Basics of computer hardware

A computer is a programmable machine (or more precisely, a programmable sequential state machine). There are two basic kinds of computers: analog and digital. Analog computers are analog devices. That is, they have continuous states rather than discrete numbered states. An analog computer can represent fractional or irrational values exactly, with no round-off. Analog computers are almost never used outside of experimental settings. A digital computer is a programmable clocked sequential state machine. A digital computer uses discrete states. A binary digital computer uses two discrete states, such as positive/negative, high/low, on/off, used to represent the binary digits zero and one. The French word ordinate, meaning that which puts things in order, is a good description of the most common functionality of computers.

What are computers used for?
Computers are used for a wide variety of purposes. Data processing is commercial and financial work. This includes such things as billing, shipping and receiving, inventory control, and similar business related functions, as well as the “electronic office”.


Scientific processing is using a computer to support science. This can be as simple as gathering and analyzing raw data and as complex as modelling natural phenomenon (weather and climate models, thermodynamics, nuclear engineering, etc.). Multimedia includes content creation (composing music, performing music, recording music, editing film and video, special effects, animation, illustration, laying out print materials, etc.) and multimedia playback (games, DVDs, instructional materials, etc.).

parts of a computer
The classic crude over implication of a computer is that it contains three elements: processor unit, memory, and I/O (input/output). The borders between those three terms are highly ambitious, non-contiguous, and erratically shifting.

A slightly less crude oversimplification divides a computer into five elements: arithmetic and logic subsystem, control subsystem, main storage, input subsystem, and output subsystem. Processor Arithmetic and logic Control Main storage External storage


Input output overview Input output

The processor is the part of the computer that actually does the computations. This is sometimes called an MPU (for main processor unit) or CPU (for central processing unit or central processor unit). A processor typically contains an arithmetic/logic unit (ALU), control unit (including processor flags, flag register, or status register), internal buses, and sometimes special function units (the most common special function unit being a floating point unit for floating point arithmetic). Some computers have more than one processor. This is called multi-processing. The major kinds of digital processors are: CISC, RISC, DSP, and hybrid. CISC stands for Complex Instruction Set Computer. Mainframe computers and minicomputers were CISC processors, with manufacturers competing to offer the most useful instruction sets. Many of the first two generations of microprocessors were also CISC. RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computer. RISC came about as a result of academic research that showed that a small well designed instruction set running compiled programs at high speed could perform more computing work than a CISC running the same programs (although very expensive hand optimized assembly language favored CISC). DSP stands for Digital Signal Processing. DSP is used primarily in dedicated devices, such as Modems, digital cameras, graphics cards, and other specialty devices. Hybrid processors combine elements of two or three of the major classes of processors.

Arithmetic and logic
An arithmetic/logic unit (ALU) performs integer arithmetic and logic operations. It also performs shift and rotate operations and other specialized operations. Usually floating point arithmetic is performed by a dedicated floating point unit (FPU), which may be implemented as a co-processor.


An arithmetic/logic unit (ALU) performs integer arithmetic and logic operations. It also performs shift and rotate operations and other specialized operations. Usually floating point arithmetic is performed by a dedicated floating point unit (FPU), which may be implemented as a co-processor.

Control units are in charge of the computer. Control units fetch and decode machine instructions. Control units may also control some external devices. A bus is a set (group) of parallel lines that information (data, addresses, instructions, and other information) travels on inside a computer. Information travels on buses as a series of electrical pulses, each pulse representing a one bit or a zero bit (there are ternary, or three-state, buses, but they are rare). An internal bus is a bus inside the processor, moving data, addresses, instructions, and other information between registers and other internal components or units. An external bus is a bus outside of the processor (but inside the computer), moving data, addresses, and other information between major components (including cards) inside the computer. Some common kinds of buses are the system bus, a data bus, an address bus, a cache bus, a memory bus, and an I/O bus. For more information, see buses.

Main storage
Main storage is also called memory or internal memory (to distinguish from external memory, such as hard drives). RAM is Random Access Memory, and is the basic kind of internal memory. RAM is called “random access” because the processor or computer can access any location in memory (as contrasted with sequential access devices, which must be accessed in order). RAM has been made from reed relays, transistors, integrated circuits, magnetic core, or anything that can hold and store binary values (one/zero, plus/minus, open/close, positive/negative, high/low, etc.). Most modern RAM is made from integrated circuits. At one time the most common kind of memory in mainframes was magnetic core, so many older programmers will refer to main memory as core memory even when the RAM is made from more modern technology. Static RAM is called static because it will continue to hold and store information even when power is removed. Magnetic core and reed relays are examples of static memory. Dynamic RAM is called dynamic because it loses all data when power is removed. Transistors and integrated circuits are examples of dynamic memory. It is possible to have battery back up for devices that are normally dynamic to turn them into static memory. ROM is Read Only Memory (it is also random access, but only for reads). ROM is typically used to store things that will never change for the life of the computer, such as low level portions of an operating system. Some processors (or variations within processor families) might have RAM and/or ROM built into the same chip as the


processor (normally used for processors used in standalone devices, such as arcade video games, ATMs, microwave ovens, car ignition systems, etc.). EPROM is Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory, a special kind of ROM that can be erased and reprogrammed with specialized equipment (but not by the processor it is connected to). EPROM’s allow makers of industrial devices (and other similar equipment) to have the benefits of ROM, yet also allow for updating or upgrading the software without having to buy new ROM and throw out the old (the EPROM’s are collected, erased and rewritten centrally, then placed back into the machines). Registers and flags are a special kind of memory that exists inside a processor. Typically a processor will have several internal registers that are much faster than main memory. These registers usually have specialized capabilities for arithmetic, logic, and other operations. Registers are usually fairly small (8, 16, 32, or 64 bits for integer data, address, and control registers; 32, 64, 96, or 128 bits for floating point registers). Some processors separate integer data and address registers, while other processors have general purpose registers that can be used for both data and address purposes. A processor will typically have one to 32 data or general purpose registers (processors with separate data and address registers typically split the register set in half). Many processors have special floating point registers (and some processors have general purpose registers that can be used for either integer or floating point arithmetic). Flags are single bit memory used for testing, comparison, and conditional operations (especially conditional branching). For a much more advanced look at registers, see registers.

External storage
External storage (also called auxiliary storage) is any storage other than main memory. In modern times this is mostly hard drives and removable media (such as floppy disks, Zip disks, optical media, etc.). With the advent of USB and FireWire hard drives, the line between permanent hard drives and removable media is blurred. Other kinds of external storage include tape drives, drum drives, paper tape, and punched cards. Random access or indexed access devices (such as hard drives, removable media, and drum drives) provide an extension of memory (although usually accessed through logical file systems). Sequential access devices (such as tape drives, paper tape punch/readers, or dumb terminals) provide for off-line storage of large amounts of information (or back ups of data) and are often called I/O devices (for input/output).

Input/output overview
Most external devices are capable of both input and output (I/O). Some devices are inherently input-only (also called read-only) or inherently output-only (also called writeonly). Regardless of whether a device is I/O, read-only, or write-only, external devices can be classified as block or character devices. A character device is one that inputs or outputs data in a stream of characters, bytes, or bits. Character devices can further be classified as serial or parallel. Examples of character devices include printers, keyboards, and mice.


A serial device streams data as a series of bits, moving data one bit at a time. Examples of serial devices include printers and Modems. A parallel device streams data in a small group of bits simultaneously. Usually the group is a single eight-bit byte (or possibly seven or nine bits, with the possibility of various control or parity bits included in the data stream). Each group usually corresponds to a single character of data. Rarely there will be a larger group of bits (word, long word, double word, etc.). The most common parallel device is a printer (although most modern printers have both a serial and a parallel connection, allowing greater connection flexibility). A block device moves large blocks of data at once. This may be physically implemented as a serial or parallel stream of data, but the entire block gets transferred as single packet of data. Most block devices are random access (that is, information can be read or written from blocks anywhere on the device). Examples of random access block devices include hard disks, floppy disks, and drum drives. Examples of sequential access block devices include magnetic tape drives and high speed paper tape readers.

Input devices are devices that bring information into a computer. Pure input devices include such things as punched card readers, paper tape readers, keyboards, mice, drawing tablets, touchpad’s, trackballs, and game controllers. Devices that have an input component include magnetic tape drives, touch screens, and dumb terminals. Keyboards, Mouse, Panderers, joystick, card rider, Light pen, Scanner.

Output devices are devices that bring information out of a computer. Pure output devices include such things as card punches, paper tape punches, LED displays (for light emitting diodes), monitors, printers, and pen plotters. Devices that have an output component include magnetic tape drives, combination paper tape reader/punches, teletypes, and dumb terminals. Monitor, Printer, CD- Rom, If you've ever taken the case off of a computer, you've seen the one piece of equipment that ties everything together -- the motherboard. A motherboard allows all the parts of your computer to receive power and communicate with one another.


Motherboards have come a long way in the last twenty years. The first motherboards held very few actual components. The first IBM PC motherboard had only a processor and card slots. Users plugged components like floppy drive controllers and memory into the slots. Today, motherboards typically boast a wide variety of built-in features, and they directly affect a computer's capabilities and potential for upgrades. In this article, we'll look at the general components of a motherboard. Then, we'll closely examine five points that dramatically affect what a computer can do. ComputerHardwareImage

Motherboards tie everything in your computer together.

Form Factor
A motherboard by itself is useless, but a computer has to have one to operate. The motherboard's main job is to hold the computer's microprocessor chip and let everything else connect to it. Everything that


runs the computer or enhances its performance is either part of the motherboard or plugs into it via a slot or port.

The shape and layout of a motherboard is called the form factor. The form factor affects where individual components go and the shape of the computer's case. There are several specific form factors that most PC motherboards use so that they can all fit in standard cases. The form factor is just one of the many standards that apply to motherboards. Some of the other standards include:
• •

The socket for the microprocessor determines what kind of Central processing unit (CPU) the motherboard uses. The chipset is part of the motherboard's logic system and is usually made of two parts -- the north bridge and the south bridge. These two "bridges" connect the CPU to other parts of the computer. The Basic Input-Output system (BIOS) chip controls the most basic functions of the computer and performs a self-test every time you turn it on. Some systems feature dual BIOS, which provides a backup in case one fails or in case of error during updating. The real time clock chip is battery operated chips maintains basic settings and the system time.

The slots and ports found on a motherboard include:


peripheral component Interconnect (PCI)- connections for video, sound and video capture cards, as well as network cards Accelerated Graphics port (AGP) -dedicated port for video cards. • Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) - interfaces for the hard drives • memory slots Universal Serial Bus or Fire wire external peripherals

Some motherboards also incorporate newer technological advances: • Redundant Array of Independent Discs (RAID) controllers allow the computer to recognize multiple drives as one drive. • PCI Express is a newer protocol that acts more like a network than a bus. It can eliminate the need for other ports, including the AGP port. • Rather than relying on plug-in cards, some motherboards have onboard sound networking, video her peripheral support. ket 754 motherboard

Many people think of the CPU as one of the most important parts of a computer. We'll look at how it affects the rest of the computer

Sockets and CPUs The CPU is the first thing that comes to mind when many people think about a computer's speed and performance. The faster the processor, the faster the computer can think. In the early days of PC computers, all processors had


the same set of pins that would connect the CPU to the motherboard, called the Pin Grid Array (PGA). These pins fit into a socket layout called Socket 7. This meant that any processor would fit into any motherboard.

