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Inside Your Computer

Inside Your Computer

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Published by: ksi12345 on Nov 12, 2010
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  • What is a Motherboard?
  • How to Identify Your Motherboard
  • How to Install Your Motherboard
  • Microprocessor History
  • Inside a Microprocessor
  • Performance
  • How to install a CPU
  • 4 different types of I/O buses
  • The system bus
  • Can I upgrade my system bus?
  • Your CMOS Battery
  • How to Replace Your CMOS Battery
  • SIMMs and DIMMs
  • Different types of RAM
  • Dynamic RAM (DRAM)
  • Static RAM (SRAM)
  • RAM Speed
  • The Cache
  • Types of RAM
  • Upgrading RAM
  • The Hard Drive
  • How Hard Disks Work
  • Inside a Hard Disk
  • Sectors Tracks and Clusters
  • Installing a Hard Drive
  • Disk Compression
  • Back-Up Your Hard Drive
  • Zip Disks
  • CD Recorder
  • Internet Back-Up
  • What damages a hard drive?
  • Hard Drive Maintenance
  • Scandisk
  • Disk Defrag
  • Why does line speed matter?
  • What are my line speed options?
  • Standard Modem: Up to 56Kb
  • How do I upgrade my modem to 56K?
  • Do the Math:
  • Can I install a DSL modem myself?
  • Cable Modems
  • T-1 & T-3 Lines
  • Serial Ports
  • Parallel Ports
  • USB Ports
  • Expansion Slots
  • Plug and Play
  • Video & Sound Cards
  • Installing an Expansion Card
  • Refresh Rate
  • Dot Pitch
  • Monitor Size
  • Flat Screen (LCD) Monitors
  • Should I buy a CRT or an LCD?
  • Flat Bed Scanners
  • Choosing a Digital Camera
  • Options:

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

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

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

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

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

25 Clock speed 2 MHz 5 MHz 6 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz 60 MHz 233 MHz 450 MHz MIPS 0. a complete 8-bit computer on one chip introduced in 1974. introduced in 1979 and incorporated into the IBM PC (which first appeared in 1982 or so).000 7.also known as a CPU or Central Processing Unit .You will learn how fairly simple digital logic techniques allow a computer to do its job. introduced in 1971. whether its playing a game or spell checking a document! Microprocessor History A microprocessor . Prior to the 4004. The first microprocessor to make a real splash in the market was the Intel 8088. Intel makes all of these microprocessors and all of them are improvements on the basic design of the 8088. and it could only do that four bits at a time.8 0.is a complete computation engine that is fabricated on a single chip.500.5 1. The new Pentiums-IIIs can execute any piece of code that ran on the original 8088. The first microprocessor to make it into a home computer was the Intel 8080.200.35 0.000 29.100. but it was amazing that everything was on one chip.000 9. Don’t worry if all the terms don’t make sense yet. The 4004 was not very powerful .33 MIPS 1 MIPS 5 MIPS 20 MIPS 100 MIPS 400 MIPS? 1. Just use it for an eyeball comparison.000 times faster! The following table may help you to understand the differences between the different processors that Intel has introduced over the years. This means that the 4004 could only processor think about for zeros and ones at a time.all it could do was add and subtract. The 4004 powered one of the first portable electronic calculators. The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004.000 Microns 6 3 1.500.000 275. 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.000 134.000 3. Remember that a bit is a zero or a one. engineers built computers either from collections of chips or from discrete components (transistors wired one at a time). but the Pentium-III runs about 3. If you are familiar with the PC market and its history.000 1.000 MIPS? . Name 8080 8088 80286 80386 80486 Pentium Pentium II Pentium III Date 1974 1979 1982 1985 1989 1993 1997 1999 Transistors 6.64 MIPS 0.5 1 0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

