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

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

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

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

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

The 4004 powered one of the first portable electronic calculators.33 MIPS 1 MIPS 5 MIPS 20 MIPS 100 MIPS 400 MIPS? 1. Don’t worry if all the terms don’t make sense yet. Name 8080 8088 80286 80386 80486 Pentium Pentium II Pentium III Date 1974 1979 1982 1985 1989 1993 1997 1999 Transistors 6.25 Clock speed 2 MHz 5 MHz 6 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz 60 MHz 233 MHz 450 MHz MIPS 0.also known as a CPU or Central Processing Unit .5 1 0.000 MIPS? .000 1.000 3. The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004. The 4004 was not very powerful . 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. The new Pentiums-IIIs can execute any piece of code that ran on the original 8088. whether its playing a game or spell checking a document! Microprocessor History A microprocessor .500.000 times faster! The following table may help you to understand the differences between the different processors that Intel has introduced over the years.64 MIPS 0.000 7. introduced in 1979 and incorporated into the IBM PC (which first appeared in 1982 or so). but the Pentium-III runs about 3. If you are familiar with the PC market and its history. Just use it for an eyeball comparison.000 275. a complete 8-bit computer on one chip introduced in 1974.35 0. This means that the 4004 could only processor think about for zeros and ones at a time.200. engineers built computers either from collections of chips or from discrete components (transistors wired one at a time). and it could only do that four bits at a time.100. The first microprocessor to make it into a home computer was the Intel 8080.000 29. Intel makes all of these microprocessors and all of them are improvements on the basic design of the a complete computation engine that is fabricated on a single chip. The first microprocessor to make a real splash in the market was the Intel 8088. Prior to the 4004.You will learn how fairly simple digital logic techniques allow a computer to do its job.500.000 Microns 6 3 1.all it could do was add and subtract. but it was amazing that everything was on one chip.5 1. Remember that a bit is a zero or a one.8 0.000 134. introduced in 1971.

it is helpful to look inside and learn about the logic used to create one.Compiled from The Intel Microprocessor Quick Reference Guide In the above table. In the process you can also learn about assembly language . there is a relationship between clock speed and MIPS. in microns. Now that you’ve read all this stuff. The maximum clock speed is a function of the manufacturing process and delays within the chip. Clock speed is the maximum rate that the chip can be sent information. There is also a relationship between the number of transistors and MIPS. but you can get a general sense of the relative power of the CPUs from this column. . the 8088 clocked at 5 MHz but only executed at 0.33 MIPS (about 1 instruction per 15 clock cycles). For comparison.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. You can see that the number of transistors on a single chip has risen steadily over the years. off is a “0” Microns is the width. From this table you can see that.the native language of a microprocessor . For example. As the feature size on the chip goes down. Modern CPUs can do so many different things that MIPS ratings lose a lot of their meaning. That improvement is directly related to the number of transistors on the chip and will make more sense in the next section. the date is the year that the processor was first introduced. Transistors is the number of transistors on the chip. A transistor is an on or off switch. of the smallest wire on the chip. Many processors are re-introduced at higher clock speeds for many years after the original release date. the number of transistors rises. Clock speed will make more sense in the next section. and is a rough measure of the performance of a CPU. On is a “1”. in general. MIPS stands for Millions of Instructions Per Second. go back and look at the table again! Inside a Microprocessor To understand how a microprocessor works. a human hair is 100 microns thick.

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

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

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

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

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

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 1998.80486DX2-66 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. It also has to go through more stuff before it is viewed by the user (you). • Software Support: Newer programs require more memory than old ones. The more RAM you put into your machine the better it should run. A hard drive uses mechanics in order to deliver the information you are requesting and it is therefor slower. Make sure you back it up onto either a tape backup system. hence it shortens its life. • Reliability and Stability: Bad memory is a leading cause of mysterious system problems.. 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. . quicker response times to your requests and most importantly of all. . back it up. because insufficient memory can cause a processor to work at 50% or even more below its performance potential. In many ways. it is more important than the processor.. If that information is considered to be valuable to you. making it last longer. More memory will give you access to programs that you cannot use with a lesser amount. Ensuring you have high-quality memory will result in a . is the fact that it saves your hard drive from doing a lot of extra work. This does not take into affect the amount of additional RAM your machine maybe using to load additional programs when your machine "boots up". or the other solutions discussed in the storage section of this book. 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. . 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. 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. .as we call it. RAM works at the speed of light and is therefor much faster than trying to access the information using your hard drive. This is an important point that is often overlooked. This kind of activity puts a lot of extra wear and tear on your hard drive.

