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Essential Guide to Computing: The Story of Information Technology, The by E. Garrison Walters

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CPUs for Special Purposes

The term CPU normally means general purpose processor. There are a lot of other kinds of microprocessors that are optimized for specific kinds of instructions and data. We'll talk about three categories: application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs); digital signal processors (DSPs), and media processors. We'll also discuss a new technology, the field programmable gate array (FPGA), that is attracting a lot of attention.

ASICs

Many microprocessors are designed to do just a limited number of tasks. They lack the full instruction set of the general purpose CPU, which means they also have much simpler circuitry. The general term for these chips is ASIC—an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. An example of an ASIC ...

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