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PART 1 – THE PROCESSOR, MOTHERBOARD, SYSTEM BUS, AND BOOT
Your computer is a tool, just like a hammer or a wrench. Like a hammer or a wrench, a computer can help make tasks easier and allow you to do things previously thought impossible. A hammer is uncomplicated. Hammer maintance is simple: Don’t hit anything with the hammer that is harder than the hammer. If you want to upgrade your hammer you buy a new one. While the rule about hitting still applies, a computer can present many more complicated options when it’s user sets out to maintain and upgrade their loyal PC. Cars have been available to the mass market for about one hundred years. We are just now reaching a time where you don’t have to be or know a mechanic to own a car for more than five years. Computers are new. There has only been a mass home computer market for around fifteen years. They break and need to be worked on and they need to be properly maintained if they are expected to function correctly. Any person can learn how to properly maintain and update their own computer, thus Inside Your Computer, Computer hardware and Maintenance for Real People.
WARNING: Whenever you are working inside of your computer, make sure you ground yourself first. Computer components are sensitive and can be damaged by static electricity. To ground yourself, touch your computer's case, power supply, anything metal, or use a static bracelet.
RAM can store data needed by the Processor. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. is the computer’s “brain”. It can get data from the hard drive or from the Processor. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory. All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. it is usually the hard drive. The processor is a microchip. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz). It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space. but cannot electricity to function. . RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. hard disk from RAM. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). When upload or save very quickly. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM. When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. The Processor. the processor has access to less data. slowing the computer. RAM can upload or save data very quickly. RAM also needs of information. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. it saves on the that the CPU may need at a later time. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. With small amounts of RAM. When your computer is making noise. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. too. but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. itself. with marginal returns. The Processor does calculations. Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. orders data. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. and instructs components to do things. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with.The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. By the time you need a new processor. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. or CPU. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM.
the motherboard is usually a big green pressboard looking board on the inside of the computer. your computer can take in fifty-six thousand zeros and ones every second. munch. If you have a 56K modem. if you hit the “A” button on the keyboard the computer registers “00000001”. You’ve probably heard of a Megabyte. With these zeros and ones. so a megabyte is a million bytes. Megabyte is usually abbreviated “MB”. huh? Munch. A Byte is a collection of eight zeros and ones. Computers basically have only two choices in their language. So again. That’s a lot of zeros and ones. Ready for some more information? Eight bits equal a byte. It typically contains the CPU (central processing unit). Again. So. Some people just like to know everything. but it’s not really important that you remember that. Bit and Byte. or a thousand bytes. there aren’t really zeros and ones floating around in the computer. . MB stands for megabytes. the computer makes up codes. what does 56Kb stand for? Fifty-six thousand bits. Why does all this computer stuff make me hungry? Computers communicate in what’s called a binary language. or a million bytes. BIT is actually an acronym for Binary Digit. a zero or a one is called a BIT. or eight million bits. a bit is a zero or one. Mb stands for Megabits. twenty-six symbols with which we make up our language. 0 and 1. For example. In English. A zero or a one is called a “BIT”—like a little bit of information. Mega stands for million. Electric flow represents a one. A small “b” would have meant bits. cute. The capital “B” denotes bytes. The only symbols your poor computer has in its language are zero and one. we have our alphabet. and very little electric flow represents a zero. “Bi” means two and “nary” means number. Located inside the PC.FIRST YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW THIS STUFF… A bit. By the way. What is a Motherboard? A motherboard is the main circuit board of a personal computer. GB stands for Gigabytes or a billion bytes and KB stands for Kilobytes. a byte. It’s like Morse code. forming a code that stands for one number or letter.
For this reason. expansion slots. mass storage interfaces. you will see the BIOS (BASIC INPUT OUTPUT SYSTEM) identification string near the top left corner of the screen. just about everything is connected to the motherboard. We will discuss the BIOS later in this book. memory. and case. OEMs also integrate the motherboards with other system components. Recent motherboards manufactured by Intel use only a Phoenix or American Megatrends (AMI) BIOS. How to Identify Your Motherboard When you turn on your computer that contains an Intel-supported motherboard. such as a power supply. The OEM or the place of purchase will be most familiar with your configuration and its integration of both hardware and software. You will need Except the motherboard you need to have • Compatible Case . The OEM may customize the motherboard to their own specifications. disk drive. some of the chips which reside on the motherboard are known as the motherboard's chipset.BIOS (basic input/output system). keyboard and disk drive. How to Install Your Motherboard This guide describes how to change a motherboard. This allows the display of the BIOS code. you can bypass this screen by pressing the Esc key. You have to contact that OEM directly or the place where you purchased your system for support. Basically. Intel cannot support a motherboard distributed by an OEM. If your computer displays the Intel® logo screen during system boot. such as the display screen. software. Intel sells motherboards to various computer manufacturers known as OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). and all the controllers required to communicate with standard peripheral devices. Descriptions may vary slightly from your computer because this guide is generic. then contact that manufacturer for support questions. mouse. serial and parallel ports. If you see another manufacturer's name in the start-up BIOS area. Collectively.
Disconnect the cables from the add-in cards and take them out. Disconnect the power supply.• Screwdrivers. turn the computer on. Case Removal Ground your self. I personally recommend masking tape. Exit the setup. Out With the Old Disconnect all the external peripherals. In With the New Place the new motherboard in the case. . Attach everything that you removed. Windows should come up. Basically. PC ARCHITECTURE An architect plans the way a building is made. Leave the computer plugged in. After you removed the case touch the power supply to get rid of any static electricity. Follow the manual. Remember to set all the jumpers. Touch the computer's power supply once again. Initial Testing After you have connected every peripheral and cable. Done When you entered all the data into the BIOS. Prepare for Install Access you system setup ( BIOS ). Write down all the setting and parameters. Check the manual on how to remove the case. Make sure all the mounting holes and computer ports line up. Read the manual. It may give you an error or New Hardware Found wizard. Removed the screws holding down the motherboard. In the case some how label all the wires. Enter setup and enter all the data you wrote down from the old motherboard. Screw the new motherboard down. but make sure it’s off. PC architecture is the main parts of the computer and the way they’re put together. Remove the hard drive cables. You should see a new BIOS message. no? Computer architecture is the manner in which the components of a computer or computer system are organized and integrated. It should be followed with errors. Lift the motherboard carefully out of the case. and mounting supplies. Remove the wires which lead to the case. Turn the computer off.
A storage device stores data permanently. a K6. such as a keyboard. they also can be labeled as input & output devices too. 1. even when you turn off the PC. 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. but they all do approximately the same thing in approximately the same way. a server. or if you have ever wondered about the differences between different microprocessors. For example. a PowerPC. If you have ever wondered what the microprocessor in your computer is doing.A computer can be broken into five functional components. . An input device is a device that gives data to a computer. multiplied and divided. 3. A floppy drive. hard drive or tape backup are types of storage devices. a Sparc or any of the many other brands and types of microprocessors. or a laptop. In depth explanations will follow for those of you that really want to know it all. This is where data is added subtracted. A PC also makes use of a bus system. Input devices other than the keyboard are sometimes called alternate input devices. The microprocessor you are using might be a Pentium. Mice. whereas a display monitor or a printer is an output device. and light pens are all alternate input devices. The microprocessor is the heart of any normal computer. no? THE PROCESSOR The computer I am using to write this book uses a microprocessor to do its work. Memory is a temporary storage device for data used by the CPU. then this part of this here book will be incredibly interesting. Easy. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brains of the PC. Such as a printer or video monitor etc. 2. or scanner. An output device is a device that receives data from the CPU. mouse. a keyboard is an input device. whether it is a desktop machine. 4. quickly outlined below. trackballs. Data is lost when the PC is turned off.
000 times faster! The following table may help you to understand the differences between the different processors that Intel has introduced over the years.200. Just use it for an eyeball comparison. If you are familiar with the PC market and its history.000 1.all it could do was add and subtract. and it could only do that four bits at a time. The first microprocessor to make a real splash in the market was the Intel 8088.64 MIPS 0. but the Pentium-III runs about 3.25 Clock speed 2 MHz 5 MHz 6 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz 60 MHz 233 MHz 450 MHz MIPS 0. The 4004 powered one of the first portable electronic calculators. 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.000 275.000 7. Don’t worry if all the terms don’t make sense yet.100. Prior to the 4004.5 1 0. Remember that a bit is a zero or a one. This means that the 4004 could only processor think about for zeros and ones at a time. but it was amazing that everything was on one chip. introduced in 1979 and incorporated into the IBM PC (which first appeared in 1982 or so).35 0.500.You will learn how fairly simple digital logic techniques allow a computer to do its job. Intel makes all of these microprocessors and all of them are improvements on the basic design of the 8088.500. whether its playing a game or spell checking a document! Microprocessor History A microprocessor .000 Microns 6 3 1.also known as a CPU or Central Processing Unit . The first microprocessor to make it into a home computer was the Intel 8080.8 0. engineers built computers either from collections of chips or from discrete components (transistors wired one at a time).5 1.000 9.000 3. The 4004 was not very powerful . a complete 8-bit computer on one chip introduced in 1974.000 MIPS? .000 29.is a complete computation engine that is fabricated on a single chip. introduced in 1971. The new Pentiums-IIIs can execute any piece of code that ran on the original 8088.33 MIPS 1 MIPS 5 MIPS 20 MIPS 100 MIPS 400 MIPS? 1. Name 8080 8088 80286 80386 80486 Pentium Pentium II Pentium III Date 1974 1979 1982 1985 1989 1993 1997 1999 Transistors 6.000 134. The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004.
