Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintenance for Real People


Your computer is a tool, just like a hammer or a wrench. Like a hammer or a wrench, a computer can help make tasks easier and allow you to do things previously thought impossible. A hammer is uncomplicated. Hammer maintance is simple: Don’t hit anything with the hammer that is harder than the hammer. If you want to upgrade your hammer you buy a new one. While the rule about hitting still applies, a computer can present many more complicated options when it’s user sets out to maintain and upgrade their loyal PC. Cars have been available to the mass market for about one hundred years. We are just now reaching a time where you don’t have to be or know a mechanic to own a car for more than five years. Computers are new. There has only been a mass home computer market for around fifteen years. They break and need to be worked on and they need to be properly maintained if they are expected to function correctly. Any person can learn how to properly maintain and update their own computer, thus Inside Your Computer, Computer hardware and Maintenance for Real People.

WARNING: Whenever you are working inside of your computer, make sure you ground yourself first. Computer components are sensitive and can be damaged by static electricity. To ground yourself, touch your computer's case, power supply, anything metal, or use a static bracelet.

RAM can upload or save data very quickly. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. By the time you need a new processor. With small amounts of RAM. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). the processor has access to less data. RAM can store data needed by the Processor. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. When upload or save very quickly. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. hard disk from RAM. it is usually the hard drive. including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM. It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. is the computer’s “brain”. or CPU. it saves on the that the CPU may need at a later time. The Processor does calculations. . When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. When your computer is making noise. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz). All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. The processor is a microchip. The Processor. RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. too. It can get data from the hard drive or from the Processor. with marginal returns. itself. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space.The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. slowing the computer. orders data. RAM also needs of information. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM. but cannot electricity to function. and instructs components to do things. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM.

Some people just like to know everything. Mega stands for million. A zero or a one is called a “BIT”—like a little bit of information. With these zeros and ones. or eight million bits. Computers basically have only two choices in their language. That’s a lot of zeros and ones. “Bi” means two and “nary” means number. we have our alphabet. GB stands for Gigabytes or a billion bytes and KB stands for Kilobytes. A Byte is a collection of eight zeros and ones. a zero or a one is called a BIT. So again. Mb stands for Megabits. A small “b” would have meant bits. If you have a 56K modem. your computer can take in fifty-six thousand zeros and ones every second. but it’s not really important that you remember that. what does 56Kb stand for? Fifty-six thousand bits. MB stands for megabytes. So. Again.FIRST YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW THIS STUFF… A bit. the computer makes up codes. The only symbols your poor computer has in its language are zero and one. BIT is actually an acronym for Binary Digit. twenty-six symbols with which we make up our language. Ready for some more information? Eight bits equal a byte. . Located inside the PC. forming a code that stands for one number or letter. a byte. or a thousand bytes. By the way. or a million bytes. You’ve probably heard of a Megabyte. 0 and 1. It typically contains the CPU (central processing unit). Electric flow represents a one. What is a Motherboard? A motherboard is the main circuit board of a personal computer. It’s like Morse code. The capital “B” denotes bytes. In English. so a megabyte is a million bytes. cute. huh? Munch. there aren’t really zeros and ones floating around in the computer. the motherboard is usually a big green pressboard looking board on the inside of the computer. munch. For example. a bit is a zero or one. Why does all this computer stuff make me hungry? Computers communicate in what’s called a binary language. Megabyte is usually abbreviated “MB”. and very little electric flow represents a zero. if you hit the “A” button on the keyboard the computer registers “00000001”. Bit and Byte.

keyboard and disk drive. expansion slots. OEMs also integrate the motherboards with other system components. and case. memory. Intel sells motherboards to various computer manufacturers known as OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Recent motherboards manufactured by Intel use only a Phoenix or American Megatrends (AMI) BIOS. serial and parallel ports. disk drive. The OEM or the place of purchase will be most familiar with your configuration and its integration of both hardware and software. such as a power supply. For this reason. You have to contact that OEM directly or the place where you purchased your system for support. Collectively. and all the controllers required to communicate with standard peripheral devices. You will need Except the motherboard you need to have • Compatible Case . How to Install Your Motherboard This guide describes how to change a motherboard. Basically. then contact that manufacturer for support questions. such as the display screen. How to Identify Your Motherboard When you turn on your computer that contains an Intel-supported motherboard. some of the chips which reside on the motherboard are known as the motherboard's chipset.BIOS (basic input/output system). Descriptions may vary slightly from your computer because this guide is generic. mass storage interfaces. If you see another manufacturer's name in the start-up BIOS area. If your computer displays the Intel® logo screen during system boot. Intel cannot support a motherboard distributed by an OEM. just about everything is connected to the motherboard. you can bypass this screen by pressing the Esc key. software. you will see the BIOS (BASIC INPUT OUTPUT SYSTEM) identification string near the top left corner of the screen. mouse. This allows the display of the BIOS code. We will discuss the BIOS later in this book. The OEM may customize the motherboard to their own specifications.

Lift the motherboard carefully out of the case. Exit the setup. In With the New Place the new motherboard in the case. turn the computer on. but make sure it’s off. Initial Testing After you have connected every peripheral and cable. no? Computer architecture is the manner in which the components of a computer or computer system are organized and integrated. PC ARCHITECTURE An architect plans the way a building is made. Attach everything that you removed. Leave the computer plugged in. Prepare for Install Access you system setup ( BIOS ). Disconnect the power supply. Removed the screws holding down the motherboard. Enter setup and enter all the data you wrote down from the old motherboard. Windows should come up. Touch the computer's power supply once again. It should be followed with errors. Make sure all the mounting holes and computer ports line up. Follow the manual. Write down all the setting and parameters. Turn the computer off. Remove the wires which lead to the case. . Screw the new motherboard down.• Screwdrivers. After you removed the case touch the power supply to get rid of any static electricity. Out With the Old Disconnect all the external peripherals. Done When you entered all the data into the BIOS. and mounting supplies. Remember to set all the jumpers. It may give you an error or New Hardware Found wizard. Case Removal Ground your self. Remove the hard drive cables. Read the manual. You should see a new BIOS message. In the case some how label all the wires. I personally recommend masking tape. PC architecture is the main parts of the computer and the way they’re put together. Check the manual on how to remove the case. Disconnect the cables from the add-in cards and take them out. Basically.

This is where data is added subtracted. For example. or a laptop. a PowerPC. or scanner. they also can be labeled as input & output devices too. but they all do approximately the same thing in approximately the same way. A storage device stores data permanently. Input devices other than the keyboard are sometimes called alternate input devices. An input device is a device that gives data to a computer. 1. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brains of the PC. multiplied and divided. Such as a printer or video monitor etc. then this part of this here book will be incredibly interesting. 4. Memory is a temporary storage device for data used by the CPU. such as a keyboard. a keyboard is an input device. A floppy drive. 2. which shuttles data back and forth between the main components INPUT / OUTPUT DEVICES An Input device is any machine that feeds data into a computer. even when you turn off the PC. An output device is a device that receives data from the CPU.A computer can be broken into five functional components. In depth explanations will follow for those of you that really want to know it all. Mice. a K6. Easy. Data is lost when the PC is turned off. . mouse. a Sparc or any of the many other brands and types of microprocessors. hard drive or tape backup are types of storage devices. whether it is a desktop machine. 3. A PC also makes use of a bus system. no? THE PROCESSOR The computer I am using to write this book uses a microprocessor to do its work. The microprocessor you are using might be a Pentium. and light pens are all alternate input devices. whereas a display monitor or a printer is an output device. quickly outlined below. trackballs. The microprocessor is the heart of any normal computer. If you have ever wondered what the microprocessor in your computer is doing. a server. or if you have ever wondered about the differences between different microprocessors.

introduced in 1971. The first microprocessor to make a real splash in the market was the Intel 8088. If you are familiar with the PC market and its history. Intel makes all of these microprocessors and all of them are improvements on the basic design of the 8088. but the Pentium-III runs about 3.also known as a CPU or Central Processing Unit .100.33 MIPS 1 MIPS 5 MIPS 20 MIPS 100 MIPS 400 MIPS? 1.25 Clock speed 2 MHz 5 MHz 6 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz 60 MHz 233 MHz 450 MHz MIPS 0. engineers built computers either from collections of chips or from discrete components (transistors wired one at a time). you know that the PC market moved from the 8088 to the 80286 to the 80386 to the 80486 to the Pentium to the Pentium-II to the new Pentium-III.000 9.000 MIPS? . a complete 8-bit computer on one chip introduced in 1974.8 0. whether its playing a game or spell checking a document! Microprocessor History A microprocessor . Prior to the 4004.000 1. The 4004 powered one of the first portable electronic a complete computation engine that is fabricated on a single chip. but it was amazing that everything was on one chip.000 29. The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004.000 3.5 1. Remember that a bit is a zero or a one.500. Name 8080 8088 80286 80386 80486 Pentium Pentium II Pentium III Date 1974 1979 1982 1985 1989 1993 1997 1999 Transistors 6.000 7.You will learn how fairly simple digital logic techniques allow a computer to do its job. Don’t worry if all the terms don’t make sense yet.64 MIPS 0. Just use it for an eyeball comparison. The 4004 was not very powerful .500.all it could do was add and subtract.000 Microns 6 3 1.200. This means that the 4004 could only processor think about for zeros and ones at a time. The new Pentiums-IIIs can execute any piece of code that ran on the original 8088.000 times faster! The following table may help you to understand the differences between the different processors that Intel has introduced over the years. The first microprocessor to make it into a home computer was the Intel 8080. introduced in 1979 and incorporated into the IBM PC (which first appeared in 1982 or so).000 134.000 275.35 0.5 1 0. and it could only do that four bits at a time.

MIPS stands for Millions of Instructions Per Second. it is helpful to look inside and learn about the logic used to create one. a human hair is 100 microns thick. In the process you can also learn about assembly language . Now that you’ve read all this stuff. The maximum clock speed is a function of the manufacturing process and delays within the chip. and is a rough measure of the performance of a CPU. Many processors are re-introduced at higher clock speeds for many years after the original release date. in microns.the native language of a microprocessor . the date is the year that the processor was first introduced. That improvement is directly related to the number of transistors on the chip and will make more sense in the next section. go back and look at the table again! Inside a Microprocessor To understand how a microprocessor works. A transistor is an on or off switch. . From this table you can see that. For example.Compiled from The Intel Microprocessor Quick Reference Guide In the above table. Clock speed will make more sense in the next section. There is also a relationship between the number of transistors and MIPS. For comparison. off is a “0” Microns is the width. in general. Modern CPUs can do so many different things that MIPS ratings lose a lot of their meaning. there is a relationship between clock speed and MIPS. of the smallest wire on the chip. the 8088 clocked at 5 MHz but only executed at 0. but you can get a general sense of the relative power of the CPUs from this column. the number of transistors rises.and many of the things that engineers can do to boost the speed of a processor. Modern processors can often execute at a rate of 2 instructions per clock cycle. Clock speed is the maximum rate that the chip can be sent information. On is a “1”.33 MIPS (about 1 instruction per 15 clock cycles). Transistors is the number of transistors on the chip. You can see that the number of transistors on a single chip has risen steadily over the years. As the feature size on the chip goes down.

a microprocessor does three basic things: • Using its ALU (Arithmetic/Logic Unit). That way it looks like one instruction completes every clock cycle. there can be 5 instructions in various stages of execution simultaneously. it took approximately 80 cycles just to do one 16-bit multiplication on the 8088. a typical instruction in a processor like an 8088 took 15 clock cycles to execute. which means more than one instruction can complete during each clock cycle. multiplication and division. • A microprocessor can move data from one memory location to another • A microprocessor can make decisions and jump to a new set of instructions based on those decisions. so it takes lots of transistors. More transistors also allow a technology called pipelining. As seen in the table.A microprocessor executes a collection of machine instructions that tell the processor what to do. a microprocessor can perform mathematical operations like addition. Many modern processors have multiple instruction decoders. Lots of new terms. They stay one step behind each other. This technique can be quite complex to implement. instruction execution overlaps. subtraction. Based on the instructions. no? All you really need to know is that these trends push up the . So even though it might take 5 clock cycles to execute each instruction. There may be very sophisticated things that a microprocessor does. Because of the design. The trend in processor design has been toward full 32-bit processing power with fast floating point processors built in and pipelined execution with multiple instruction streams. There has also been the addition of hardware virtual memory support and L1 caching on the processor chip. but those above are its three basic activities. This allows multiple instruction streams. There has also been a tendency toward special instructions (like the MMX instructions) that make certain operations particularly efficient. In a pipelined architecture. Performance The number of transistors available has a huge effect on the performance of a processor. Modern microprocessors contain complete floating-point processors that can perform extremely sophisticated operations on large floating-point numbers. each with its own pipeline. all of which we will discuss later in this book.

