Accumulator – In a computer’s central processing unit (CPU), an accumulator is a register in which intermediate arithmetic and logic results are stored.
Without a register like an accumulator, it would be necessary to write the result of each calculation (addition, multiplication, shift, etc.) to main memory, perhaps only to be read right back again for use in the next operation. Access to main memory is slower than access to a register like the accumulator because the technology used for the large main memory is slower (but cheaper) than that used for a register. Early electronic computer systems were often split into two groups, those with accumulators and those without.
Modern computer systems often have multiple general purpose registers that operate as accumulators, and the term is no longer as common as it once was. However, a number of special-purpose processors still use a single accumulator for their work, in order to simplify their design.