A Socket 939 motherboard

Today, however, CPU manufacturers Intel and AMD use a variety of PGAs, none of which fit into Socket 7. As microprocessors advance, they need more and more pins, both to handle new features and to provide more and more power to the chip. Current socket arrangements are often named for the number of pins in the PGA. Commonly used sockets are: • Socket 478 - for older Pentium and Celeron processors • Socket 754 - for AMD Sempron and some AMD Athlon processors • Socket 939 - for newer and faster AMD Athlon processors


A Socket LGA755 motherboard

• •

Socket AM2 - for the newest AMD Athlon processors

Socket A - for older AMD Athlon processors Chipsets The chipset is the "glue" that connects the microprocessor to the rest of the motherboard and therefore to the rest of the computer. On a PC, it consists of two basic parts -- the north bridge and the south bridge. All of the various components of the computer communicate with the CPU through the chipset. The newest Intel CPU does not have a PGA. It has an LGA, also known as Socket T. LGA stands for Land Grid Array. An LGA is different from a PGA in that the pins are actually part of the socket, not the CPU. Anyone who already has a specific CPU in mind should select a motherboard based on that CPU. For example, if you want to use one of the new multi-core chips made by Intel or AMD, you will need to select a motherboard with the correct socket for those chips. CPUs simply will not fit into sockets that don't match their PGA. The CPU communicates with other elements of the motherboard through a chipset.


The north bridge and south bridge

The north bridge connects directly to the processor via the front side bus (FSB). A memory controller is located on the north bridge, which gives the CPU fast access to the memory. The north bridge also connects to the AGP or PCI Express bus and to the memory itself. The south bridge is slower than the north bridge, and information from the CPU has to go through the north bridge before reaching the south bridge. Other busses connect the south bridge to the PCI bus, the USB ports and the IDE or SATA hard disk connections. Chipset selection and CPU selection go hand in hand, because manufacturers optimize chipsets to work with specific CPUs. The chipset is an integrated part of the motherboard, so it cannot be removed or upgraded. This means that not only must the motherboard's socket fit the CPU, the motherboard's chipset must work optimally with the CPU.

Bus Speed
A bus is simply a circuit that connects one part of the motherboard to another. The more data a bus can handle at one time, the faster it allows


information to travel. The speed of the bus, measured in megahertz (MHz), refers to how much data can move across the bus simultaneously.

Busses connect to one another






Bus speed usually refers to the speed of the front side bus (FSB), which connects the CPU to the north bridge. FSB speeds can range from 66 MHz to over 800 MHz. Since the CPU reaches the memory controller though the north bridge, FSB speed can dramatically affect a computer's performance. Here are some of the other busses found on a motherboard:

• •

The back side bus connects the CPU with the level 2 (L2) cache, also known as secondary or external cache. The processor determines the speed of the back side bus. The memory bus connects the north bridge to the memory. The IDE or ATA bus connects the south bridge to the disk drives.


• •

The AGP bus connects the VIDEO CARD to the memory and the CPU. The speed of the AGP bus is usually 66 MHz. The PCI bus connects PCI slots to the south bridge. On most systems, the speed of the PCI bus is 33 MHz. Also compatible with PCI is PCI Express, which is much faster than PCI but is still compatible with current software and operating systems. PCI Express is likely to replace both PCI and AGP busses.

The faster a computer's bus speed, the faster it will operate -- to a point. A fast bus speed cannot make up for a slow processor or chipset. Now let's look at memory and how it affects the motherboard's speed. Memory and Other Features We've established that the speed of the processor itself controls how quickly a computer thinks. The speed of the chipset and busses controls how quickly it can communicate with other parts of the computer. The speed of the RAM connection directly controls how fast the computer can access instructions and data, and therefore has a big effect on system performance. A fast processor with slow RAM is going nowhere. The amount of memory available also controls how much data the computer can have readily available. RAM makes up the bulk of a computer's memory. The general rule of thumb is the more RAM the computer has, the better.


Much of the memory available today is dual data rate (DDR) memory. This means that the memory can transmit data twice per cycle instead of once, which makes the memory faster. Also, most motherboards have space for multiple memory chips, and on newer motherboards, they often connect to the north bridge via a dual bus instead of a single bus. This further reduces the amount of time it takes for the processor to get information from the memory.


A motherboard's memory slots directly affect what kind and how much memory is supported. Just like other components, the memory plugs into the slot via a series of pins. The memory module must have the right number of pins to fit into the slot on the motherboard. In the earliest days of motherboards, virtually everything other than the processor came on a card that plugged into the board. Now, motherboards feature a variety of onboard accessories such as LAN support, video, sound support and RAID controllers.


Motherboards with all the bells and whistles are convenient and simple to install. There are motherboards that have everything you need to create a complete computer -- all you do is stick the motherboard in a case and add hard disk, a CD Drive and a power supply. You have a completely operational computer on a single board.


For many average users, these built-in features provide ample support for video and sound. For avid gamers and people who do high-intensity graphic or computer-aided design (CAD) work, however, separate Video-cards provide much better performance. For more information on motherboards and related topics, check out the links on the following page. BIOS Works One of the most common uses of Flash memory is for the basic input/output system of your computer, commonly known as the BIOS (pronounced "bye-ose"). On virtually every computer available, the BIOS makes sure all the other chips, hard drives, ports and CPU function together. Every desktop and laptop computer in common use today contains a microprocessor as its central processing unit. The microprocessor is the hardware component. To get its work done, the microprocessor executes a set of instructions known as software. You are probably very familiar with two different types one of the most common uses of Flash memory is for the basic input/output system of your computer, commonly known as the BIOS (pronounced "bye-ose"). On virtually every computer available, the BIOS makes sure all the other chips, hard drives, ports and CPU function

together. Every desktop and Laptop computer in common use today contains a microprocessor as its central processing unit. The microprocessor is the hardware component. To get its work done, the microprocessor executes a set of instructions known as software you are probably very familiar with two different types of software:


The operating system - The operating system provides a set of services for the applications running on your computer, and it also provides the fundamental user interface for your computer. Windows 98 and Linux are examples of operating systems. The applications - Applications are pieces of software that are programmed to perform specific tasks. On your computer right now you probably have a browser application, a word processing application, an e-mail application and so on. You can also buy new applications and install them.

Booting the Computer Whenever you turn on your computer, the first thing you see is the BIOS software doing its thing. On many machines, the BIOS displays text describing things like the amount of memory installed in your computer, the type of hard disk and so on. It turns out that, during this boot sequence, the BIOS is doing a remarkable amount of work to get your computer ready to run. This section briefly describes some of those activities for a typical PC. After checking the CMOS Setup and loading the interrupt handlers, the BIOS determine whether the video card is operational. Most video cards have a miniature BIOS of their own that initializes the memory and graphics processor on the card. If they do not, there is usually video driver information on another ROM on the motherboard that the BIOS can load. Next, the BIOS checks to see if this is a cold boot or a reboot. It does this by checking the value at memory address 0000:0472. A value of 1234h indicates a reboot, and the BIOS skips the rest of POST. Anything else is considered a cold boot. If it is a cold boot, the BIOS verifies RAM by performing a read/write test of each memory address. It checks the PS/2 ports or USB ports for a keyboard and a mouse. It looks for peripheral components interconnect (PCI) bus and, if it finds one, checks all the PCI cards. If the BIOS finds any errors during the POST, it will notify you by a series of beeps or a text message displayed on the screen. An error at this point is almost always a hardware problem.

The BIOS then displays some details about your system. This typically includes information about:


• • • • • •

The processor The floppy drive and hard drive memory BIOS revision and date Display

Any special drivers, such as the ones for small computer system interface (SCSI) adapters, are loaded from the adapter, and the BIOS displays the information. The BIOS then looks at the sequence of storage devices identified as boot devices in the CMOS Setup. "Boot" is short for "bootstrap," as in the old phrase, "Lift yourself up by your bootstraps." Boot refers to the process of launching the operating system. The BIOS will try to initiate the boot sequence from the first device. If the BIOS does not find a device, it will try the next device in the list. If it does not find the proper files on a device, the startup process will halt. If you have ever left a disk when you restarted your computer, you have probably seen this message.

This i the message you receive if a disk is in the drive when you restart your computer.

The BIOS has tried to boot the computer off of the disk left in the drive. Since it did not find the correct system files, it could not continue. Of course, this is an easy fix. Simply pop out the disk and press a key to continue. Configuring BIOS In the previous list, you saw that the BIOS checks the CMOS Setup for custom settings. Here's what you do to change those settings. To enter the CMOS Setup, you must press a certain key or combination of keys during the initial startup sequence. Most systems use "Esc," "Del," "F1," "F2," "Ctrl-Esc" or "Ctrl-Alt-Esc" to enter setup. There is usually a


line of text at the bottom of the display that tells you "Press ___ to Enter Setup." Once you have entered setup, you will see a set of text screens with a number of options. Some of these are standard, while others vary according to the BIOS manufacturer. Common options include:
• • •

• • • • • •

System Time/Date - Set the system time and date Boot Sequence - The order that BIOS will try to load the operating system Plug and Play - A standard for auto-detecting connected devices; should be set to "Yes" if your computer and operating system both support it Mouse/Keyboard - "Enable Num Lock," "Enable the Keyboard," "Auto-Detect Mouse"... Drive Configuration - Configure hard drives, CD-ROM and floppy drives Memory - Direct the BIOS to shadow to a specific memory address Security - Set a password for accessing the computer Power Management - Select whether to use power management, as well as set the amount of time for standby and suspend Exit - Save your changes, discard your changes or restore default settings

CMOS Setup


Be very careful when making changes to setup. Incorrect settings may keep your computer from booting. When you are finished with your changes, you should choose "Save Changes" and exit. The BIOS will then restart your computer so that the new settings take effect. The BIOS uses CMOS technology to save any changes made to the computer's settings. With this technology, a small lithium or Ni-Cad battery can supply enough power to keep the data for years. In fact, some of the newer chips have a 10-year, tiny lithium battery built right into the CMOS chip! Updating Your BIOS Occasionally, a computer will need to have its BIOS updated. This is especially true of older machines. As new devices and standards arise, the BIOS needs to change in order to understand the new hardware. Since the BIOS is stored in some form of ROM, changing it is a bit harder than upgrading most other types of software. To change the BIOS itself, you'll probably need a special program from the computer or BIOS manufacturer. Look at the BIOS revision and date information displayed on system startup or check with your computer manufacturer to find out what type of BIOS you have. Then go to the BIOS manufacturer's Web site to see if an upgrade is available. Download the upgrade and the utility program needed to install it. Sometimes the utility and update are combined in a single file to download. Copy the program, along with the BIOS update, onto a floppy disk. Restart your computer with the floppy disk in the drive, and the program erases the old BIOS and writes the new one. You can find a BIOS Wizard that will check your BIOS at BIOS upgrades. Major BIOS manufacturers include:
• • • •

American mega trends Inc.(AMI) Phoenix Technologies Ali Win bond

As with changes to the CMOS Setup, be careful when upgrading your BIOS. Make sure you are upgrading to a version that is compatible with your computer system. Otherwise, you could corrupt the BIOS, which means you


won't be able to boot your computer. If in doubt, check with your computer manufacturer to be sure you need to upgrade.

