On this website you will find some information relating to the history and design of central processing unit (CPU) instruction sets. Introductory information will follow on this page, leading an overview of how an architecture functions, followed by detailing all the different archictectures.
What is a CPU?
In its most basic terms, the CPU is the component in a computing device that performs the actual computations. The CPU performs the precise \arithmetic and logical calculations to render a computer useful. Discussing the path a program takes in the CPU is informative in this context. When a program is compiled and exectued, the sections of the program that involve computation are directed to the CPU. The CPU's controller unit directs the input and output of the processor so that the basic arithmetic steps needed for the program to function are performed and returned to the program, so that it may further mainipulate the data or display it to the user in some form.
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Pictured above are two of the more popular modern CPUs, the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i3. Both of these CPUs use the X86_64 architecture set.
What is an instruction set?
An instruction set is the way in which a programmer communicates with the CPU. When a program is written, all the text is understandable only to humans. The CPU must recieve the data in some way as to make it understandable. Instructions sets fill these roles. They translate statements in a programming language into opocode, or machine language. This machine code can then be sent into the CPU for the desired processing.
Terms used to refer to computers are not always set in stone. Thus in describing instruction sets one runs into the term processor architecture. For all intents and purposes, these two terms are synonymous. They are not exact synonyms, but discussing one without the other is inherently problematic. Thus whenever the term architecture is used it is safe to apply the information being discused to an instruction set also.