It is usually marked with an arrow or dot. Some of these processors can execute about one billion instructions per second! How to install a CPU 1. or they may break off. press it firmly into place. but usually it is more cost effective to just to buy a new CPU and motherboard. and you don't want to break them off. Remove the screws from the case and pull off the cover. 2. If you have a LIF socket you will have to use a chip pull. there will be a lever on the side. be very careful in straightening them. If you have a LIF socket. (a second processor to help the first) if your motherboard supports it. Some processors require special bus speeds. Simply lift it straight up and pull out the CPU. for example a Cyrix 6x86 PR-200 requires a 75MHz bus rate. If you a ZIF socket. 5. 3. Now you can put in the new processor. leading to the multi-million transistor powerhouses available today. Now you need to unplug your computer's power cord. If you do bend the pins. Make sure that the CPU you purchase is supported by your motherboard. It will usually have a CPU fan over it. Make sure you get pin one into pin one of the socket. Next you need to remove the old processor. Slowly work each side of the CPU up little by little to avoid damaging the fragile pins. . 4. which no Intel processors use. Locate the processor. if you have a ZIF socket push the handle back down and clip it into place. a small tool available at any computer store. First you need to purchase a CPU. An alternative is to buy an overdrive processor. Remove the fan from the CPU.transistor count.

you can change a board's parameters. By placing a jumper plug over a different set of pins. It is not completely correct. that the I/O-buses usually derive from the system bus: 1 A Jumper is a metal bridge that closes an electrical circuit. but it shows the important point. Actually. A bus is usually a special wire or system of wires. These should be found in your manual. as you can see in this illustration. 7. . bus speed. • I/O buses (Input / Output buses). it connects to the I/O buses. Typically. That's all you need to do. There are different types of buses. Replace the case cover and screw the case back together. They can be divided into: • The system bus. which connect the CPU with other components. usually CPU type. allowing it to work. and multiplier. which connects the CPU with RAM. that the system bus is the central bus.6. RAM is temporary memory and will be discussed in depth later on. Now you will probably have to set some jumper1 positions. Just like you take a bus to get to work. a jumper consists of a plastic plug that fits over a pair of protruding pins. THE SYSTEM BUS The PC receives and sends its data in pathways in the computer called Buses. The point is. bits take buses to and from the main parts of the computer. since actual computer architecture is much more complex.

from which the others are branches: . which is oldest. (pronounced “skuzzy”) a fast bus. In a modern Pentium driven PC. or linking up to 127 peripherals.You see the central system bus. They are configured to move data in a serial or parallel manner. which is the newest bus. The four I/O buses will be described later. The bridge is part of the PC chip set.). most modems) and a parallel bus can send multiple bits at one time. A serial bus moves data one bit at a time (mouse. • The USB bus. 4 different types of I/O buses The I/O buses move data. They connect all I/O devices with the CPU and RAM. simplest. keyboard. Most buses are serial. and slowest bus. we will take a closer look at the PC's fundamental bus. which is the fastest and most powerful bus. • The PCI bus. Here. or plugs. which will be covered later on. which connects the CPU with RAM. etc. monitor. Buses are connected to ports. there are three or four different types of I/O buses: • The ISA bus. It may in the long run replace the ISA bus. which can receive or send data (disk drives. A bridge connects the I/O buses with the system bus and on to RAM. capable of daisy chaining. I/O devices are those components. • The SCSI bus.

Other buses branch off from it. A hertz is one cycle. The faster the system bus gets. The Bus speed describes how many cycles of these bits can move through the bus in a second. the faster the remainder of the electronic components must be. can move through the wire at the same time.The system bus The system bus connects the CPU with RAM and maybe a specific kind of highspeed memory called a cache. At the fourth generation CPU 80486DX2-50 are doubled clock speeds utilized. that system bus speed follows the CPU's speed limitation. It is designed to match a specific type of CPU. or zeros and ones. and “mega” means million. The system bus is on the motherboard. CPUs in the 80486 family 80486SX-25 80486DX-33 80486DX2-50 80486DX-50 System bus width 32 bit 32 bit 32 bit 32 bit System bus speed 25 MHz 33 MHz 25 MHz 50 MHz . The speeds or cycles are measured in Megahertz (MHz). A 16 bit bus operating at 8Mhz can transfer 128 million zeros and ones (bits) every second. it has taken much technological development to speed up "traffic" on the motherboard. so one megahertz means one million cycles of full bus widths can travel the bus in one second. The system bus width describes how many bits. The following three tables show different CPUs and their system buses: Older CPUs 8088 8086 80286-12 80386SX-16 80386DX-25 System bus width 8 bit 16 bit 16 bit 16 bit 32 bit System bus speed 4. Processor technology determines dimensioning of the system bus. The system bus is the central bus.77 MHz 8 MHz 12 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz We see. At the same time.

80486DX2-66 80486DX4-120 5X86-133 32 bit 32 bit 32 bit 33 MHz 40 MHz 33 MHz 66 MHz bus For a long time all Pentium based computers ran at 60 or 66 MHz on the system bus. . Using PC100 SDRAM a speed of 100 MHz is well proven and later the use of special RDRAM (discussed in the RAM section) will give us much higher speeds. which is 64 bit wide: CPUs in the System bus width System bus speed Pentium family Intel P60 64 bit 60 MHz Intel P100 Cyrix 6X86 P133+ AMD K5-133 Intel P150 Intel P166 Cyrix 6X86 P166+ Pentium Pro 200 Cyrix 6X86 P200+ Pentium II 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 64 bit 66 MHz 55 MHz 66 MHz 60 MHz 66 MHz 66 MHz 66 MHz 75 MHz 66 MHz 100 MHz bus The speed of the system bus increased dramatically in 1998.

as well as almost every other part in the computer is designed to send and receive data at a certain speed. So. Can I upgrade my system bus? Probably not. video and audio. AMD K6-2 400 MHz Intel Pentium 100 MHz 450. II 450 MHz 100 MHz 250. Windows 95 is a 32bit operating system and runs slow on older 16bit computers.Processor System bus CPU speed speed Intel Pentium 100 MHz 350. 300. 665 III MHz 200 MHz 600. To review. It allows for fast info transfer to the processor 3. 500 Xeon MHz Intel Pentium 133 MHz 533. Some Bus Types: 1. or 32bit bus. Most computers still around today run on an 8bit. scanners. USB (Universal Serial Bus 32bit) is the newest (1998) fast bus type. 4. The CPU and RAM. While it is . Used for fax and modem. A SCSI BUS is very fast and can daisy chain up to 127 peripherals. I/O BUS (input output bus) also called Data Bus or Peripheral Bus. to recap. CPU BUS Connects CPU and RAM only. 16bit. the I / O is the pathway between the motherboard & peripherals in any expansion slots. a bus is basically a pathway in your computer. 2. SCSI bus (small computer system interface) The SCSI bus is the physical connection between a mandatory special adapter card & SCSI compatible peripheral devices. 400. 800 AMD K7 MHz A motherboard with a 100 MHz bus has to be well constructed with good power supply and many capacitors.

power is given to a set of chips called the CMOS. then the hard disk. The PC looks for the OS in specific places in a specific order. When the computer first turns on. POST (Power On Self Test) The CMOS chip signals the CPU to check for peripherals. the DEL key. It is not possible to modify the BIOS code. Starting your Computer When a computer is first switched on.) The setup options are those that specify such things as the primary boot device. (It is not recommended to upgrade the BIOS unless a specific problem relating to the BIOS is being encountered. an abbreviation of complementary metal oxide semiconductor. However. The ROM BIOS (Read Only Memory – Basic Input Output System) is permanent start-up information stored on the CMOS. 2. the BIOS code can usually be upgraded by obtaining the latest BIOS code from the company that wrote the code (such as Award or AMI). The system files are the basic files used to run the computer. . memory speed etc. The operating system (OS) loads. (For example. time. First it checks the “A” or floppy disk drive. The computer’s System files load. it is best left up to the experts and provides marginal returns. When the power supply indicates that it is steady.) Hitting delete during start up can usually access the POST settings. then the CD ROM drive. CMOS chips require less power than chips using just one type of transistor.possible to upgrade a system bus. DOS files are an example of system files. CMOS is a widely used type of semiconductor. Personal computers contain a small amount of battery-powered CMOS memory to hold the date. Pronounced see-moss. and system setup parameters. making sure everything is in present and in working order. or better still from the company that manufactured the motherboard. the CMOS chipset is given electricity and starts the following sequence of events: 1. 3. the motherboard chipset waits until the voltage is steady. BOOT. Pressing an appropriate button just after the PC is switched on accesses them. Results are compared to ROM BIOS on the CMOS.

write down all the settings. Even if you're not changing your CMOS battery right now. This is particularly important for systems that are more than two years old. Some older PCs make it even harder on you. Find the current CMOS battery. There are many different types of CMOS batteries. CMOS batteries often die slowly. types of floppy drives. The better way is to use a software package such as Norton Utilities that stores a backup copy of your computer's CMOS settings on a floppy disk. do it now--before you run into problems. 2. . such as hard disk parameters. And when it does. Save the settings. If your system is more than a couple of years old and you haven't yet tackled the chore of replacing the CMOS battery. back up your PC's setup information. PCs built in the past couple of years or so should automatically detect all crucial system parameters when you install a new battery. One method is to go through your PC setup screens. and their expected life span varies widely. and keep them with your PC's manuals. There are two ways to save backup information. displaying a nonspecific error message that can make you think the machine has a major problem. The lithium batteries installed in PCs for the last year or two should last five or six years. and memory size. you'll have a very hard time accessing your computer until you change the battery.Your CMOS Battery The CMOS battery powers both the PC's internal clock and a CMOS memory chip that holds all the computer's crucial setup information. A dead one usually displays a 'CMOS Read Error' or 'CMOS Battery Failure' message when you turn on your PC. but batteries in older PCs have average lives of two to three years. although you'll still need to set the date and time manually. That means your system has no idea how to start up because all the crucial parameters have been lost. How to Replace Your CMOS Battery Is your PC clock losing time? That's a warning that its CMOS battery is about to go.

