Copyright

Control Unit: Definition & Design

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: De Facto Standards in Information Systems: Definition & Overview

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What Is a Control Unit?
  • 0:46 What Does a Control Unit Do?
  • 1:56 Control Unit Design
  • 2:31 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, you will learn the importance of the control unit in operating your computer. You'll also learn where it is, what it does, and a couple of different design options.

What Is a Control Unit?

Understanding what goes on in your computer when you turn it on can be a bit daunting. Let's take a look at one small (literally) component of your computer's brain.

You probably know that the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is considered the brains of your computer. In fact, the CPU contains not only the processor but also a control unit. The control unit controls what the processor is able to access. The processor is the part of the CPU that does the work: uses logic or mathematical processes to execute commands. The control unit uses circuitry to help the processor communicate with the software and hardware available on a computer.

So, what does that mean? Good question!

What Does a Control Unit Do?

Depending on the type of CPU you have, the control unit will do different things. It may:

  • Send and receive control signals from other devices, working as the bridge between the processor that is doing the work and the other devices in the computer
  • Interpret instructions by converting the instructions it receives into the format the processor needs to perform the function
  • Perform sequential instruction execution to make sure that as the processor works, it is getting commands in the order it needs to receive them in
  • Guide data flow in and out of the processor and in and out of random access memory (RAM), which is considered the working space of the computer
  • Regulate and control timing signals for the computer, which means the control unit is responsible for instigating what is called the machine cycle, or the pulse of information packets, to make sure information packets are sent out regularly (every few milliseconds)
  • Make sure that commands that come out of the CPU are carried out or executed correctly, and if they aren't, the control unit institutes corrections.

Here's what happens:

Control Unit: Simple Data Flow Diagram
Control Unit: Simple Data Flow Diagram

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support