From this table you can see that. Clock speed will make more sense in the next section. and is a rough measure of the performance of a CPU. Modern processors can often execute at a rate of 2 instructions per clock cycle. Transistors is the number of transistors on the chip. The maximum clock speed is a function of the manufacturing process and delays within the chip. there is a relationship between clock speed and MIPS. it is helpful to look inside and learn about the logic used to create one. the 8088 clocked at 5 MHz but only executed at 0. in microns.33 MIPS (about 1 instruction per 15 clock cycles). MIPS stands for Millions of Instructions Per Second. . In the process you can also learn about assembly language .the native language of a microprocessor . go back and look at the table again! Inside a Microprocessor To understand how a microprocessor works. Modern CPUs can do so many different things that MIPS ratings lose a lot of their meaning. Many processors are re-introduced at higher clock speeds for many years after the original release date. For example. the date is the year that the processor was first introduced. a human hair is 100 microns thick. of the smallest wire on the chip. For comparison. There is also a relationship between the number of transistors and MIPS. but you can get a general sense of the relative power of the CPUs from this column. Clock speed is the maximum rate that the chip can be sent information. You can see that the number of transistors on a single chip has risen steadily over the years. in general. That improvement is directly related to the number of transistors on the chip and will make more sense in the next section. off is a “0” Microns is the width. On is a “1”. A transistor is an on or off switch.and many of the things that engineers can do to boost the speed of a processor. As the feature size on the chip goes down. Now that you’ve read all this stuff. the number of transistors rises.Compiled from The Intel Microprocessor Quick Reference Guide In the above table.
no? All you really need to know is that these trends push up the . So even though it might take 5 clock cycles to execute each instruction. Many modern processors have multiple instruction decoders. Modern microprocessors contain complete floating-point processors that can perform extremely sophisticated operations on large floating-point numbers. a microprocessor can perform mathematical operations like addition. That way it looks like one instruction completes every clock cycle. subtraction. More transistors also allow a technology called pipelining. This technique can be quite complex to implement. There has also been a tendency toward special instructions (like the MMX instructions) that make certain operations particularly efficient. Based on the instructions. As seen in the table.A microprocessor executes a collection of machine instructions that tell the processor what to do. each with its own pipeline. There may be very sophisticated things that a microprocessor does. so it takes lots of transistors. it took approximately 80 cycles just to do one 16-bit multiplication on the 8088. all of which we will discuss later in this book. Performance The number of transistors available has a huge effect on the performance of a processor. There has also been the addition of hardware virtual memory support and L1 caching on the processor chip. but those above are its three basic activities. • 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. They stay one step behind each other. a typical instruction in a processor like an 8088 took 15 clock cycles to execute. This allows multiple instruction streams. In a pipelined architecture. a microprocessor does three basic things: • Using its ALU (Arithmetic/Logic Unit). multiplication and division. there can be 5 instructions in various stages of execution simultaneously. Lots of new terms. which means more than one instruction can complete during each clock cycle. The trend in processor design has been toward full 32-bit processing power with fast floating point processors built in and pipelined execution with multiple instruction streams. instruction execution overlaps. Because of the design.
Locate the processor. for example a Cyrix 6x86 PR-200 requires a 75MHz bus rate.transistor count. and you don't want to break them off. First you need to purchase a CPU. Next you need to remove the old processor. or they may break off. It will usually have a CPU fan over it. Remove the screws from the case and pull off the cover. If you have a LIF socket you will have to use a chip pull. Some of these processors can execute about one billion instructions per second! How to install a CPU 1. Simply lift it straight up and pull out the CPU. 3. If you a ZIF socket. Slowly work each side of the CPU up little by little to avoid damaging the fragile pins. (a second processor to help the first) if your motherboard supports it. if you have a ZIF socket push the handle back down and clip it into place. 4. a small tool available at any computer store. which no Intel processors use. Some processors require special bus speeds. leading to the multi-million transistor powerhouses available today. Make sure that the CPU you purchase is supported by your motherboard. If you do bend the pins. 2. Now you can put in the new processor. An alternative is to buy an overdrive processor. 5. . there will be a lever on the side. If you have a LIF socket. Remove the fan from the CPU. Make sure you get pin one into pin one of the socket. Now you need to unplug your computer's power cord. It is usually marked with an arrow or dot. press it firmly into place. but usually it is more cost effective to just to buy a new CPU and motherboard. be very careful in straightening them.
By placing a jumper plug over a different set of pins. bits take buses to and from the main parts of the computer. you can change a board's parameters. Replace the case cover and screw the case back together. that the I/O-buses usually derive from the system bus: 1 A Jumper is a metal bridge that closes an electrical circuit. That's all you need to do. . A bus is usually a special wire or system of wires. Just like you take a bus to get to work. Now you will probably have to set some jumper1 positions. allowing it to work. They can be divided into: • The system bus. bus speed. THE SYSTEM BUS The PC receives and sends its data in pathways in the computer called Buses. Actually. and multiplier. which connects the CPU with RAM. These should be found in your manual. The point is. There are different types of buses. • I/O buses (Input / Output buses). Typically. as you can see in this illustration. It is not completely correct. that the system bus is the central bus. which connect the CPU with other components. 7. RAM is temporary memory and will be discussed in depth later on. but it shows the important point.6. it connects to the I/O buses. usually CPU type. since actual computer architecture is much more complex. a jumper consists of a plastic plug that fits over a pair of protruding pins.
In a modern Pentium driven PC. most modems) and a parallel bus can send multiple bits at one time. The four I/O buses will be described later. and slowest bus. They are configured to move data in a serial or parallel manner. or linking up to 127 peripherals. we will take a closer look at the PC's fundamental bus. Most buses are serial. (pronounced “skuzzy”) a fast bus. which is the newest bus. from which the others are branches: . etc. which connects the CPU with RAM. which is the fastest and most powerful bus. Buses are connected to ports. They connect all I/O devices with the CPU and RAM. • The PCI bus. I/O devices are those components. keyboard.You see the central system bus. Here. 4 different types of I/O buses The I/O buses move data. A bridge connects the I/O buses with the system bus and on to RAM. capable of daisy chaining. there are three or four different types of I/O buses: • The ISA bus. or plugs.). simplest. monitor. It may in the long run replace the ISA bus. • The SCSI bus. The bridge is part of the PC chip set. A serial bus moves data one bit at a time (mouse. which is oldest. • The USB bus. which will be covered later on. which can receive or send data (disk drives.
The Bus speed describes how many cycles of these bits can move through the bus in a second. or zeros and ones. The system bus is on the motherboard. The faster the system bus gets.The system bus The system bus connects the CPU with RAM and maybe a specific kind of highspeed memory called a cache.77 MHz 8 MHz 12 MHz 16 MHz 25 MHz We see. A 16 bit bus operating at 8Mhz can transfer 128 million zeros and ones (bits) every second. At the fourth generation CPU 80486DX2-50 are doubled clock speeds utilized. that system bus speed follows the CPU's speed limitation. 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. It is designed to match a specific type of CPU. The system bus width describes how many bits. so one megahertz means one million cycles of full bus widths can travel the bus in one second. The speeds or cycles are measured in Megahertz (MHz). A hertz is one cycle. The system bus is the central bus. the faster the remainder of the electronic components must be. 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. can move through the wire at the same time. it has taken much technological development to speed up "traffic" on the motherboard. Processor technology determines dimensioning of the system bus. Other buses branch off from it.
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.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. . 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.
SCSI bus (small computer system interface) The SCSI bus is the physical connection between a mandatory special adapter card & SCSI compatible peripheral devices. II 450 MHz 100 MHz 250. I/O BUS (input output bus) also called Data Bus or Peripheral Bus. 16bit. 300. 400. It allows for fast info transfer to the processor 3. to recap. 800 AMD K7 MHz A motherboard with a 100 MHz bus has to be well constructed with good power supply and many capacitors. Some Bus Types: 1.Processor System bus CPU speed speed Intel Pentium 100 MHz 350. scanners. Can I upgrade my system bus? Probably not. 4. 2. CPU BUS Connects CPU and RAM only. or 32bit bus. To review. USB (Universal Serial Bus 32bit) is the newest (1998) fast bus type. Most computers still around today run on an 8bit. the I / O is the pathway between the motherboard & peripherals in any expansion slots. video and audio. AMD K6-2 400 MHz Intel Pentium 100 MHz 450. Used for fax and modem. While it is . 500 Xeon MHz Intel Pentium 133 MHz 533. 665 III MHz 200 MHz 600. A SCSI BUS is very fast and can daisy chain up to 127 peripherals. a bus is basically a pathway in your computer. as well as almost every other part in the computer is designed to send and receive data at a certain speed. So. Windows 95 is a 32bit operating system and runs slow on older 16bit computers. The CPU and RAM.
When the computer first turns on.) The setup options are those that specify such things as the primary boot device. or better still from the company that manufactured the motherboard. It is not possible to modify the BIOS code. power is given to a set of chips called the CMOS. However. then the hard disk. The computer’s System files load. The ROM BIOS (Read Only Memory – Basic Input Output System) is permanent start-up information stored on the CMOS. Pronounced see-moss. When the power supply indicates that it is steady. Pressing an appropriate button just after the PC is switched on accesses them. The PC looks for the OS in specific places in a specific order. CMOS is a widely used type of semiconductor. then the CD ROM drive. (It is not recommended to upgrade the BIOS unless a specific problem relating to the BIOS is being encountered. the motherboard chipset waits until the voltage is steady. The operating system (OS) loads.) Hitting delete during start up can usually access the POST settings. . 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). Personal computers contain a small amount of battery-powered CMOS memory to hold the date. DOS files are an example of system files. an abbreviation of complementary metal oxide semiconductor. BOOT. POST (Power On Self Test) The CMOS chip signals the CPU to check for peripherals. 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 DEL key. 3. Starting your Computer When a computer is first switched on. First it checks the “A” or floppy disk drive. making sure everything is in present and in working order. time. memory speed etc. 2. the CMOS chipset is given electricity and starts the following sequence of events: 1. Results are compared to ROM BIOS on the CMOS. and system setup parameters. it is best left up to the experts and provides marginal returns.possible to upgrade a system bus. (For example.
And when it does. CMOS batteries often die slowly. Some older PCs make it even harder on you. 2.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. displaying a nonspecific error message that can make you think the machine has a major problem. and their expected life span varies widely. such as hard disk parameters. How to Replace Your CMOS Battery Is your PC clock losing time? That's a warning that its CMOS battery is about to go. There are two ways to save backup information. although you'll still need to set the date and time manually. Find the current CMOS battery. One method is to go through your PC setup screens. The lithium batteries installed in PCs for the last year or two should last five or six years. That means your system has no idea how to start up because all the crucial parameters have been lost. and memory size. There are many different types of CMOS batteries. do it now--before you run into problems. and keep them with your PC's manuals. . A dead one usually displays a 'CMOS Read Error' or 'CMOS Battery Failure' message when you turn on your PC. you'll have a very hard time accessing your computer until you change the battery. This is particularly important for systems that are more than two years old. Even if you're not changing your CMOS battery right now. write down all the settings. Save the settings. back up your PC's 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. but batteries in older PCs have average lives of two to three years. types of floppy drives. If your system is more than a couple of years old and you haven't yet tackled the chore of replacing the CMOS battery. PCs built in the past couple of years or so should automatically detect all crucial system parameters when you install a new battery.