Sound card
A sound card (also known as an audio card) is a computer expansion card that facilitates the input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs. Typical uses of sound cards include providing the audio component for multimedia applications such as music composition, editing video or audio, presentation, education, and entertainment (games). Many computers have sound capabilities built in, while others require additional expansion cards to provide for audio capability.

General characteristics

Close-up of a sound card PCB, showing electrolytic capacitors, SMT capacitors and resistors, and a YAC512two-channel 16-bit DAC

Sound cards usually feature a digital to analog converter (DAC), which converts recorded or generated digital data into an analog format. The output signal is connected to an amplifier, headphones, or external device using standard interconnects, such as a TRS connector an RCA connector If the number and size of connectors is too large for the space on the back plate the connectors will be off-board, typically using a breakout box, or an auxiliary back plate. More advanced cards usually include more than one sound chip to provide for higher data rates and multiple simultaneous functionality, eg between digital sound production and synthesized sounds (usually for real-time generation of music and sound effects using minimal data and CPU time). Digital sound reproduction is usually done with multi-channel DAC’s, which are capable of multiple digital samples simultaneously at different pitches and volumes, or optionally applying real-time effects like filtering or distortion. Multi-channel digital sound playback can also be used for music synthesis when used with a compliance, and even multiple-channel emulation. This approach has become common as manufacturers seek to simplify the design and the cost of sound cards.


Most sound cards have a line in connector for signal from a cassette tape recorder or similar sound source. The sound card digitizes this signal and stores it (under control of appropriate matching computer software) on the computer's hard disk for storage, editing, or further processing. Another common external connector is the microphone connector, for use by a microphone or other low level input device. Input through a microphone jack can then be used by speech recognition software or for voice over IP applications.

Sound channels and polyphony

8-channel DAC cirrus Logic CS4382 placed on sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty.

An important characteristic of sound cards is polyphony, which is more than one distinct voice or sound playable simultaneously and independently, and the number of simultaneous channels. These are intended as the number of distinct electrical audio outputs, which may correspond to a speaker configuration such as 2.0 (stereo), 2.1 (stereo and sub woofer), 5.1 etc. Sometimes, the terms "voices" and "channels" are used interchangeably to indicate the degree of polyphony, not the output speaker configuration. For example, many older sound chips could accommodate three voices, but only one audio channel (i.e., a single mono output) for output, requiring all voices to be mixed together. More recent cards, such as the AdLib sound card, have a 9 voice polyphony and 1 mono channel as a combined output. For some years, most PC sound cards have had multiple FM synthesis voices (typically 9 or 16) which were usually used for MIDI music. The full capabilities of advanced cards aren't often completely used; only one (mono) or two (stereo) voice(s) and channel(s) are usually dedicated to playback of digital sound samples, and playing back more than one digital sound sample usually requires a software downmix at a fixed sampling rate. Modern low-cost integrated soundcards (i.e., those built into motherboards) such as audio codecs like those meeting the AC’97 standard and even some budget expansion soundcards still work that way. They may provide more than two sound output channels (typically 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound), but they usually have no actual hardware polyphony for either sound effects or MIDI reproduction, these tasks are performed entirely in software. This is similar to the way inexpensive soft modems. Perform modem tasks in software rather than in hardware).


Also, in the early days of Wavetable synthesis, some sound card manufacturers advertised polyphony solely on the MIDI capabilities alone. In this case, the card's output channel is irrelevant (and typically, the card is only capable of two channels of digital sound). Instead, the polyphony measurement solely applies to the amount of MIDI instruments the sound card is capable of producing at one given time. Today, a sound card providing actual hardware polyphony, regardless of the number of output channels, is typically referred to as a "hardware audio accelerator", although actual voice polyphony is not the sole (or even a necessary) prerequisite, with other aspects such as hardware acceleration of 3D sound, positional audio and real-time DSP effects being more important. Since digital sound playback has become available and provided better performance than synthesis, modern soundcards with hardware polyphony don't actually use DACs with as many channels as voices. Instead, they perform voice mixing and effects processing in hardware (eventually performing digital filtering and conversions to and from the frequency domain for applying certain effects) inside a dedicated DSP. The final playback stage is performed by an external (in reference to the DSP chip(s)) DAC with significantly fewer channels than voices (e.g., 8 channels for 7.1 audio, which can be divided among 32, 64 or even 128 voices).

Colors codes
Connectors on the sound cards are colour coded as per the Pc System Design. They will also have symbols with arrows, holes and sound waves that are associated with each jack position, the meaning of each is given below:
Colour Function Connector Symbol


Analog microphone audio input.

3.5 TRS


A microphone

Light blue

Analog line level audio input.

3.5 TRS


An arrow going into a circle

Lime green stereo signal (front speakers or headphones).

Analog line level audio output for the main 3.5 TRS

mm Arrow going out one side of a circle into a wave

Brown/Dark panning,'Right-to-left speaker'.

Analog line level audio output for a special

3.5 mm



Analog line level audio output for surround 3.5 speakers, typically rear stereo. TRS



Analog line level audio output for center 3.5 channel speaker and subwoofer TRS



Game port/ MIDI

15 pin D

Arrow going out both sides into waves

History of sound cards for the IBM PC architecture

The Adlib Music Synthesizer Card was one of the first sound cards circa 1990. Note the manual volume adjustment knob.

A sound card based on VLA entry chip.

Echo digital audio corporation's Indigo IO — PCMCIA CARD 24-bit 96 kHz stereo in/out sound card.

Sound cards for computers compatible with the IBM PC were very uncommon until 1988, which left the single internal PC speaker as the only way early PC software could produce sound and music. The speaker hardware was typically limited to square waves,


which fit the common nickname of "beeper". The resulting sound was generally described as "beeps and boops". Several companies, most notably Access software, developed techniques for digital sound reproduction over the PC speaker; the resulting audio, while baldly functional, suffered from distorted output and low volume, and usually required all other processing to be stopped while sounds were played. Other home computer models of the 1980s included hardware support for digital sound playback, or music synthesis (or both), leaving the IBM PC at a disadvantage to them when it came to multimedia applications such as music composition or gaming. It is important to note that the initial design and marketing focuses of sound cards for the IBM PC platform were not based on gaming, but rather on specific audio applications such as music composition (Adlib personal music system, creative Music System, IBM Music Feature Card) or on speech synthesis (Digispeech DS201, Covox Speech Thing, , Street Electronics Echo). Only until Sierra and other game companies became involved in 1988 was there a switch toward gaming.

Hardware manufacturers
One of the first manufacturers of sound cards for the IBM PC was Adlib, who produced a card based on the Yamaha sound chip, akin the OPL2. The AdLib had two modes: A 9voice mode where each voice could be fully programmed and a less frequently used "percussion" mode with 3 regular voices producing 5 independent percussion-only voices for a total of 11. (The percussion mode was considered inflexible by most developers; it was used mostly by Ad-Lib’s own composition software.) Creative lab also marketed a sound card about the same time called the creative system Although the C/MS had twelve voices to Ad-Lib’s nine, and was a stereo card while the AdLib was mono, the basic technology behind it was based on the Philips SAA 1099 sensually a square-wave generator. It sounded much like twelve simultaneous PC speakers would have, and failed to sell well, even after Creative renamed it the Game Blaster a year later, and marketed it through Radio Shack in the US. The Game Blaster retailed for under $100 and included the hit game slipped A large change in the IBM PC compatible sound card market happened with creative lab he sound Bills found Blaster cloned the AdLib, and added a sound coprocessor for recording and play back of digital audio (likely to have been an Intel controller relabeled by Creative). It was incorrectly called a "DSP" (to suggest it was a digital signal processor joy stick) to interface to MIDI equipment (using the game port and a special cable). With more features at nearly the same price, and compatibility as well, most buyers chose the Sound Blaster. It eventually outsold the AdLib and dominated the market. The Sound Blaster line of cards, together with the first inexpensive CD-ROM drives and evolving video technology, ushered in a new era of multimedia computer applications that could play back CD audio, add recorded dialogue to computer games, or even reproduce motion video (albeit at much lower resolutions and quality in early days). The


widespread decision to support the Sound Blaster design in multimedia and entertainment titles meant that future sound cards such as Media Vision's Pro Audio Spectrum and the Gravis Ultrasound had to be Sound Blaster compatible if they were to sell well. Until the early 2000s (by which the AC'97 audio standard became more widespread and eventually usurped the SoundBlaster as a standard due to its low cost and integration into many motherboards), Sound Blaster compatibility is a standard that many other sound cards still support to maintain compatibility with many games and applications released.

[edit] Industry adoption
When game company Sierra On-Line opted to support add-on music hardware (instead of built-in hardware such as the PC speaker and built-in sound capabilities of the IBM PCjr and Tandy 1000), what could be done with sound and music on the IBM PC changed dramatically. Two of the companies Sierra partnered with were Roland and Adlib, opting to produce in-game music for King's Quest 4 that supported the Roland MT-32 and Adlib Music Synthesizer. The MT-32 had superior output quality, due in part to its method of sound synthesis as well as built-in reverb. Since it was the most sophisticated synthesizer they supported, Sierra chose to use most of the MT-32's custom features and unconventional instrument patches, producing background sound effects (eg, chirping birds, clopping horse hooves, etc.) before the Sound Blaster brought playing real audio clips to the PC entertainment world. Many game companies also supported the MT-32, but supported the Adlib card as an alternative because of the latter's higher market base. The adoption of the MT-32 led the way for the creation of the MPU-401/Roland Sound Canvas and General MIDI standards as the most common means of playing in-game music until the mid-1990s.

[edit] Feature evolution
Early ISA bus soundcards were half-duplex, meaning they could not record and play digitized sound simultaneously, mostly due to inferior card hardware (eg, DSPs). Later, ISA cards like the SoundBlaster AWE series and Plug-and-play SoundBlaster clones eventually became full-duplex and supported simultaneous recording and playback, but at the expense of using up two IRQ and DMA channels instead of one, making them no different from having two half-duplex sound cards in terms of configuration. Towards the end of the ISA bus' life, ISA soundcards started taking advantage of IRQ sharing, thus reducing the IRQs needed to one, but still needed two DMA channels. Many PCI bus cards do not have these limitations and are mostly full-duplex. It should also be noted that many modern PCI bus cards also do not require free DMA channels to operate. Also, throughout the years, soundcards have evolved in terms of digital audio sampling rate (starting from 8-bit 11.025 kHz, to 32-bit, 192 kHz that the latest solutions support). Along the way, some cards started offering Wavetable synthesis, which provides superior MIDI synthesis quality in relative to the earlier OPL-based solutions, which uses FMsynthesis. Also, some higher end cards started having its own RAM and processor for user-definable sound samples and MIDI instruments as well as to offload audio processing from the CPU.


For years, soundcards had only one or two channels of digital sound (most notably the Sound Blaster series and their compatibles) with the exception of the Gravis Ultrasound family, which had hardware support for up to 32 independent channels of digital audio. Early games and MOD-players needing more channels than a card could support had to resort to mixing multiple channels in software. Even today, the tendency is still to mix multiple sound streams in software, except in products specifically intended for gamers or professional musicians, with a sensible difference in price from "software based" products. Also, in the early era of wave table synthesis, soundcard companies would also sometimes boast about the card's polyphony capabilities in terms of MIDI synthesis. In this case polyphony solely refers to the amount of MIDI notes the card is capable of synthesizing simultaneously at one given time and not the amount of digital audio streams the card is capable of handling. In regards to physical sound output, the number of physical sound channels has also increased. The first soundcard solutions were mono. Stereo sound was introduced in the early 90s, and quadraphonic sound came in the late 90s. This was shortly followed by 5.1 channel audio. The latest soundcards support up to 8 physical audio channels in the 7.1 speaker setup.

