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http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/sandre/computers/index.htm Let's take a look at the main components of a typical desktop computer:
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Central processing unit (CPU) - The microprocessor "brain" of the computer system is called the central processing unit. It's a chip that holds a complete computational engine. It uses assembly language as its native language. Everything that a computer does is overseen by the CPU. Memory - This is very fast storage used to hold data. It has to be fast because it connects directly to the microprocessor. There are several specific types of memory in a computer: • Random-access memory (RAM) - Used to temporarily store information with which the computer is currently working • Read-only memory (ROM) - A permanent type of memory storage used by the computer for important data that doesn't change • Basic input/output system (BIOS) - A type of ROM that is used by the computer to establish basic communication when the computer is first powered on • Caching - The storing of frequently used data in extremely fast RAM that connects directly to the CPU • Virtual memory - Space on a hard disk used to temporarily store data and swap it in and out of RAM as needed • Flash memory - a solid state storage device, Flash memory requires no moving parts and retains data even after the computer powers off Motherboard - This is the main circuit board to which all of the other internal components connect. The CPU and memory are usually on the motherboard. Other systems may be found directly on the motherboard or connected to it through a secondary connection. For example, a sound card can be built into the motherboard or connected through an expansion slot. Power supply - An electrical transformer regulates the electricity used by the computer. Hard disk - This is large-capacity permanent storage used to hold information such as programs and documents. Traditional hard drives contain moving parts -- the drive has platters on which it stores data. The drive spins the platters to record and read data. But some newer hard drives are flash-based with no moving parts. These drives are called solid-state drives. Operating system - This is the basic software that allows the user to interface with the computer. Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) Controller - This is the primary interface for the hard drive, CD-ROM and floppy disk drive. Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) - This is a very high-speed connection used by the graphics card to interface with the computer. Sound card - This is used by the computer to record and play audio by converting analog sound into digital information and back again. Graphics card - This translates image data from the computer into a format that can be displayed by the monitor. Some graphics cards have their own powerful processing units
The keyboard is the primary device for entering information into the computer. which can also record. SmartMedia and PCMCIA cards are all types of Flash memory. By referring to this clock. No matter how powerful the components inside your computer are. all the components in a computer can synchronize properly. ports and networking. permanent storage.• • • (called a GPU -. There are several types of removable storage: o CD-ROM . Fans. CompactFlash.Removable storage devices allow you to add new information to your computer very easily. you need a way to interact with them. CD-RW discs can be erased and rewritten many times. Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor .In computer hardware terms.Based on a type of ROM called electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). Removable storage . Many systems now offer CD-R (recordable) and CD-RW (rewritable). Flash memory provides fast. The most common types of I/O in PCs are: • • • • Monitor . o DVD-ROM .CD-ROM (compact disc. While there have been others. two are most commonly found on newer computers: .The monitor is the primary device for displaying information from the computer.DVD-ROM (digital versatile disc.The components in a computer generate heat. You may use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to sync your music player or print driving directions.The mouse is the primary device for navigating and interacting with the computer. Real-time clock . PC Connections A typical computer connects to the world around it in three different ways: input/output devices. Keyboard . as well as save information that you want to carry to a different location. Cooling systems keep computers from overheating. Mouse . The battery provides uninterrupted power. read-only memory) is a popular form of distribution of commercial software.Every PC has a clock containing a vibrating crystal. Ports . As heat rises. read-only memory) is similar to CD-ROM but is capable of holding much more information.The CMOS and CMOS battery allow a computer to store information even when the computer powers down. performance can suffer.graphics processing unit). The GPU can handle operations that normally would require the CPU. This interaction is called input/output (I/O). heat sinks and cooling systems . a port is an interface that allows a computer to communicate with peripheral equipment. but many computers still have ports to help you connect to a wide selection of peripherals. o Flash memory .