If your PC has a permanently attached NiCd cell that's gone bad. which is about the width of an AA battery but only one-third its length. If not.net/~r800). But make sure you don't just toss out the old cell: All batteries except plain-vanilla AAs may constitute hazardous waste. you'll get an error message. There are more than two dozen types of CMOS batteries on the market. www. 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. the other is a plastic holder that contains four standard AA alkaline batteries. Some motherboards have a permanently attached. Put a piece of masking tape inside the case with a note of the date you changed the battery. Turn off your PC. you may have to change a jumper--check your manual.battery-biz. and how to change it. 4. and take a look around. 3. If your PC has an old-style holder with four AA batteries. If you used a software package to save the CMOS settings. the most common type for newer systems. Buy the right battery. it also likely has a four-pin connector to which you can attach a standard NiCd battery. is a thin battery about the size of a quarter that sits on the motherboard.com) or Resource 800 (800/430-7030. Remove the old battery (you may first have to remove some add-in boards or move cables around) and put in the new one. newer setup programs should automatically detect hard disk parameters and other crucial information. what type it is.If you're lucky. In rare situations. rechargeable NiCd battery.dallas. you can buy one from Battery-Biz (800/848-6782. www. rectangular black box. open the case. the manuals say little or nothing about it. One of these is a small. though. so check with your local recycling center. restore them from the floppy disk. If yours doesn't. Your system vendor or a local computer dealer or may have the right replacement battery. . As explained above. Replace the battery. they fall into a few basic categories. your system manual will tell you where the CMOS battery is located. you'll have to type in the information. you should replace it with a newer-style black box like the Ray-O-Vac 844. More often. Turn on the PC. Get into its setup program and enter the date and time. A lithium button cell.
Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People PART 2 – MEMORY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAM .
A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space. including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM. with marginal returns. When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). When your computer is making noise. The processor is a microchip. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory. 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. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. .The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. or CPU. it is usually the hard drive. hard disk from RAM. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. With small amounts of RAM. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. RAM can upload or save data very quickly. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. and instructs components to do things. All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM. The Processor does calculations. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. is the computer’s “brain”. slowing the computer. Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. orders data. but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. itself. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with. the processor has access to less data. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. too. By the time you need a new processor. but cannot electricity to function. making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. When upload or save very quickly. RAM can store data needed by the Processor. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. RAM also needs of information. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. The Processor. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz).
to do work. RAM chips don't. Memory size also determines how fast your programs will operate. in a general sense. The hard drive moves slowly. Obviously. which. which make them slower. The amount of memory. in a computer determines the number of programs you can run at once. The processor can process data very quickly. your computer uses empty space on your hard drive to keep track of what's going on (called "paging to disk"). RAM is considered to be the resources which your computer uses for all of its computations. is why having lots of RAM makes your computer run faster. RAM needs to be writeable in order for it to do its job of holding programs and data that you are working on. The hard drive can hold lots of information.. 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. If you do not save the data. That’s where RAM comes in.What is RAM? RAM is short for Random Access Memory.g. due to the nature of how it stores information. your computer is "going virtual" . so of course it is hardly ever used. RAM can’t hold as much information as the hard drive. RAM is called "random access" because earlier read-write did not allow random access. RAM is the place where your programs reside while they're running and where your open files are stored before you hit the "save" command. The data stored in memory is temporary. It's a better name because calling RAM "random access" implies to some people that ROM (discussed below) isn't random access. the "AT" in the old IBM AT stands for "advanced technology”. This is actually a much more precise name. RAM is also sometimes called read-write memory or RWM. or memory size. If active programs and files take up more room than your RAM has available. but its problem is in getting that information in and out. but if it can’t get that data quickly it doesn’t matter how fast it works. Memory works like a blackboard that is constantly overwritten with new data. RAM is much faster than ROM is. but it can transfer data very quickly. it will disappear when you turn off the computer. Sometimes old acronyms persist even when they don't make much sense anymore (e. which is not true. Hard drives have moving parts. The volatility of RAM also means that you risk losing what you are working on unless you save it frequently. It's a temporary work area in which your computer uses.
because insufficient memory can cause a processor to work at 50% or even more below its performance potential.. making it last longer. 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. back it up. This does not take into affect the amount of additional RAM your machine maybe using to load additional programs when your machine "boots up". The more RAM you put into your machine the better it should run. hence it shortens its life. In many ways. 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. Make sure you back it up onto either a tape backup system. This is an important point that is often overlooked. • Software Support: Newer programs require more memory than old ones. Keep in mind that it is your hard drive which is the device that holds All of the information you are and have been collecting.as we call it. 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. More memory will give you access to programs that you cannot use with a lesser amount. . . RAM works at the speed of light and is therefor much faster than trying to access the information using your hard drive. If that information is considered to be valuable to you. is the fact that it saves your hard drive from doing a lot of extra work.. . or the other solutions discussed in the storage section of this book. just get it off the system for safe keeping! Memory plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system: • Performance: The amount and type of system memory you have is an important contributing factor to overall performance. A hard drive uses mechanics in order to deliver the information you are requesting and it is therefor slower. • Reliability and Stability: Bad memory is a leading cause of mysterious system problems. Ensuring you have high-quality memory will result in a . It also has to go through more stuff before it is viewed by the user (you). it is more important than the processor. . quicker response times to your requests and most importantly of all. This kind of activity puts a lot of extra wear and tear on your hard drive.
The bus from a SIMM to the actual memory chips is 32 bits wide. even high-quality memory will not work well if you use the wrong kind. It the two do not confirm each other the data is ignored and resent. Typically. or DIMMs. 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. • Upgradability: There are many different types of memory available.PC that runs smoothly and exhibits fewer problems. are small circuit boards that hold memory chips. SIMMs are easier to install than individual memory chips. If the sum is even. Also. which are small circuit boards that can hold a group of memory chips. an acronym for single inline memory module. 2 . In post transmission the byte is again added together and its sum is checked with the parity bit. and some are more universal than others. A SIMM has a 32-bit path to the memory chips whereas a DIMM has 64-bit path. These circuit boards are either: SIMMs. 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. the ninth bit is a zero. the ninth chip is often used for parity error checking2. short for dual in-line memory module. The eight bits (zeros or ones) in a transmitted byte are added up prior to transmission. SIMMs and DIMMs RAM is kept on a circuit board. If the sum is odd. a 1 is added as the ninth bit. In this way parity checking is used to reduce errors. On PCs. SIMMs hold up 8 (on Macintoshes) or 9 (on PCs) RAM chips.
DRAMs use only one. compact memory. some use DIMMs. To build a 64 MB core memory from SRAMs would be very expensive. DRAMs are smaller and less expensive than SRAMs because SRAMs are made from four to six transistors (or more) per bit. whether the memory cell is being used at that time by the computer or not. Some computers use SIMMs. holds an electrical charge if the bit . The capacitor. The reason that DRAMs are used is simple: they are much cheaper and take up much less space. Dynamic RAM (DRAM) When people refer to their RAM. so they're not interchangeable. they usually mean Dynamic RAM. even though DRAMs are slower than SRAMs and require the overhead of the refresh circuitry. the reading action itself refreshes the contents of the memory. when energized. which is a type of RAM that only holds its data if it is continuously accessed by special part called a refresh circuit. even if it continues to have power supplied to it. Many hundreds of times each second. typically 1/4 the silicon area of SRAMs or less. The overhead of the refresh circuit is tolerated in order to allow the use of large amounts of inexpensive.memory. Due to the way in which the cells are constructed. plus a capacitor. The refresh circuitry itself is almost never a problem. Different types of RAM There are many different types of RAMs. you can install memory one DIMM at a time. 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. instead of SRAM. If this is not done regularly. and some let you combine the two by providing both types of slots. then the DRAM will lose its contents. many years of using DRAM has caused the design of these circuits to be all but perfected. In fact. including static RAM (SRAM) and many flavors of dynamic RAM (DRAM). A DIMM has 168 contacts and a SIMM has 72. DRAMs are both more complicated and slower than SRAMs. This refreshing action is why the memory is called dynamic. All PCs use DRAM for their main system memory. With DIMMs. this circuitry reads the contents of each memory cell. you need to install SIMMs two at a time.
Refreshing is done by reading every "row" in the memory chip one row at a time. several times more expensive than DRAM. The problem with capacitors is that they only hold a charge for a short period of time. repeated structures. Static RAM (SRAM) Static RAM is a type of RAM that holds its data without external refresh. These capacitors are tiny. • Size: SRAMs take up much more space than DRAMs (which is part of why the cost is higher). and then it fades away. There are many different kinds of specific DRAM technologies and speeds that they are available in. and are discussed in more detail in other sections. • Speed: SRAM is faster than DRAM. so there isn't the complexity of making a single chip with several million individually located transistors. SRAMs have the following weaknesses. SRAMs are used for specific applications within the PC. The transistor is used to read the contents of the capacitor. for as long as power is supplied to the circuit. This is contrasted to dynamic RAM (DRAM). compared to DRAMs: • Cost: SRAM is. 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. . 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. DRAM costs much less than a processor because it is a series of simple. 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. These have evolved over many years of using DRAM for system memory. byte for byte. In contrast. so their charges fade particularly quickly.contains a "1" or no charge if it contains a "0". which must be refreshed many times per second in order to hold its data contents. the process of reading the contents of each capacitor re-establishes the charge.
