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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.
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.