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

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

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

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

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

the cache is not upgradeable. The Cache When referring to memory the cache. A 100 MHz SDRAM may not function in a 100 MHz system bus PC. pronounced cash. which is the reciprocal of 10ns. If the data is not there. a time-consuming search of the slower regular RAM is required. If the data still cannot be found. 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. L2 cache is also called SRAM. Internal cache (L1) is built into the CPU. This MHz number is not the same as saying that the SDRAM with that rating is designed for a system of that speed. Both L1 and L2 store data recently used by the CPU. it first checks the fastest source — L1. When the CPU needs data. the CPU checks the next-fastest source — L2. and external cache (L2) resides on the motherboard. is made up of two groups of extremely fast memory chips that allow your computer to operate faster. 100 MHz is 100 million cycles per second. compared above with DRAM.SDRAM module with a 10ns rating would be called instead a "100 MHz SDRAM". and 12ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-1-1-1 DDR SDRAM [Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM] Allow 1. 10ns. 7ns.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 . As it is permanently attached to main parts of the computer. onehundred-millionth of a second per cycle.

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

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

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

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

through which you can actually see the chip that holds the memory. When you hear reference to a "flash BIOS" or doing a BIOS upgrade by "flashing". encoded in the silicon itself. but remember that this rewriting is done maybe once a year or so. which can be erased under software control. 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. • Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM (EEPROM): The next level of erasability is the EEPROM. this refers to reprogramming the BIOS EEPROM with a special software program. It is designed to perform a specific function and cannot be changed.• ROM: A regular ROM is constructed from hard-wired logic. it can be written to. This product is analogous to a commercial software CD-ROM that you purchase in a store. and since RAM stands for "random access memory". 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. just like burning a CD-R (discussed later). but only once. programming a PROM is also called burning. Obviously this is much more useful than a regular PROM. but it does require the erasing light. A little glass window is installed in the top of the ROM package. Here we are blurring the line a bit between what "read-only" really means. this technology is analogous to a reusable CD-RW (discussed later). • Programmable ROM (PROM): This is a type of ROM that can be programmed using special equipment. Continuing the "CD" analogy. 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). and it is comparable in terms of its flexibility. This is inflexible and so regular ROMs are only used generally for programs that are static (not changing often) and mass-produced. and is now commonly used for holding BIOS programs. which will erase the EPROM and allow it to be reprogrammed again. In fact. This is the most flexible type of ROM. • Erasable Programmable ROM (EPROM): An EPROM is a ROM that can be erased and reprogrammed. Ultraviolet light of a specific frequency can be shined through this window for a specified period of time. much the way that a processor is. they think that ROM is not random .

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Note that opening a hard disk ruins it.The other important parameter is the capacity of the drive .] Here is the inside of a typical hard disk drive: It is a sealed aluminum box with controller electronics attached to one side. The electronics control the read/write mechanism and the motor that spins the platters. .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). Inside a Hard Disk The best way to understand how a hard disk works is to take a look inside. as well as a highly filtered vent hole that lets internal and external air pressures equalize. 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. so this is not something to try at home unless you have a defunct drive.

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

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

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

There are even a couple of sites that offer free Internet Storage. including saving files. Zip Disks If you want to back-up just your data files. The cost for re-writeable CDs is about $5 while the write-once versions and Intel's Answer Express Support Suite (www. These systems allow you to clone your existing hard drive to the one that will become your backup. The disks themselves usually cost around $15.arcoide. but it is an alternative nonetheless. Numerous online companies offer space for storing important data. 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). CD recorders can also be used for numerous other uses. Two of these online backup companies include @Backup (www. you have to see their banner advertising and you get much less .com) and Norton Ghost 2000 Personal Edition (www. and can be written over as many times as you need. Blank CDs can hold up to 650MB worth of data. There are two basic types you can buy. under a dollar apiece. you can store up to 100MB of about 25 Megabytes. Two standard backup systems are Arco Computer Products' DupliDisk ( addition to buying a disk mirroring or imaging system. For around $100 a year. or making music CD to play in your car stereo. Internet Back-Up You can also backup computer files utilizing the Internet. you can think about buying a Zip Drive. CD Recorder Another method of backing up computer data is to use a CD recorder. You can get a CD re-writable for about $200 that will allow you to use a special CD that can be recorded. These drives use special disks that can store up to 100MB (Megabytes) of data. Of many times. backing-up or copy software. A typical disk-imaging program costs between $60 and $100. An external Zip Drive will usually run you about $130. One such site is iDrive. erased and recorded just like floppies and hard drives.

