The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is a complex yet critical piece of hardware. It’s the “brain” of a computer system and is responsible for the various tasks that the computer conducts. During the execution of these tasks, it makes a lot of computations. Hence the question; where does the CPU store its computations?
The CPU utilizes registers to store all of its computations. Registers are a temporary memory, similar to CPU cache and Random Access Memory (RAM). But, registers are quite smaller and faster.
There are different CPU registers, including data, address, and status registers, among others. Each type is utilized for a different purpose. For instance, the data registers help to store numeric data; status registers hold truth values, etc.
We’ve got a detailed coverage of this and more below. So, please keep reading to know more about these CPU storage areas, how they work, and the various types available.
Where Does the CPU Store Its Computations?
The CPU stores its computations in unique types of temporary memory known as registers. It utilizes registers because it’s more efficient storing data there than in the CPU cache or even RAM.
Registers are part of the CPU architecture, and you can’t change (add or remove) them. They consist of a small amount of super-fast storage that can be accessed randomly. Some registers are Read-Only or Write-Only for specific reasons.
These temporary types of memory aren’t part of the main memory (RAM), but sometimes a memory address is assigned to them. Your computer’s CPU takes data from other more significant types of memory. Then it loads it into registers for computations and storage purposes. Once the data is processed, it’s usually stored in the RAM (system’s memory) to create space for new analyses.
Registers and Memory Hierarchy
Have you ever heard of the term Memory hierarchy before? Well, it’s commonly used in computer architecture to describe the various types of memory and how they work. Hard drives, for example, are slower and larger types of memory and are positioned at the bottom hierarchically. The CPU registers are the fastest (order of access time) and smallest types of memory. Thus, they are placed at the top of the pyramid, followed by the CPU cache.
The CPU registers have different sizes. The size of a register memory is determined by the number of bits it can hold. For instance, the most common register sizes are 8-bit (meaning 8 bits), 12-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit. Registers can sometimes work in different modes, meaning that a 32-bit register can be split into 8-bit sizes 4 times. This enables it to store various data simultaneously.
The CPU cache and registers are critical components that can’t be overlooked. The CPU needs them to perform its tasks reasonably and with maximum efficiency. If cache didn’t exist, the CPUs would need to load data from RAM, making computers very slow.
How Do the CPU Registers Work?
We mentioned that registers are of different types (find details below) for various purposes. They often either hold data or addresses to assist in finding the data stored elsewhere on the system. The data are usually stored – in the CPU cache or RAM.
For instance, index registers in their arithmetic tasks hold addresses that enable the CPU to find the needed data. Index registers play a critical role in enhancing the efficiency of the CPU. They cut down memory usage significantly and speed up the CPU’s execution speed.
Types of Registers
If you didn’t know, there are numerous different types of registers. And all of them work to help the CPU execute its diverse operations. The number and types of registers of a CPU depend on its architecture. Some play more important roles than others.
We’ve mentioned some of these CPU registers below to give you a general idea of how they do. Have a look!
- Constant Registers – They store Read-Only values.
- Address Registers – Store data addresses, which assist the CPU in locating data in the RAM.
- Data Register – They store numeric data used for arithmetic tasks.
- Status Registers – Hold truth values that help the CPU determine if it should execute an instruction.
- Vector Register – They hold data for vector processing.
- Instruction Registers – Store instructions that the CPU is executing at the moment.
There are several other types of Registers; you can see a comprehensive list here. All these registers work harmoniously with the CPU to make your computer’s operations efficient, fast, and 100% successful.
Where does the CPU store its computations? We’ve learned that the CPU utilizes registers to store its computations. Registers are special types of temporary memory. They are the smallest and fastest types of memory in computer systems.
Registers are at the top of the pyramid in the memory hierarchy of computer architecture. The next in line is the CPU cache. Both play a critical role in enabling the CPU to be as efficient and fast as possible in executing tasks.
We’ve also learned that there are so many types of registers. Each type is designed for a specific purpose. So, we hope you can answer the above question comfortably now and in the future.