A newer type of DRAM. 32 MB of SRAM would be prohibitively large and costly. it is much easier to make than a CPU. is synchronized to the system clock. With DRAM. cache memory needs to be very fast. This type of memory is much faster than asynchronous DRAM and can be used to improve the performance of the system. This is one reason why RAM chips cost much less than processors do. SRAM is manufactured in a way rather similar to how processors are: highly integrated transistor patterns photo-etched into silicon. DRAM Conventional DRAM. all signals are tied to the clock so timing is much tighter and better controlled. The signals are not coordinated with the system clock at all. which is a large die with a non-repetitive structure. 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. Because an SRAM chip is comprised of thousands or millions of identical cells. and not very large. a memory access is begun. Each SRAM bit is comprised of between four and six transistors. and a certain period of time later the memory value appears on the bus. of the type that has been used in PCs since the original IBM PC days. SRAM is superior to DRAM. Note that there are several different flavors of both asynchronous DRAM and synchronous DRAM. for which it is perfectly suited. called "synchronous DRAM" or "SDRAM". Unfortunately. SDRAM VS.These advantages and disadvantages taken together obviously show that performance-wise. SRAMs are used instead for special kinds of memory called level 1 cache and level 2 cache memory (discussed below). is said to be asynchronous. which is why SRAM takes up much more space compared to DRAM. which controls how often the processor can receive data (discussed in further detail later). which uses only one (plus a capacitor). and we would use it exclusively if only we could do so economically. It is more suitable to the higher-speed memory systems of the newest PCs. which is why DRAM is used for system memory. This refers to the fact that the memory is not synchronized to the system clock. . they are discussed below.
so that the memory will function at a higher speed than what is indicated. Of course. most have dozens. This usually means 60 nanosecond DRAM. In addition to being referred to using a nanosecond speed rating. This memory hasn't been used in years so there really shouldn't be any confusion between the two types. Since a modern PC reads or writes 64 bits at a time. each read or write involves simultaneous accesses to as many as 64 different DRAM chips. SDRAMs are also often rated in terms of their maximum cycles or jobs per second. DRAM chips are usually marked with their speed via a suffix at the end of the part number. and the memory controller manages which sets of chips are read from or written to. There are two different ways that these RAM chips are rated for speed. in MHz. Its speed is rated in a slightly different way. Most asynchronous memory in modern systems is 50. and then into banks.RAM Speed Most conventional memory referred to as RAM is DRAM or SDRAM. a PC doesn't have a single memory chip. If you look at the chips themselves. The suffix found on SDRAM chips is often "-12". or a billionth of a second). 60 or 70 ns in speed. Conventional asynchronous DRAM chips have a rated speed in nanoseconds (ns. 70 ns is fine for 486 or older PCs. even when set to 60 ns timing. a speed that represents the minimum access time for doing a read or write to memory. which is quicker than DRAM because of its ability to perform multiple requests for memory at the same time. you'll see something like "-6" or "-60". Older systems (386 and earlier) use usually 70 or 80 ns RAM. The rated speed of the memory is a maximum. The chips are arranged into modules. an . in practice many companies rate their DRAM conservatively. is fast becoming the standard in today’s personal computers. 120 or even 150 ns. This includes the entire access cycle. depending on total memory capacity and the size of DRAMs being used. However. However. Very old systems use even slower memory: 100. This is why many Pentium systems running on a 66 MHz bus will work with 70 ns memory. this is not reliable and cannot be counted on. "-10" or "-07". just expressed in a different way: for example. 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. This is really the same thing as a “ns” rating. SDRAM. Note that older memory running at 100 or 120 ns also used "-10" and "-12" sometimes.
When the CPU needs data. and 12ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-1-1-1 DDR SDRAM [Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM] Allow 1. 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. which is the reciprocal of 10ns. 10ns. A 100 MHz SDRAM may not function in a 100 MHz system bus PC. pronounced cash. compared above with DRAM.SDRAM module with a 10ns rating would be called instead a "100 MHz SDRAM". the CPU checks the next-fastest source — L2. 100 MHz is 100 million cycles per second. If the data still cannot be found. If the data is not there. Both L1 and L2 store data recently used by the CPU. and external cache (L2) resides on the motherboard. a time-consuming search of the slower regular RAM is required. This MHz number is not the same as saying that the SDRAM with that rating is designed for a system of that speed. the cache is not upgradeable. The Cache When referring to memory the cache. is made up of two groups of extremely fast memory chips that allow your computer to operate faster. 7ns. L2 cache is also called SRAM. Internal cache (L1) is built into the CPU. onehundred-millionth of a second per cycle. it first checks the fastest source — L1. As it is permanently attached to main parts of the computer.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 .
Can transfer data at 533Mb/s per channel Supports up to four channels for a total speed of 2132Mb/s Access speed of 2ns .5ns. SGRAM [Synchronous Graphics RAM] Like SDRAM. Typical speeds 45ns. WRAM [Windows RAM] Introduced on the Matrox Millenium video card Slightly faster the VRAM Used only on video cards. and 680VP chipsets The fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-1-1-1 Pipeline Burst SRAM Used as the L2.EDO [Extended Data Output] Can operate at motherboard bus clocks of up to 83MHz. 50ns. or level 2. MDRAM [Multibank Dynamic RAM] Slightly faster the VRAM Used only on video cards. 6ns. 60ns. RDRAM [Rambus Dynamic RAM] Can operate at motherboard bus clocks of 133MHz. 590VP. and 8ns VRAM [Video RAM] Used only on video cards. but can perform simple logical operations Used only on video cards. cache on motherboards Typical speeds are 4. and 70ns Fastest access speed in CPU cycles being 5-2-2-2 BEDO [Burst Extended Data Output] Only supported by the VIA 580VP.
click on Control Panel. Each type has its own merits. If not. There are many different types of RAM. which will show the current amount of RAM. scroll up to Settings. RAM modules and the slots where they're inserted are both made of plastic. fast page. Be sure you don't need to do any special tricks to get access to the RAM. For machines running Windows 95 or 98. remove one of your existing RAM chips and bring it to the store with you. easiest. .6Gb to 3. but it's best to stick with what's already installed to avoid compatibility problems.nDRAM To be released with the Intel Merced processor Expected transfer rates of 1. Even worse. This is probably the cheapest. and most noticeable improvement you can make to your computer's speed. you may wind up taking a trip to the computer shop to have a new motherboard installed (a worst-case scenario. Get a little too rough inserting a module and you're liable to break it. Just use firm pressure--don't force. Get the manufacturer's instructions for dismantling the computer's case. including EDO. First. click on the Start button. You should see a listing for memory. Your user manual will have all of this info if you have it handy. If you can’t find it just make sure you know exactly what kind of computer you have. call the manufacturer or try digging around on its web site. you need to determine what type of RAM your computer currently has and how much. to be sure). if any. and SDRAM. if you break the slots they go into. and consult the documentation that comes with the RAM modules. First check your computer’s documentation to see what kind of RAM you’ll need.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. Any computer store will be able to look up what kind of RAM you need. Worse comes to worse. double click on System and click on the Performance tab.
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). and so on. we don't recommend this route. the procedure is the same. be sure to install the inside one first or you won't be able to get them both in. Some manufacturers recommend different methods of installing DIMMs. If you're installing a SIMM. You should feel it snap into place. Unplug everything and disconnect all of the cables that are attached to your computer. What is ROM? . which is the key to getting it to seat properly. You're basically rotating it into place by starting at an angle. such as a printer. If you're afraid you might not be able to make sense of that jumble of cables later on. you don't want to be digging around in an electrical appliance that's plugged in. If you're installing a DIMM. If your computer's manufacturer recommends a different method. If it doesn't. your computer is most likely connected to other things that are plugged in. a monitor. It does take some pressure to get them installed properly. you'll need to put it in the slot directly adjacent to the other module or modules. you need to push it straight in--perpendicular to the motherboard. Avoid touching the metal contacts. If you're installing a DIMM. and you won't have any problems. 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. Always handle RAM modules (and other similar components) by their edges so you're holding plastic. If your slots have clips. A pair of SIMMs go in the next two available slots. For safety's sake.While some manufacturers recommend keeping the computer plugged in while you work on it to keep it grounded. it's best to do it that way. check to make sure you have everything lined up correctly and try again. With SIMMs. sometimes they'll close during a failed attempt to install a module and will need to be reopened on your second attempt. whether it's a toaster or a computer. except that. keep yourself grounded. take a few minutes and label everything using masking tape and a magic marker. rather than starting at an angle and rotating the module into place. Also.
though in practice never seen. The most common example is the system BIOS program. stored for an indefinite period of time. For this reason. ROM is a type of memory that normally can only be read. • Security: The fact that ROM cannot easily be modified provides a measure of security against accidental (or malicious) changes to its contents. it is called non-volatile storage. A hard disk is also non-volatile.) Read-only memory is most commonly used to store system-level programs that we want to have available to the PC at all times. Remember that when you first turn on the PC the RAM memory is empty. but regular RAM is not.ROM is a type of memory chip that does not lose information. for the same reason. For example. and then replaced. (It's technically possible with erasable EPROMs. ROM chips are also used to store programs for hand-held computers and nifty devices such as digital watches or. even when the power is turned off. and the data it contains will still be there. there are times when being able to change the contents of a ROM can be very useful. its contents cannot be altered. There are several ROM variants that can be changed under certain circumstances. 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. so there has to be something for the PC to use when it starts up. Once data is programmed into the ROM chip. You are not going to find viruses infecting true ROMs. as opposed to RAM which can be both read and written. While the whole point of a ROM is supposed to be that the contents cannot be changed. these can be thought of as "mostly read-only memory" The following are the different types of ROMs with a description of their relative modifiability: . 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. for example. it's just not possible. which is stored in a ROM called the system BIOS ROM. ROM BIOS chips are used to store information for starting up your computer. A ROM can be removed from the PC.
because when they change their code they can create new PROMs without requiring expensive equipment. • Erasable Programmable ROM (EPROM): An EPROM is a ROM that can be erased and reprogrammed. When you hear reference to a "flash BIOS" or doing a BIOS upgrade by "flashing". Obviously this is much more useful than a regular PROM. 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. this refers to reprogramming the BIOS EEPROM with a special software program. programming a PROM is also called burning. This is the most flexible type of ROM. This is inflexible and so regular ROMs are only used generally for programs that are static (not changing often) and mass-produced. • Programmable ROM (PROM): This is a type of ROM that can be programmed using special equipment. but it does require the erasing light. which can be erased under software control.• ROM: A regular ROM is constructed from hard-wired logic. they think that ROM is not random . which will erase the EPROM and allow it to be reprogrammed again. and it is comparable in terms of its flexibility. In fact. It is designed to perform a specific function and cannot be changed. just like burning a CD-R (discussed later). but remember that this rewriting is done maybe once a year or so. A little glass window is installed in the top of the ROM package. Ultraviolet light of a specific frequency can be shined through this window for a specified period of time. through which you can actually see the chip that holds the memory. Continuing the "CD" analogy. compared to real read-write memory (RAM) where rewriting is done often many times per second! Note: One thing that sometimes confuses people is that since RAM is the "opposite" of ROM (since RAM is read-write and ROM is read-only). it can be written to. encoded in the silicon itself. and is now commonly used for holding BIOS programs. much the way that a processor is. This product is analogous to a commercial software CD-ROM that you purchase in a store. and since RAM stands for "random access memory". but only once. Here we are blurring the line a bit between what "read-only" really means. • Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM (EEPROM): The next level of erasability is the EEPROM. This is useful for companies that make their own ROMs from software they write. this technology is analogous to a reusable CD-RW (discussed later).
