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Internal Computer Hardware

Internal Computer Hardware

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Identify the major internal hardware components and their functions.

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what's covered
The physical parts of computing devices — those that you can actually touch — are referred to as hardware. Devices contain hardware that exist both inside and outside of the device itself. In this tutorial, we will take a look at computer hardware inside the computer, and learn a little bit about how they work.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. The CPU
  2. Motherboard
  3. Memory
  4. Hard Disk


1. The CPU

Most computing devices have a similar architecture. The core of this architecture is the central processing unit (CPU). The CPU can be thought of as the “brains” of the device. The CPU carries out the commands sent to it by the software, and returns results to be acted upon.

term to know
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The "brains" of the device; it performs computations and logic operations sent to it by application software, and returns results to be acted upon.

An Intel CPU
An Intel CPU

The earliest CPUs were large circuit boards with limited functionality. Today, a CPU is generally on one chip and can perform a large variety of functions. There are two primary manufacturers of CPUs for personal computers: Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

did you know
The speed (“clock time”) of a CPU is measured in hertz. A hertz is defined as one cycle per second. The CPU’s processing power is increasing at an amazing rate. Besides a faster clock time, many CPU chips now contain multiple processors per chip. These chips, known as dual-core (two processors) or quad-core (four processors), increase the processing power of a computer by providing the capability of multiple CPUs.


2. Motherboard

The motherboard is the main circuit board on the computer. The CPU, RAM, hard disk, integrated graphics card, and sound card (if not embedded into the motherboard), among other things, all connect into the motherboard. Motherboards come in different shapes and sizes, depending upon how compact or expandable the computer is designed to be. Most modern motherboards have many integrated components, such as video and sound processing, which used to require separate components.

term to know
Motherboard
The main circuit board on the computer, to which the CPU, memory, and storage connect.

Motherboard
Motherboard

The motherboard provides much of the bus of the computer (the term bus refers to the electrical connection between different computer components). The bus is an important determiner of the computer’s speed: the combination of how fast the bus can transfer data and the number of data bits that can be moved at one time determine the speed.


3. Memory

When a computer starts up, it begins to load information from the hard disk into its working memory. This working memory, called random-access memory (RAM), can transfer data much faster than the hard disk. Any program that you are running on the computer is loaded into RAM for processing. In order for a computer to work effectively, some minimal amount of RAM must be installed. In most cases, adding more RAM will allow the computer to run faster. RAM can store data as long as it is receiving power; when the computer is turned off, any data stored in RAM is lost.

term to know
Random-Access Memory (RAM)
The working memory of a computer that transfers data from the hard disk upon starting the device.

Read-only memory (ROM) is a form of memory in which the data stored on it can only be read. Typically, the data stored on ROM is meant to only be read. The boot sequence of personal computers requires ROM to initialize the operating system.

term to know
Read-Only Memory (ROM)
A form of memory in which the data stored can only be read; it cannot be changed.

Memory DIMM
Memory DIMM


4. Hard Disk

While the RAM is used as working memory, the computer also needs a place to store data for the longer term. Most of today’s personal computers use a hard disk for long-term data storage. A hard disk is where data is stored when the computer is turned off, and where it is retrieved from when the computer is turned on. Why is it called a hard disk? A hard disk consists of a stack of disks inside a hard metal case. A floppy disk was a removable disk that, in some cases at least, was flexible, or “floppy.”

term to know
Hard Disk
The location for long-term data storage when the computer is turned off, and where data is retrieved from when the computer is turned on.

Hard disk
Hard disk

Watch: Internal Computer Hardware

Video Transcription

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Regardless of brand, size, or generation, computing devices contain similar hardware inside the machine that allow them to store and process information. If you were to take apart your computer and look inside, one of the first things you are likely to see is the main circuit board, or motherboard. Several essential hardware components, such as its processor chips, memory sticks, sound and graphics cards and hard drives are connected to the motherboard, either directly or by wires.

One of the most important pieces of hardware is the central processing unit, or the CPU. The CPU executes stored program instructions through mathematical computation and logic operations, and then returns the results for action. CPUs are often nicknamed the brains of the computer, because their role is similar to that of the human brain, to carry out commands sent to it by other components.

Computers need a way to store information. Most of the data and programs installed on your computer are saved to a hard disk. A hard disk is a stack of magnetic disks that serves as long term storage of data.

When you turn on your computer, two types of memory help manage the access to required information and programs. One type is ROM, or Read Only Memory, which is hardwired into the device and cannot be modified. ROM is used to store data that is not expected to need modification, such as software instructions you need to run basic tasks.

The other type is RAM, or Random Access Memory, which can quickly access and transfer data from the hard disk. As you were watching this video now, data is being transferred to your computer's RAM. If you tried watching several videos at once, the RAM would be trying to work with more and more information simultaneously, and would likely slow down.

Giving your computer more RAM allows it to run more effectively with multiple programs running at the same time. However, any data stored in RAM is lost when the divine turns off. This is why we must save any data before closing programs or shutting off our computers. This process will send data back to the hard disk so that we can retrieve it later.

summary
Computing devices consist of physical components you can touch, known as hardware. In this tutorial, we reviewed important hardware components that exist inside a computer as well as their function, including the CPU, motherboard, RAM, ROM, and hard disk.

Source: DERIVED FROM CHAPTER 2 OF “INFORMATION SYSTEMS FOR BUSINESS AND BEYOND” BY DAVID T. BOURGEOIS. SOME SECTIONS REMOVED FOR BREVITY. HTTPS://WWW.SAYLOR.ORG/SITE/TEXTBOOKS/INFORMATION%20SYSTEMS%20FOR%20BUSINESS%20AND%20BEYOND/TEXTBOOK; IMAGE OF INTEL CPU, CREATIVE COMMONS, HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/CENTRAL_PROCESSING_UNIT#/MEDIA/FILE:INTEL_80486DX2_TOP.JPG

Terms to Know
Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The "brains" of the device; it performs computations and logic operations sent to it by application software, and returns results to be acted upon.

Hard Disk

The location for long-term data storage when the computer is turned off, and where data is retrieved when the computer is turned on.

Motherboard

The main circuit board on the computer, to which the CPU, memory, and storage connect.

Random-Access Memory (RAM)

The working memory of a computer that transfers data from the hard disk upon starting the device.

Read-Only Memory (ROM)

A form of memory in which the data stored can only be read; it cannot be changed.