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Basics of computer hardware

Basics of computer hardware



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Published by Shailendra Kumar
who wants to know d basic of computer.this can be good exp. for him
who wants to know d basic of computer.this can be good exp. for him

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Published by: Shailendra Kumar on Mar 01, 2009
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IT Applications and Agriculture Bioinformatics IPTMA 512OVERVIEW OF COMPUTER HARDWARE
G.R.Ramakrishna MurthySenior scientist, NAARM
 The trend in information technology is fast changing, thanks to an equally swift changesweeping across the hardware and peripherals required to launch the IT revolution. It isnecessary to understand the nuances of what makes a PC before we plunge into ITapplications. There are many deciding factors to choose a right computer and peripherals tosuit our needs. An overview of some of the PC essentials are given below.
An experience with PC depends on a combination of the processor, the memory, themotherboard, the graphics and sound components and the hard disk that the PC has. The first two things to consider when buying a PC are the motherboard and the processor,which are interdependent. A particular processor only goes on a particular kind of motherboard. For each kind of motherboard, there might be different brands available, withdifferent features. It is better to choose processor and then decide brand of motherboard,based on its features.
 The motherboard is the base of a PC—all the components fit on it. It also has a master braincalled the chipset which decides what will work and how. The motherboard is chosen basedon
Processor :
 The processor sits on a main board called the motherboard, in aparticular slot or socket. This slot determines which processor will go on themotherboard.
Onboard graphics Motherboards can also be chosen based on whetherthey have integrated graphics on them or not. The earlier graphics cards used to bePCI cards (fitting on the PCI slot on the motherboard). Later something called theAccelerated Graphics Port, or AGP was developed especially for graphics cards andmade graphics faster. There are motherboards that had graphics capabilities built intothem. However, the graphics from these are only good enough for browsing, Word,Excel, etc, not for heavy 3D games or graphics. The Intel 810 chipset come withonboard graphics, and are a real money saver. For serious gaming and graphics, weneed the AGP slot to be there on the motherboard, and add a graphics card to it. TheIntel 815 chipset based motherboards come with onboard graphics, but also have anAGP slot on them, so we can go with onboard graphics initially and get a good graphicscard later. The new P4s go on the Intel 850 chipset based motherboards, which have aslot for RDRAM memory modules, and an AGP slot.
Look for the number of slots for add-on cards. Apart from the AGP slot, look for thenumber of PCI slots on the board for- internal modem, TV tuner/video capture cardsand other accessories.
Look for the number of RAM slots and how much RAM it can take. Some newmotherboards have slots to take even 2 GB of RAM.
 The processor, which is the brain of a PC, is often chosen withprice as the main criteria, but changing the processor oftenmeans changing the motherboard.
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IT Applications and Agriculture Bioinformatics IPTMA 512OVERVIEW OF COMPUTER HARDWARE
 The other extreme, when the budget is unlimited, is to scramble for the latest, fastestprocessor. There will always be a faster one just around the corner but it should not beexceedingly beyond our requirements, say if our applications are simply writing documentsin Word, browsing the Net and sending and receiving e-mail. Choose the processor keepingin mind our activities on the PC, but don’t be stingy either.Both the processor as well as motherboard should be chosen keeping in mind the fact thatthey’re both very tough to upgrade—because they’re expensive and when we change them,we have to change a lot of things along with them, almost like overhauling the PC.
Types of processors
Pentium and AMD processor are some of the processor options. AMD processors have beenaround for a long time. The processors that made an impact in recent times are the Duronand the Athlon. Intel has the value option, Celeron and the high-performance processor, P4 ,while AMD has Duron for value proposition and Athlon for high-end one. Nowadays ,processors are coming in as dual core which is a CPU with two separate cores on the samedie, each with its own cache. It's the equivalent of getting two microprocessors in one.A
dual-core processor