The AGP bus connects the video card to the memory and the CPU. the speed of the PCI bus is 33 MHz.A newer variation of DSL. The IDE or ATA bus connects the southbridge to the disk drives.• • Universal Serial Bus (USB) . measured in megahertz (MHz). Also compatible with PCI is PCI Express. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) modem . . also known as secondary or external cache. The speed of the AGP bus is usually 66 MHz. The faster a computer's bus speed.This type of modem uses the cable system in your home. Your computer can probably use one or more of these methods: • • • • • Modem . Bus speed usually refers to the speed of the front side bus (FSB). to connect to the Internet. is very important to today's computer users. particularly those in an Ethernet office network. The PCI bus connects PCI slots to the southbridge. FSB speeds can range from 66 MHz to over 800 MHz. the faster it allows information to travel. et al. such as camcorders or digital cameras. which connects the CPU to the northbridge. BUS A bus is simply a circuit that connects one part of the motherboard to another. The more data a bus can handle at one time. A fast bus speed cannot make up for a slow processor or chipset.FireWire is a very popular method of connecting digital-video devices. Here are some of the other busses found on a motherboard: • • • • • The back side bus connects the CPU with the level 2 (L2) cache. USB ports offer power and versatility and are incredibly easy to use. to connect to one another. which is much faster than PCI but is still compatible with current software and operating systems. FireWire (IEEE 1394) . refers to how much data can move across the bus simultaneously. On most systems.This is a high-speed connection that works over a standard telephone line. The processor determines the speed of the back side bus. FSB speed can dramatically affect a computer's performance. Cable modem . VDSL requires that your phone line have fiber-optic cables.This is used by many computers. like the kind you might use to subscribe to cable TV.The most popular external connection. Since the CPU reaches the memory controller though the northbridge. Very high bit-rate DSL (VDSL) modem . PCI Express is likely to replace both PCI and AGP busses. The memory bus connects the northbridge to the memory. The speed of the bus. especially to the Internet. An even faster version called the gigabit per second DSL (GDSL) may follow [source: Cioffi.This is the standard method of connecting to the Internet. Local area network (LAN) card . Networking. the faster it will operate -. to your computer.].to a point.
To do this. For dynamic memory to work. The downside of all of this refreshing is that it takes time and slows down the memory. How RAM Works Random access memory (RAM) is the best known form of computer memory. either the CPU or the memory controller has to come along and recharge all of the capacitors holding a 1 before they discharge. SAM stores data as a series of memory cells that can only be accessed sequentially (like a cassette tape). they often connect to the northbridge via a dual bus instead of a single bus. In the most common form of computer memory. can be accessed in any order. This further reduces the amount of time it takes for the processor to get information from the memory. The opposite of RAM is serial access memory (SAM). each memory cell is checked until the needed data is found. a transistor and a capacitor are paired to create a memory cell. what kind you should buy and how to install it. Dynamic RAM has to be dynamically refreshed all of the time or it forgets what it is holding. dynamic random access memory (DRAM). the memory controller reads the memory and then writes it right back. which represents a single bit of data. where the data is normally stored in the order in which it will be used (a good example is the texture buffer memory on a video card). This refresh operation happens automatically thousands of times per second. If the data is not in the current location. which makes the memory faster. a memory chip is an integrated circuit (IC) made of millions of transistors and capacitors. and on newer motherboards. This refresh operation is where dynamic RAM gets its name. Similar to a microprocessor. See the next page to learn more about dynamic RAM and memory cells. The transistor acts as a switch that lets the control circuitry on the memory chip read the capacitor or change its state. Also.184-pin DDR DIMM RAM Much of the memory available today is dual data rate (DDR) memory.a 0 or a 1 (see How Bits and Bytes Work for information on bits). This means that the memory can transmit data twice per cycle instead of once. RAM data. In this article. . This refresh operation happens automatically thousands of times per second. on the other hand. most motherboards have space for multiple memory chips. you'll learn all about what RAM is. The capacitor holds the bit of information -. SAM works very well for memory buffers. RAM is considered "random access" because you can access any memory cell directly if you know the row and column that intersect at that cell.
Static RAM is fast and expensive.Memory Cells and DRAM Static RAM Static RAM uses a completely different technology. DRAM: Dynamic random access memory has memory cells with a paired transistor and capacitor requiring constant refreshing.064 MBps (for DDR SDRAM 133 MHZ). a form of flip-flop holds each bit of memory (see How Boolean Logic Works for details on flip-flops). So static RAM is used to create the CPU's speed-sensitive cache. It is about five percent faster than FPM. EDO DRAM: Extended data-out dynamic random access memory does not wait for all of the processing of the first bit before continuing to the next one. It waits through the entire process of locating a bit of data by column and row and then reading the bit before it starts on the next bit. reading each bit as it goes. RDRAM uses a Rambus in-line . DDR SDRAM: Double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM is just like SDRAM except that is has higher bandwidth. It does this by staying on the row containing the requested bit and moving rapidly through the columns. because it has more parts. It is used primarily for cache. Therefore. a static memory cell takes up a lot more space on a chip than a dynamic memory cell. Maximum transfer rate to L2 cache is approximately 264 MBps. EDO DRAM begins looking for the next bit. SDRAM: Synchronous dynamic random access memory takes advantage of the burst mode concept to greatly improve performance. you get less memory per chip. Maximum transfer rate to L2 cache is approximately 176 MBps. but never has to be refreshed. RDRAM: Rambus dynamic random access memory is a radical departure from the previous DRAM architecture. FPM DRAM: Fast page mode dynamic random access memory was the original form of DRAM. for each memory cell but doesn't have a capacitor in each cell. meaning greater speed. and that makes static RAM a lot more expensive. while dynamic RAM forms the larger system RAM space. SDRAM is about five percent faster than EDO RAM and is the most common form in desktops today. typically four to six. A flip-flop for a memory cell takes four or six transistors along with some wiring. Maximum transfer rate to L2 cache is approximately 528 MBps. Maximum transfer rate to L2 cache is approximately 1. Designed by Rambus. Types of RAM The following are some common types of RAM: • • • • • • • SRAM: Static random access memory uses multiple transistors. However. and dynamic RAM is less expensive and slower. This makes static RAM significantly faster than dynamic RAM. In static RAM. The idea is that most of the time the data needed by the CPU will be in sequence. As soon as the address of the first bit is located.
