Computers and Technology - Part 1
When it comes to computers, one can almost grab the urge and run away screaming. But what is it about computers that makes one feel that way? Is it because of the complexity of it or perhaps the simplicity of it? In this hub, I will discuss the basic personal computer system and basic components. For this series of hubs, I will be using mainly Windows examples.
A computer case is used to support the internal components of a computer while at the same time, providing a secure enclosure for added protection. Cases can be made from steel, plastic and aluminium which are available in different sizes.
The size and layout of a case is known as a form factor and there are two main types: a desktop and a tower. Cases can be referred to as housing, a chassis or a cabinet. Either way, it's still a case. While the case protects, it also keeps the internal components cool as case fans are used to dispel hot air. Cases help prevent static electricity damage by grounding all internal components to the case as they are attached.
Because there are two types of cases, the motherboard chosen must match the type of case one has purchased. The size and shape of the motherboard must match exactly. The design of a case may limit the amount of components one can add to the computer.
All computers need DC current to work. The power supply converts AC from the wall into DC for the computer to use.
There are different types of connectors used for each component. Normally a 20 pin or a 24 pin slotted connector is used to connect to the motherboard while a 4 or 8 pin auxilary power connector supplies power to all areas of the motherboard.
Computers use a power supply ranging from 200W to 500W but could even be as high as 800 W! Never ever, under any condition, open up a power supply.
The motherboard can also be known as the system board or main board. It accomodates the CPU, RAM, expansion slots, BIOS chip and chip set amongst other components. The form factor of a motherboard depends on the size and shape of it.
The chipset of a motherboard allows components to communicate with each other. There are two parts to a chipset. A Northbridge and a Southbridge. The Northbridge controls access to RAM and video cards while the Southbridge allows the CPU to communicate with the hard drive and other input/output (I/O) devices.
This is considered to be the brain of a computer as it handles all the processes. CPUs are built around pin grid arrays (PGA) which are inserted with zero insertation force (ZIF). The CPU will execute a program (a sequence of instructions). The speed of a CPU is measured by the amount of data it can process, rated in cycles per minute and measured in MHz or GHz.
RAM & ROM
ROM chips are located on the motherboard and contain instructions which are to be read by the CPU. The instructions are basic which are booting up and loading the OS. ROM can retain its contents even when the power is off.
RAM is the temporary storage for data and it is used to speed up processes and increase the overall speed of your computer. Some RAM modules contain Error Correction Code which detects memory erroes and fix them.
Storage drives read or write information to a magnetic or optical storage media. They could be a hard drive, a USB drive or connected by FireWire.
A floppy drive can hold 1.44MB of data and has become virtually obsolete.
A hard drive is used inside a computer for permanent storage and is the first boot sequence when booting up a computer.
And that brings us to the end of the first hub about computers and the components.
Input & Output Devices
Input devices are components such as a keyboard, a mouse, scanner or a biometric device. An output device is a screen, printers and speakers. Both play an important role in computers.