What is the difference between a chipset and a CPU?

A central processing unit ( CPU ) is the part of the computer that processes application requests and high-level computer functions. The chipset provides a way for the CPU to interact with programs and other parts of the computer. For a computer to work, it requires a chipset and a CPU. Both are very important internal parts of the computer, but other than that, they have very little in common.

A Central Processing Unit (CPU).

Over the years, the composition and design of the chipset and CPU have changed. In the early days of computers, the CPU was very large and required a lot of space and power. Over the years, these room-sized machines have been reduced to a single computer chip. In fact, modern processors have multiple individual units on a single chip.

One CPU.

Chipsets have changed much less than CPUs, but they still improve over time. One of the biggest changes is simply an increase in speed. As a chip that provides access between the processor and other areas of the computer, speed is vital for the chipset to function. Furthermore, modern chipsets consist of two parts – the north bridge works with basic computer functions and the south bridge works with secondary or non-vital components.

A chipset and a CPU work together to make the computer work. These parts, along with several others, allow interaction between the individual areas of the computer, the user, and the installed software. Although they have no common function, both are vital to the machine’s operations.

In most cases, the actions and functions of these components are easier to illustrate with an example. A user can enter an equation in a spreadsheet. The information, entered via the keyboard, would travel through the south bridge section of the chipset to the north bridge section and into the CPU. The CPU would discover the answer and send it to the program via the south bridge and then to the graphics system so that it could be displayed on the screen via the north bridge. This is a very basic example, but it serves to illustrate the separation of the two components.

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In the example above, the processor calculated and the chipset was a messenger. When information needed to circulate through the system, the chipset facilitated movement. When information needed processing, it was done entirely by the CPU. The functions of a chipset and a CPU are very specific, with almost no overlap.

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