RAM gets its name because earlier read-write memories were sequential.access. just not writeable. . and did not allow random access. so it is random access as well. This is not true. any location can be read from ROM in any order.
SAVE. STORAGE SOLUTIONS .Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People PART 3 – SAVE. SAVE.
or use a static bracelet. power supply. Computer components are sensitive and can be damaged by static electricity. anything metal. touch your computer's case. . make sure you ground yourself first. To ground yourself.WARNING: Whenever you are working inside of your computer.
orders data. itself. A graphics or sound card is basically a separate microprocessor with it’s own RAM. but cannot electricity to function. The speed of a processor is dependent on many things. it saves on the that the CPU may need at a later time. By the time you need a new processor. but cannot hold as much information as the The hard disk can hold a lot hard drive. When upload or save very quickly. RAM also open a program it loads from the hard disk into RAM. When your computer is making noise. with marginal returns. With small amounts of RAM. RAM also needs of information. you turn off the computer RAM is wiped clean. RAM is the computer’s short term or working memory. including its rated speed and it’s ability to receive information quickly from RAM. When RAM is low the slower hard drive must continually feed data to RAM.The Big Three The hard disk is the computer’s long-term memory. it is usually the hard drive. More RAM gives the processor more data to work with. slowing the computer. and instructs components to do things. RAM (see right) and the hard disk work together. Processor speeds are measured in Hz (Hertz). Upgrading the processor is usually difficult. or CPU. a unit of measurement that measures cycles of electricity. and makes good economic sense versus buying a new computer. It can get data from the Hard drive or from the Processor. is the computer’s “brain”. The Processor. A normal PC’s Hard Disk has from 2-16GB (Billion Bytes) of memory storage space. the processor has access to less data. RAM is a Microchip designed to store and send data. RAM can upload or save data very quickly. When stores pre-processed data you save a file. you probably need more hard disk and RAM space. It is cost effective to upgrade your hard drive. The Processor does calculations. too. hard disk from RAM. A normal PC has between 32128MB of RAM. making a processor upgrade the least upgradeable item. Upgrading RAM is sometimes dramatically effective. All program and file data is stored on the Hard Disk. The hard disk is made of a number of a flat rotating discs covered on one or both sides with some magnetic material. A graphic card handles all the computations needed for 3-D graphics and frees the main processor to do other tasks. . The processor is a microchip. A newer processor would be rated at 300-500 MHz (million hertz). When you The Processor gets most of its data from RAM. RAM can store data needed by the Processor.
Both hard disks and cassette tapes use the same magnetic recording techniques described in the HSW article entitled How Tape Recorders Work.the magnetic medium can be easily erased and rewritten. At the simplest level. How Hard Disks Work Hard disks have been around since they were invented in the 1950s. You can even find VCR-type devices and camcorders that use hard disks instead of tape. located inside the computer case.can eliminate teeth-grinding delays. Both hard disks and cassette tapes also share the major benefits of magnetic storage . They were originally called "fixed disks" or "Winchesters" (a code name used for a popular IBM product). system RAM performance is counted in nanoseconds.they store changing digital information in a relatively permanent form. They give computers the ability to remember things when the power goes out. 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. These billions of hard disks do one thing well . Hard disks have a hard platter that holds the magnetic medium. Every mainframe and supercomputer is normally connected to hundreds of them.and optimizing . Most computers come with one hard drive.The Hard Drive The hard drive is the primary device that a computer uses to store information. a hard disk is not that different from a cassette tape. causing second-long delays while fat programs spin off the disk and into RAM. Understanding hard disk operation . Nearly every desktop computer and server in use today contains one or more hard disk drives. Whereas disk access times are measured in milliseconds. and it will "remember" the magnetic flux patterns stored onto the medium for many years. as opposed to the flexible plastic film found in tapes and floppies. They later became known as "hard disks" to distinguish them from "floppy disks". Let's look at the big differences between the cassette tapes and hard disks so you can see how they differ: . They started as large disks up to 20 inches in diameter holding just a few megabytes. called drive C.
the read/write head touches the tape directly.the number of bytes per second that the drive can deliver to the CPU. When a program running on the computer requests a file. or they could be the records of a database. In a hard disk.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. This can take several minutes with a long tape. the magnetic recording material is layered onto a high-precision aluminum or glass disk. never actually touching it. • The tape in a cassette tape deck moves over the head at about 2 inches (about 1 cm) per second. In a hard disk the read/write head "flies" over the disk.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. • In a cassette tape deck. a file is simply a string of bytes. or they could be the instructions of a software application for the computer to execute. the hard disk retrieves its bytes and sends them to the CPU one at a time. The hard disk platter is then polished to mirror smoothness. A hard disk platter can spin underneath its head at speeds up to 3. • The seek time . The bytes might be the ASCII codes for the characters of a text file. . a modern hard disk is able to store an amazing amount of information in a small space. • Because of these differences. • With a tape. No matter what it contains. A typical desktop machine will have a hard disk with a capacity of between 2 and 8 gigabytes. The size of these domains is made possible by the precision of the platter and the speed of the media.• The magnetic recording material on a cassette tape is coated onto a thin plastic strip. A file is simply a named collection of bytes. Data is stored onto the disk in the form of files. Times between 10 and 20 milliseconds are common. There are two ways to measure the performance of a hard disk: • The data rate . A hard disk can also access any of its information in a fraction of a second. or they could be the pixel colors for a GIF image. On a hard disk you can move to any point on the surface of the disk almost instantly. however. you have to fast-forward or reverse through the tape to get to any particular point on the tape. Rates between 5 and 40 megabytes per second are common.
Inside a Hard Disk The best way to understand how a hard disk works is to take a look inside. The electronics control the read/write mechanism and the motor that spins the platters.the number of bytes it can hold. so this is not something to try at home unless you have a defunct drive. [Note that opening a hard disk ruins it.] Here is the inside of a typical hard disk drive: It is a sealed aluminum box with controller electronics attached to one side.The other important parameter is the capacity of the drive . 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. . as well as a highly filtered vent hole that lets internal and external air pressures equalize. The electronics also assemble the magnetic domains on the drive into bytes (reading) and turn bytes into magnetic domains (writing).
Tracks are concentric circles. which typically spin at 3. most hard disks have multiple platters. This drive has three platters and six read-write heads. second row in. This arm is controlled by the mechanism in the upper-left corner. Sectors Tracks and Clusters Data is stored on the surface of a platter in sectors and tracks. The arm on a typical hard disk drive can move from hub to edge and back up to 50 times per second .it is an amazing thing to watch! In order to increase the amount of information the drive can store. and is able to move the heads from the hub to the edge of the drive. like this: A typical track is shown as the colored ring. • The arm that holds the read/write heads. These platters are manufactured to amazing tolerances and are mirror smooth. Either at the drive or the operating system level. A sector contains a fixed number of bytes for example. . A typical sector is shown as the darker section five rows from the edge. The mechanism that moves the arms on a hard disk has to be incredibly fast and precise. which sectors are pieshaped wedges on a track.200 RPM when the drive is operating. 256 or 512.Removing the cover from the drive reveals an extremely simple but very precise interior In the above picture you can see: • The platters. It can be constructed using a high-speed linear motor. The arm and its movement mechanism are extremely light and fast.600 or 7. sectors are often grouped together into clusters.
Usually. you may have to select whether to install it as a master or slave before you actually hook up the drive in your system. you will need to connect the cable to the motherboard. If you are adding a drive to a second controller. remove it from the master position pins and place it over the slave position pins. Most drives come set to be the master by default. you won't need to make any changes. the data cable will already be connected to your motherboard. To change the jumper position from master to slave. this involves changing a jumper. 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. The master/slave setting allows you to have two drives attached to the same controller. So check the installation guide for your new drive. Connect the cable so . If you are adding the drive to a controller to which you have already attached the existing drive. Some newer drives will automatically choose master or slave status based on how they are connected. The illustration below shows the master/slave jumper on a Western Digital drive. If you are replacing an existing drive or adding a second drive to an existing controller. or if you are connecting the new drive to a second controller. Refer to your owner's manual for the specific details for the drive you have purchased. To start.Installing a Hard Drive Depending upon the drive you've purchased. you will want to set your new drive as the slave. turn your drive over and look at the printing on the circuit board to locate the pin settings for the master/slave jumper. So if you are replacing a single existing drive. you will need to connect the data cable correctly to your new hard drive. In either case. 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.
Otherwise. you will really pay for it when the drive fails. you can understand the frustration of losing all your important documents. and its springs and bearings are doing more work than intended in a shorter amount of time. The hard drive’s "‘read/write" arm is therefore constantly moving around. There are two primary methods for doing a backup: online and on-site backups. You’re done! Disk Compression Do not . One way to back-up your system is to install another hard disk on your computer. pay for it. Buy another hard drive or get the upgrade in the first place. for whatever reason. and programs.that the colored stripe matches up with the 0/1 pins on the motherboard. with disk compression. With a backed-up computer. While compression can be used selectively to archive single files or selective programs. Unfortunately. 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.under any circumstances. this doesn't have to happen to you. The components of a compressed hard drive have to do double-duty (squeezing or inflating) files which otherwise could be "read or written" to the hard drive in half the time. Now connect the other end of the data cable to the back of the hard drive. notes. . pictures. use disk compression! Compressing your hard drive means squeezing down data and programs sizes artificially using software. again matching the striped side of the cable with the 0/1 pin position on the drive itself. That’s it. many people don't take the time to do so. 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. If you need extra storage space.specific files or your entire hard-drive. Compression’s hidden damage is the physical wear-andtear it causes on the hard drive parts. If you've ever accidentally reformatted your drive. compressing the entire drive is a bargain with the devil. Determining what to save will play an important factor in this decision .
