. It is in charge of managing and directing all the PC components.

The CPU performs all the logical and arithmetic processes and controls the input-output operations needed to run the PC and its software.

Other than controlling the flow of data, it is the one which is responsible for fetching, decoding, and executing instructions in the computer’s memory.

What is a Processor and What Does It Do?

A processor is a device or component that performs operations on data. It is an integrated circuit that is placed inside the CPU. Its function is to execute the commands given to the CPU by the PC.amd-processors

However, there are other processors apart from the CPU. A processor can be on a simple coffee machine and an advanced GPU in a gaming computer.

The components like ALU (arithmetic logic unit), control unit (CU), and cache are there in the processor.

The control unit manages the instructions and data flow within the CPU. The ALU manages mathematical and logical data operations.

The cache is one kind of temporary high-speed memory. Users can use that memory later for quick excess.

So, in short, you can say that a processor is one part of the CPU that conducts the actual processing, whereas the CPU is the whole component that processes all the instructions in a computer.

Since these two are bound together and do the same task when a computer gives instructions, you can’t say they are not the same.

So, whenever someone asks, what is the difference between a CPU & a Processor? You can confidently answer him that they are the same things.

If you often mix up whether a CPU serves as an input or output device, go and check our other article on is a CPU an Input or an Output device.

CPU Vs. Microprocessor: What’s the Difference?

cpu-vs-microprocessorOther than their functionality and purpose, there is no difference. A CPU is made of one or more microprocessors. It takes the command from the software within the PC and sends it to the microprocessor. The microprocessor performs those tasks and returns the data to the CPU.

The fact is, all CPUs are microprocessors, but you can’t say that all microprocessors are CPUs. Cause, they are not.

A microprocessor is a single integrated circuit that performs logical and arithmetic operations for the CPU. All modern CPUs are built on several microprocessors.

The microprocessor is the one that performs all the processing tasks. But a single microprocessor can handle one task at a time.

You may think, how can you know how many microprocessors you have in your CPU? It’s pretty easy. Check what type of processor you have.

For example, assume you have an octa-core processor. It means you have eight microprocessors in your CPU.

It also implies that if your processor issues eight different commands, eight microprocessors can perform eight separate tasks individually exceedingly well at a time.

Overall, you can say, the CPU is nothing but a whole package of microprocessors.

Sometimes, you may think about the processor’s durability. If you do, you must read our separate guide on how long a CPU can last.

What is the Difference Between a CPU and a Processor Core?

The CPU is a microprocessor chip that carries out the commands. Whereas the processor cores are the individual processing units within the CPU. A multi-core processor can perform a lot of tasks at once because each processor core has its own ALU, CU, and registers.

When you take a CPU in your hand, fundamentally, you are looking at the processor cores. The more cores it has, the better the CPU performance will be.

When you give any instructions to your computer, the CPU is the one that carries out the instructions and sends them to the processor cores. After receiving a single computing task, a processor core starts to work at its maximum clock speed to complete the work quickly.

The processor core also temporarily stores the data in the RAM. And the CPU core works closely with the system memory to execute a process.

But, how fast your CPU will perform depends on how many cores and clock speed it has.

As an example, A 2 GHz clock speed processor can run 2 billion instructions per second. For additional information, see the article: Does GHz matter in the CPU?

If you have a dual-core processor and try to do multiple tasks, the CPU won’t handle that many assignments. Even a simple function will run slowly.

If you plan to buy a new CPU for your PC and get puzzled about whether you should go for more or fewer cores, don’t forget to check out our expert’s opinion about how many CPU cores you need.


Is the CPU also called a processor?

Yes, in several instances, the CPU is also called a processor.

What are the 3 types of a processor?

The three types of processors are a microcontroller, a microprocessor, and an embedded processor. Also, you will find digital signal processors on some devices.

Can I add another processor to my computer?

Yes, you can add another processor to your computer if your motherboard has an additional CPU socket. Otherwise, you can’t. Most modern motherboards support multiple processors.

Final Thought

The debate about whether a CPU and a processor are the same has been going on for a long time. You shouldn’t be ashamed, since the question itself is a bit tricky. The boundary between a CPU and a processor depends only on the type of work they do.

I hope, from the discussions above, you are convinced that there is no difference between a CPU and a processor.

Comment below if you have any queries.


About The Author
Steven Arends is a computer science graduate and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a vast collection of computer hardware and loves exploring the latest advancements. As a contributing author to 10Scopes, Steven shares his expertise to make the world of technology more accessible and easier to understand for all readers.

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