[edit] Professional soundcards (audio interfaces)

An M-Audio professional sound card with its breakout cables.

Professional soundcards are special soundcards optimized for real time (or at least low latency) multichannel sound recording and playback, including studio-grade fidelity. Their drivers usually follow the Audio Stream Input Output protocol for use with professional sound engineering and music software, although ASIO drivers are also available for a range of consumer-grade soundcards. Professional soundcards are usually described as "audio interfaces", and sometimes have the form of external rack-mountable units using USB 2.0, Firewire, or an optical interface, to offer sufficient data rates. The emphasis in these products is, in general, on multiple input and output connectors, direct hardware support for multiple input and output sound channels, as well as higher sampling rates and fidelity as compared to the usual consumer soundcard. In that respect, their role and intended purpose is more similar to a specialized multi-channel data recorder and real-time audio mixer and processor, roles which are possible only to a limited degree with typical consumer soundcards.


On the other hand, certain features of consumer soundcards such as support for Environmental audio extensions, optimization for hardware acceleration in video games, or real-time ambience effects are secondary, nonexistent or even undesirable in professional soundcards, and as such audio interfaces are not recommended for the typical home user. The typical "consumer-grade" soundcard is intended for generic home, office, and entertainment purposes with an emphasis on playback and casual use, rather than catering to the needs of audio professionals. In response to this, Steinberg (the creators of audio recording and sequencing software, Cubase and Nuendo) developed a protocol that specified the handling of multiple audio inputs and outputs. In general, consumer grade soundcards impose several restrictions and inconvenieces that would be unacceptable to an audio professional. One of a modern soundcard's purposes is to provide an AD/DA converter (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog). However, in professional applications, there is usually a need for enhanced recording (analog to digital) conversion capabilities. One of the limitations of consumer soundcards is their comparatively large sampling latency; this is the time it takes for the AD Converter to complete conversion of a sound sample and transfer it to the computer's main memory. Consumer soundcards are also limited in the effective sampling rates and bit depths they can actually manage (compare Analog sound vs. digital sound) and have lower numbers of less flexible input channels: professional studio recording use typically requires more than two channels which consumer soundcards provide, and more accessible connectors, unlike the variable mixture of internal -- and sometimes virtual -- and external connectors found in consumer-grade soundcards.

[edit] Sound devices other than expansion cards
[edit] Integrated sound hardware on PC motherboards
In 1984, the first IBM PCjr had only a rudimentary 3-voice sound synthesis chip (the SN76489) which was capable of generating three square-wave tones with variable amplitude, and a pseudo white noise channel that could generate primitive percussion sounds. The Tandy 1000, initially a clone of the PCjr, duplicated this functionality, with the Tandy TL/SL/RL models adding digital sound recording/playback capabilities. In the late 1990s, many computer manufacturers began to replace plug-in soundcards with a "codec" chip (actually a combined audio AD/DA-converter) integrated into the motherboard. Many of these used Intel's AC97 specification. Others used inexpensive ACR slot accessory cards. As of 2005, these "codecs" usually lack the hardware for direct music synthesis or even multi-channel sound, with special drivers and software making up for these lacks, at the


expense of CPU speed (for example, MIDI reproduction takes away 10-15% CPU time on an Athlon XP 1600+ CPU). Nevertheless, some manufacturers offered (and offer, as of 2006) motherboards with integrated "real" (non-codec) soundcards, usually in the form of a custom chipset providing something akin to full ISA or PCI Soundblaster compatibility; this saves an expansion slot while providing the user with a (relatively) high quality soundcard.

[edit] Integrated sound on other platforms
Various non-IBM PC compatible computers, such as early home computers like the Commodore C64 and Amiga or Apple's Macintosh, and workstations from manufacturers like Sun have had their own motherboard integrated sound devices. In some cases, most notably in those of the Commodore Amiga and the C64, they provide very advanced capabilities (as of the time of manufacture), in others they are only minimal capabilities. Some of these platforms have also had sound cards designed for their bus architectures that cannot be used in a standard PC. The custom sound chip on Amiga, named Paula, had four digital sound channels (2 for the left speaker and 2 for the right) with 8 bit resolution (although with patches, 14/15bit was accomplishable at the cost of high CPU usage) for each channel and a 6 bit volume control per channel. Sound Play back on Amiga was done by reading directly from the chip-RAM without using the main CPU.

[edit] Sound cards on other platforms
The earliest known soundcard used by computers was the Gooch Synthetic Woodwind, A music device for PLATO terminals, and is widely hailed as the precursor to sound cards and MIDI. It was invented in 1972. While many of Apple's machines come with on-board sound capabilities, their bestselling Apple II series suffered from a lack of more than minimal sound devices, all but the last model containing only a beeper that was even more limited than the one in the PC. To get around the problem, the Sweet Micro Systems company developed the Mockingboard (a name-play on mockingbird), which was essentially a sound card for the Apple II. Early Mockingboard models ranged from 3 voices in mono, while some later designs were 6 voices in stereo. Some software supported use of two Mockingboard cards which allowed 12 voice music and sound. A 12 voice, single card clone of the Mockingboard called the Phasor was also made by Applied Engineering. In late 2005 a company called ReactiveMicro.com produced a 6 voice clone called the Mockingboard v1 and also has plans to clone the Phasor and produce a hybrid card which will be user selectable between Mockingboard and Phasor modes plus support both the SC-01 or SC-02 speech synthesizers. MSX computers also relied on sound cards to produce better quality audio. The card, known moon sound Mahan OPL4 sound chip. Prior to the Moon sound, there were also


soundcards called MSX Music and MSX Audio, which uses OPL2 and OPL3 chipsets, for the system.

[edit] USB sound "cards"
USB sound "cards" are actually external boxes that plug into the computer via USB. Contrary to the name, most of these boxes make no sound at all. The sound is produced in software within the PC. These boxes only provide for connectivity from the pc via the usb bus to an external device such as a microphone in or line in/out connector. They are more accurately called audio interfaces rather than sound cards. The USB specification defines a standard interface, the USB audio device class, allowing a single driver to work with the various USB sound devices on the market. Cards meeting the USB 2.0 specification have sufficient data transfer capacity to support high quality sound operation if their circuit design permits.

[edit] Other outboard sound devices
USB Sound Cards are far from the first external devices allowing a computer to record or synthesize sound. For example, devices such as the Covox Speech Thing were attached to the parallel port of an IBM PC and fed 6- or 8-bit PCM sample data to produce audio. Also, many types of professional soundcards (audio interfaces) have the form of an external Firewire or USB unit, usually for convenience and improved fidelity. Soundcards using the PCMCIA cardbus interface were popular in the early days of portable computing when laptops and notebooks did not have onboard sound. Even today, while rare, these cardbus audio solutions are still used in some setups in which the onboard sound solution of the notebook or laptop is not up to par with the owners' expectations or requirements, and are particularly targeted at mobile DJs, with units providing separated outputs usually allow both playback and monitoring from one system.

[edit] Driver architecture
To use a sound card, the operating system typically requires a specific device driver. This is a low-level program that handles the data connections between the physical hardware and the operating system. Some operating systems include the drivers for some or all cards available, in other cases the drivers are supplied with the card itself, or are available for download.
• DOS programs for the IBM PC often had to use universal middleware driver libraries (such as the HMI Sound Operating System, the Miles Audio Interface Libraries (AIL), the Miles Sound System etc.) which had drivers for most common sound cards, since DOS itself had no real concept of a sound card. Some card manufacturers provided (sometimes inefficient) middleware TSR-based drivers for their products. Often the driver is a SoundBlaster emulator designed to allow their products to emulate a SoundBlaster and to allow games that could only use

31 SoundBlaster sound to work with the card. finally, some programs simply had driver/middleware source code incorporated into the program itself for the sound cards that were supported. Microsoft Windows uses proprietary drivers generally written by the sound card manufacturers. Many device manufacturers supply the drivers on their own discs or to Microsoft for inclusion on Windows installation disc. Sometimes drivers are also supplied by the individual vendors for download and installation. Bug fixes and other improvements are likely to be available faster via downloading, since CDs cannot be updated as frequently as a web or FTP site. USB audio device class support is present from Windows 98 SE onwards. [1] Since Microsoft's Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) initiative which supports the HD Audio, FireWire and USB audio device class standards, a universal class driver by Microsoft can be used. The driver is included with Windows Vista. For Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003, the driver can be obtained by contacting Microsoft support. [2] Almost all manufacturer-supplied drivers for such devices also include this class driver. A number of versions of UNIX make use of the portable Open Sound System (OSS). Drivers are seldom produced by the card manufacturer. o Most present day Linux-based distributions make use of the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA). Up until Linux kernel 2.4, OSS was the standard sound architecture for Linux, although ALSA can be downloaded, compiled and installed separately for kernels 2.2 or higher). But from kernel 2.5 onwards, ALSA was integrated into the kernel and the OSS native drivers were deprecated. Backwards compatibility with OSS-based software is maintained, however, by the use of the ALSA-OSS compatibility API and the OSS-emulation kernel modules. Mockingboard support on the Apple II is usually incorporated into the programs itself as many programs for the Apple II boot directly from disk.

What is a switching-mode power supply?
A power supply is a buffer circuit that provides power with the characteristics required by the load from a primary power source with characteristics incompatible with the load. It makes the load compatible with its power source. Example: A power source might be the 60 Hz, single phase, 120 V ac power found in a home in the United States or the 50 Hz, single phase, 220 V ac found in the United Kingdom. The load might be a logic circuit in a personal computer that requires regulated 5 V dc power. The power supply is the circuit that makes the 120 V ac or 220 V ac power source and 5 V dc load compatible. A power supply is sometimes called a power converter and the process is called power conversion. It is also sometimes called a power conditioner and the process is called power conditioning. The Power Sources Manufacturers Association's (PSMA) Handbook of Standardized Terminology for the Power Sources Industry gives this definition of a power supply. Power Supply -- A device for the conversion of available power of one set of characteristics to another set of characteristics to meet specified requirements. Typical application of power supplies include to convert raw input power to a controlled or stabilized voltage and/or current for the operation of electronic equipment.


Power supplies belong to the field of power electronics, the use of electronics for the control and conversion of electrical power. The IEEE Power Electronics Society provides a more formal definition of power electronics in their constitution. Power Electronics -- This technology encompasses the effective use of electronic components, the application of circuit theory and design techniques, and the development of analytical tools toward efficient electronic conversion, control, and conditioning of electric power. A switching-mode power supply is a power supply that provides the power supply function through low loss components such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers -and the use of switches that are in one of two states, on or off. The advantage is that the switch dissipates very little power in either of these two states and power conversion can be accomplished with minimal power loss, which equates to high efficiency. The term switchmode was widely used for this type of power supply until Motorola, Inc., who used the trademark SWITCHMODE TM for products aimed at the switching-mode power supply market, started to enforce their trademark. Then more generic terms had to be found. I started using the term switching-mode power supply to avoid infringing on the trademark. Others used the term switching power supply, which seems to be the more popular term. PSMA does not define either switching-mode power supply or switching power supply, but does define switching regulator.

Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS)
Switch mode power supplies(SMPS) are an extraordinary array of high frequency alternative. These are the Switching Regulators offers higher efficiency then liner regulators. In addition the Power Supply SMPS can step-up, down and invert the input voltage. Working principal of Switch Mode Power Supply A switching regulator is a circuit that uses an inductor, a tranformer, and a capacitor as energy-storage element to tranfer energy from input to output in discrete packets. Feedback circuitry regulates the energy tranfer to maintain a canstant voltage within the load limits of the circuit. They use some form of pulse-width modulation to alter the on time relative to the off time to effect control. The device used in this to giveen the constraints of frequency and the speed are power ?fets? The use of power ?fets? with fast turn-on and turn-off characteristics have made switches that operate comfortable at frequency above 100khz practical. There are two topologies are used

• •

Forward converters Flyback circuits.

Forward converters are used in medium and high power applications. They can be recognizeed by their power transformer and output choke. Flybacks are favored for low power applications because they employ a transformer that doubles as the input choke Using a transformer as the energy-storage element also allows output voltage to be electrically isolated from the input voltage.


Available Specifications

5 VCD/5 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC +/-5 VCD/1 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 12 VCD/1Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 12 VCD/2Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 12 VCD/3Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 12 VCD/5Amp.,Input 150-270 VAC 18 VCD/1Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 18 VCD/2Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 18 VCD/2Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 18 VCD/2Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC +/-18 VDC/1 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 24 VDC/1 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 24 VDC/2 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 24 VDC/3 Amp.,Input 140-260 VAC 24 VDC/5 Amp.,Input 150-270 VAC 12 VDC/1 Amp.,With 12 VDC Battery Charger (And many more combination available with battery charger,+ve and -ve combination and any other combination is required will be supply)

Connection Diagram Request a Quote

Connecting IDE Hard Drives You Would Think It Was Simple, But...
When connecting IDE devices in your computer, there are a few rules you need to know about. First, Master and Slave devices are different for the 80-wire cables and the 40-wire cables. Second, if you don't know for sure, RTDM... (read the damn manual). Inside your computer, you generally have two (2) IDE hard drive controller connections. They look this this 99% of the time:


[ The smaller one on the very top is a floppy drive controller connection ] There is a Primary & Secondary connection located here. The Primary connection ALWAYS gets the 80wire cable. Most of the time, but not always, you connect the 40-wire cable on the other Secondary connection. This is normally where you connect your lesser used devices like CDROMs, CDROM Burners and Tape Drives. You can connect other hard drives here with your CDROM or slower device, but there are issues that I'll go into later. Pictured here are the two cables, the 80-wire and the older 40-wire ATA IDE cables. As you can see, the one on the left, the newer 80-wire cable has very small wires running from connector to connector, conversely, the 40-wire cable has larger wires. There is a reason for this. The newer standard requires the addition and separation of the wires for better signals to achieve the faster speeds.

The older Master & Slave relationship For the longest time, hard drives have always had a setting for a Master or Primary setting and Slave. The Master was always the boot drive, the drive that contained the operating system. The other drive or Slave drive was for data storage. In rare cases, using this configuration you could boot from a Slave device but I'm not gonna get into that here and now. The way technicians have always done it in the past with the 40-

35 wire cable was Master in the Middle connection and Slave on the end. It really didn't matter much until the hard drive makers started making drives with the Cable Select option. Okay, lets set the record straight. The 80-wire cables are not called 80-pins! Burn this in to your brain kids. The older 40-wire and the newer 80 wire are both 40-pins! Well, actually, their 39 pins. One pin was removed that was never used so people installing hard drives wouldn't connect them backwards. If you scroll up and look at the motherboard connector at the beginning of this article, you'll see the 19th pin removed so that these cables can't be connected the wrong way. See the picture below...

Connecting Your Hard Drives
40 Wire Cables On the slower older 40-wire ATA cables, the Master device, usually a CD-ROM or CD-ROM recorder/burner still goes on the END, but you need to set the jumpers as Slave. Did you ever buy a new CDROM or CDROM burner, open up the package and see that the jumper was already on the Slave position? It's that way for a reason. This is true even if you don't have a hard drive in the Master position. The Master for 40-wire cables goes on the the Middle connector. Only older computers (the AT type) have a problem here, and again, you should read the manual that came with the motherboard or contact the maker of the system. You could try it as a Master and it may work but that's not the way it should be. If you want to use the cable select with the older drive on a 40-wire cable, you'll have to consult the maker of the drive for the instructions. My sources tell me that there was a loose standard to put the Master drive on the end of the 40-wire cable and the Slave in the middle but that was a very loose standard. Makers I spoke to (IBM, Maxtor, etc.) informed me that the user should set the drive using the Master and Slave jumpers on the hard drive, placing the Master in the middle and the Slave on the end. Dats Dat. 80-wire Cables On the ATA66/100/133 standard 80-wire cable, the Master hard drive or your boot hard drive goes on the END of the cable. This is true whether or not you use the Master/Slave style or the Cable Select style.


Can I connect a older

ATA33 drive with my

newer ATA66/100/133 drive?

Yes. But, you'll suffer a dramatic speed hit. Because of the slower drives controller, the PC will accommodate both drives by slowing down the pair to the older drives speed. Put your older drive on the Secondary channel with your CDROM as the Master. What position should I connect my CDROM Burner if I want to put it on the 40-wire cable? It should be the Master, and the hard drive (if you have one) Slave. Can I put my brand new CDROM Burner on the Slave position on my 80-wire cable? I wouldn't. That would slow down the hard drive. Why does my motherboard detect my ATA100 hard drive as a ATA33 or DMA mode 2? Some hard drives need to have a special driver that was supplied by the manufacturer to turn-on the ATA66, 100 or 133 feature.

The standard 40-wire ATA ribbon cable and the 80-wire cable give different drive behavior when using Cable Select. If using the standard 40-wire cable, the Master goes in the middle connector and the Slave goes in the end connector. If using the 80-wire cable, attach the blue end connector to the system board or host controller, the gray middle connector to the Slave, and the black end connector to the Master. All newer IDE/EIDE hard drives can be jumpered as Cable Select (CS or CSEL). This is an alternate way to indicate which drive is master and which drive is slave (instead of jumpering one drive as master and one drive as slave). Cable Select jumpering requires a special IDE cable with wire 28 not connected to one of the drive connectors, which would configure the drive attached to that connector as the slave drive. Cable Select jumpering is not widely used now, but may become more common as things move more towards Plug and Play, as this is part of the ATA PnP standard and Microsoft's PC97 standard. The idea is that drives can be installed easily without having to change jumpers on two drives anytime a drive is installed or removed. Cable Select is defined in the ATA-2 and ATA-3 specifications. In order to use Cable Select jumpering, several conditions must be met. Both drives on a channel must support CSEL, both drives must be jumpered as CSEL, a CSEL cable must be used, and the host interface connector must support CSEL. For the host interface to support Cable Select, wire 28 must be grounded.

37 Although the Cable Select specification may simplify things in the future, there will probably be lots of confusion, especially on legacy systems, as this starts to be introduced. One problem will be in selecting the correct cable. Supposedly, the cables used for Cable Select will be clearly marked, with each connector labeled as Device 0 (or Master) or Device 1 (or Slave). If not clearly marked, it may not be easy to identify a CSEL cable visually. wire 28 can be checked for continuity. A Cable Select cable can be constructed in various ways. Pin 28 may be non connected to the connector at the end of the cable or to the connector in the middle of the cable. Another design would have the host interface connector in the middle and the two drives would plug into each end of the cable, with the connector at one of the ends not connected to pin 28. If both drives are set for CSEL and the host interface supports CSEL, but a regular cable is used, both drives will be seen as master. A Cable Select cable can be used with master/slave drive jumpering. Another problem will be with host interfaces on legacy motherboards and controller cards. If pin 28 is not grounded on the host interface, drives connected to either connector on the CSEL cable will be seen as slave. It will be common to find that pin 28 is open or high on many older IDE interfaces. This can be checked with a voltmeter. Installing the 80-Conductor IDE Cable The 40-pin 80-conductor cable is orientation specific. The cable connectors are color-coded: blue for the host connector, black and gray for the primary and secondary disk drives. The blue connector should be installed into the Primary IDE connector. All Ultra ATA/66 devices should be attached to a single channel and devices that do not support Ultra ATA/66 should be connected to a separate channel. In single drive configurations, connect the primary drive to the end connector on the 40-pin 80-conductor cable.

From the horses mouth
Here are some quotes from leading websites about connecting IDE devices: Intel Installing the 80-Conductor IDE Cable The 40-pin 80-conductor cable is orientation specific. The cable connectors are color-coded: blue for the host connector, black and gray for the primary and secondary disk drives. The blue connector should be installed into the Primary IDE connector. All Ultra ATA/66 devices should be attached to a single channel and devices that do not support Ultra ATA/66 should be connected to a separate channel. In single drive configurations, connect the primary drive to the end connector on the 40-pin 80-conductor cable.

Types of Hard Drive Cables
This article will help to identify internal hard drive data cables. There are three main types of cables: IDE/PATA, SATA and SCSI.


1. There are several types of hard drives, and they all require different data cables. To connect a hard drive to a computer, one must have the proper cables and plug the cables into the appropriate places.

2. There are three main types of hard drive data cables: IDE/PATA, SATA and SCSI. IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) drives, also known as PATA (Parallel AT Attachment) drives, are commonly found in personal computers. However, manufacturers rarely install IDE/PATA drives in new personal computers as of early 2009: These drives usually are found only in older computers. The IDE/PATA technology was designed in 1986 and has mostly been superseded by the SATA technology in new personal computers. SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives are also commonly found in personal computers; its technology was developed in 2003. SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) drives usually are found only in high-end server/mainframe computers. Although the SCSI technology has existed since 1981, it has been revised numerous times since then; SCSI drives are still used today.


3. IDE/PATA data cable. An IDE/PATA hard drive cable is a ribbon cable containing 40 pins. Either one or two devices may be connected to an IDE/PATA cable, and the devices need not be of the same type. For example, an IDE/PATA DVD-R drive may be connected along with an IDE/PATA hard drive on the same cable.

SATA Cable

4. SATA data cable. A SATA hard drive cable has seven conductors and is smaller than an IDE/PATA cable. A SATA cable connects a single hard drive to a single connector on the SATA controller, which is usually found on the computer's motherboard.


SCSI Cable

5. SCSI 50-pin cable - by Smial on Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Germany. SCSI cables look similar to IDE/PATA cables in that both drives use ribbon cables. However, SCSI cables have more pins than IDE cables. Depending on the SCSI interface, a SCSI cable may have 50 or 68 pins (IDE/PATA drives have 40). Like IDE, multiple SCSI devices can be connected to a single channel through "daisy chaining." Depending on the SCSI interface, as many as 7 or 15 devices may be connected to a single SCSI channel.

Hard disk drive
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search "Hard drive" redirects here. For other uses, see Hard drive (disambiguation).