If not. One of these is a small. Turn on the PC.If you're lucky. and take a look around. Some motherboards have a permanently attached. As explained above. they fall into a few basic categories. Two other battery types attach by a two-wire cable to a jumper on the motherboard and are located elsewhere inside the PC--usually with a Velcro fastener. it also likely has a four-pin connector to which you can attach a standard NiCd If yours doesn't. you should replace it with a newer-style black box like the Ray-O-Vac 844. restore them from the floppy disk. If you used a software package to save the CMOS settings. you'll have to type in the information. In rare situations. If your PC has an old-style holder with four AA batteries. though. www. Replace the battery. is a thin battery about the size of a quarter that sits on the motherboard. 4. the other is a plastic holder that contains four standard AA alkaline batteries. A lithium button cell. Your system vendor or a local computer dealer or may have the right replacement battery. www. what type it is. the most common type for newer systems. you can buy one from Battery-Biz (800/848-6782.battery-biz. you'll get an error message. Put a piece of masking tape inside the case with a note of the date you changed the battery. There are more than two dozen types of CMOS batteries on the market. 3. which is about the width of an AA battery but only one-third its length. you may have to change a jumper--check your manual. rectangular black box. rechargeable NiCd battery. Turn off your PC. and how to change or Resource 800 (800/430-7030.dallas. the manuals say little or nothing about it. . Remove the old battery (you may first have to remove some add-in boards or move cables around) and put in the new one. your system manual will tell you where the CMOS battery is located. so check with your local recycling center. Buy the right battery. open the case. newer setup programs should automatically detect hard disk parameters and other crucial information. Get into its setup program and enter the date and time. But make sure you don't just toss out the old cell: All batteries except plain-vanilla AAs may constitute hazardous waste. More often. If your PC has a permanently attached NiCd cell that's gone bad.

Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People PART 2 – MEMORY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAM .

but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. with marginal returns. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. The Processor does calculations. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM. it saves on the that the CPU may need at a later time. . too. orders data. the processor has access to less data. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. hard disk from RAM. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz). It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. but cannot electricity to function. RAM can store data needed by the Processor. RAM can upload or save data very quickly. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. With small amounts of RAM. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. When your computer is making noise. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. slowing the computer.The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space. RAM also needs of information. When upload or save very quickly. All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory. RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. it is usually the hard drive. It can get data from the hard drive or from the Processor. itself. By the time you need a new processor. and instructs components to do things. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. The Processor. When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM. Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. The processor is a microchip. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with. is the computer’s “brain”. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. or CPU.

That’s where RAM comes in. RAM can’t hold as much information as the hard drive. RAM is called "random access" because earlier read-write did not allow random access. in a general sense. Memory works like a blackboard that is constantly overwritten with new data. RAM is much faster than ROM is. which make them slower. The processor can process data very quickly. If you do not save the data.What is RAM? RAM is short for Random Access Memory. your computer is "going virtual" . It's a temporary work area in which your computer uses. but if it can’t get that data quickly it doesn’t matter how fast it works. or memory size. which. The hard drive moves slowly.g. RAM is considered to be the resources which your computer uses for all of its computations. it will disappear when you turn off the computer. RAM needs to be writeable in order for it to do its job of holding programs and data that you are working on. RAM chips don't. but it can transfer data very quickly. RAM is the place where your programs reside while they're running and where your open files are stored before you hit the "save" command. due to the nature of how it stores information. The amount of memory. is why having lots of RAM makes your computer run faster. The data stored in memory is temporary. RAM is also sometimes called read-write memory or RWM.. Memory size also determines how fast your programs will operate. It's a better name because calling RAM "random access" implies to some people that ROM (discussed below) isn't random access. in a computer determines the number of programs you can run at once. Hard drives have moving parts. your computer uses empty space on your hard drive to keep track of what's going on (called "paging to disk"). but its problem is in getting that information in and out. so of course it is hardly ever used. If active programs and files take up more room than your RAM has available. The volatility of RAM also means that you risk losing what you are working on unless you save it frequently. Obviously. If while surfing on The Web you notice that your hard drive light is constantly running or is blinking a good amount of the time. Sometimes old acronyms persist even when they don't make much sense anymore (e. to do work. the "AT" in the old IBM AT stands for "advanced technology”. The hard drive can hold lots of information. This is actually a much more precise name. which is not true.

Make sure you back it up onto either a tape backup system. RAM works at the speed of light and is therefor much faster than trying to access the information using your hard drive. Keep in mind that it is your hard drive which is the device that holds All of the information you are and have been collecting. is the fact that it saves your hard drive from doing a lot of extra work. . This means that your machine is trying to run the programs by reading them off the hard drive then writing back to the hard drive and so forth. A hard drive uses mechanics in order to deliver the information you are requesting and it is therefor slower. Ensuring you have high-quality memory will result in a . • Software Support: Newer programs require more memory than old ones. because insufficient memory can cause a processor to work at 50% or even more below its performance potential. This kind of activity puts a lot of extra wear and tear on your hard drive. More memory will give you access to programs that you cannot use with a lesser amount.. If that information is considered to be valuable to you. .. It also has to go through more stuff before it is viewed by the user (you).as we call it. . • Reliability and Stability: Bad memory is a leading cause of mysterious system problems. More RAM (Random Access Memory) means a bigger work area for your machine to do its work and less work your hard drive has to do in order to keep up with your demands. or the other solutions discussed in the storage section of this book. Internet Explorer uses 8 meg of RAM and Windows 95 uses 8 meg of RAM therefore you need a minimum of 16 meg just to be on the Internet. . This is an important point that is often overlooked. The more RAM you put into your machine the better it should run. hence it shortens its life. just get it off the system for safe keeping! Memory plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system: • Performance: The amount and type of system memory you have is an important contributing factor to overall performance. it is more important than the processor. back it up. making it last longer. In many ways. quicker response times to your requests and most importantly of all. This does not take into affect the amount of additional RAM your machine maybe using to load additional programs when your machine "boots up".

In post transmission the byte is again added together and its sum is checked with the parity bit. the ninth bit is a zero. Also. 2 .PC that runs smoothly and exhibits fewer problems. SIMMs and DIMMs RAM is kept on a circuit board. SIMMs are easier to install than individual memory chips. If the sum is even. a 1 is added as the ninth bit. are small circuit boards that hold memory chips. the ninth chip is often used for parity error checking2. and some are more universal than others. A SIMM has a 32-bit path to the memory chips whereas a DIMM has 64-bit path. Because the Pentium processor requires a 64-bit path to Parity checking refers to the use of numbers called parity bits to check that data has been transmitted accurately. The bus from a SIMM to the actual memory chips is 32 bits wide. even high-quality memory will not work well if you use the wrong kind. short for dual in-line memory module. On PCs. Making a wise choice can allow you to migrate your memory it to a future system or continue to use it after you upgrade your motherboard. It the two do not confirm each other the data is ignored and resent. • Upgradability: There are many different types of memory available. These circuit boards are either: SIMMs. The eight bits (zeros or ones) in a transmitted byte are added up prior to transmission. Typically. SIMMs hold up 8 (on Macintoshes) or 9 (on PCs) RAM chips. an acronym for single inline memory module. which are small circuit boards that can hold a group of memory chips. If the sum is odd. In this way parity checking is used to reduce errors. or DIMMs.

whether the memory cell is being used at that time by the computer or not. when energized. and some let you combine the two by providing both types of slots. the reading action itself refreshes the contents of the memory. they usually mean Dynamic RAM.memory. Some computers use SIMMs. so they're not interchangeable. The overhead of the refresh circuit is tolerated in order to allow the use of large amounts of inexpensive. This refreshing action is why the memory is called dynamic. even if it continues to have power supplied to it. DRAMs are both more complicated and slower than SRAMs. With DIMMs. many years of using DRAM has caused the design of these circuits to be all but perfected. Different types of RAM There are many different types of RAMs. The refresh circuitry itself is almost never a problem. including static RAM (SRAM) and many flavors of dynamic RAM (DRAM). If this is not done regularly. Due to the way in which the cells are constructed. DRAMs use only one. It may seem weird to want to make the computer's memory out of something that can only hold a value for a fraction of a second. Dynamic RAM (DRAM) When people refer to their RAM. In fact. instead of SRAM. which is a type of RAM that only holds its data if it is continuously accessed by special part called a refresh circuit. you need to install SIMMs two at a time. All PCs use DRAM for their main system memory. plus a capacitor. some use DIMMs. typically 1/4 the silicon area of SRAMs or less. compact memory. even though DRAMs are slower than SRAMs and require the overhead of the refresh circuitry. Many hundreds of times each second. DRAMs are smaller and less expensive than SRAMs because SRAMs are made from four to six transistors (or more) per bit. then the DRAM will lose its contents. holds an electrical charge if the bit . The reason that DRAMs are used is simple: they are much cheaper and take up much less space. this circuitry reads the contents of each memory cell. you can install memory one DIMM at a time. The capacitor. To build a 64 MB core memory from SRAMs would be very expensive. A DIMM has 168 contacts and a SIMM has 72.

DRAM is manufactured using a similar process to how processors are: a silicon substrate is etched with the patterns that make the transistors and capacitors (and support structures) that comprise each bit. The transistor is used to read the contents of the capacitor. • Size: SRAMs take up much more space than DRAMs (which is part of why the cost is higher). the process of reading the contents of each capacitor re-establishes the charge. SRAMs have the following weaknesses. There are many different kinds of specific DRAM technologies and speeds that they are available in. . These capacitors are tiny. The problem with capacitors is that they only hold a charge for a short period of time. These have evolved over many years of using DRAM for system memory. This is why the refresh circuitry is needed: to read the contents of every cell and refresh them with a fresh "charge" before the contents fade away and are lost. compared to DRAMs: • Cost: SRAM is.contains a "1" or no charge if it contains a "0". This is contrasted to dynamic RAM (DRAM). Refreshing is done by reading every "row" in the memory chip one row at a time. and are discussed in more detail in other sections. so there isn't the complexity of making a single chip with several million individually located transistors. • Speed: SRAM is faster than DRAM. byte for byte. and then it fades away. which must be refreshed many times per second in order to hold its data contents. where their strengths outweigh their weaknesses compared to DRAM: • Simplicity: SRAMs don't require external refresh circuitry or other work in order for them to keep their data intact. several times more expensive than DRAM. Static RAM (SRAM) Static RAM is a type of RAM that holds its data without external refresh. In contrast. SRAMs are used for specific applications within the PC. DRAM costs much less than a processor because it is a series of simple. for as long as power is supplied to the circuit. repeated structures. so their charges fade particularly quickly.

is said to be asynchronous. .These advantages and disadvantages taken together obviously show that performance-wise. is synchronized to the system clock. Each SRAM bit is comprised of between four and six transistors. it is much easier to make than a CPU. which uses only one (plus a capacitor). The signals are not coordinated with the system clock at all. and a certain period of time later the memory value appears on the bus. for which it is perfectly suited. they are discussed below. SDRAM VS. and not very large. which controls how often the processor can receive data (discussed in further detail later). SRAM is superior to DRAM. of the type that has been used in PCs since the original IBM PC days. called "synchronous DRAM" or "SDRAM". Asynchronous memory works fine in lower-speed memory bus systems but is not nearly as suitable for use in high-speed (>66 MHz) memory systems. cache memory needs to be very fast. Because an SRAM chip is comprised of thousands or millions of identical cells. This refers to the fact that the memory is not synchronized to the system clock. It is more suitable to the higher-speed memory systems of the newest PCs. Note that there are several different flavors of both asynchronous DRAM and synchronous DRAM. SRAMs are used instead for special kinds of memory called level 1 cache and level 2 cache memory (discussed below). This is one reason why RAM chips cost much less than processors do. all signals are tied to the clock so timing is much tighter and better controlled. SRAM is manufactured in a way rather similar to how processors are: highly integrated transistor patterns photo-etched into silicon. With DRAM. which is why DRAM is used for system memory. Unfortunately. This type of memory is much faster than asynchronous DRAM and can be used to improve the performance of the system. which is a large die with a non-repetitive structure. which is why SRAM takes up much more space compared to DRAM. 32 MB of SRAM would be prohibitively large and costly. A newer type of DRAM. and we would use it exclusively if only we could do so economically. DRAM Conventional DRAM. a memory access is begun.

