Computer hardware simplified

by Melanie Stainforth - Date: 2007-01-25 - Word Count: 482 Share This!

Computer Hardware is a comprehensive term which refers to all the physical parts of a computer including the digital circuitry. The software installed in the computer provides instructions for the hardware to perform necessary tasks. Unlike software and data, which are readily created, modified, or deleted, the hardware of a computer is rarely changed. The interaction between the hardware and the software, or more clearly, the boundary between the computer hardware and software, is a special type of software, known as firmware.

Most computer hardware is not seen by common people as it is usually comes in embedded systems in compact disc players, electrocardiograph machines, microwave ovens, automobiles, and other devices. The computer hardware familiar to normal users is the personal computers which form only a small portion of the computers out there in the market.

Personal Computer Hardware

Generally a personal computer consists of a chassis or a case in desktop and comprises of the following parts.

Motherboard – Motherboard or system board comes with slots for expansion cards and holding parts including:

Central Processing Unit (CPU) – one of the main parts of a computer which interprets and executes instructions.
Random Access Memory (RAM) – the primary storage for program execution and short data storage.
Buses - Also known as data bus or computer bus, a bus is a subsystem which helps to transfer data or power between computer components in a computer or between computers.

PCI bus
PCI-E or AGP bus
ISA bus (outdated)
Power Supply Unit (PSU) – a system or a device which helps to supply power to every other component inside or attached to the computer. The power system contains a voltage control, transformer, and fan.

Storage Controllers – IDE, SATA, SCSI or any other type which controls storage mediums such as hard disk, floppy disk or CD-ROM drives. The controls are installed directly on the mother board or on expansion cards.

Video Display Controller –helps to generate the output for the computer display.

Computer Bus Controllers (FireWire, USB, serial, parallel) - used to connect the computer to an external peripheral devices such as scanners or printers. 

Sound Card –a plug-in card which helps to record and play back sound.

Internal Storage –devices used to store data inside the computer for later use.
Hard Disk - the most popular storage device used to store data.
Disk Array Controller
Removable media writers:

Floppy Disk
CD: the most widely used removable media. CD is cheap but fragile.
CD-ROM Drive
CD Writer
DVD Writer
Zip Drive
USB Flash Drive
Tape Drive
Networking: - devices which allows a computer to connect to the internet or with other computers.

Modem: used for dial-up connections.
Network Card: used to connect a computer with other computers or with DSL/Cable internet.

Computer Hardware can also include other external components of a computer system such as:

Input Devices

Text Input devices

Pointing Devices

Video or Image Input Devices
Image Scanner
Audio Input Device
Gaming Devices
Output Devices

Video or Image Output Devices:
Audio Output Device:

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