Hard disk drive

A hard disk drive with the metal cover removed. Date invented December 14, 1954[1] Invented by Connects to An IBM team led by Rey Johnson Host adapter of system, in PCs typically integrated into motherboard. via one of:
• • • •

PATA (IDE) interface SATA interface SAS interface SCSI interface (popular on servers)


FC interface (almost exclusively found on servers)

USB interface computers computing computing

Market Segments

Desktop Mobile Enterprise Consumer electronic

A hard disk drive[2] (often shortened as hard disk[3], hard drive[4], or HDD) is a nonvolatile storage device that stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating platters with magnetic surfaces. Strictly speaking, "drive" refers to the motorized mechanical aspect that is distinct from its medium, such as a tape drive and its tape, or a floppy disk drive and its floppy disk. Early HDDs had removable media; however, an HDD today is typically a sealed unit (except for a filtered vent hole to equalize air pressure) with fixed media.[5][6]


• • • • • 1 History 2 Technology o 2.1 Error handling o 2.2 Architecture 3 Capacity and access speed o 3.1 Capacity measurements  3.1.1 Formatted disk overhead 4 Form factors 5 Other characteristics o 5.1 Data transfer rate o 5.2 Seek time o 5.3 Power consumption o 5.4 Audible noise o 5.5 Shock resistance 6 Access and interfaces o 6.1 Disk interface families used in personal computers 7 Integrity o 7.1 Actuation of moving arm o 7.2 Landing zones and load/unload technology o 7.3 Disk failures and their metrics 8 Manufacturers 9 Sales 10 See also 11 References 12 External links

• •

• • • • •

[edit] History
Main article: History of hard disk drives

HDDs (introduced in 1956 as data storage for an IBM accounting computer[7]) were originally developed for use with general purpose computers. During the 1990s, the need for large-scale, reliable storage, independent of a particular device, led to the introduction of embedded systems such as RAIDs, network attached storage (NAS) systems, and storage area network (SAN) systems that provide efficient and reliable access to large volumes of data. In the 21st century, HDD usage expanded into consumer applications such as camcorders, cellphones (e.g. the Nokia N91), digital audio players, digital video players, digital video recorders, personal digital assistants and video game consoles.


[edit] Technology

HDDs record data by magnetizing ferromagnetic material directionally, to represent either a 0 or a 1 binary digit. They read the data back by detecting the magnetization of the material. A typical HDD design consists of a spindle that holds one or more flat circular disks called platters, onto which the data is recorded. The platters are made from a non-magnetic material, usually aluminum alloy or glass, and are coated with a thin layer of magnetic material, typically 10-20 nm in thickness with an outer layer of carbon for protection. Older disks used iron(III) oxide as the magnetic material, but current disks use a cobalt-based alloy.[citation needed]

A cross section of the magnetic surface in action. In this case the binary data is encoded using frequency modulation.

The platters are spun at very high speeds. Information is written to a platter as it rotates past devices called read-and-write heads that operate very close (tens of nanometers in new drives) over the magnetic surface. The read-and-write head is used to detect and modify the magnetization of the material immediately under it. There is one head for each magnetic platter surface on the spindle, mounted on a common arm. An actuator arm (or access arm) moves the heads on an arc (roughly radially) across the platters as they spin, allowing each head to access almost the entire surface of the platter as it spins. The arm is moved using a voice coil actuator or in some older designs a stepper motor. The magnetic surface of each platter is conceptually divided into many small submicrometre-sized magnetic regions, each of which is used to encode a single binary unit of information. Initially the regions were oriented horizontally, but beginning about 2005, the orientation was changed to perpendicular. Due to the polycrystalline nature of the


magnetic material each of these magnetic regions is composed of a few hundred magnetic grains. Magnetic grains are typically 10 nm in size and each form a single magnetic domain. Each magnetic region in total forms a magnetic dipole which generates a highly localized magnetic field nearby. A write head magnetizes a region by generating a strong local magnetic field. Early HDDs used an electromagnet both to magnetize the region and to then read its magnetic field by using electromagnetic induction. Later versions of inductive heads included metal in Gap (MIG) heads and thin film heads. As data density increased, read heads using magnetoresistance (MR) came into use; the electrical resistance of the head changed according to the strength of the magnetism from the platter. Later development made use of spintronics; in these heads, the magnetoresistive effect was much greater than in earlier types, and was dubbed "giant" magnetoresistance (GMR). In today's heads, the read and write elements are separate, but in close proximity, on the head portion of an actuator arm. The read element is typically magneto-resistive while the write element is typically thin-film inductive.[8] HD heads are kept from contacting the platter surface by the air that is extremely close to the platter; that air moves at, or close to, the platter speed.[citation needed] The record and playback head are mounted on a block called a slider, and the surface next to the platter is shaped to keep it just barely out of contact. It's a type of air bearing. In modern drives, the small size of the magnetic regions creates the danger that their magnetic state might be lost because of thermal effects. To counter this, the platters are coated with two parallel magnetic layers, separated by a 3-atom-thick layer of the nonmagnetic element ruthenium, and the two layers are magnetized in opposite orientation, thus reinforcing each other.[9] Another technology used to overcome thermal effects to allow greater recording densities is perpendicular recording, first shipped in 2005,[10] as of 2007 the technology was used in many HDDs.[11][12][13] The grain boundaries turn out to be very important in HDD design. The reason is that, the grains are very small and close to each other, so the coupling between adjacent grains is very strong. When one grain is magnetized, the adjacent grains tend to be aligned parallel to it or demagnetized. Then both the stability of the data and signal-to-noise ratio will be sabotaged. A clear grain boundary can weaken the coupling of the grains and subsequently increase the signal-to-noise ratio. In longitudinal recording, the singledomain grains have uniaxial anisotropy with easy axes lying in the film plane. The consequence of this arrangement is that adjacent magnets repel each other. Therefore the magnetostatic energy is so large that it is difficult to increase areal density. Perpendicular recording media, on the other hand, has the easy axis of the grains oriented perpendicular to the disk plane. Adjacent magnets attract to each other and magnetostatic energy are much lower. So, much higher areal density can be achieved in perpendicular recording. Another unique feature in perpendicular recording is that a soft magnetic underlayer are incorporated into the recording disk.This underlayer is used to conduct writing magnetic flux so that the writing is more efficient. This will be discussed in writing process. Therefore, a higher anisotropy medium film, such as L10-FePt and rare-earth magnets, can be used.


[edit] Error handling
Modern drives also make extensive use of Error Correcting Codes (ECCs), particularly Reed–Solomon error correction. These techniques store extra bits for each block of data that are determined by mathematical formulas. The extra bits allow many errors to be fixed. While these extra bits take up space on the hard drive, they allow higher recording densities to be employed, resulting in much larger storage capacity for user data. [14] In 2009, in the newest drives, low-density parity-check codes (LDPC) are supplanting ReedSolomon. LDPC codes enable performance close to the Shannon Limit and thus allow for the highest storage density available. [15] Typical hard drives attempt to "remap" the data in a physical sector that is going bad to a spare physical sector—hopefully while the number of errors in that bad sector is still small enough that the ECC can completely recover the data without loss. The S.M.A.R.T. system counts the total number of errors in the entire hard drive fixed by ECC, and the total number of remappings, in an attempt to predict hard drive failure.
See also: file system

[edit] Architecture

A hard disk drive with the platters and motor hub removed showing the copper colored stator coils surrounding a bearing at the center of the spindle motor. The orange stripe along the side of the arm is a thin printed-circuit cable. The spindle bearing is in the center.

A typical hard drive has two electric motors, one to spin the disks and one to position the read/write head assembly. The disk motor has an external rotor attached to the platters; the stator windings are fixed in place. The actuator has a read-write head under the tip of its very end (near center); a thin printed-circuit cable connects the read-write head to the hub of the actuator. A flexible, somewhat 'U'-shaped, ribbon cable, seen edge-on below and to the left of the actuator arm in the first image and more clearly in the second, continues the connection from the head to the controller board on the opposite side. The head support arm is very light, but also rigid; in modern drives, acceleration at the head reaches 550 Gs.


Opened hard drive with top magnet removed, showing copper head actuator coil (top right).

The silver-colored structure at the upper left of the first image is the top plate of the permanent-magnet and moving coil motor that swings the heads to the desired position (it is shown removed in the second image). The plate supports a thin neodymium-iron-boron (NIB) high-flux magnet. Beneath this plate is the moving coil, often referred to as the voice coil by analogy to the coil in loudspeakers, which is attached to the actuator hub, and beneath that is a second NIB magnet, mounted on the bottom plate of the motor (some drives only have one magnet). The voice coil, itself, is shaped rather like an arrowhead, and made of doubly-coated coppmagnet wire. The inner layer is insulation, and the outer is thermoplastic, which bonds the coil together after it's wound on a form, making it self-supporting. The portions of the coil along the two sides of the arrowhead (which point to the actuator bearing center) interact with the magnetic field, developing a tangential force that rotates the actuator. Current flowing radially outward along one side of the arrowhead, and radially inward on the other produces the tangential force. (See magnetic field#Force on a charged particle.) If the magnetic field were uniform, each side would generate opposing forces that would cancel each other out. Therefore the surface of the magnet is half N pole, half S pole, with the radial dividing line in the middle, causing the two sides of the coil to see opposite magnetic fields and produce forces that add instead of canceling. Currents along the top and bottom of the coil produce radial forces that do not rotate the head.

[edit] Capacity and access speed

PC hard disk drive capacity (in GB). The vertical axis is logarithmic, so the fit line corresponds to exponential growth.

Using rigid disks and sealing the unit allows much tighter tolerances than in a floppy disk drive. Consequently, hard disk drives can store much more data than floppy disk drives and can access and transmit it faster.
• As of April 2009, the highest capacity consumer HDDs are 2 TB.[16]

46 • •

A typical "desktop HDD" might store between 120 GB and 2 TB although rarely above 500GB of data (based on US market data[17]) rotate at 5,400 to 10,000 rpm and have a media transfer rate of 1 Gbit/s or higher. (1 GB = 109 B; 1 Gbit/s = 109 bit/s) The fastest “enterprise” HDDs spin at 10,000 or 15,000 rpm, and can achieve sequential media transfer speeds above 1.6 Gbit/s.[18] and a sustained transfer rate up to 125 MBytes/second.[18] Drives running at 10,000 or 15,000 rpm use smaller platters to mitigate increased power requirements (as they have less air drag) and therefore generally have lower capacity than the highest capacity desktop drives. "Mobile HDDs", i.e., laptop HDDs, which are physically smaller than their desktop and enterprise counterparts, tend to be slower and have lower capacity. A typical mobile HDD spins at 5,400 rpm, with 7,200 rpm models available for a slight price premium. Because of physically smaller platter(s), mobile HDDs generally have lower capacity than their physically larger counterparts.

