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What are CPU Drivers?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The central processing unit (CPU) of a computer typically does not have drivers in a traditional sense, at least not in the same way other devices do. CPU drivers are really programs or software that can allow a user to modify or alter the behavior of a computer’s CPU in a number of different ways. The CPU of a computer is recognized by the motherboard from the moment the computer is first turned on, so the basic input/output system (BIOS) on the motherboard is able to handle certain basic aspects regarding the CPU. More complicated controls over the CPU on a computer, such as overclocking and underclocking, can be achieved either through altering the BIOS or by downloading CPU drivers that tend to make the process easier.

A computer’s CPU can be thought of as the heart of the computer. It regulates just about all of the other processes of the computer and without it most computers simply will not function. Newer, more powerful CPUs can have drivers that can be installed into a computer’s operating system (OS) for the computer and user to take advantage of some of the features of the CPU. Traditionally, drivers are computer files that allow a computer’s OS to recognize a device, such as a video card or a printer, and properly function with that device. If the OS on a computer could not recognize or work with a CPU, the computer would not be able to run properly.

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Most CPU drivers are intended to allow a computer user to access certain features of a CPU or alter the functionality of the CPU in a number of different ways. Two of the most common types of changes that can be made through using these types of drivers are overclocking and underclocking. The CPU on a computer functions basically like a heart within a person. Regular “heartbeats” are sent out by the CPU to allow the other systems to operate properly by regulating program execution according to these pulses.

When a CPU is overclocked, often through the installation and use of CPU drivers, the heart of the computer beats faster. These faster pulses through the various other systems allow programs to run faster and access memory more quickly. Much like a heart in a person, however, faster beating, or higher clock speeds, can wear out a CPU more quickly and ultimately lead to malfunction and the “death” of the CPU.

Underclocking is basically the opposite process. CPU drivers can be used to lower the clock speed on a CPU to extend the life of the processor, reduce energy usage, or otherwise lower the strain on the computer systems. While CPU drivers typically do not need to be updated for regular functionality, new drivers can allow greater access to some CPU functions and options.

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