1.4PCs are now the norm for small to medium-sized business computing and for home computing, and most larger businesses now use them for day-to-day needssuch as word processing. Often they are linked together in a network to enablesharing of information between users.
1.5The original portable computers were heavy, weighing around five kilograms, andcould only be run from the mains electricity supply line. Subsequentdevelopments allow true portability.a)A laptop or notebook is powered either from electricity supply or using arechargeable battery and can include all the features and functionality of desktop PCs. b)The palmtop or handheld is increasingly compatible with true PCs. Devicesrange from basic models which are little more than electronic organizers torelatively powerful processors running ‘cut-down’ versions of Windows andMicrosoft Office, and including communications features.1.6Many computers have been designed to achieve faster computational speeds,using different architectures.1.7
Maths co-processor and Graphics co-processor.
Most processors may includespecialized and faster processors (a maths co-processor/graphics co-processor)can be used for applications requiring high-speed mathematical or graphicscomputations. Such applications could be spreadsheet calculations or complexcomputer-aided design (CAD) work. The maths co-processor supports the main processor by performing the required calculations more rapidly than the main processor. In the same way, the graphics co-processor is designed to performgraphical functions, such as the construction and maintenance of images muchfaster than the main processor. The co-processors are under the control of themain processor.1.8
In the pipeline machine architecture each stage in the fetch-executive cycle is handled by a separate machine hardware unit. The first unitfetches an instruction from memory. At any one time there may be four or fiveinstructions within the processor each at different stages of execution in differentunits.1.9
In the array processor there is one control unit but multipleALUs, which are able to work in parallel with one another. They are particularlysuited to applications in which sets of values require the same operation to be performed on each value, e.g., converting every value in a table to a percentage of the total.