though. If your PC has a permanently attached NiCd cell that's gone bad. But make sure you don't just toss out the old cell: All batteries except plain-vanilla AAs may constitute hazardous waste. open the case. 4. which is about the width of an AA battery but only one-third its length.If you're lucky.dallas. In rare situations. the most common type for newer systems. they fall into a few basic categories. There are more than two dozen types of CMOS batteries on the market. Put a piece of masking tape inside the case with a note of the date you changed the battery. restore them from the floppy disk. Remove the old battery (you may first have to remove some add-in boards or move cables around) and put in the new one. the manuals say little or nothing about it. you may have to change a jumper--check your manual. rechargeable NiCd battery. newer setup programs should automatically detect hard disk parameters and other crucial information. If not. A lithium button cell. is a thin battery about the size of a quarter that sits on the motherboard. your system manual will tell you where the CMOS battery is located. what type it is. you'll get an error message. rectangular black box. Turn off your PC. you'll have to type in the information. it also likely has a four-pin connector to which you can attach a standard NiCd battery. the other is a plastic holder that contains four standard AA alkaline batteries.net/~r800). you can buy one from Battery-Biz (800/848-6782. and how to change it. www. 3. If yours doesn't. As explained above. More often. If you used a software package to save the CMOS settings. . Get into its setup program and enter the date and time. you should replace it with a newer-style black box like the Ray-O-Vac 844. If your PC has an old-style holder with four AA batteries. www. so check with your local recycling center.com) or Resource 800 (800/430-7030. Turn on the PC. and take a look around. One of these is a small. Replace the battery. Some motherboards have a permanently attached.battery-biz. 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. Buy the right battery. Your system vendor or a local computer dealer or may have the right replacement battery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should see a listing for memory. and consult the documentation that comes with the RAM modules. if any. call the manufacturer or try digging around on its web site. click on Control Panel. if you break the slots they go into. Even worse. Any computer store will be able to look up what kind of RAM you need. First. click on the Start button. Just use firm pressure--don't force. which will show the current amount of RAM. to be sure). First check your computer’s documentation to see what kind of RAM you’ll need. Each type has its own merits.nDRAM To be released with the Intel Merced processor Expected transfer rates of 1. If not. Your user manual will have all of this info if you have it handy. Get the manufacturer's instructions for dismantling the computer's case. remove one of your existing RAM chips and bring it to the store with you. you need to determine what type of RAM your computer currently has and how much.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. . RAM modules and the slots where they're inserted are both made of plastic. Be sure you don't need to do any special tricks to get access to the RAM.6Gb to 3. you may wind up taking a trip to the computer shop to have a new motherboard installed (a worst-case scenario. For machines running Windows 95 or 98. Worse comes to worse. easiest. There are many different types of RAM. This is probably the cheapest. double click on System and click on the Performance tab. including EDO. Get a little too rough inserting a module and you're liable to break it. but it's best to stick with what's already installed to avoid compatibility problems. scroll up to Settings. and most noticeable improvement you can make to your computer's speed. fast page. If you can’t find it just make sure you know exactly what kind of computer you have. and SDRAM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In contrast. after a simple setup .have a CRT monitor. and their clarity makes it easier to view higher resolutions at smaller screen sizes. To use a lower resolution. which can result in distracting artifacts. often resulting in a more blocky look. or focus problems. SCANNERS Scanners used to be a complicated business. Full-motion video also generally looks better on a CRT. In contrast. 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. 15-inch monitors generally aren't usable above 800x600. this makes for more accurate color information and pixel placement. CRTs also work well at multiple resolutions. which you can't get on an LCD. the latest LCDs are all digital. a rocket scientist to hook one up. Many graphics professionals. Compare a 15-inch deep. on the other hand are less intrusive and clearer. 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. even 14. Today. and it’s easy to see the advantages of LCDs. Now that the industry's Digital Display Working Group has finally settled on a standard and more graphics cards will be shipping with digital options. either a smaller portion of the panel is used for the display or the pixels have to be scaled up to fill the screen. LCDs. Though prices have dropped. LCDs have a single optimum resolution. and a big spender to afford the steep prices. 30-pound CRT against a panel that's less than 7 inches deep (including the base) and weighs 12 or 13 pounds.5-inch LCD panels display 1.024x768 well. prefer to have control over color-calibration and color-temperature settings. these desktop LCDs remain significantly more expensive (at least $400 more) than CRTs of an equivalent size. Theoretically. For example. it will be easier to choose an all-digital solution. flat-panel LCDs for desktops use rodshaped molecules that bend light to produce an image rather than electron guns that light up the phosphors on the viewing area of a glass tube. Also. unlike CRTs. LCDs that plug into standard analog VGA ports actually have to perform a second conversion back to digital (because LCD panels are digital devices). particularly those working with print output. As in notebooks. convergence.

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

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

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

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

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

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