What Does vCPU Mean?

A vCPU (virtual CPU) represents a portion or share of a physical CPU that is assigned to a virtual machine (VM).


A vCPU is also known as a virtual processor.

Techopedia Explains vCPU

In many virtualization systems, hardware elements are partitioned off into different virtual machines that can provide the same functionality as traditional physical computer workstations. Typically, the hypervisor, the program that hosts and manages virtual machines, uses the resources of a physical system and assign them to a specific VM.

Essentially, the hypervisor uses a portion of the physical CPU cycle and allocates it to a vCPU assigned to a VM. Some experts consider a vCPU, not as a separate CPU, but as a share of the time spent in the processor’s core. System administrators set up different resource allocations where different VMs get specific vCPU capabilities.

Using virtualization, system administrators can partition physical hardware systems to provide more functionalities. In this case, the individual physical CPUs of computer workstations are combined together into a system where network experts can plug virtual resources for a fully assembled network that is more versatile and consolidated in design.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…