ⓘ Floating point unit. A floating point unit is a part of a computer system specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. Typical operatio ..

Floating point unit

ⓘ Floating point unit

A floating point unit is a part of a computer system specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. Typical operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root.

Some systems can also perform more advanced functions as exponential or trigonometric functions calculations, however in most modern processors these functions are done with software library routines, not by hardware.

In most modern general purpose CPUs, one or more FPUs are integrated inside the CPU; however many embedded microcontrollers, especially older designs, do not have hardware support for floating point operations.

In the past, some systems as the Intel 8086 have implemented floating point via a coprocessor that is controlled by the CPU rather than as an integrated unit.

Most modern computers have integrated FPU hardware; but not all. In the absence of an FPU, many FPU functions can be emulated, which saves the added hardware cost of an FPU but is significantly slower.

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  • doing fixed - point arithmetic when computing mathematical functions such as square roots, logarithms, and sines or when using a floating point representation
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