Zip Disks If you want to back-up just your data files.com) and Intel's Answer Express Support Suite (www. These systems allow you to clone your existing hard drive to the one that will become your backup. backing-up or copy software. CD recorders can also be used for numerous other uses. Numerous online companies offer space for storing important data. or making music CD to play in your car stereo.in addition to buying a disk mirroring or imaging system. Two of these online backup companies include @Backup (www. many times. Of course. 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). under a dollar apiece. 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 disks themselves usually cost around $15. but it is an alternative nonetheless.com). Two standard backup systems are Arco Computer Products' DupliDisk (www.com). You can get a CD re-writable for about $200 that will allow you to use a special CD that can be recorded. The cost for re-writeable CDs is about $5 while the write-once versions are. There are even a couple of sites that offer free Internet Storage.com) and Norton Ghost 2000 Personal Edition (www. you can think about buying a Zip Drive. An external Zip Drive will usually run you about $130. One such site is iDrive.atbackup. erased and recorded just like floppies and hard drives. you have to see their banner advertising and you get much less storage. For around $100 a year. you can store up to 100MB of data. Blank CDs can hold up to 650MB worth of data. about 25 Megabytes. including saving files.intel. and can be written over as many times as you need.arcoide. 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.symantec. There are two basic types you can buy.com .
it can act as insulation. 3.(www. What damages a hard drive? Dust is a major problem for the hard drive. Excessive vibration to the drive is also not a good thing. If there is a buildup around the drive.idrive. If this seems to be the case. Scandisk check for three things: 1.6 microns. Hard Drive Maintenance Scandisk scandisk checks your hard drive for efforts drive for errors. this will release coolant and cause potential problems). making your standard grinding noise. Sometimes the bearings will fail and start to grind against each other. and make sure it is mounted properly. Cross Referenced Files: The computer thinks two files are in the same place on the disk. If your computer is running very slow you may want to run scandisk. a human hair is 100 microns).0. make a backup of any important data and check into either having it fixed or purchasing a new one.com). 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. though.3 . Damaged sectors: Damaged Areas on the Disk 2. Don't position the computer where it will receive a constant external vibration to it. Condensation can build up inside the drive and quickly destroy it when you turn it on. causing the drive to overheat and behave erratically. Another bad thing to do to hard drives is make a rapid temperature change. Bad Dates and File Names: Unorthodox date types and file Names . Remember that the heads and platter are extremely close together (about 0.
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. This should give you an idea of how fast you will need a new hard drive. Run a surface scan every day and watch to see if it finds anymore. causing the disk to spin further to re-load these broken up files.Click on "Start" After the standard scandisk is done. it will ask you if you want to perform a thorough surface scan. If it finds more.To run Scandisk. run it again when it finishes. During future saves. stop. or it finds 15 or twenty. Choose “Properties” from the drop down menu. Disk Defrag When files are deleted an empty space is left on the drive. 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. begin running the surface scan at least once a week. the key here is "Is the problem growing and if so. You should always run Scandisk before you run Disk Defrag. Defrag reorganizes all the files. Make sure you keep your data backed up. Click on "Scandisk" Pick the drive (C:). then Tools. run it again. it is time to start watching carefully. click the "Start" button Click on "Programs" Click on "Accessories" Click on "System Tools". To use Disk Defrag double click “My Computer”. after it gets done. and puts them back in order. Does it find more?. Watch for new spots. If you run it everyday for a week or so and no more spots are found. Hence the computer becomes slower. The following chart should help you to perform maintenance on your drive . then Right Click the “C” drive. Click “Defragment Now”. Windows will break up files and save them in these spaces. A few bad spots (up to ten) is considered normal by most hard drive manufacturers. how fast?" If you find a bad spot or two on a surface scan.
Activity and What it Does
Scandisk - scans any disk (floppy or hard) for errors in file allocation or physical defects
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.
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 .
Inside Your Computer Computer Hardware and Maintance for Real People
PART 4 – MODEMS, MONITORS, AND SCANNERS
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
Your modem translates your computer’s digital signal into an analog signal so the information can be sent over a standard line.carries an analog signal. have a website that will measure your download speed for free. Almost all Internet service providers provide 56K service. and they take up less desk space.msn.8-kbps modem.00 (current prices).com/topics/bandwidth/speedtest500. cutting into our ability to communicate with each other. you're tired of waiting hours for graphics to load through your old 28. public servants that they are. It’s located at: http://computingcentral. Most new computers come with a 56K modem. Who isn't? Limited bandwidth is a sad fact of life for most people who don't have access to cable or DSL service.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. It will speed things up. Installing an External Modem . Best of all. some for as low as ten dollars a month. Internal modems generally cost less than external modems. But while you're waiting for technology to come to your hometown. and it won't cost a mint. You can upgrade to a 56K modem for as little as $25. a new modem is one of the easiest peripherals to install. Microsoft. you can help yourself by upgrading to a 56-kbps modem. How do I upgrade my modem to 56K? So. The only major decision you need to make is whether to get an internal or external modem. The modem also interprets incoming analog signals and converts them into digital signals your computer can use. External modems are easier to install and to detach and take with you. The government wants to make sure that phone lines don’t become congested with Internet traffic.
) Check whether you have a 9. To do this. Unless your modem is brand new. and then attach the phone line to the modem's jack. simply plug the USB cable into the USB port on the back of your system (the port should be labeled. Windows 95 or 98 may have the drivers for it already. or they may come with the wrong kind for your computer. With an external modem. Now you're ready to install your new modem. If Windows doesn't have the correct drivers. and click Add/Remove. and unplug all the cables. physically removing the hardware is as easy as unplugging the serial cable. Windows will tell you that it has detected new hardware and proceed to locate and install the appropriate drivers. if not. Then run your phone cord from the phone to the jack labeled phone on the back of the modem. Once you've got that.5Mb.or 25pin serial port. locate and select the software for your old modem. check the manual). If your modem uses a serial cable. and power supply. make sure you have the proper cable. You can buy it at any computer store for five to ten dollars. If your modem is Plug and Play (most new ones are). Instead of sharing space with the analog voice waves a DSL modem sends digital signals over a different part or bandwidth of . and get the appropriate cable. Then shut down your system. it will prompt you to install the floppy disk or CD-ROM that came with your new modem. connect the serial cable to the port on the back of your PC.You'll need to remove the software for your old modem. Now start up your system. 384Kb For Home Use The hottest new thing is DSL. A DSL Internet line uses a different bandwidth on the phone line you already have. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Up To 1. phone lines. (Many modems do not include a cable. plug in the power supply. and run a cord from the wall jack to the jack labeled line in on the back of the modem. double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel. Do so now. If your modem and computer are USB compatible (USB and other ports are discussed later in this section).
The cost can be offset. Business DSL is available at up to 1. Considering that many people have two phone lines.flashcom. but is still a bargain when compared to other high-speed options. almost seven times as fast as with a 56K modem.com/products/business/fastrak/dsl www.00 (Internet service) = $60/mo DSL Service: $70/mo $20/mo (phone line) + $50/mo. The cost (usually around $400/mo) is higher than home service. 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. DSL Internet service is more expensive for most users. when you take into account that a DSL line can eliminate the need for an extra phone line. though. Ask your DSL provider . For home users DSL usually runs about fifty dollars a month. DSL links: www. Never again will the evil modem screech of death invade your home. The first time you look through twenty websites in the time it used take you to log on.pacbell. 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. of course. one for the Internet and one for voice.com Can I install a DSL modem myself? Yes. though.5Mb/sec. Some companies offer a free modem and installation with a service commitment. including Internet service. You normally have to buy a special DSL modem and a network card ($100-200).the same phone line. A DSL modem is usually made of an external modem (a box that sits outside your computer) and a network card (NIC Card). a DSL line is always on. Most home DSL users can sign on at 384Kb. (DSL + Internet service) = There is a catch.
With speeds of up to 36 Mbps. Cable Modems You can also receive high-speed Internet access from your cable TV network. out of the modem and into your computer. or line. was introduced by the Bell System in the U. The system uses four wires and provides full-duplex capability (two wires for receiving and two for sending at the same . providing 44. including Internet service. in the 1960s. T-1 & T-3 Lines The T-carrier system. The more people using cable internet service and the more people watching cable TV the slower the service.736 Mbps. That means that even though it may provide fast service. Because it works with your existing TV cable. Another level. which is the rental of some portion of the 24 channels in a T-1 line. The T-carrier system is entirely digital. into the modem. Try to sign on during the Super Bowl… Cable modems usually run about $40/mo. is also commonly used by ISPs. Another frequently installed service is a fractional T-1 line.which kind you need before you buy it (there are different kinds). was the first successful system that supported digitized voice transmission. While similar in some respects to a traditional analog modem. The phone company may still need to come out to slightly modify your wall jack. your cable company doesn’t guarantee speedy lines.544 Mbps) in the T-1 line is in common use today in Internet service provider connections to the Internet. Cable modems are devices that allow high-speed access to the Internet via a cable television network. it doesn't tie up a telephone line. but is available in other bay area locations. capable of delivering data approximately 500 times faster. but basically the line goes from the wall.S. the T-3 line. a cable modem is significantly more powerful. cable service is not yet available in San Francisco. It is not a guaranteed service. The original transmission rate (1. with the other channels going unused. Sadly. cable modems can download data in seconds that might take days with a standard dial-up connection. Cable modems have some drawbacks.
Earlier (in part 1) we discussed the different bus types that shuttle information along. (The four wires were originally a pair of twisted-pair copper wires. PORTS AND EXPANSION SLOTS A port is a plug. digital microwave. Read the box before you buy something to find out what kind of port it uses. as expansion ports. For example. SCSI PORTS Unfortunately. which provides up to 115kilobits/second-transfer rate. They look like vacant plugs. The parallel port also only supports one device per port. 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. There are different types of ports to go along with the different types of buses that plug into them. although clever switching techniques can partially alleviate that problem. and other media.time). Different ports are sometimes better to use than others. You will mostly be concerned with port types when buying peripherals like a scanner or a printer. Parallel Ports The second method is the parallel port. a USB port will work a scanner faster than a parallel port. Traditionally. but can now also include coaxial cable. optical fiber. 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. which allows transfers of about 200 kilobytes/second. or about 20 times faster than a serial port. A number are possible. both systems leave much to be desired The SCSI port provides very fast (5 megabytes/second or faster) connections to as many as 7 external and internal devices! . and requires a separate port for each device. PC-based computers have used two techniques to attach external peripherals devices such as scanners and printers.