uses slightly less power than two coupled single-core processors,principally because of the increased power required to drive signals external to the chip andbecause the smaller silicon process geometry allows the cores to operate at lower voltages;such reduction reduces latency.Most of the processors are in
. This is the number of bits that can be processed inparallel. Or the number of bits used to represent a single element in a data format. Futuresoftware are going to be available in 64 bit format increasingly.
Realities of bits in Processors
A 32 bit CPU can process 32 bits of data at a time. If data has more than 32 bits,processor takes up ‘32’ bits of data first and processes it and then next group of ‘32’bits of data is taken up for processing
Hence a 64-bit CPU performs better than a 32 bit processor
64 bit is very useful for 3d animators, game developers, CAD/CAM engineers,automobile manufacturers
A 32 bit CPU can access only 4 GB (2
) of main memory while a 64 bit CPU canaddress up to 17 billion GB which is more than enough for any present and nearfuture application
A 64 bit CPU needs 64 bit OS and 64 bit applications to deliver optimum results.Some 64 bit CPUs allows to run 32 bit applications and OS but it is a point of underutilization.
A 64 bit processor doubles the bandwidth with the processor core while dual coregives 2 processor cores inside a single processor. A 64 bit is like fitting a car with amore powerful engine while a dual core is fitting the same with 2 engines which mayor may not be as powerful as the replaced one.
 The entry level is 915 chipset while others include 925,945 and 955 chipsets.
945 and 955 based chipsets support dual core processors (called Pentium D).
Need of upgrade
It is time for upgrade …
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IT Applications and Agriculture Bioinformatics IPTMA 512OVERVIEW OF COMPUTER HARDWARE
When we are moving to a newer operating system(OS). Roughly the memoryrequirement and the hard disk space requirement doubles as we move to a newversion of Windows, for an optimal experience. Intel recommends a P4 for WindowsXP.
When we go for a new set of applications like working with videos, pictures etc.,
Precautions in selection of motherboard and processor
 Take a motherboard that has support for DDR SDRAM, as the prices of DDR are verycompetitive.
If we want a basic machine for functions like MS Office, 2D games, etc, look for amotherboard that supports onboard graphics, and which has an AGP slot that will helpif we need to add an AGP card at a later date. Also, look for the VIA KM-266/400Chipset or the nVidia chipset.
Mix and match are not possible with processor brands. Dont put an AMD processors on anIntel processor’s motherboard, or vice versa. They are two different entities and need theirown motherboards.
Don’t go for motherboard for a P 3 which take on a P4. We won’t get the P4 performance,since the motherboard doesn’t support it. We’ll also get into software compatibility issues.
When we get a new processor, a new motherboard, we need to check if the existing powersupply is enough. We’ll probably have to go for a new SMPS too.
A graphics or display card brings to the monitor what’s happening inside the PC. The videocard can handle all the visual tasks of the PC without processor’s intervention. It now has itsown processor chip and RAM and capable of complex calculations to give faster and betterdisplays on monitor.
i. Need of upgrade
When we move to more graphics-intensive games, graphicsapplications like image editors, design software, Web design programs, desktop publishingsoftware, multimedia content creation software, etc, graphics card should be able to live upto it. But before we get new software that’ll need a graphics card upgrade, check whetherthe motherboard can take a graphics card upgrade. If not, go for a motherboard, andpossibly even a processor.
ii. Budget of upgrade
If we just want to work on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, surf the Net, etc,we don’t even need a graphics card—a motherboard with built-in graphics is sufficient. Thereare some inexpensive low-end cards also available that let us step up our graphics a bit. There would be some that fit onto the PCI slot on motherboard. There are also some low-endcards that fit onto AGP slots. For example, the SiS series—SiS 6215, 6326, etc, which comesfor under Rs 1,500. Check the VRAM, or the video RAM—the graphics card’s own RAM. Whilethe low-end cards will offer 4 or 8 MB, the high-end ones can go up to 64 MB.For serious gaming, we cant invest in a decent graphics card in the price range of Rs 5,000-10,000. This includes the Riva TNT and GeForce2 ranges. While these cards are good enoughfor most 3D games. The latest games have graphics renderings beyond the capabilities of these cards. But they are good enough to give high resolutions, color depths and refreshrates. Make sure to have an AGP slot on the motherboard.
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