11.2 The processor
The processor can be thought of as the 'brain' of the computer in that it manages everything the computer does. A processor is contained on a single microchip or 'chip'. A chip is a small, thin slice of silicon, which might measure only a centimetre across but can contain hundreds of millions of transistors. The transistors are joined together into circuits by tiny wires which can be more than a hundred times thinner than a human hair. These tiny circuits enable the processor to carry out calculations and other manipulations of data.
Processors can have different speeds, and this influences how quickly the computer can carry out its operations. Processor speeds seem to be increasing all the time. There are many different types of processor available: such as Pentium®, Celeron®, Athlon™, Centrino™ and PowerPC®.