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. USB-to-serial port converters. desktop video cameras. . about 5 times faster than a parallel port or 100 times faster than a traditional serial port. and support for special devices. Cabling problems have been the source of many errors and lockups on systems that use SCSI to communicate with external peripherals. Basically. keyboards. add-ins . cards. it probably will. a single USB port can be split into several more USB ports via a USB hub. and other new peripherals. Although you can purchase a USB hub as an independent device. expansion cards . Since the USB port also provides electrical power. the costs of SCSI can be substantial. joysticks.As popular as SCSI has become. Future USB devices will include external modems. The trick is this: If it looks like it’ll fit. Nearly all personal computers except portables contain expansion slots for adding more memory. SCSI devices are typically more expensive than their parallel port counterparts. The boards inserted into the expansion slots are called expansion boards. it's also possible to build USB hubs into keyboards. More importantly. USB Ports In an attempt to alleviate the costs and complexity of SCSI while providing a flexible and fast expansion port. if you buy something like a modem or a graphics card. this expansion standard allows for transfer rates up to 12 megabits/second. graphics capabilities. external LS120 removable drives. scanners. The USB connector itself is a small trapezoidal locking connector which can't be inserted upside-down. but faster than the alternatives and much cheaper than SCSI. but DON’T FORCE IT. the Universal Serial Bus was proposed at a conference in 1995. it will go in an expansion slot. monitors and other devices. Current USB devices include mice. Abbreviated USB. some devices won't require additional power adapters or cables. The USB is slower than SCSI. and USB hubs in monitors and keyboards. and add-ons. and SCSI cable and connector requirements are very strict. gamepads.
SOUND CARDS. An Expansion Card can be a peripheral device for your computer such as modem. TV tuner or it could just be some kind of interface to connect to a peripheral device such as a SCSI card. 1. and PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) which is a 32 bit interface between the expansion card and the PC bus. a network card. Macintosh equipment has always been plug and play. or sound instruction. Video & Sound Cards A video or a sound card is basically a separate computer with it’s own processor and RAM. printer port or serial port. it shuttles the instruction out to the appropriate card for processing. graphical. Prepare the expansion card for installation and remove the computer cover according to the instructions in your computer manual. This leaves the main processor free to do other things. A circuit board you can install in your computer to add a new feature. an expansion card can add CD-quality sound or a modem. ECT So. Plug and Play eliminates complicated installation procedures. You don’t need to worry about which is which until you start filling up your slots. Also called an expansion board. you should read the documentation that came with the expansion card for .Plug and Play Plug and play is the computers ability to add new features to a computer and immediately use them. what goes in these slots? Expansion cards. When the computer sees an video. that’s what. At this point. 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. For example. CARDS – VIDEO CARDS. windows does the same thing now.
Remember to save the screw because you will be using it to install the expansion card. Connect any cables that should be attached to the card. Always refer to the documentation. insert the front end of the expansion card into the corresponding card guide on the inside of the front chassis wall.information on configuring the card. Insert the card edge connector firmly into the expansion slot on the motherboard. Before choosing just any slot. Be very careful. you should check that the card doesn’t interfere with any other card or cable. making internal connections. Replace the computer cover. Choose the slot for the expansion card. 5. 7. pick any of the long slots on the motherboard. If you are using a PCI slot. Remove the metal filler bracket that covers the card slot opening for the expansion slot you intend to use. don’t force it or you may damage the motherboard. secure the bracket with the screw you removed on the metal filler bracket. 2. If the expansion card is full-length and extends to the front wall of the chassis. then slide the card into the chassis. 8. 4. reconnect your computer and peripherals to their power sources. first check and see if there is enough support on the back of the motherboard to resist the pressure. Assuming the card is Plug-and-Play compatible (almost all are) (PnP). try rearranging the cards so that they will fit. 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. If you are installing an ISA card. . and turn them on. 6. 3. pick any of the short slots. 9. See the documentation that came with the card for information on its cable connections. which came with your specific card. Windows 95 will recognize and configure the card for your system. When the card is firmly seated in the slot and the card-mounting bracket is flush with the brackets on either side of it. and won’t get in the way of other cards. If the card won’t go in. If so. or other information for your system.
The front of the CRT is sprayed with a pattern of red. Monitors do not become obsolete as quickly as other computer equipment. and printers is very rapid. you know that the most expensive single component other than the computer itself is the monitor. green and blue electron beams by sending electrical signals to the monitor's . If you have any experience shopping for a computer. But a quality. You should resist that temptation! Although a quality monitor is expensive. CD-ROMs. As shown above. you need to understand how monitors work and how their performance is specified. As the electron beam sweeps across. A modern computer monitor consists of 3 electron guns at the back of a cathode ray tube (CRT). or which doesn't support high resolutions and refresh rates. To be able to properly evaluate a monitor. Each of the electron guns is used to illuminate one of the three colors. Powerful magnets determine the position of the electron beam for each of the three electron guns. The computer instructs the monitor to sweep the electrons across the display. and a component of that type purchased today will be completely superseded within 18-36 months. chemicals that glow when stimulated by highenergy electrons. mid-priced monitor will last for many years of productive use. and will usually follow you as you upgrade from one computer to the next. You may be tempted to reduce that cost by purchasing a monitor which is physically small. green and blue components of the image.MONITORS Perhaps you've already purchased a computer. or you're thinking about purchasing a new one. the electron guns first illuminate the upper left corner of the display. it is also the safest investment of your money. the computer varies the intensity of the red. but with a fairly flat surface at the front which makes up the view screen. the display screen which the computer uses to display text and graphics. from left to right (1). so modern monitors are often called "RGB" monitors because they have separate guns for the red. Technological advancement in hard disks. green and blue phosphors. The CRT is a blown glass tube much like a light bulb. CPUs.
A monitor image is made up of "pixels". and images. 7) until the entire screen has been illuminated. and that they will suffer eye strain and fatigue if the refresh rate is below about 70 Hz. The process repeats (6. the computer industry has standardized on a refresh rate of 75 Hz. Hence. occurs approximately 60-90 times per second. The lower the resolution. The entire image on a computer screen is made up of pixels. At the end of that sweep. and is typically measured in the range of 30000 to 70000 sweeps/second for a high performance monitor. This technique of illuminating the screen is called "raster scanning". The number of pixels on the screen determines the resolution of the monitor. and they start again on the left and proceed to the right (3). To appear clear and flicker free. a monitor must operate with a refresh rate of at least 60 Hz. the pattern they show is what makes up the image: In the diagram above. This is simply referred to as the "refresh rate". Refresh Rate The electron beam sweeps across the monitor at an extremely high rate. Pixels are either illuminated or not. A single vertical sweep. numbers. a single cycle or sweep is referred to as "1 Hertz". the horizontal refresh rate in this case might range from 30 kHz to 70 kHz. during which the entire monitor is re-drawn. the entire screen is refreshed at a rate of 60 Hz to 90 Hz. or picture elements. Studies have shown that many people are sensitive to refresh rates well above 60 Hz. Each pixel is turned on or off to make up the image. In scientific jargon. the electron beams are moved down slightly (2). the lower the number of pixels. the beam is moved down again (4) and proceeds to the right again (5). The number of horizontal sweeps that the monitor can make in a second is called the horizontal refresh rate. When the first horizontal sweep (1) is finished. and the abbreviation for Hertz is Hz. windows. The higher the resolution.electronic controls. and the more space you have on your desktop for letters. Hence. Resolution Another important factor in choosing a monitor is resolution. the more pixels. Therefore. and the less . and it's one of the most important numbers associated with the performance of your monitor. the letter "A" is shown in pixels.
Following the 75 Hz rule. the refresh rate is actually an inverse function of the resolution.will produce sharper text and graphics. The resolution can get very high.closer spacing of the mask holes -.space you have available on your computer's desktop. usually given as a fraction of a millimeter. the refresh rate for a popular monitor. blue.22 mm to 0. Dot Pitch The first is "dot pitch". Effective dot pitch is also a function of the sharpness of the electron guns and the quality and spacing of the phosphors. and that 1280x1024 has a low refresh rate that would only be acceptable for specialized uses. the electron guns have to sweep over the screen more. and the second the number of pixels up and down. Resolution is measured in two ways. The first is the number of pixels across the screen. The second way to express the resolution is the number of horizontal pixels and the number of vertical pixels. and green dots on your screen. we see that the highest usable resolution for this monitor is 1152x870. expressed as the distance between the holes in the shadow mask or aperture grill. but as it does. This practical value indicates how much apparent desktop space will be available to your operating system and applications. This dot pitch is the theoretical maximum resolution of the monitor. not everyday desktop use. Dot pitch is the distance between the red. Typical dot pitches for high performance monitors range from 0. This is expressed as a product of the form "1024x768".26 mm. monitors with smaller dot pitch -. the maximum refresh rate drops dramatically as the resolution increases. As a result. Whether a . In general. 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. Here's a table of the resolutions vs.