even when set to 60 ns timing. Note that older memory running at 100 or 120 ns also used "-10" and "-12" sometimes. this is not reliable and cannot be counted on. SDRAMs are also often rated in terms of their maximum cycles or jobs per second. in practice many companies rate their DRAM conservatively. an . This usually means 60 nanosecond DRAM. Systems running with a clock speed (speed the processor can be fed information) of 60 MHz or higher generally require 60 ns or faster memory to function at peak efficiency. you'll see something like "-6" or "-60". most have dozens. just expressed in a different way: for example. However. DRAM chips are usually marked with their speed via a suffix at the end of the part number. Conventional asynchronous DRAM chips have a rated speed in nanoseconds (ns. The suffix found on SDRAM chips is often "-12". This includes the entire access cycle. depending on total memory capacity and the size of DRAMs being used. and then into banks. SDRAM. 70 ns is fine for 486 or older PCs. in MHz. The rated speed of the memory is a maximum. Very old systems use even slower memory: 100. 120 or even 150 ns. is fast becoming the standard in today’s personal computers. This memory hasn't been used in years so there really shouldn't be any confusion between the two types. Its speed is rated in a slightly different way. The chips are arranged into modules. so that the memory will function at a higher speed than what is indicated. or a billionth of a second). Of course. Since a modern PC reads or writes 64 bits at a time. There are two different ways that these RAM chips are rated for speed. "-10" or "-07". If you look at the chips themselves. In addition to being referred to using a nanosecond speed rating. each read or write involves simultaneous accesses to as many as 64 different DRAM chips. a speed that represents the minimum access time for doing a read or write to memory. However. Most asynchronous memory in modern systems is 50. which is quicker than DRAM because of its ability to perform multiple requests for memory at the same time. 60 or 70 ns in speed. This is why many Pentium systems running on a 66 MHz bus will work with 70 ns memory. Older systems (386 and earlier) use usually 70 or 80 ns RAM. a PC doesn't have a single memory chip. This is really the same thing as a “ns” rating.RAM Speed Most conventional memory referred to as RAM is DRAM or SDRAM. and the memory controller manages which sets of chips are read from or written to.

When the CPU needs data.066 gigabyte transfer rates on a motherboard's 66MHz bus Available in 1999 FPM [Fast Page Mode] Used in older computers of up to the Pentium 100MHz typical speeds are 60ns and 70ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-3-3-3 . compared above with DRAM. This MHz number is not the same as saying that the SDRAM with that rating is designed for a system of that speed. L2 cache is also called SRAM. If the data still cannot be found. the cache is not upgradeable. it first checks the fastest source — L1. Types of RAM SDRAM [Synchronous Dynamic RAM] (The main type of memory in use today) Can operate at motherboard bus clocks of over 100MHz Can synchronize to the system clock Typical speeds 6ns. the CPU checks the next-fastest source — L2. and external cache (L2) resides on the motherboard. a time-consuming search of the slower regular RAM is required. 10ns. and 12ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-1-1-1 DDR SDRAM [Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM] Allow 1.SDRAM module with a 10ns rating would be called instead a "100 MHz SDRAM". onehundred-millionth of a second per cycle. Internal cache (L1) is built into the CPU. Both L1 and L2 store data recently used by the CPU. As it is permanently attached to main parts of the computer. is made up of two groups of extremely fast memory chips that allow your computer to operate faster. which is the reciprocal of 10ns. 100 MHz is 100 million cycles per second. A 100 MHz SDRAM may not function in a 100 MHz system bus PC. 7ns. The Cache When referring to memory the cache. If the data is not there. pronounced cash.

Typical speeds 45ns. RDRAM [Rambus Dynamic RAM] Can operate at motherboard bus clocks of 133MHz. 50ns. and 70ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-2-2-2 BEDO [Burst Extended Data Output] Only supported by the VIA 580VP.5ns. and 8ns VRAM [Video RAM] Used only on video cards. Can transfer data at 533Mb/s per channel Supports up to four channels for a total speed of 2132Mb/s Access speed of 2ns . 60ns. MDRAM [Multibank Dynamic RAM] Slightly faster the VRAM Used only on video cards. WRAM [Windows RAM] Introduced on the Matrox Millenium video card Slightly faster the VRAM Used only on video cards.EDO [Extended Data Output] Can operate at motherboard bus clocks of up to 83MHz. but can perform simple logical operations Used only on video cards. and 680VP chipsets The fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-1-1-1 Pipeline Burst SRAM Used as the L2. 590VP. cache on motherboards Typical speeds are 4. 6ns. or level 2. SGRAM [Synchronous Graphics RAM] Like SDRAM.

you need to determine what type of RAM your computer currently has and how much. Worse comes to worse. if you break the slots they go into. If not. which will show the current amount of RAM. First.0Gb Being Created by Intel and Rambus to be faster then RDRAM Available in 1999 ~ 2001 Upgrading RAM Are you tired of waiting for applications to open? Plagued by "Insufficient Memory" messages? A RAM upgrade may be the answer. if any. and most noticeable improvement you can make to your computer's speed. You should see a listing for memory. click on Control Panel. Even worse. If you can’t find it just make sure you know exactly what kind of computer you have. Any computer store will be able to look up what kind of RAM you need. Get the manufacturer's instructions for dismantling the computer's case.nDRAM To be released with the Intel Merced processor Expected transfer rates of 1. Get a little too rough inserting a module and you're liable to break it. RAM modules and the slots where they're inserted are both made of plastic. to be sure). Each type has its own merits. including EDO. First check your computer’s documentation to see what kind of RAM you’ll need. click on the Start button. There are many different types of RAM. you may wind up taking a trip to the computer shop to have a new motherboard installed (a worst-case scenario. scroll up to Settings. This is probably the cheapest. For machines running Windows 95 or 98.6Gb to 3. easiest. remove one of your existing RAM chips and bring it to the store with you. call the manufacturer or try digging around on its web site. Just use firm pressure--don't force. Your user manual will have all of this info if you have it handy. fast page. and SDRAM. . Be sure you don't need to do any special tricks to get access to the RAM. and consult the documentation that comes with the RAM modules. but it's best to stick with what's already installed to avoid compatibility problems. double click on System and click on the Performance tab.

While some manufacturers recommend keeping the computer plugged in while you work on it to keep it grounded. If you're installing a DIMM. You're basically rotating it into place by starting at an angle. rather than starting at an angle and rotating the module into place. If you're installing a SIMM. Push it slowly but firmly into the slot while angling it up until it's perpendicular to the motherboard and its edge is parallel to the existing modules. your computer is most likely connected to other things that are plugged in. and so on. whether it's a toaster or a computer. You should feel it snap into place. If your slots have clips. Unplug everything and disconnect all of the cables that are attached to your computer. take a few minutes and label everything using masking tape and a magic marker. such as a printer. Always handle RAM modules (and other similar components) by their edges so you're holding plastic. a monitor. Some manufacturers recommend different methods of installing DIMMs. For safety's sake. we don't recommend this route. hold the RAM module so it's at a 45-degree angle to the motherboard and lined up correctly with the slot (aimed down from the module in front). keep yourself grounded. it's best to do it that way. It does take some pressure to get them installed properly. the procedure is the same. If it doesn't. Also. If you're installing a DIMM. A pair of SIMMs go in the next two available slots. What is ROM? . be sure to install the inside one first or you won't be able to get them both in. sometimes they'll close during a failed attempt to install a module and will need to be reopened on your second attempt. except that. With SIMMs. which is the key to getting it to seat properly. If your computer's manufacturer recommends a different method. and you won't have any problems. Avoid touching the metal contacts. you'll need to put it in the slot directly adjacent to the other module or modules. you don't want to be digging around in an electrical appliance that's plugged in. check to make sure you have everything lined up correctly and try again. If you're afraid you might not be able to make sense of that jumble of cables later on. you need to push it straight in--perpendicular to the motherboard.

whether the power is on or not. ROM chips are also used to store programs for hand-held computers and nifty devices such as digital watches or. ROM BIOS chips are used to store information for starting up your computer. There are several ROM variants that can be changed under certain circumstances. it's just not possible. and the data it contains will still be there. which is stored in a ROM called the system BIOS ROM. for the same reason. You are not going to find viruses infecting true ROMs. there are times when being able to change the contents of a ROM can be very useful. The most common example is the system BIOS program. ROM is a type of memory that normally can only be read. so there has to be something for the PC to use when it starts up. A hard disk is also non-volatile. though in practice never seen. for example. For this reason. • Security: The fact that ROM cannot easily be modified provides a measure of security against accidental (or malicious) changes to its contents. There are two main reasons that read-only memory is used for certain functions within the PC: • Permanence: The values stored in ROM are always there. Once data is programmed into the ROM chip. stored for an indefinite period of time. Having this in a permanent ROM means it is available when the power is turned on so that the PC can use it to boot up the system. and then replaced. For example. but regular RAM is not. its contents cannot be altered. While the whole point of a ROM is supposed to be that the contents cannot be changed. these can be thought of as "mostly read-only memory" The following are the different types of ROMs with a description of their relative modifiability: .) Read-only memory is most commonly used to store system-level programs that we want to have available to the PC at all times. even when the power is turned off. it is called non-volatile storage.ROM is a type of memory chip that does not lose information. as opposed to RAM which can be both read and written. Remember that when you first turn on the PC the RAM memory is empty. A ROM can be removed from the PC. (It's technically possible with erasable EPROMs.

it can be written to. • Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM (EEPROM): The next level of erasability is the EEPROM. compared to real read-write memory (RAM) where rewriting is done often many times per second! Note: One thing that sometimes confuses people is that since RAM is the "opposite" of ROM (since RAM is read-write and ROM is read-only). programming a PROM is also called burning. This is similar to the way a CDROM recorder works by letting you "burn" programs onto blanks once and then letting you read from them many times. and since RAM stands for "random access memory". and it is comparable in terms of its flexibility.• ROM: A regular ROM is constructed from hard-wired logic. Continuing the "CD" analogy. this technology is analogous to a reusable CD-RW (discussed later). • Erasable Programmable ROM (EPROM): An EPROM is a ROM that can be erased and reprogrammed. through which you can actually see the chip that holds the memory. this refers to reprogramming the BIOS EEPROM with a special software program. This is the most flexible type of ROM. much the way that a processor is. encoded in the silicon itself. This is inflexible and so regular ROMs are only used generally for programs that are static (not changing often) and mass-produced. Ultraviolet light of a specific frequency can be shined through this window for a specified period of time. When you hear reference to a "flash BIOS" or doing a BIOS upgrade by "flashing". just like burning a CD-R (discussed later). but it does require the erasing light. but remember that this rewriting is done maybe once a year or so. but only once. and is now commonly used for holding BIOS programs. This product is analogous to a commercial software CD-ROM that you purchase in a store. which can be erased under software control. A little glass window is installed in the top of the ROM package. which will erase the EPROM and allow it to be reprogrammed again. This is useful for companies that make their own ROMs from software they write. because when they change their code they can create new PROMs without requiring expensive equipment. Here we are blurring the line a bit between what "read-only" really means. Obviously this is much more useful than a regular PROM. In fact. • Programmable ROM (PROM): This is a type of ROM that can be programmed using special equipment. It is designed to perform a specific function and cannot be changed. they think that ROM is not random .

and did not allow random access. any location can be read from ROM in any order. so it is random access as well. .access. just not writeable. RAM gets its name because earlier read-write memories were sequential. This is not true.

Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People PART 3 – SAVE. STORAGE SOLUTIONS . SAVE. SAVE.

To ground yourself. Computer components are sensitive and can be damaged by static electricity. touch your computer's case. anything metal. or use a static bracelet. power supply. . make sure you ground yourself first.WARNING: Whenever you are working inside of your computer.

A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz). it saves on the that the CPU may need at a later time. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. The Processor does calculations. Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. When your computer is making noise. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. The Processor. By the time you need a new processor. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. it is usually the hard drive. itself. with marginal returns. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM. RAM can store data needed by the Processor. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with. With small amounts of RAM. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. but cannot electricity to function. including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM. It can get data from the Hard drive or from the Processor. .The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. the processor has access to less data. RAM also needs of information. and instructs components to do things. The processor is a microchip. When upload or save very quickly. orders data. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. too. is the computer’s “brain”. hard disk from RAM. slowing the computer. It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. or CPU. RAM can upload or save data very quickly. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory.

Hard disks have a hard platter that holds the magnetic medium. At the simplest level. Every mainframe and supercomputer is normally connected to hundreds of them. They give computers the ability to remember things when the power goes out.The Hard Drive The hard drive is the primary device that a computer uses to store information. Understanding hard disk operation . They later became known as "hard disks" to distinguish them from "floppy disks". Most computers come with one hard drive. and it will "remember" the magnetic flux patterns stored onto the medium for many years. a hard disk is not that different from a cassette tape. causing second-long delays while fat programs spin off the disk and into RAM. Both hard disks and cassette tapes also share the major benefits of magnetic storage . located inside the computer case. called drive C. Nearly every desktop computer and server in use today contains one or more hard disk drives. as opposed to the flexible plastic film found in tapes and floppies.the magnetic medium can be easily erased and rewritten.and optimizing . How Hard Disks Work Hard disks have been around since they were invented in the 1950s. You can even find VCR-type devices and camcorders that use hard disks instead of tape.can eliminate teeth-grinding delays. Both hard disks and cassette tapes use the same magnetic recording techniques described in the HSW article entitled How Tape Recorders Work. system RAM performance is counted in nanoseconds.they store changing digital information in a relatively permanent form. Whereas disk access times are measured in milliseconds. They were originally called "fixed disks" or "Winchesters" (a code name used for a popular IBM product). The hard disk can have a huge impact on the performance of your PC: The fact is that the rotating magnetic media of the hard disk is one of the severest performance bottlenecks. Let's look at the big differences between the cassette tapes and hard disks so you can see how they differ: . These billions of hard disks do one thing well . They started as large disks up to 20 inches in diameter holding just a few megabytes.

• In a cassette tape deck. A hard disk platter can spin underneath its head at speeds up to 3. never actually touching it. The hard disk platter is then polished to mirror smoothness. or they could be the instructions of a software application for the computer to execute. A hard disk can also access any of its information in a fraction of a second. A typical desktop machine will have a hard disk with a capacity of between 2 and 8 gigabytes. • With a tape. Rates between 5 and 40 megabytes per second are common. or they could be the records of a database. On a hard disk you can move to any point on the surface of the disk almost instantly. • The tape in a cassette tape deck moves over the head at about 2 inches (about 1 cm) per second. Data is stored onto the disk in the form of files. • The seek time . This can take several minutes with a long tape. In a hard disk the read/write head "flies" over the disk. A file is simply a named collection of bytes.000 inches per second (about 150 MPH or 225 KPH)! • The information on a hard disk is stored in extremely small magnetic domains compared to a cassette tapes. or they could be the pixel colors for a GIF image. the magnetic recording material is layered onto a high-precision aluminum or glass disk. The bytes might be the ASCII codes for the characters of a text file. In a hard disk. however. • Because of these differences.• The magnetic recording material on a cassette tape is coated onto a thin plastic strip. the hard disk retrieves its bytes and sends them to the CPU one at a time. When a program running on the computer requests a file. . No matter what it contains. a modern hard disk is able to store an amazing amount of information in a small space. you have to fast-forward or reverse through the tape to get to any particular point on the tape. The size of these domains is made possible by the precision of the platter and the speed of the media. the read/write head touches the tape directly. There are two ways to measure the performance of a hard disk: • The data rate . Times between 10 and 20 milliseconds are common. a file is simply a string of bytes.the amount of time it takes between the time that the CPU requests a file and the first byte of the file starts being sent to the CPU.the number of bytes per second that the drive can deliver to the CPU.

the number of bytes it can hold. The electronics also assemble the magnetic domains on the drive into bytes (reading) and turn bytes into magnetic domains (writing). [Note that opening a hard disk ruins it. The electronics are all contained on a small board that detaches from the rest of the drive: Underneath the board are the connections for the motor that spins the platters.The other important parameter is the capacity of the drive . Inside a Hard Disk The best way to understand how a hard disk works is to take a look inside. . The electronics control the read/write mechanism and the motor that spins the platters.] Here is the inside of a typical hard disk drive: It is a sealed aluminum box with controller electronics attached to one side. as well as a highly filtered vent hole that lets internal and external air pressures equalize. so this is not something to try at home unless you have a defunct drive.

A typical sector is shown as the darker section five rows from the edge. sectors are often grouped together into clusters. A sector contains a fixed number of bytes for example. most hard disks have multiple platters. which sectors are pieshaped wedges on a is an amazing thing to watch! In order to increase the amount of information the drive can store. The arm and its movement mechanism are extremely light and fast.600 or 7. • The arm that holds the read/write heads. This drive has three platters and six read-write heads.Removing the cover from the drive reveals an extremely simple but very precise interior In the above picture you can see: • The platters. which typically spin at 3. Sectors Tracks and Clusters Data is stored on the surface of a platter in sectors and tracks. These platters are manufactured to amazing tolerances and are mirror smooth. This arm is controlled by the mechanism in the upper-left corner. . second row in. The arm on a typical hard disk drive can move from hub to edge and back up to 50 times per second . and is able to move the heads from the hub to the edge of the drive. The mechanism that moves the arms on a hard disk has to be incredibly fast and precise. Tracks are concentric circles.200 RPM when the drive is operating. It can be constructed using a high-speed linear motor. like this: A typical track is shown as the colored ring. 256 or 512. Either at the drive or the operating system level.

Some newer drives will automatically choose master or slave status based on how they are connected. If you are adding a drive to a second controller. you will need to connect the cable to the motherboard. the data cable will already be connected to your motherboard. this involves changing a jumper. Refer to your owner's manual for the specific details for the drive you have purchased. Connect the cable so . To start. you may have to select whether to install it as a master or slave before you actually hook up the drive in your system. turn your drive over and look at the printing on the circuit board to locate the pin settings for the master/slave jumper. If you are replacing an existing drive or adding a second drive to an existing controller. you will want to set your new drive as the slave. remove it from the master position pins and place it over the slave position pins. So check the installation guide for your new drive. The first drive attached to the data cable (covered in the next step) will usually be the master and the second drive attached to that cable would be the slave. In either case. The master/slave setting allows you to have two drives attached to the same controller. or if you are connecting the new drive to a second controller. So if you are replacing a single existing drive. If you are adding the drive to a controller to which you have already attached the existing drive. Most drives come set to be the master by default. To change the jumper position from master to slave. Usually. you will need to connect the data cable correctly to your new hard drive. Your motherboard should be imprinted with a “0/1” designation so that it is easy to see where the striped side of the cable should connect. you won't need to make any changes. The illustration below shows the master/slave jumper on a Western Digital drive.Installing a Hard Drive Depending upon the drive you've purchased.

pictures. One way to back-up your system is to install another hard disk on your computer. many people don't take the time to do so. You’re done! Disk Compression Do not .under any circumstances. . and its springs and bearings are doing more work than intended in a shorter amount of time. this doesn't have to happen to you. you will really pay for it when the drive fails. pay for it.that the colored stripe matches up with the 0/1 pins on the motherboard. Unfortunately. Compression’s hidden damage is the physical wear-andtear it causes on the hard drive parts. With a backed-up computer. While compression can be used selectively to archive single files or selective programs. use disk compression! Compressing your hard drive means squeezing down data and programs sizes artificially using software. The hard drive’s "‘read/write" arm is therefore constantly moving around. again matching the striped side of the cable with the 0/1 pin position on the drive itself. for whatever reason. notes. Otherwise. That’s it. If you've ever accidentally reformatted your drive. and programs. Back-Up Your Hard Drive Backing up the files on your computer may save you a ton of headaches if you ever mistakenly wipe your hard drive. If you need extra storage space. There are two primary methods for doing a backup: online and on-site backups. Buy another hard drive or get the upgrade in the first place.specific files or your entire hard-drive. The components of a compressed hard drive have to do double-duty (squeezing or inflating) files which otherwise could be "read or written" to the hard drive in half the time. Determining what to save will play an important factor in this decision . with disk compression. you can understand the frustration of losing all your important documents. compressing the entire drive is a bargain with the devil. It makes a 500MB drive "pretend" to have 1000MB of space by compressing the files when not in use and de-compressing (or inflating) the files when you need them. Now connect the other end of the data cable to the back of the hard drive.

Two standard backup systems are Arco Computer Products' DupliDisk (www. For around $100 a A typical disk-imaging program costs between $60 and $100. Two of these online backup companies include @Backup (www. you can think about buying a Zip Drive. about 25 Megabytes. One such site is iDrive. Zip Disks If you want to back-up just your data files. many and Norton Ghost 2000 Personal Edition (www. and can be written over as many times as you need. Internet Back-Up You can also backup computer files utilizing the Internet. including saving files. erased and recorded just like floppies and hard drives. There are even a couple of sites that offer free Internet Storage.atbackup. You can get a CD re-writable for about $200 that will allow you to use a special CD that can be recorded. For about $100 you can get a regular CD recorder (sometimes called Burners) which use blank CD's that can only be recorded once (these are the most secure). Blank CDs can hold up to 650MB worth of data. you can store up to 100MB of An external Zip Drive will usually run you about $130. Numerous online companies offer space for storing important data. or making music CD to play in your car .com). These systems allow you to clone your existing hard drive to the one that will become your backup. There are two basic types you can buy. under a dollar apiece. Of course.arcoide. CD recorders can also be used for numerous other uses. backing-up or copy software. CD Recorder Another method of backing up computer data is to use a CD and Intel's Answer Express Support Suite (www. The disks themselves usually cost around $ addition to buying a disk mirroring or imaging system. but it is an alternative nonetheless. These drives use special disks that can store up to 100MB (Megabytes) of data. you have to see their banner advertising and you get much less storage. The cost for re-writeable CDs is about $5 while the write-once versions are.

a human hair is 100 microns). 3. Blowing out the inside of the computer using a can of compressed air once a year can help to avoid this (make sure you don't spray it upside-down.0. making your standard grinding noise. Bad Dates and File Names: Unorthodox date types and file Names . Excessive vibration to the drive is also not a good thing.(www.idrive. though. this will release coolant and cause potential problems). Another bad thing to do to hard drives is make a rapid temperature change. If there is a buildup around the drive. Damaged sectors: Damaged Areas on the Disk 2. Condensation can build up inside the drive and quickly destroy it when you turn it on.3 . Remember that the heads and platter are extremely close together (about 0. If this seems to be the case. it can act as insulation. Hard Drive Maintenance Scandisk scandisk checks your hard drive for efforts drive for errors. Don't position the computer where it will receive a constant external vibration to it. make a backup of any important data and check into either having it fixed or purchasing a new one. If your computer is running very slow you may want to run scandisk. causing the drive to overheat and behave erratically. Cross Referenced Files: The computer thinks two files are in the same place on the disk. What damages a hard drive? Dust is a major problem for the hard drive.6 microns. Sometimes the bearings will fail and start to grind against each other. and make sure it is mounted properly. Scandisk check for three things:

