The Four Major Categories of Computer Hardware Devices
In order to understand computer hardware better, it is good to keep in mind that no single piece of hardware qualifies to be a computer on its own. A computer is actually a system of many components, working together. The different components compliment each to make a complete computer system.
The typical computer set can be broken down into four distinct hardware categories. This breakdown actually defines what a computer is and does: a programmable electronic device which,
- inputs raw data by use of input peripherals,
- uses the microprocessor to process received instructions into information,
- outputs this data or information via the monitor, print or other outlets,
- stores data and information derived onto appropriate media for future use.
Computer hardware devices are thus grouped under four major hardware categories:
- Input hardware
- Processing hardware
- Output hardware
- Storage hardware
1: Input Hardware
All computer hardware components which are used to feed raw and other data into a computer set are categorized under input hardware.
Introduction to Computer System
Overall, a computer system is an interaction of three major components namely hardware, software and humanware. The three components are integral in that none of them is functional without the others.
- Computer hardware components are the physical devices that make up a computer, allowing software to run on them. Examples of these devices are keyboard, mouse, monitor etc
- Computer software includes protocols, programs and data which run on hardware componets. Software can only be experienced its examples are Linux OS, device drivers, Google Docs, video and mp3 files.
- Humanware refers to the user of the computer.
The following is a list of commonly used input devices:
- Pointing devices:
Multi touch screen
Interactive (electronic) smartboard
- Game controller devices:
- Audio input devices:
- Bluetooth peripherals
- Visual and Imaging devices:
Tv capture card
- Network sharing and internet connectivity
- Computer Input Devices in Detail
Any computer hardware part that facilitates feeding of data and information into a computer system falls under the input device category. Input devices read user input actions including text, graphics, sound, video and other digital inputs.
- Computer Parts and Peripherals that Double as Both Input/Output (IO) Devices
Whereas input and output hardware are best explained separately, there are standout devices which combine both functionalities. These devices are categorized loosely as input/output hardware.
2: Processing Hardware
Computer hardware components that manipulate raw and other data, into information are referred to as processing devices.
Processing hardware is not as populated as other categories parts, yet helps in accomplishing the most crucial tasks.
The microprocessor is typically the major processing devices in the computer. It is also important to note that the microprocessor works closely with computer memory devices during its operations.
The microprocessor is subdivided into three important units which work together in order to accomplish all processing activities. The units are:
- Control unit
- Arithmetic and logic unit
- Register and cache
- The Control Unit
The control unit manages and supervises the operations of the processor and other components that are crucial in data manipulation.
- Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU)
The ALU is responsible for all arithmetic and logic operations like additions, multiplications, subtractions and division, and comparison logic operations.
- Registers and Cache Memory
Registers and cache are storage locations inside the processor, which respond to the instructions of the control unit by moving relevant data around.
- Computer Processing Devices in Detail
That hardware part of the computer where data processing occurs is referred to as microprocessor. It is also called the central processing unit (CPU), or lately and especially in AMD systems, accelerated processing unit (APU).
3: Output Hardware
Hardware components that disseminate and display both data and information are of the output category. All computer output forms are the culmination of the purpose the computer is tasked to accomplish.
Output devices are categorized under softcopy output and hardcopy output. Softcopy output is usually related to the experience the user derives from interacting with the computer.
The user derives visual pleasure by watching a movie he downloaded from cloud storage. This is usually by monitor display output.
Do you still have a CRT monitor somewhere in your house?
The school teacher will, however, need to have his grammar exam transferred to tangible hardcopy output in order to have students write appropriate answers on them.
- Softcopy output
- Display output
Interactive (electronic) smartboard
- Sound output
Headphone and earphone
- Network connectivity
Wireless and Bluetooth
- USB devices
- Hardcopy output
- Dot matrix printer
- 3D printer
Non impact printer
- Inkjet printer
- Laserjet printer
- thermal printer
- Computer Output Devices in Detail
Any computer hardware component that facilitates dissemination of data and information into usable form is classified under the output device category. Output devices read information like text, graphics, video, sound and other digital outputs.
4: Storage Hardware
The parts of the computer that are used to store data in whatever form are classified as storage devices. Computer storage is either primary or secondary and is either volatile or nonvolatile.
Primary memory is commonly used to mean random access memory (RAM) but actually refers to all memory that work in tandem with the processor. The central processing unit (CPU) or accelerated processing unit (APU) read instructions stored in primary memory and execute the instructions as required.
Secondary memory is secondary because data stored within secondary storage media (usually disks) cannot directly communicate with the microprocessor. Data stored in such media first is transferred to main memory (DRAM) from where manipulation by the processor can occur.
- Primary storage
- Secondary storage
Internal storage & External storage
- Magnetic storage
- Optical storage
- Flash storage
- Paper storage
- Computer Memory Devices in Detail
Computer memory can grouped as primary and secondary: While primary memory can be volatile and nonvolatile i.e. DRAM and ROM, secondary memory is nonvolatile and capable of storing data permanently.
- The Three Components of a Computer System
A computer system integrates three main components and these are hardware, software and humanware. Any one of the three components depends on the other to function optimally. Computer hardware cannot operate without software...