3. If your computer is running very slow you may want to run scandisk. Bad Dates and File Names: Unorthodox date types and file Names . this will release coolant and cause potential problems). Condensation can build up inside the drive and quickly destroy it when you turn it on. making your standard grinding noise. What damages a hard drive? Dust is a major problem for the hard drive. and make sure it is mounted properly. Another bad thing to do to hard drives is make a rapid temperature change. a human hair is 100 microns). causing the drive to overheat and behave Cross Referenced Files: The computer thinks two files are in the same place on the disk. Remember that the heads and platter are extremely close together (about 0. If this seems to be the case. Sometimes the bearings will fail and start to grind against each other.0. though. Damaged sectors: Damaged Areas on the Disk 2.(www.3 . Scandisk check for three things: 1. make a backup of any important data and check into either having it fixed or purchasing a new one. Hard Drive Maintenance Scandisk scandisk checks your hard drive for efforts drive for errors. If there is a buildup around the drive. Excessive vibration to the drive is also not a good thing. it can act as insulation.6 microns. Don't position the computer where it will receive a constant external vibration to it. 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.

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. Choose “Properties” from the drop down menu. Click “Defragment Now”. To use Disk Defrag double click “My Computer”. Windows will break up files and save them in these spaces. the key here is "Is the problem growing and if so. after it gets done. Hence the computer becomes slower. 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. A few bad spots (up to ten) is considered normal by most hard drive manufacturers. it will ask you if you want to perform a thorough surface scan. Disk Defrag When files are deleted an empty space is left on the drive. click the "Start" button Click on "Programs" Click on "Accessories" Click on "System Tools". You should always run Scandisk before you run Disk Defrag. or it finds 15 or twenty. stop. run it again. 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. The following chart should help you to perform maintenance on your drive . During future saves. run it again when it finishes. If you run it everyday for a week or so and no more spots are found. begin running the surface scan at least once a week. Click on "Scandisk" Pick the drive (C:).To run Scandisk. Make sure you keep your data backed up. it is time to start watching carefully. Watch for new spots. If it finds more. then Right Click the “C” drive. Does it find more?.Click on "Start" After the standard scandisk is done. and puts them back in order. Run a surface scan every day and watch to see if it finds anymore. Defrag reorganizes all the files. causing the disk to spin further to re-load these broken up files.

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

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

and get the appropriate cable. it will prompt you to install the floppy disk or CD-ROM that came with your new modem. make sure you have the proper cable. (Many modems do not include a cable. Now you're ready to install your new modem. phone lines. If your modem and computer are USB compatible (USB and other ports are discussed later in this section). A DSL Internet line uses a different bandwidth on the phone line you already have. if not. and unplug all the cables. double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel. To do this. Unless your modem is brand new. check the manual).) Check whether you have a 9.5Mb. Windows will tell you that it has detected new hardware and proceed to locate and install the appropriate drivers. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Up To 1. and click Add/Remove. Then shut down your system. connect the serial cable to the port on the back of your PC. Instead of sharing space with the analog voice waves a DSL modem sends digital signals over a different part or bandwidth of . You can buy it at any computer store for five to ten dollars. or they may come with the wrong kind for your computer. locate and select the software for your old modem. and power supply. Do so now. With an external modem. and then attach the phone line to the modem's jack. Then run your phone cord from the phone to the jack labeled phone on the back of the modem. physically removing the hardware is as easy as unplugging the serial cable. Windows 95 or 98 may have the drivers for it already. Now start up your system. plug in the power supply. Once you've got that. 384Kb For Home Use The hottest new thing is DSL. simply plug the USB cable into the USB port on the back of your system (the port should be labeled. and run a cord from the wall jack to the jack labeled line in on the back of the modem.or 25pin serial port. If your modem uses a serial cable.You'll need to remove the software for your old modem. If Windows doesn't have the correct drivers. If your modem is Plug and Play (most new ones are).