If it finds more. click the "Start" button Click on "Programs" Click on "Accessories" Click on "System Tools".Click on "Start" After the standard scandisk is done. Choose “Properties” from the drop down menu. Hence the computer becomes slower. Make sure you keep your data backed up. run it again. after it gets done. To use Disk Defrag double click “My Computer”. You should always run Scandisk before you run Disk Defrag. Click “Defragment Now”. A few bad spots (up to ten) is considered normal by most hard drive manufacturers. Windows will break up files and save them in these spaces. Run a surface scan every day and watch to see if it finds anymore. and puts them back in order. run it again when it finishes. stop. During future saves. Watch for new spots. or it finds 15 or twenty. it is time to start watching carefully. begin running the surface scan at least once a week. causing the disk to spin further to re-load these broken up files. Disk Defrag When files are deleted an empty space is left on the drive. Does it find more?. If you run it everyday for a week or so and no more spots are found. Click on "Scandisk" Pick the drive (C:). it will ask you if you want to perform a thorough surface scan. Defrag reorganizes all the files. You should back up your data and buy a new hard drive NOW! If you run it a second time and it does not find anything. how fast?" If you find a bad spot or two on a surface scan. then Tools. This should give you an idea of how fast you will need a new hard drive.To run Scandisk. The following chart should help you to perform maintenance on your drive . then Right Click the “C” drive. the key here is "Is the problem growing and if so. You should run a surface scan on a semi-regular basis because it will tell you if your hard drive is preparing to fail in the not too distant future.

Activity and What it Does
Scandisk - scans any disk (floppy or hard) for errors in file allocation or physical defects


Recommended Frequency
Once a day - Standard scan (scans only file allocation for errors) Once every two weeks Thorough scan (In the Scandisk dialog box, be sure that Thorough is checked in the Type of Test area). Note: A Thorough scan will take a long time, so you might do this just before lunch break or over night. Use a Thorough scan every time you scan a floppy.

Minimum Frequency
Once a month Standard scan Once every three months - Thorough scan Always after a system lockup that requires a cold or warm boot, or a reset.

1. Double-click on the My Computer icon located on the desktop

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Right-click on the drive icon that you want to scan Click on Properties Click on the Tools tab Click on "Check Now…" in the Error-checking status area Be sure the drive you want to scan is highlighted; that the box next to "Automatically fix errors" is checked. Click Start Click on Close to finish Double-click on the My Computer icon located on the desktop Right-click on the drive icon that you want to scan Click on Properties Click on the Tools tab Click on "Defragment now…" in the Defragmentation status area If the drive you want to defrag isn’t the one listed at the top of the dialog box, click Select Drive… and choose the drive to defrag. Click Start Click on Close to finish.

Defrag - relocates fragmented files on the hard drive to place all the allocation units for a file adjacent to one another. Improves access time. Not typically necessary on floppies.

7. 8. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Once every two weeks Note: Defragmenting a hard drive can take a long time. You might want to start a defrag just before lunch.

Once every two weeks You should complete a Scandisk before you defrag .

7. 8.

Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People

In this part of Inside Your Computer we’re going to talk about some of the other stuff that doesn’t really fit into any other part of the class. Modems, monitors, scanners, expansion cards, ports, printers, and digital cameras—maybe even some other stuff… Ready? MODEMS Why does line speed matter? Line speed effects your total Internet experience. It’s all about waiting, folks. The faster your line speed, the less time you wait for web pages and data to load. Searches happen faster and the Internet provides a less frustrating experience. Business that use the Internet to transfer large files are most effected by line speed, but as the Internet moves into different aspects of our lives, line speed will become more important to everyone. When we all watch TV over the Internet— it’ll happen—our line speed will have to be fast enough to carry the massive amount of data needed to provide us with moving pictures and sound. At Learn iT! we employ high-speed DSL lines (discussed below). However, most of the sites featured in Necessary Internet are easily viewed on a lower speed home modem. What does “56Kb” mean, and what does my modem do, anyway? To answer this question, you must know a little bit into how computers work. As discussed in the part 1 of this class, computers communicate in what’s called a binary language. “Bi” means two and “nary” means number. To review, computers basically have only two choices in their language, 0 and 1. In English, we have our alphabet, twenty-six symbols with which we make up our language. The only symbols your poor computer has in its language are zero and one. With these zeros and ones, the computer makes up codes. For example, if you hit the “A” button on the keyboard the computer registers “00000001”. Aside from taking in a bunch of bits, what does your modem do? A standard modem helps your computer communicate over regular phone lines. Standard Internet traffic shares phone lines with people talking. An analog signal is a signal that travels in a wave, like a sound wave or a light wave. The voice bandwidth

com/topics/bandwidth/speedtest500. you can help yourself by upgrading to a 56-kbps modem. The government wants to make sure that phone lines don’t become congested with Internet traffic. Who isn't? Limited bandwidth is a sad fact of life for most people who don't have access to cable or DSL service. Most new computers come with a 56K modem. It’s located at: http://computingcentral. It will speed things up. you're tired of waiting hours for graphics to load through your old 28. Installing an External Modem . have a website that will measure your download speed for free.carries an analog signal. The modem also interprets incoming analog signals and converts them into digital signals your computer can use. cutting into our ability to communicate with each other. a new modem is one of the easiest peripherals to install. External modems are easier to install and to detach and take with you. You can upgrade to a 56K modem for as little as $25. The only major decision you need to make is whether to get an internal or external modem. Microsoft. some for as low as ten dollars a month. Best of all.00 (current prices).asp What are my line speed options? Standard Modem: Up to 56Kb Federal Law limits the speed of Internet traffic that one computer can create over normal analog phone lines. Internal modems generally cost less than external modems. Your modem translates your computer’s digital signal into an analog signal so the information can be sent over a standard line.msn. and it won't cost a mint. public servants that they are. But while you're waiting for technology to come to your hometown.8-kbps modem. Almost all Internet service providers provide 56K service. How do I upgrade my modem to 56K? So. and they take up less desk space.

Now you're ready to install your new modem. If your modem uses a serial cable. and click Add/Remove. Unless your modem is brand new. Then run your phone cord from the phone to the jack labeled phone on the back of the modem.You'll need to remove the software for your old modem. Instead of sharing space with the analog voice waves a DSL modem sends digital signals over a different part or bandwidth of . simply plug the USB cable into the USB port on the back of your system (the port should be labeled. make sure you have the proper cable. if not. (Many modems do not include a cable. If Windows doesn't have the correct drivers. Then shut down your system. double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel. or they may come with the wrong kind for your computer. If your modem is Plug and Play (most new ones are). locate and select the software for your old modem. and then attach the phone line to the modem's jack. physically removing the hardware is as easy as unplugging the serial cable. plug in the power supply. A DSL Internet line uses a different bandwidth on the phone line you already have. With an external modem. Once you've got that.or 25pin serial port. Windows will tell you that it has detected new hardware and proceed to locate and install the appropriate drivers. To do this. Do so now. Now start up your system. it will prompt you to install the floppy disk or CD-ROM that came with your new modem. 384Kb For Home Use The hottest new thing is DSL. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Up To 1. connect the serial cable to the port on the back of your PC. and run a cord from the wall jack to the jack labeled line in on the back of the modem. and power supply.) Check whether you have a 9. If your modem and computer are USB compatible (USB and other ports are discussed later in this section). check the manual). Windows 95 or 98 may have the drivers for it already. and unplug all the cables. and get the appropriate cable.5Mb. You can buy it at any computer store for five to ten dollars. phone lines.

almost seven times as fast as with a 56K modem. The first time you look through twenty websites in the time it used take you to log on. Business DSL is available at up to www. For home users DSL usually runs about fifty dollars a month. one for the Internet and one for voice. You normally have to buy a special DSL modem and a network card ($100-200). but is still a bargain when compared to other high-speed options. Most home DSL users can sign on at 384Kb.pacbell. Some companies offer a free modem and installation with a service commitment. A DSL modem is usually made of an external modem (a box that sits outside your computer) and a network card (NIC Card). The cost (usually around $400/mo) is higher than home service. including Internet service.the same phone line. Considering that many people have two phone lines. most people can spend as little as ten dollars more a month and get Internet service seven times faster! Do the Math: Normal Service: $20/mo (phone line) + $20 (extra phone line) + $20.00 (Internet service) = $60/mo DSL Service: $70/mo $20/mo (phone line) + $50/ Can I install a DSL modem myself? Yes. you’ll know something is different. Never again will the evil modem screech of death invade your home. a DSL line is always on. though.5Mb/sec. This means that home users can use the Internet and talk on the phone at the same time with only one line! On top of that. The cost can be offset. when you take into account that a DSL line can eliminate the need for an extra phone line. of course. Ask your DSL provider . though.flashcom. DSL Internet service is more expensive for most users. (DSL + Internet service) = There is a catch. DSL links: www.

or line. into the modem. Another frequently installed service is a fractional T-1 line. Cable Modems You can also receive high-speed Internet access from your cable TV network. That means that even though it may provide fast service. a cable modem is significantly more powerful. It is not a guaranteed service. With speeds of up to 36 Mbps. in the 1960s. the T-3 line. While similar in some respects to a traditional analog modem. cable service is not yet available in San Francisco. is also commonly used by ISPs. it doesn't tie up a telephone line. was the first successful system that supported digitized voice transmission. Cable modems have some drawbacks. capable of delivering data approximately 500 times faster. with the other channels going unused. The more people using cable internet service and the more people watching cable TV the slower the service. Another level. but basically the line goes from the wall. providing 44. Try to sign on during the Super Bowl… Cable modems usually run about $40/mo.544 Mbps) in the T-1 line is in common use today in Internet service provider connections to the Internet. The system uses four wires and provides full-duplex capability (two wires for receiving and two for sending at the same . but is available in other bay area locations. which is the rental of some portion of the 24 channels in a T-1 line.which kind you need before you buy it (there are different kinds). cable modems can download data in seconds that might take days with a standard dial-up connection. was introduced by the Bell System in the U. Cable modems are devices that allow high-speed access to the Internet via a cable television network. The original transmission rate (1.S. The T-carrier system is entirely digital.736 Mbps. The phone company may still need to come out to slightly modify your wall jack. T-1 & T-3 Lines The T-carrier system. Sadly. including Internet service. out of the modem and into your computer. your cable company doesn’t guarantee speedy lines. Because it works with your existing TV cable.

and requires a separate port for each device. which allows transfers of about 200 kilobytes/second. and other media. a USB port will work a scanner faster than a parallel port. There are different types of ports to go along with the different types of buses that plug into them. although clever switching techniques can partially alleviate that problem. PC-based computers have used two techniques to attach external peripherals devices such as scanners and printers. both systems leave much to be desired The SCSI port provides very fast (5 megabytes/second or faster) connections to as many as 7 external and internal devices! .time). Parallel Ports The second method is the parallel port. as expansion ports. Different ports are sometimes better to use than others. You will find ports in the back of your computer and on the inside. A number are possible. PORTS AND EXPANSION SLOTS A port is a plug. If you buy a type your computer doesn’t support you will either be out of luck or end up buying all kinds of new equipment needed to allow you to use your new toy. but can now also include coaxial cable. The parallel port also only supports one device per port. You will mostly be concerned with port types when buying peripherals like a scanner or a printer. Read the box before you buy something to find out what kind of port it uses. They look like vacant plugs. (The four wires were originally a pair of twisted-pair copper wires. digital microwave. Serial Ports The first method of connection is the serial port. or about 20 times faster than a serial port. optical fiber. Earlier (in part 1) we discussed the different bus types that shuttle information along. For example. which provides up to 115kilobits/second-transfer rate. Traditionally. SCSI PORTS Unfortunately.

