Floating-point unit

A floating-point unit (FPU, colloquially a math coprocessor) is a part of a computer system specially designed to carry out operations on floating-point numbers.[1] Typical operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root. Some FPUs can also perform various transcendental functions such as exponential or trigonometric calculations, but the accuracy can be very low,[2][3] so that some systems prefer to compute these functions in software.

Collection of the x87 family of math coprocessors by Intel

In general-purpose computer architectures, one or more FPUs may be integrated as execution units within the central processing unit; however, many embedded processors do not have hardware support for floating-point operations (while they increasingly have them as standard, at least 32-bit ones).

When a CPU is executing a program that calls for a floating-point operation, there are three ways to carry it out:

  • A floating-point unit emulator (a floating-point library).
  • Add-on FPU.
  • Integrated FPU.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Floating-point unit, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.