though.00 (Internet service) = $60/mo DSL Service: $70/mo $20/mo (phone line) + $50/mo. Ask your DSL provider .com Can I install a DSL modem myself? Yes. including Internet service. Business DSL is available at up to 1. 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.flashcom. though. one for the Internet and one for voice. almost seven times as fast as with a 56K modem. DSL Internet service is more expensive for most users. The first time you look through twenty websites in the time it used take you to log on. You normally have to buy a special DSL modem and a network card ($100-200). Never again will the evil modem screech of death invade your home. The cost (usually around $400/mo) is higher than home service. you’ll know something is different. The cost can be offset. when you take into account that a DSL line can eliminate the need for an extra phone line. 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. For home users DSL usually runs about fifty dollars a month. (DSL + Internet service) = There is a catch. Most home DSL users can sign on at 384Kb. a DSL line is always on.pacbell. of course. Some companies offer a free modem and installation with a service commitment.5Mb/sec. DSL links: www. Considering that many people have two phone www. but is still a bargain when compared to other high-speed options. A DSL modem is usually made of an external modem (a box that sits outside your computer) and a network card (NIC Card).the same phone line.

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

Different ports are sometimes better to use than others. 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. Serial Ports The first method of connection is the serial port. and requires a separate port for each device. which allows transfers of about 200 kilobytes/second. Parallel Ports The second method is the parallel port. PC-based computers have used two techniques to attach external peripherals devices such as scanners and printers. You will mostly be concerned with port types when buying peripherals like a scanner or a printer. and other media. PORTS AND EXPANSION SLOTS A port is a plug. although clever switching techniques can partially alleviate that problem. A number are possible. 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! . SCSI PORTS Unfortunately. For example. (The four wires were originally a pair of twisted-pair copper wires. You will find ports in the back of your computer and on the inside.time). Earlier (in part 1) we discussed the different bus types that shuttle information along. They look like vacant plugs. Traditionally. but can now also include coaxial cable. digital microwave. or about 20 times faster than a serial port. as expansion ports. optical fiber. Read the box before you buy something to find out what kind of port it uses. 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. The parallel port also only supports one device per port. which provides up to 115kilobits/second-transfer rate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

so you shouldn't purchase a monitor capable of much higher resolutions than you plan to use. Other value-added features might include built-in speakers. the very high resolutions are only usable on larger monitors. or special power-saving or low-radiation features. 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. The larger the monitor. will involve balancing the following factors: • Maximum usable resolution @ 75 Hz refresh rate • Viewable screen size • Other value-added features • Subjective image quality.monitor can support extremely high resolutions and high refresh rates is a function of the electronics in the monitor. and • Price We have already discussed the first two elements in this list. That means you'll have to run at a lower resolution with the corresponding sacrifice in desktop space for windows & applications. Choosing a monitor. and 21". The viewable image size should always be listed along with the tube size. 17". the viewable size of the monitor is usually slightly smaller. 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. However. sophisticated front-panel adjustments. The ability to display extremely high resolutions at an acceptable refresh rate will be a substantial cost premium. Monitor Size The final (and most obvious) feature of a monitor is the physical size of the picture tube. measured diagonally. then. Regardless of the quality of a small monitor. the clearer the picture will be at whatever resolution you choose to use. Standard tube sizes for consumer-grade computer monitors are 14". because the extreme edges of the tube are not usable for screen display due to distortion. 19". . 15". And in many cases.

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

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

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

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

If they really wanted quality.Digital cameras are only a few years old and are just now beginning to make serious inroads into photography. This is true." will often come with the standard builtin flash as well. yet these same photographers most likely use 35 mm SLR cameras that are not as good as 8 x 10 view cameras. 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. despite some current limitations. So much for their argument being based on the quality of the image. Range: 1 . in comparison to external flash options. at the camera's maximum resolution setting. They have yet to be fully accepted by some photographers.500.$2. The type(s) of flash available vary from camera to camera. Choosing a Digital Camera Listed below are the key features of consumer-level digital cameras. 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). And if they do use 8 x 10 cameras. with a median price of $450. The flashes built into most digital cameras have limited range and adjustability (on average. which can provide a much more powerful and versatile flash. . Flash Type The flash makes a burst of light for shooting inside or in low-light conditions. However. Price $50 . Keep in mind that a camera with a "Hot Shoe" or "Flash Sync. these flashes do not work well beyond 10 feet). they'd be using mules to carry their equipment. 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. See glossary for definitions of the types of flash listed below.20 seconds. they don't use the even better mammoth glass plate view cameras used by Jackson and Muybridge after the Civil War. 80% of the cameras are between $200 and $900.

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

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

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