the costs of SCSI can be substantial. monitors and other devices. if you buy something like a modem or a graphics card. gamepads. More importantly. Since the USB port also provides electrical power. cards. and add-ons. and USB hubs in monitors and keyboards. it probably will. Expansion Slots An expansion slot is an opening inside a computer where a circuit board can be inserted to add new capabilities to the computer. it's also possible to build USB hubs into keyboards. Abbreviated USB. USB Ports In an attempt to alleviate the costs and complexity of SCSI while providing a flexible and fast expansion port. but faster than the alternatives and much cheaper than SCSI. The trick is this: If it looks like it’ll fit. The boards inserted into the expansion slots are called expansion boards. desktop video cameras. scanners. and other new peripherals. a single USB port can be split into several more USB ports via a USB hub. expansion cards . add-ins . USB-to-serial port converters. the Universal Serial Bus was proposed at a conference in 1995. but DON’T FORCE IT. some devices won't require additional power adapters or cables. Cabling problems have been the source of many errors and lockups on systems that use SCSI to communicate with external peripherals. The USB is slower than SCSI. external LS120 removable drives. and SCSI cable and connector requirements are very strict. graphics capabilities. keyboards. it will go in an expansion slot. Basically. Current USB devices include mice. . Nearly all personal computers except portables contain expansion slots for adding more memory. joysticks. Although you can purchase a USB hub as an independent device. SCSI devices are typically more expensive than their parallel port counterparts.As popular as SCSI has become. Future USB devices will include external modems. The USB connector itself is a small trapezoidal locking connector which can't be inserted upside-down. about 5 times faster than a parallel port or 100 times faster than a traditional serial port. this expansion standard allows for transfer rates up to 12 megabits/second. and support for special devices.

printer port or serial port. you should read the documentation that came with the expansion card for . windows does the same thing now. Plug and Play eliminates complicated installation procedures. ECT So. graphical. SOUND CARDS. This leaves the main processor free to do other things. what goes in these slots? Expansion cards. At this point.Plug and Play Plug and play is the computers ability to add new features to a computer and immediately use them. CARDS – VIDEO CARDS. A circuit board you can install in your computer to add a new feature. Also called an expansion board. Macintosh equipment has always been plug and play. An Expansion Card can be a peripheral device for your computer such as modem. When the computer sees an video. For example. or sound instruction. that’s what. and PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) which is a 32 bit interface between the expansion card and the PC bus. You don’t need to worry about which is which until you start filling up your slots. Video & Sound Cards A video or a sound card is basically a separate computer with it’s own processor and RAM. a network card. it shuttles the instruction out to the appropriate card for processing. TV tuner or it could just be some kind of interface to connect to a peripheral device such as a SCSI card. 1. an expansion card can add CD-quality sound or a modem. Installing an Expansion Card The most common Expansion Cards in the market come in two type of interfaces: ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) which can be 8 bit or 16 bit. Prepare the expansion card for installation and remove the computer cover according to the instructions in your computer manual.

first check and see if there is enough support on the back of the motherboard to resist the pressure. . If the expansion card is full-length and extends to the front wall of the chassis. which came with your specific card. Insert the card edge connector firmly into the expansion slot on the motherboard. secure the bracket with the screw you removed on the metal filler bracket.information on configuring the card. reconnect your computer and peripherals to their power sources. Choose the slot for the expansion card. If so. Be very careful. Replace the computer cover. 8. Remember to save the screw because you will be using it to install the expansion card. 7. 6. and turn them on. If the card won’t go in. insert the front end of the expansion card into the corresponding card guide on the inside of the front chassis wall. Connect any cables that should be attached to the card. and won’t get in the way of other cards. Before choosing just any slot. 2. Gently push the card straight down into the slot while you fit the metal card-mounting bracket into the card slot opening on the back panel of the chassis. Windows 95 will recognize and configure the card for your system. 3. Assuming the card is Plug-and-Play compatible (almost all are) (PnP). Always refer to the documentation. Remove the metal filler bracket that covers the card slot opening for the expansion slot you intend to use. pick any of the short slots. If you are installing an ISA card. 9. 4. then slide the card into the chassis. When the card is firmly seated in the slot and the card-mounting bracket is flush with the brackets on either side of it. 5. try rearranging the cards so that they will fit. See the documentation that came with the card for information on its cable connections. or other information for your system. making internal connections. don’t force it or you may damage the motherboard. pick any of the long slots on the motherboard. If you are using a PCI slot. you should check that the card doesn’t interfere with any other card or cable.

mid-priced monitor will last for many years of productive use. CPUs. or you're thinking about purchasing a new one. CD-ROMs. you need to understand how monitors work and how their performance is specified. the electron guns first illuminate the upper left corner of the display.MONITORS Perhaps you've already purchased a computer. green and blue electron beams by sending electrical signals to the monitor's . green and blue components of the image. and a component of that type purchased today will be completely superseded within 18-36 months. A modern computer monitor consists of 3 electron guns at the back of a cathode ray tube (CRT). To be able to properly evaluate a monitor. You should resist that temptation! Although a quality monitor is expensive. the display screen which the computer uses to display text and graphics. Monitors do not become obsolete as quickly as other computer equipment. As shown above. it is also the safest investment of your money. and will usually follow you as you upgrade from one computer to the next. and printers is very rapid. the computer varies the intensity of the red. But a quality. You may be tempted to reduce that cost by purchasing a monitor which is physically small. If you have any experience shopping for a computer. The computer instructs the monitor to sweep the electrons across the display. The CRT is a blown glass tube much like a light bulb. chemicals that glow when stimulated by highenergy electrons. As the electron beam sweeps across. green and blue phosphors. you know that the most expensive single component other than the computer itself is the monitor. from left to right (1). but with a fairly flat surface at the front which makes up the view screen. Each of the electron guns is used to illuminate one of the three colors. so modern monitors are often called "RGB" monitors because they have separate guns for the red. Technological advancement in hard disks. The front of the CRT is sprayed with a pattern of red. Powerful magnets determine the position of the electron beam for each of the three electron guns. or which doesn't support high resolutions and refresh rates.

The lower the resolution. the horizontal refresh rate in this case might range from 30 kHz to 70 kHz. Pixels are either illuminated or not. Resolution Another important factor in choosing a monitor is resolution. a monitor must operate with a refresh rate of at least 60 Hz. and is typically measured in the range of 30000 to 70000 sweeps/second for a high performance monitor. the letter "A" is shown in pixels. Each pixel is turned on or off to make up the image. the lower the number of pixels. In scientific jargon. windows. the beam is moved down again (4) and proceeds to the right again (5). and the more space you have on your desktop for letters. Studies have shown that many people are sensitive to refresh rates well above 60 Hz. the more pixels. and the less . the entire screen is refreshed at a rate of 60 Hz to 90 Hz. Refresh Rate The electron beam sweeps across the monitor at an extremely high rate. Therefore. and images. and they start again on the left and proceed to the right (3). numbers. the pattern they show is what makes up the image: In the diagram above. At the end of that sweep. and that they will suffer eye strain and fatigue if the refresh rate is below about 70 Hz. To appear clear and flicker free. Hence. occurs approximately 60-90 times per second. the electron beams are moved down slightly (2). The higher the resolution. A monitor image is made up of "pixels".electronic controls. the computer industry has standardized on a refresh rate of 75 Hz. When the first horizontal sweep (1) is finished. Hence. A single vertical sweep. The number of pixels on the screen determines the resolution of the monitor. The process repeats (6. a single cycle or sweep is referred to as "1 Hertz". and the abbreviation for Hertz is Hz. or picture elements. This technique of illuminating the screen is called "raster scanning". The number of horizontal sweeps that the monitor can make in a second is called the horizontal refresh rate. 7) until the entire screen has been illuminated. and it's one of the most important numbers associated with the performance of your monitor. This is simply referred to as the "refresh rate". The entire image on a computer screen is made up of pixels. during which the entire monitor is re-drawn.

The second way to express the resolution is the number of horizontal pixels and the number of vertical pixels.22 mm to 0. The first is the number of pixels across the screen. expressed as the distance between the holes in the shadow mask or aperture grill. In general. not everyday desktop use. This practical value indicates how much apparent desktop space will be available to your operating system and applications. As a result. Effective dot pitch is also a function of the sharpness of the electron guns and the quality and spacing of the phosphors. and the second the number of pixels up and down. and that 1280x1024 has a low refresh rate that would only be acceptable for specialized uses. This dot pitch is the theoretical maximum resolution of the monitor.closer spacing of the mask holes -. usually given as a fraction of a millimeter. but as it does. Here's a table of the resolutions vs. Typical dot pitches for high performance monitors range from 0. the electron guns have to sweep over the screen more. the refresh rate for a popular monitor. Following the 75 Hz rule. the refresh rate is actually an inverse function of the resolution. Dot Pitch The first is "dot pitch". the NEC M700: Resolution 640x480 800x600 832x624 1024x768 1152x870 1280x1024 Maximum refresh rate 120 Hz 110 Hz 110 Hz 86 Hz 75 Hz 65 Hz As you can see.26 mm. the maximum refresh rate drops dramatically as the resolution increases. Whether a . Resolution is measured in two ways. This is expressed as a product of the form "1024x768". The resolution can get very high. and green dots on your screen.will produce sharper text and graphics. we see that the highest usable resolution for this monitor is you have available on your computer's desktop. blue. monitors with smaller dot pitch -. Dot pitch is the distance between the red.

. That means you'll have to run at a lower resolution with the corresponding sacrifice in desktop space for windows & applications.monitor can support extremely high resolutions and high refresh rates is a function of the electronics in the monitor. the viewable size of the monitor is usually slightly smaller. And in many cases. Choosing a monitor. and • Price We have already discussed the first two elements in this list. the clearer the picture will be at whatever resolution you choose to use. The viewable image size should always be listed along with the tube size. 17". will involve balancing the following factors: • Maximum usable resolution @ 75 Hz refresh rate • Viewable screen size • Other value-added features • Subjective image quality. 19". Monitor Size The final (and most obvious) feature of a monitor is the physical size of the picture tube. or special power-saving or low-radiation features. However. so you shouldn't purchase a monitor capable of much higher resolutions than you plan to use. Subjective image quality can only be judged one way: by looking at a monitor in operation at a high resolution. it will never be able to show a clear picture at resolutions like 1024x768 and 1280x1024. Regardless of the quality of a small monitor. The larger the monitor. Standard tube sizes for consumer-grade computer monitors are 14". the very high resolutions are only usable on larger monitors. measured diagonally. because the extreme edges of the tube are not usable for screen display due to distortion. 15". then. Other value-added features might include built-in speakers. You can convert the diagonal measure to horizontal & vertical dimensions using the 3:4:5 triangle rule: vertical measure/3 = horizontal measure/4 = diagonal measure/5 The retail price of the monitor will correspond most directly to the tube size. sophisticated front-panel adjustments. and 21". The ability to display extremely high resolutions at an acceptable refresh rate will be a substantial cost premium.

purchasing a monitor sight unseen is just a gamble. But a large. • Clean straight lines along the edges of the display. LCD screens use less power and are much lighter and thinner than the screens used for desktop computers. The monitor is the single most important component in your computer system. and at the computer store. Should I buy a CRT or an LCD? CRTs are cheaper and more flexible The vast majority of desktops currently . CRTs are very difficult to manufacture. you need to see that model in operation first. all of your time in front the computer will be correspondingly substandard. If you purchase a small. bright and sharp display with high usable resolution will serve you for many years. Remember that you've got to live with and look at your monitor for as long as you own it. Don't be dismayed. substandard display.I can't emphasize that last point enough. Look at the monitors in use by your friends. Unfortunately. • Highly adjustable brightness and contrast If you purchase a monitor which doesn't meet your expectations. This is the same type of display used in most digital wristwatches. Flat Screen (LCD) Monitors A flat screen monitor uses a LCD display. and it is important to arm yourself with research and information before buying. quality control is not as good as it could be. and will not lose value like a bargain unit. To be satisfied with a monitor. • Clarity of black text against a white background. just keep trying until you find a monitor you like. All laptops use LCD displays and you can buy them for home too. Here are some things to look for when making a subjective analysis of a monitor: • Sharpness of individual pixels. don't hesitate to return it for a replacement. • Uniform color without blotches. and monitor manufacturers may occasionally try to "pull a fast one" by packaging a marginal unit for retail sale. co-workers. particularly as the tubes get larger. and there is substantial variation in the quality of the finished product.

