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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | The Processor | Processor Architecture and Operation | Internal Processor Interfaces and Operation | Internal Architectural Components ]

Integer Execution Units

Most of the work done on the PC is done with integer information, that is, whole numbers and data that is represented by whole numbers. Integers include regular whole numbers, characters (text) and other similar data. Non-whole numbers are called "floating point" numbers. They are handled differently using a dedicated unit called the floating point unit (FPU). (The integer unit on some processors can handle floating point operations, just very slowly compared to a dedicated floating point unit).

The integer execution unit is where (finally!) the instructions are executed and work is performed. Older processors have only one of these units, and instructions are processed sequentially. Newer ones actually use several different execution units, allowing more than one instruction to be executed simultaneously, increasing performance. Processors that do this are said to be superscalar. More advanced processors may have some dedicated execution units designed only for executing certain types of instructions. This is especially true of processors that use x86 emulation with a RISC processor core.

Next: Floating Point Unit (FPU)


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