Technically, a processor is a complex assembly of digital circuitry used to process data. And this belongs to any processor in the world. Although any processor would handle and operate-on data, there are many different types and kinds of processors. This is because the data being processor is of various forms and may require to be processed in certain manner.
Depending on the environment in which a processor is used, there are following types of processors:
1. General-purpose processor
This is the one used in computers, mobile phones, tablets etc., used for running any kind of application. This supports almost all kinds of operations to be performed on data, as the application requires. It can run various software applications.
Examples are Intel family processors, ARM processor etc.
2. Single-purpose processor
This is used only for a single purpose. It does not run any software, and is a perfect hardware that repeatedly executes same code without any change.
Example is a JPEG codec present in a digital camera that encodes and decodes the JPG format data.
3. Application-specific processor
This one is neither general-purpose nor single-purpose. This differs from single-purpose processor in that it can run software that belongs to a particular application only. And it differs from general-purpose processor in that the operation supported are limited (only required for that certain applications).
Example is a DSP (digital signal processor) which mainly performs add, multiply and shift operations.
Another classification can be done based on the kind of data processed: a boolean processor, 8-bit processor, 16-bit processor, 32-bit processor etc.
reference : "Embedded System Design: A Unified Hardware/Software Approach" -Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis
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