They don't have a CRT's geometric. convergence.have a CRT monitor. unlike CRTs. Compare a 15-inch deep. which you can't get on an LCD.024x768 well. anyone who wants to archive photos or documents can pick up a scanner for less than $100 and. a rocket scientist to hook one up. For example. Many graphics professionals. LCDs. and a big spender to afford the steep prices. Theoretically. LCDs have a single optimum resolution.5-inch LCD panels display 1. often resulting in a more blocky look. CRTs also work well at multiple resolutions. In contrast. You had to be a graphics professional to need a scanner. 30-pound CRT against a panel that's less than 7 inches deep (including the base) and weighs 12 or 13 pounds. prefer to have control over color-calibration and color-temperature settings. Full-motion video also generally looks better on a CRT. This means that graphics cards with digital outputs don't have to convert the graphics information into analog form as they would with a typical monitor. it will be easier to choose an all-digital solution. flat-panel LCDs for desktops use rodshaped molecules that bend light to produce an image rather than electron guns that light up the phosphors on the viewing area of a glass tube. either a smaller portion of the panel is used for the display or the pixels have to be scaled up to fill the screen. on the other hand are less intrusive and clearer. even 14. SCANNERS Scanners used to be a complicated business. these desktop LCDs remain significantly more expensive (at least $400 more) than CRTs of an equivalent size. LCDs that plug into standard analog VGA ports actually have to perform a second conversion back to digital (because LCD panels are digital devices). Though prices have dropped. In contrast. and it’s easy to see the advantages of LCDs. Now that the industry's Digital Display Working Group has finally settled on a standard and more graphics cards will be shipping with digital options. particularly those working with print output. or focus problems. 15-inch monitors generally aren't usable above 800x600. the latest LCDs are all digital. To use a lower resolution. which can result in distracting artifacts. and their clarity makes it easier to view higher resolutions at smaller screen sizes. Also. after a simple setup . this makes for more accurate color information and pixel placement. As in notebooks. Today.

A higher resolution results in more detailed scanned images but requires more scanning time and storage space. and lower prices cover just three of the advantages that current scanners can bring. But there are several varieties of scanners from which to choose. and scanners can be a super alternative to digital cameras for getting photos onto your Mac or PC. begin scanning with the push of a button. This process. The latest scanners have seen vast improvements in installation. Many of these new scanners come with a one-button start process that conveniently lets you bypass a sea of menu settings. And with prices on flatbed and photo scanners falling to all-time lows. The optical resolution of a camera or scanner is an absolute number. When you buy a scanner the resolution or dpi number you pay attention to is the optical resolution. software evaluates those pixels surrounding each new pixel to determine what its colors should be. Resolution Resolution is the amount of detail a scanner can detect. It’s what is actually scanned. they're often more affordable than the average printer. and a bare-bones monochrome model will leave you unsatisfied if you want to post photographs on the Web.process. Beware of claims about resolution for cameras and scanners because there are two kinds. Resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). Some scanners even let you scan straight from photo negatives and slides. With people storing documents electronically and sending photos across the Internet. with newer. They're also an excellent way to beat office clutter by allowing you to scan paper documents to your hard drive. Beware of companies that promote or emphasize their device's interpolated (or enhanced) resolution. To improve resolution in certain limited respects. called interpolated or enhanced resolution. the resolution can be increased using software. This same thing can be done in a photo-editing program such as Photoshop by resizing the image. You're getting . A top-of-theline flatbed scanner might not be what you need if you're just scanning bills. adds pixels to the image. Faster speeds. and more wieldy USB and parallel port models catching up in speed to older. clunker models. if all of the pixels around a newly inserted pixel are red. better usability. scanners are becoming as familiar on home desktops as they are in art directors' offices. optical and interpolated or enhanced. smaller. and what you buy depends on your budget and your needs. the new pixel will be made red. For example. To do so. What's important to keep in mind is that interpolated resolution doesn't add any new information to the image—it just adds pixels and makes the file larger.

Always check for the device's optical resolution. Graphics professionals should also focus on speed but consider optical density and a transparency option. the scanner is geared toward graphics professionals. though heavy graphics use requires rates of 30bits to 36 bits. and even slides and negatives if your flatbed has a transparency attachment. All flatbed shoppers will want at least 600 dpi and 24-bit color depth. Flatbed scanner prices start at around $100 and can skyrocket into the thousands-of-dollars range. Business users that scan high volumes of documents will want a faster model (USB or possibly SCSI) and an automatic document feeder. If this isn't provided. as well. and plummeting prices. don’t buy any other kind. if you see mention of optical density on a package. Generally. For an around-the-house scanner. which make them better suited to scan transparencies for high-end graphics use. photographs. solid image quality. scanners that were out of reach a few years ago are now a regular sight on desktops everywhere. Resolution needs (in dpi): • Internet: 72 dpi • Line art or cartoons: 300 dpi • Magazine quality: 400-700 dpi • Photo quality (can’t tell the difference from a photo) 1000+dpi Flat Bed Scanners A good flatbed scanner is hard to pass up these days. Going for a bargain scanner means you may get exactly what you pay for: slow speeds and sloppy image quality. With plenty of speed. What accounts for the difference? More expensive scanners tend to have a higher optical density than their less pricey counterparts. flee the product—you're dealing with marketing people who don't have your best interests at heart. In fact. Most midlevel flatbed scanners (in the range of $150-to-$300) are fine for color photographs and are more than sufficient for grayscale documents. look for a user-friendly model with an external Start button and either a USB or a parallel port hookup. You can do just about anything with many flatbed scanners: scan documents.less than you think you are. Digital Cameras .

they'd be using mules to carry their equipment. If they really wanted quality. Photographers who don't accept digital cameras generally base their arguments on the fact that the images are not as good as film-based cameras.500. with a median price of $450. So much for their argument being based on the quality of the image. yet these same photographers most likely use 35 mm SLR cameras that are not as good as 8 x 10 view cameras." will often come with the standard builtin flash as well. which can provide a much more powerful and versatile flash. at the camera's maximum resolution setting. This is true.Digital cameras are only a few years old and are just now beginning to make serious inroads into photography. these flashes do not work well beyond 10 feet). Flash Type The flash makes a burst of light for shooting inside or in low-light conditions.$2. in comparison to external flash options. Choosing a Digital Camera Listed below are the key features of consumer-level digital cameras. Keep in mind that a camera with a "Hot Shoe" or "Flash Sync. Price $50 . The type(s) of flash available vary from camera to camera. They have yet to be fully accepted by some photographers. they don't use the even better mammoth glass plate view cameras used by Jackson and Muybridge after the Civil War. And if they do use 8 x 10 cameras. 80% of the cameras are between $200 and $900.20 seconds. . See glossary for definitions of the types of flash listed below. The flashes built into most digital cameras have limited range and adjustability (on average. despite some current limitations. Delay Between Shots also known as Recycle Time or Lag Time The amount of time (measured in seconds) it takes the camera to process and store an image when shooting in normal mode (non-burst). digital cameras are the wave of the future and it's only a matter of time before most photographs are taken with these kinds of cameras rather than traditional film-based cameras. However. Range: 1 .

Magnification level is measured in degrees. Resolution is expressed in pixels. such as "2X" or "3X. This feature allows you to take multiple rapid-fire shots with one touch of the exposure button. for example. Off/On/Auto. the camera stores its images on the same floppy disks that you use in your PC or Macintosh. non-interpolated) resolution of the camera. Some digital cameras offer more than one means of downloading your images. Typical range Range: 1 . Range: (640 x 480) Minimum Computer Resolution (1024 x 768) Film Resolution of 3"x5" print (1280 x 960) Film Resolution of 4"x6" print (1600 x 1200) Film Resolution of 8"x10" print (1920 x 1600) Very High Resolution Rapid-Fire Shots Rapid-Fire is also known as Burst Mode or Continuous Shooting Mode.Many digital cameras store images on removable memory devices that can be swapped in and out of the camera like rolls of film .5" Floppy Disk .14X. and refers to the "true" (i.64 shots. The higher the resolution . Red-Eye Reduction. then it has the ability to take pictures up to 100mm.e.the better the picture. Via Removable Memory . Resolution The resolution of a digital camera refers to the sharpness of its pictures. Optical Zoom An optical zoom magnifies the image using a real multi-focal length lens (a digital zoom only enlarges the center 50%).Options: No Flash. Taking the floppy out of the camera and putting it into your computer. means that if the camera's minimum focal length is 50mm. and copying them onto the computer effectively transfers the images. Options: Via 3. Ease of Download This refers to how the camera downloads its pictures to your computer or printer. Flash Sync.With this feature." A "2X" optical zoom. Hot Shoe. More than 50% of digital cameras on the market today do not have an optical zoom. Range: 0 (No optical zoom) .

.e. Via Infrared .5 in. the more memory space is needed.000 images. Therefore.(CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards are two common examples). but still quite common. "in parallel").Infrared transmission uses invisible light to transfer pictures to your computer or printer. . which comes shipped with the camera (some cameras allow you to add memory. which are typically purchased as an additional accessory (i. Via USB Cable . These can then be used with a variety of card readers (depending on the type of storage). and won't work on PC's with slow/older processors. The greater the resolution. Camera Size Camera Size is a proxy for categorizing the varying dimensions and weights of digital cameras. it is important to note the high resolution or maximum resolution setting on the camera before evaluating this figure.The most standard type of serial cable is identified as a "RS232" interconnector.A parallel cable transfers images faster than a serial connection. you can insert the card directly into laptop computers. in comparison to a USB cable connection. Via Serial Cable . using the amount of memory. but is also extremely slow.A USB (short for universal serial bus) cable transports images from your digital camera via a connection that is much faster than a serial or parallel cable.3. floppy disks. Image Capacity (at hi-res) This refers to the camera's memory capacity for images shot at high resolution.e. Via SCSI Cable .SCSI is a form of image transfer involving a high-speed bus cable system. that this type of connection can only be used with the newer Pentium computers. which in turn will increase the number of images which can be stored). as it is able to send multiple bits of information at the same time (i. they are not provided by the manufacturer "in the box"). PCMCIA Type II or III cards do not require a card reader to download the images. Via Parallel Cable . Range: 1 . This method is relatively slow." this technology allows one to download images without using cables or wires. Also known as "IrDA. used only with Macintosh computers and high-end PCs. "Removable Memory" does not include 3. It is important to note however.

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