That means you'll have to run at a lower resolution with the corresponding sacrifice in desktop space for windows & applications. The larger the monitor. 19".monitor can support extremely high resolutions and high refresh rates is a function of the electronics in the monitor. Subjective image quality can only be judged one way: by looking at a monitor in operation at a high resolution. then. Choosing a monitor. sophisticated front-panel adjustments. Regardless of the quality of a small monitor. 17". so you shouldn't purchase a monitor capable of much higher resolutions than you plan to use. the clearer the picture will be at whatever resolution you choose to use. The viewable image size should always be listed along with the tube size. . And in many cases. because the extreme edges of the tube are not usable for screen display due to distortion. The ability to display extremely high resolutions at an acceptable refresh rate will be a substantial cost premium. measured diagonally. the viewable size of the monitor is usually slightly smaller. Monitor Size The final (and most obvious) feature of a monitor is the physical size of the picture tube. 15". Standard tube sizes for consumer-grade computer monitors are 14". Other value-added features might include built-in speakers. You can convert the diagonal measure to horizontal & vertical dimensions using the 3:4:5 triangle rule: vertical measure/3 = horizontal measure/4 = diagonal measure/5 The retail price of the monitor will correspond most directly to the tube size. it will never be able to show a clear picture at resolutions like 1024x768 and 1280x1024. However. or special power-saving or low-radiation features. and 21". and • Price We have already discussed the first two elements in this list. will involve balancing the following factors: • Maximum usable resolution @ 75 Hz refresh rate • Viewable screen size • Other value-added features • Subjective image quality. the very high resolutions are only usable on larger monitors.
bright and sharp display with high usable resolution will serve you for many years. • Clarity of black text against a white background. • Clean straight lines along the edges of the display. Unfortunately. Don't be dismayed. LCD screens use less power and are much lighter and thinner than the screens used for desktop computers. Here are some things to look for when making a subjective analysis of a monitor: • Sharpness of individual pixels. co-workers. and at the computer store. • Highly adjustable brightness and contrast If you purchase a monitor which doesn't meet your expectations. all of your time in front the computer will be correspondingly substandard. Flat Screen (LCD) Monitors A flat screen monitor uses a LCD display. purchasing a monitor sight unseen is just a gamble. But a large. you need to see that model in operation first. quality control is not as good as it could be. 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. 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. and monitor manufacturers may occasionally try to "pull a fast one" by packaging a marginal unit for retail sale. To be satisfied with a monitor. don't hesitate to return it for a replacement. Should I buy a CRT or an LCD? CRTs are cheaper and more flexible The vast majority of desktops currently .I can't emphasize that last point enough. and there is substantial variation in the quality of the finished product. This is the same type of display used in most digital wristwatches. Look at the monitors in use by your friends. particularly as the tubes get larger. substandard display. • Uniform color without blotches. and will not lose value like a bargain unit. If you purchase a small. and it is important to arm yourself with research and information before buying. CRTs are very difficult to manufacture.
Full-motion video also generally looks better on a CRT. these desktop LCDs remain significantly more expensive (at least $400 more) than CRTs of an equivalent size. Theoretically. it will be easier to choose an all-digital solution. even 14. Many graphics professionals. Today. 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. 15-inch monitors generally aren't usable above 800x600. particularly those working with print output.5-inch LCD panels display 1. prefer to have control over color-calibration and color-temperature settings. or focus problems.024x768 well. this makes for more accurate color information and pixel placement. In contrast. SCANNERS Scanners used to be a complicated business. In contrast. 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 have a single optimum resolution. on the other hand are less intrusive and clearer. and a big spender to afford the steep prices. and it’s easy to see the advantages of LCDs. 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. LCDs. LCDs that plug into standard analog VGA ports actually have to perform a second conversion back to digital (because LCD panels are digital devices). 30-pound CRT against a panel that's less than 7 inches deep (including the base) and weighs 12 or 13 pounds. the latest LCDs are all digital. For example. unlike CRTs. To use a lower resolution. Compare a 15-inch deep.have a CRT monitor. after a simple setup . and their clarity makes it easier to view higher resolutions at smaller screen sizes. often resulting in a more blocky look. Though prices have dropped. You had to be a graphics professional to need a scanner. which you can't get on an LCD. a rocket scientist to hook one up. convergence. Also. As in notebooks. They don't have a CRT's geometric. CRTs also work well at multiple resolutions. anyone who wants to archive photos or documents can pick up a scanner for less than $100 and. which can result in distracting artifacts. 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.
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. 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. if all of the pixels around a newly inserted pixel are red. they're often more affordable than the average printer. For example. This process. You're getting .process. clunker models. But there are several varieties of scanners from which to choose. begin scanning with the push of a button. Resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). smaller. the resolution can be increased using software. and what you buy depends on your budget and your needs. Beware of claims about resolution for cameras and scanners because there are two kinds. and a bare-bones monochrome model will leave you unsatisfied if you want to post photographs on the Web. optical and interpolated or enhanced. The optical resolution of a camera or scanner is an absolute number. With people storing documents electronically and sending photos across the Internet. better usability. To improve resolution in certain limited respects. scanners are becoming as familiar on home desktops as they are in art directors' offices. Some scanners even let you scan straight from photo negatives and slides. Beware of companies that promote or emphasize their device's interpolated (or enhanced) resolution. Faster speeds. the new pixel will be made red. with newer. and lower prices cover just three of the advantages that current scanners can bring. A top-of-theline flatbed scanner might not be what you need if you're just scanning bills. The latest scanners have seen vast improvements in installation. When you buy a scanner the resolution or dpi number you pay attention to is the optical resolution. To do so. It’s what is actually scanned. and scanners can be a super alternative to digital cameras for getting photos onto your Mac or PC. And with prices on flatbed and photo scanners falling to all-time lows. and more wieldy USB and parallel port models catching up in speed to older. called interpolated or enhanced resolution. Resolution Resolution is the amount of detail a scanner can detect. adds pixels to the image. Many of these new scanners come with a one-button start process that conveniently lets you bypass a sea of menu settings. A higher resolution results in more detailed scanned images but requires more scanning time and storage space. They're also an excellent way to beat office clutter by allowing you to scan paper documents to your hard drive.
In fact. if you see mention of optical density on a package. All flatbed shoppers will want at least 600 dpi and 24-bit color depth.less than you think you are. flee the product—you're dealing with marketing people who don't have your best interests at heart. Going for a bargain scanner means you may get exactly what you pay for: slow speeds and sloppy image quality. look for a user-friendly model with an external Start button and either a USB or a parallel port hookup. and even slides and negatives if your flatbed has a transparency attachment. What accounts for the difference? More expensive scanners tend to have a higher optical density than their less pricey counterparts. don’t buy any other kind. Generally. and plummeting prices. Always check for the device's optical resolution. which make them better suited to scan transparencies for high-end graphics use. though heavy graphics use requires rates of 30bits to 36 bits. solid image quality. Most midlevel flatbed scanners (in the range of $150-to-$300) are fine for color photographs and are more than sufficient for grayscale documents. the scanner is geared toward graphics professionals. scanners that were out of reach a few years ago are now a regular sight on desktops everywhere. If this isn't provided. You can do just about anything with many flatbed scanners: scan documents. Graphics professionals should also focus on speed but consider optical density and a transparency option. For an around-the-house scanner. 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. Flatbed scanner prices start at around $100 and can skyrocket into the thousands-of-dollars range. photographs. With plenty of speed. Digital Cameras . as well. Business users that scan high volumes of documents will want a faster model (USB or possibly SCSI) and an automatic document feeder.
despite some current limitations. Delay Between Shots also known as Recycle Time or Lag Time The amount of time (measured in seconds) it takes the camera to process and store an image when shooting in normal mode (non-burst). Price $50 . Choosing a Digital Camera Listed below are the key features of consumer-level digital cameras. See glossary for definitions of the types of flash listed below. The type(s) of flash available vary from camera to camera. 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. Range: 1 .500.Digital cameras are only a few years old and are just now beginning to make serious inroads into photography. which can provide a much more powerful and versatile flash. So much for their argument being based on the quality of the image. at the camera's maximum resolution setting.20 seconds. And if they do use 8 x 10 cameras.$2. They have yet to be fully accepted by some photographers. in comparison to external flash options. . However. Flash Type The flash makes a burst of light for shooting inside or in low-light conditions. 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." will often come with the standard builtin flash as well. This is true. yet these same photographers most likely use 35 mm SLR cameras that are not as good as 8 x 10 view cameras. they don't use the even better mammoth glass plate view cameras used by Jackson and Muybridge after the Civil War. The flashes built into most digital cameras have limited range and adjustability (on average. 80% of the cameras are between $200 and $900. with a median price of $450. they'd be using mules to carry their equipment. Keep in mind that a camera with a "Hot Shoe" or "Flash Sync. If they really wanted quality.
" A "2X" optical zoom. Off/On/Auto. such as "2X" or "3X.Many digital cameras store images on removable memory devices that can be swapped in and out of the camera like rolls of film . Taking the floppy out of the camera and putting it into your computer. Resolution is expressed in pixels. Magnification level is measured in degrees. Via Removable Memory .5" Floppy Disk .the better the picture. then it has the ability to take pictures up to 100mm.Options: No Flash.e. and refers to the "true" (i.14X. Flash Sync. This feature allows you to take multiple rapid-fire shots with one touch of the exposure button. means that if the camera's minimum focal length is 50mm. Resolution The resolution of a digital camera refers to the sharpness of its pictures. 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. More than 50% of digital cameras on the market today do not have an optical zoom. Ease of Download This refers to how the camera downloads its pictures to your computer or printer. Optical Zoom An optical zoom magnifies the image using a real multi-focal length lens (a digital zoom only enlarges the center 50%). non-interpolated) resolution of the camera. The higher the resolution . and copying them onto the computer effectively transfers the images. the camera stores its images on the same floppy disks that you use in your PC or Macintosh. Hot Shoe. Some digital cameras offer more than one means of downloading your images. for example. Options: Via 3. Red-Eye Reduction. Range: 0 (No optical zoom) . Typical range Range: 1 .With this feature.64 shots.
which are typically purchased as an additional accessory (i. These can then be used with a variety of card readers (depending on the type of storage). that this type of connection can only be used with the newer Pentium computers. Also known as "IrDA. PCMCIA Type II or III cards do not require a card reader to download the images.e.A parallel cable transfers images faster than a serial connection. Therefore. which in turn will increase the number of images which can be stored). they are not provided by the manufacturer "in the box"). used only with Macintosh computers and high-end PCs.The most standard type of serial cable is identified as a "RS232" interconnector.e. which comes shipped with the camera (some cameras allow you to add memory.Infrared transmission uses invisible light to transfer pictures to your computer or printer. . Range: 1 .5 in. Via Infrared . Via SCSI Cable . but is also extremely slow. The greater the resolution. "in parallel"). Via Parallel Cable ." this technology allows one to download images without using cables or wires. Camera Size Camera Size is a proxy for categorizing the varying dimensions and weights of digital cameras. you can insert the card directly into laptop computers. and won't work on PC's with slow/older processors. It is important to note however. it is important to note the high resolution or maximum resolution setting on the camera before evaluating this figure. Via USB Cable .000 images. "Removable Memory" does not include 3. floppy disks. in comparison to a USB cable connection.(CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards are two common examples). This method is relatively slow. but still quite common. using the amount of memory.. Via Serial Cable . the more memory space is needed.3.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.SCSI is a form of image transfer involving a high-speed bus cable system. as it is able to send multiple bits of information at the same time (i. Image Capacity (at hi-res) This refers to the camera's memory capacity for images shot at high resolution.