The exponential increases in disk space and data access speeds of HDDs have enabled the commercial viability of consumer products that require large storage capacities, such as digital video recorders and digital audio players.[19] In addition, the availability of vast amounts of cheap storage has made viable a variety of web-based services with extraordinary capacity requirements, such as free-of-charge web search, web archiving and video sharing (Google, Internet Archive, YouTube, etc.). The main way to decrease access time is to increase rotational speed, thus reducing rotational delay, while the main way to increase throughput and storage capacity is to increase areal density. Based on historic trends, analysts predict a future growth in HDD bit density (and therefore capacity) of about 40% per year.[20] Access times have not kept up with throughput increases, which themselves have not kept up with growth in storage capacity. The first 3.5″ HDD marketed as able to store 1 TB was the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000. It contains five platters at approximately 200 GB each, providing 1 TB (935.5 GiB) of usable space;[21] note the difference between its capacity in decimal units (1 TB = 1012 bytes) and binary units (1 TiB = 1024 GiB = 240 bytes). Hitachi has since been joined by Samsung (Samsung SpinPoint F1, which has 3 × 334 GB platters), Seagate and Western Digital in the 1 TB drive market.[22][23] In September 2009, Showa Denko announced capacity improvements in platters that they manufacture for HDD makers. A single 2.5" platter is able to hold 334 GB worth of data, and preliminary results for 3.5" indicate a 750 GB per platter capacity.[24]
Form factor Width Largest capacity Platters (Max)

5.25″ FH

146 mm 47 GB[25] (1998)


5.25″ HH

146 mm 19.3 GB[26] (1998) 4[27]


3.5″ SATA

102 mm 2 TB[28] (2009)


3.5″ PATA

102 mm 750 GB[29] (2006)


2.5″ SATA

69.9 mm 1 TB[30] (2009)


2.5″ PATA

69.9 mm 320 GB[31] (2009)


1.8″ SATA

54 mm

320 GB[32] (2009) 3


54 mm

240 GB[33] (2008) 2


43 mm

40 GB[34] (2007)


1″ Flex)


42 mm

20 GB (2006)



24 mm

8 GB[35] (2004)


[edit] Capacity measurements

A disassembled and labeled 1997 hard drive. All major components were placed on a mirror, which created the symmetrical reflections.

Raw unformatted capacity of a hard disk drive is usually quoted with SI prefixes (metric system prefixes), incrementing by powers of 1000; today that usually means gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB). This is conventional for data speeds and memory sizes which are not inherently manufactured in power of two sizes, as RAM and Flash memory are. Hard disks by contrast have no inherent binary size as capacity is determined by number of heads, tracks and sectors.


This can cause some confusion because some operating systems may report the formatted capacity of a hard drive using binary prefix units which increment by powers of 1024. A one terabyte (1 TB) disk drive would be expected to hold around 1 trillion bytes (1,000,000,000,000) or 1000 GB; and indeed most 1 TB hard drives will contain slightly more than this number. However some operating system utilities would report this as around 931 GB or 953,674 MB, whereas the correct units would be 931 GiB or 953,674 MiB. (The actual number for a formatted capacity will be somewhat smaller still, depending on the file system). Following are the correct ways of reporting one Terabyte.
SI prefixes (Hard Drive) equivalent Binary prefixes (OS) equivalent

1 TB (Terabytes)

1 * 10004 B

0.9095 TiB (Tebibytes)

0.9095 * 10244 B

1000 GB (Gigabytes)

1000 * 10003 B

931.3 GiB (Gibibytes)

931.3 * 10243 B

1,000,000 MB (Megabytes) 1,000,000 * 10002 B

953,674.3 MiB (Mebibytes) 953,674.2 * 10242 B

1,000,000,000 (Kilobytes)


1,000,000,000 * 1000 B 976,562,500 KiB (Kibibytes) 976,562,500 * 1024 B

1,000,000,000,000 B (bytes) -

1,000,000,000,000 B (bytes) -

Microsoft Windows reports disk capacity both in a decimal integer to 12 or more digits and in binary prefix units to three significant digits. The capacity of an HDD can be calculated by multiplying the number of cylinders by the number of heads by the number of sectors by the number of bytes/sector (most commonly 512). Drives with the ATA interface and a capacity of eight gigabytes or more behave as if they were structured into 16383 cylinders, 16 heads, and 63 sectors, for compatibility with older operating systems. Unlike in the 1980s, the cylinder, head, sector (C/H/S) counts reported to the CPU by a modern ATA drive are no longer actual physical parameters since the reported numbers are constrained by historic operating-system interfaces and with zone bit recording the actual number of sectors varies by zone. Disks with SCSI interface address each sector with a unique integer number; the operating system remains ignorant of their head or cylinder count. The old C/H/S scheme has been replaced by logical block addressing. In some cases, to try to "force-fit" the C/H/S scheme to large-capacity drives, the number of heads was given as 64, although no modern drive has anywhere near 32 platters.

49 [edit] Formatted disk overhead

For a formatted drive, the operating system's file system internal usage is another, although minor, reason why a computer hard drive or storage device's capacity may show its capacity as different from its theoretical capacity. This would include storage for, as examples, a file allocation table (FAT) or inodes, as well as other other operating system data structures. This file system overhead is usually less than 1% on drives larger than 100 MB. For RAID drives, data integrity and fault-tolerance requirements also reduce the realized capacity. For example, a RAID1 drive will be about half the total capacity as a result of data mirroring. For RAID5 drives with x drives you would lose 1/x of your space to parity. RAID drives are multiple drives that appear to be one drive to the user, but provide some kind of fault-tolerance. A general rule of thumb to quickly convert the manufacturer's hard disk capacity to the standard Microsoft Windows formatted capacity is 0.93*capacity of HDD from manufacturer for HDDs less than a terabyte and 0.91*capacity of HDD from manufacturer for HDDs equal to or greater than 1 terabyte.

[edit] Form factors

5¼″ full 2½″ (8.5 mm) US/UK pennies for comparison.


110 MB 6495 MB


Six hard drives with 8″, 5.25″, 3.5″, 2.5″, 1.8″, and 1″ disks, partially disassembled to show platters and read-write heads, with a ruler showing inches.

Before the era of PCs and small computers, hard disks were of widely varying dimensions, typically in free standing cabinets the size of washing machines (e.g. DEC RP06 Disk Drive) or designed so that dimensions enabled placement in a 19" rack (e.g. Diablo Model 31).6


With increasing sales of small computers having built in floppy-disk drives (FDDs), HDDs that would fit to the FDD mountings became desirable, and this led to the evolution of the market towards drives with certain Form factors, initially derived from the sizes of 8", 5.25" and 3.5" floppy disk drives. Smaller sizes than 3.5" have emerged as popular in the marketplace and/or been decided by various industry groups.
• • 8 inch: 9.5 in × 4.624 in × 14.25 in (241.3 mm × 117.5 mm × 362 mm) In 1979, Shugart Associates' SA1000 was the first form factor compatible HDD, having the same dimensions and a compatible interface to the 8″ FDD. 5.25 inch: 5.75 in × 1.63 in × 8 in (146.1 mm × 41.4 mm × 203 mm) This smaller form factor, first used in an HDD by Seagate in 1980, was the same size as full height 5¼-inch diameter FDD, i.e., 3.25 inches high. This is twice as high as "half height" commonly used today; i.e., 1.63 in (41.4 mm). Most desktop models of drives for optical 120 mm disks (DVD, CD) use the half height 5¼″ dimension, but it fell out of fashion for HDDs. The Quantum Bigfoot HDD was the last to use it in the late 1990s, with “low-profile” (≈25 mm) and “ultra-lowprofile” (≈20 mm) high versions. 3.5 inch: 4 in × 1 in × 5.75 in (101.6 mm × 25.4 mm × 146 mm) = 376.77344 cm³ This smaller form factor, first used in an HDD by Rodime in 1984, was the same size as the "half height" 3½″ FDD, i.e., 1.63 inches high. Today has been largely superseded by 1-inch high “slimline” or “low-profile” versions of this form factor which is used by most desktop HDDs. 2.5 inch: 2.75 in × 0.374–0.59 in × 3.945 in (69.85 mm × 9.5–15 mm × 100 mm) = 66.3575 cm³104.775 cm³ This smaller form factor was introduced by PrairieTek in 1988; there is no corresponding FDD. It is widely used today for hard-disk drives in mobile devices (laptops, music players, etc.) and as of 2008 replacing 3.5 inch enterprise-class drives. It is also used in the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 video game consoles. Today, the dominant height of this form factor is 9.5 mm for laptop drives, but high capacity drives (750 GB and 1 TB) have a height of 12.5 mm. Enterprise-class drives can have a height up to 15 mm.[36] 1.8 inch: 54 mm × 8 mm × 71 mm = 30.672 cm³ This form factor, originally introduced by Integral Peripherals in 1993, has evolved into the ATA7 LIF with dimensions as stated. It is increasingly used in digital audio players and subnotebooks. An original variant exists for 2–5 GB sized HDDs that fit directly into a PC card expansion slot. These became popular for their use in iPods and other HDD based MP3 players. 1 inch: 42.8 mm × 5 mm × 36.4 mm This form factor was introduced in 1999 as IBM's Microdrive to fit inside a CF Type II slot. Samsung calls the same form factor "1.3 inch" drive in its product literature.[37] 0.85 inch: 24 mm × 5 mm × 32 mm Toshiba announced this form factor in January 2004[38] for use in mobile phones and similar applications, including SD/MMC slot compatible HDDs optimized for video storage on 4G handsets. Toshiba currently sells a 4 GB (MK4001MTD) and 8 GB (MK8003MTD) version[6] and holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest hard disk drive.[39]

• •

3.5" and 2.5" hard disks currently dominate the market. By 2009 all manufacturers had discontinued the development of new products for the 1.3inch, 1-inch and 0.85-inch form factors due to falling prices of flash memory,[40][41] The inch-based nickname of all these form factors usually do not indicate any actual product dimension (which are specified in millimeters for more recent form factors), but just roughly indicate a size relative to disk diameters, in the interest of historic continuity.


[edit] Other characteristics
[edit] Data transfer rate
As of 2008, a typical 7200rpm desktop hard drive has a sustained "disk-to-buffer" data transfer rate of about 70 megabytes per second.[42] This rate depends on the track location, so it will be highest for data on the outer tracks (where there are more data sectors) and lower toward the inner tracks (where there are fewer data sectors); and is generally somewhat higher for 10,000rpm drives. A current widely-used standard for the "bufferto-computer" interface is 3.0 Gbit/s SATA, which can send about 300 megabyte/s from the buffer to the computer, and thus is still comfortably ahead of today's disk-to-buffer transfer rates. Data transfer rate (read/write) can be measured by writing a large file to disk using special file generator tools, then reading back the file. Transfer rate can be influenced by file system fragmentation and the layout of the files.

[edit] Seek time
Seek time currently ranges from just under 2 ms for high-end server drives, to 15 ms for miniature drives, with the most common desktop type typically being around 9 ms.[citation needed] There has not been any significant improvement in this speed for some years. Some early PC drives used a stepper motor to move the heads, and as a result had access times as slow as 80–120 ms, but this was quickly improved by voice coil type actuation in the late 1980s, reducing access times to around 20 ms.

[edit] Power consumption
Power consumption has become increasingly important, not just in mobile devices such as laptops but also in server and desktop markets. Increasing data center machine density has led to problems delivering sufficient power to devices (especially for spin up), and getting rid of the waste heat subsequently produced, as well as environmental and electrical cost concerns (see green computing). Similar issues exist for large companies with thousands of desktop PCs. Smaller form factor drives often use less power than larger drives. One interesting development in this area is actively controlling the seek speed so that the head arrives at its destination only just in time to read the sector, rather than arriving as quickly as possible and then having to wait for the sector to come around (i.e. the rotational latency). Many of the hard drive companies are now producing Green Drives that require much less power and cooling. Many of these 'Green Drives' spin slower (<5400 RPM compared to 7200 RPM, 10,000 RPM, and 15,000 RPM) and also generate less waste heat. Also in Server and Workstation systems where there might be multiple hard disk drives, there are various ways of controlling when the hard drives spin up (highest power draw). On SCSI hard disk drives, the SCSI controller can directly control spin up and spin down of the drives.