To help dissipate the excess heat Rambus chips are fitted with a heat spreader. many graphics cards use SGRAM (synchronous graphics RAM) instead. which looks like a long thin wafer. meaning that different computer manufacturers developed memory boards that would only work with their specific systems. This memory uses a small battery to provide it with the power it needs to maintain the memory contents. which stands for single in-line memory module. cards of this type are not proprietary and should work with any notebook computer whose system bus matches the memory card's configuration. For example. allowing the CPU and graphics processor to access the RAM simultaneously. VRAM is also used to hold graphics-specific information such as 3-D geometry data and texture maps. you would install two 8-megabyte (MB) SIMMs to get 16 megabytes total RAM. while the system bus could handle 16 bits at a time. What makes RDRAM so different is its use of a special high-speed data bus called the Rambus channel. Performance is nearly the same. In most computers.• • • • memory module (RIMM). The amount of VRAM is a determining factor in the resolution and color depth of the display. CMOS RAM: CMOS RAM is a term for the small amount of memory used by your computer and some other devices to remember things like hard disk settings -. they generate much more heat than other types of chips. PCMCIA Memory Card: Another self-contained DRAM module for notebooks. many of which are proprietary. Since they operate at such high speeds. or 1. True multiport VRAM tends to be expensive. designed for notebook computers. This is because the width of the bus is more than a single SIMM. VRAM: VideoRAM.see Why does my computer need a battery? for details. RDRAM memory chips work in parallel to achieve a data rate of 800 MHz. Each SIMM could send 8 bits of data at one time. Credit Card Memory: Credit card memory is a proprietary self-contained DRAM memory module that plugs into a special slot for use in notebook computers. The "multiport" part comes from the fact that VRAM normally has two independent access ports instead of one. Then came SIMM. but SGRAM is cheaper. Memory Modules The type of board and connector used for RAM in desktop computers has evolved over the past few years. there are also SO-RIMMs. is a type of RAM used specifically for video adapters or 3-D accelerators. The first types were proprietary. so today. you had to install SIMMs in pairs of equal capacity and speed. .600 MBps. also known as multiport dynamic random access memory (MPDRAM). Just like there are smaller versions of DIMMs. which is similar in size and pin configuration to a standard DIMM. VRAM is located on the graphics card and comes in a variety of formats.
5 cm). DIMMs range in capacity from 8 MB to 1 GB per module and can be installed singly instead of in pairs.3 volts. Another standard. about 2 x 1 inch (5 x 2.5 cm). is comparable in size and pin configuration to DIMM but uses a special memory bus to greatly increase speed.5 volts. To conserve space. which have either 144 pins or 172 pins. Many brands of notebook computers use proprietary memory modules.• As processors grew in speed and bandwidth capability. the industry adopted a new standard in dual in-line memory module (DIMM). and have 144 or 200 pins. the Apple iMac desktop computer uses SODIMMs instead of the traditional DIMMs. Rambus in-line memory module (RIMM). . while older Mac G4 systems typically use 3. Sub-notebook computers use even smaller DIMMs. known as MicroDIMMs. but several manufacturers use RAM based on the small outline dual in-line memory module (SODIMM) configuration.4 x 1 inch (about 14 x 2. With a whopping 168-pin or 184-pin connector and a size of 5. Capacity ranges from 16 MB to 1 GB per module. Most PC memory modules and the modules for the Mac G5 systems operate at 2. SODIMM cards are small.
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