On Parallel ATA (aka PATA) and SATA hard disk drives, some support Power-up in standby or PUIS. The hard disk drive will not spin up until the controller or system BIOS issues a specific command to do so. This limits the power draw or consumption upon power on. On newer SATA hard disk drives, there is Staggered Spin Up feature. The hard disk drive will not spin up until the SATA Phy comes ready (communications with the host controller starts). The details are in the SATA specification - reference needed. To further control or reduce power draw and consumption, the hard disk drive can be spun down to reduce its power consumption.

[edit] Audible noise
Measured in dBA, audible noise is significant for certain applications, such as PVRs, digital audio recording and quiet computers. Low noise disks typically use fluid bearings, slower rotational speeds (usually 5,400 rpm) and reduce the seek speed under load (AAM) to reduce audible clicks and crunching sounds. Drives in smaller form factors (e.g. 2.5 inch) are often quieter than larger drives .

[edit] Shock resistance
Shock resistance is especially important for mobile devices. Some laptops now include active hard drive protection that parks the disk heads if the machine is dropped, hopefully before impact, to offer the greatest possible chance of survival in such an event. Maximum shock tolerance to date is 350 Gs for operating and 1000 Gs for non-operating.

[edit] Access and interfaces
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2009)

Hard disk drives are accessed over one of a number of bus types, including parallel ATA (P-ATA, also called IDE or EIDE), Serial ATA (SATA), SCSI, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and Fibre Channel. Bridge circuitry is sometimes used to connect hard disk drives to buses that they cannot communicate with natively, such as IEEE 1394, USB and SCSI. Back in the days of the ST-506 interface, the data encoding scheme was also important. The first ST-506 disks used Modified Frequency Modulation (MFM) encoding, and transferred data at a rate of 5 megabits per second. Later on, controllers using 2,7 RLL (or just "RLL") encoding increased the transfer rate by 50%, to 7.5 megabits per second; this also increased disk capacity by fifty percent. Many ST-506 interface disk drives were only specified by the manufacturer to run at the lower MFM data rate, while other models (usually more expensive versions of the same


basic disk drive) were specified to run at the higher RLL data rate. In some cases, a disk drive had sufficient margin to allow the MFM specified model to run at the faster RLL data rate; however, this was often unreliable and was not recommended. An RLLcertified disk drive could run on a MFM controller, but with 1/3 less data capacity and speed. Enhanced small disk interface (ESDI) also supported multiple data rates (ESDI disks always used 2,7 RLL, but at 10, 15 or 20 megabits per second), but this was usually negotiated automatically by the disk drive and controller; most of the time, however, 15 or 20 megabit ESDI disk drives weren't downward compatible (i.e. a 15 or 20 megabit disk drive wouldn't run on a 10 megabit controller). ESDI disk drives typically also had jumpers to set the number of sectors per track and (in some cases) sector size. Modern hard drives present a consistent interface to the rest of the computer, no matter what data encoding scheme is used internally. Typically a DSP in the electronics inside the hard drive takes the raw analog voltages from the read head and uses PRML and Reed–Solomon error correction[44] to decode the sector boundaries and sector data, then sends that data out the standard interface. That DSP also watches the error rate detected by error detection and correction, and performs bad sector remapping, data collection for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology, and other internal tasks. SCSI originally had just one signaling frequency of 5 MHz for a maximum data rate of 5 megabytes/second over 8 parallel conductors, but later this was increased dramatically. The SCSI bus speed had no bearing on the disk's internal speed because of buffering between the SCSI bus and the disk drive's internal data bus; however, many early disk drives had very small buffers, and thus had to be reformatted to a different interleave (just like ST-506 disks) when used on slow computers, such as early Commodore Amiga, IBM PC compatibles and Apple Macintoshes. ATA disks have typically had no problems with interleave or data rate, due to their controller design, but many early models were incompatible with each other and couldn't run with two devices on the same physical cable in a master/slave setup. This was mostly remedied by the mid-1990s, when ATA's specification was standardised and the details began to be cleaned up, but still causes problems occasionally (especially with CD-ROM and DVD-ROM disks, and when mixing Ultra DMA and non-UDMA devices). Serial ATA does away with master/slave setups entirely, placing each disk on its own channel (with its own set of I/O ports) instead. FireWire/IEEE 1394 and USB(1.0/2.0) HDDs are external units containing generally ATA or SCSI disks with ports on the back allowing very simple and effective expansion and mobility. Most FireWire/IEEE 1394 models are able to daisy-chain in order to continue adding peripherals without requiring additional ports on the computer itself. USB however, is a point to point network and doesn't allow for daisy-chaining. USB hubs are used to increase the number of available ports and are used for devices that don't


require charging since the current supplied by hubs is typically lower than what's available from the built-in USB ports.

[edit] Disk interface families used in personal computers
Notable families of disk interfaces include:
• Historical bit serial interfaces — connect a hard disk drive (HDD) to a hard disk controller (HDC) with two cables, one for control and one for data. (Each drive also has an additional cable for power, usually connecting it directly to the power supply unit). The HDC provided significant functions such as serial/parallel conversion, data separation, and track formatting, and required matching to the drive (after formatting) in order to assure reliability. Each control cable could serve two or more drives, while a dedicated (and smaller) data cable served each drive. o ST506 used MFM (Modified Frequency Modulation) for the data encoding method. o ST412 was available in either MFM or RLL (Run Length Limited) encoding variants. o Enhanced Small Disk Interface (ESDI) was an interface developed by Maxtor to allow faster communication between the processor and the disk than MFM or RLL. Modern bit serial interfaces — connect a hard disk drive to a host bus interface adapter (today typically integrated into the "south bridge") with one data/control cable. (As for historical bit serial interfaces above, each drive also has an additional power cable, usually direct to the power supply unit.) o Fibre Channel (FC), is a successor to parallel SCSI interface on enterprise market. It is a serial protocol. In disk drives usually the Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) connection topology is used. FC has much broader usage than mere disk interfaces, it is the cornerstone of storage area networks (SANs). Recently other protocols for this field, like iSCSI and ATA over Ethernet have been developed as well. Confusingly, drives usually use copper twisted-pair cables for Fibre Channel, not fibre optics. The latter are traditionally reserved for larger devices, such as servers or disk array controllers. o Serial ATA (SATA). The SATA data cable has one data pair for differential transmission of data to the device, and one pair for differential receiving from the device, just like EIA-422. That requires that data be transmitted serially. Similar differential signaling system is used in RS485, LocalTalk, USB, Firewire, and differential SCSI. o Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The SAS is a new generation serial communication protocol for devices designed to allow for much higher speed data transfers and is compatible with SATA. SAS uses a mechanically identical data and power connector to standard 3.5" SATA1/SATA2 HDDs, and many server-oriented SAS RAID controllers are also capable of addressing SATA hard drives. SAS uses serial communication instead of the parallel method found in traditional SCSI devices but still uses SCSI commands. Word serial interfaces — connect a hard disk drive to a host bus adapter (today typically integrated into the "south bridge") with one cable for combined data/control. (As for all bit serial interfaces above, each drive also has an additional power cable, usually direct to the power supply unit.) The earliest versions of these interfaces typically had a 8 bit parallel data transfer to/from the drive, but 16 bit versions became much more common, and there are 32 bit versions. Modern variants have serial data transfer. The word nature of data transfer makes the design of a host bus adapter significantly simpler than that of the precursor HDD controller. o Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE), later renamed to ATA, with the alias P-ATA ("parallel ATA") retroactively added upon introduction of the new variant Serial ATA. The original name reflected the innovative integration of HDD controller with HDD itself, which was not found in earlier disks. Moving the HDD controller from the interface card to the disk drive helped to standardize interfaces, and to reduce the cost and complexity. The 40 pin IDE/ATA connection transfers 16 bits of data at a time on the

55 data cable. The data cable was originally 40 conductor, but later higher speed requirements for data transfer to and from the hard drive led to an "ultra DMA" mode, known as UDMA. Progressively faster versions of this standard ultimately added the requirement for an 80 conductor variant of the same cable; where half of the conductors provides grounding necessary for enhanced high-speed signal quality by reducing cross talk. The interface for 80 conductor only has 39 pins, the missing pin acting as a key to prevent incorrect insertion of the connector to an incompatible socket, a common cause of disk and controller damage. EIDE was an unofficial update (by Western Digital) to the original IDE standard, with the key improvement being the use of direct memory access (DMA) to transfer data between the disk and the computer without the involvement of the CPU, an improvement later adopted by the official ATA standards. By directly transferring data between memory and disk, DMA eliminates the need for the CPU to copy byte per byte, therefore allowing it to process other tasks while the data transfer occurs. Small Computer System Interface (SCSI), originally named SASI for Shugart Associates System Interface, was an early competitor of ESDI. SCSI disks were standard on servers, workstations, Commodore Amiga and Apple Macintosh computers through the mid-90s, by which time most models had been transitioned to IDE (and later, SATA) family disks. Only in 2005 did the capacity of SCSI disks fall behind IDE disk technology, though the highest-performance disks are still available in SCSI and Fibre Channel only. The length limitations of the data cable allows for external SCSI devices. Originally SCSI data cables used single ended (common mode) data transmission, but server class SCSI could use differential transmission, either low voltage differential (LVD) or high voltage differential (HVD). ("Low" and "High" voltages for differential SCSI are relative to SCSI standards and do not meet the meaning of low voltage and high voltage as used in general electrical engineering contexts, as apply e.g. to statutory electrical codes; both LVD and HVD use low voltage signals (3.3 V and 5 V respectively) in general terminology.)



Acronym abbreviation





Shugart Associates Historical predecessor to SCSI. System Interface


Small Computer Bus oriented that handles concurrent operations. System Interface


Serial Attached SCSI

Improvement of SCSI, uses serial communication instead of parallel.


Seagate Technology

Historical Seagate interface.


Seagate Technology

Historical Seagate interface (minor improvement over ST-506).



Enhanced Small Disk Historical; backwards compatible with ST-412/506, but faster Interface and more integrated.


Advanced Technology Successor to ST-412/506/ESDI by integrating the disk controller Attachment completely onto the device. Incapable of concurrent operations.


Serial ATA

Modification of ATA, uses serial communication instead of parallel.

[edit] Integrity

An IBM HDD head resting on a disk platter. Since the drive is not in operation, the head is simply pressed against the disk by the suspension.

Close-up of a hard disk head resting on a disk platter, and its suspension. A reflection of the head and suspension are visible beneath on the mirror-like disk.

Due to the extremely close spacing between the heads and the disk surface, any contamination of the read-write heads or platters can lead to a head crash — a failure of the disk in which the head scrapes across the platter surface, often grinding away the thin magnetic film and causing data loss. Head crashes can be caused by electronic failure, a sudden power failure, physical shock, wear and tear, corrosion, or poorly manufactured platters and heads. The HDD's spindle system relies on air pressure inside the enclosure to support the heads at their proper flying height while the disk rotates. Hard disk drives require a certain range of air pressures in order to operate properly. The connection to the external environment and pressure occurs through a small hole in the enclosure (about 0.5 mm in


diameter), usually with a filter on the inside (the breather filter).[45] If the air pressure is too low, then there is not enough lift for the flying head, so the head gets too close to the disk, and there is a risk of head crashes and data loss. Specially manufactured sealed and pressurized disks are needed for reliable high-altitude operation, above about 3,000 m (10,000 feet).[46] Modern disks include temperature sensors and adjust their operation to the operating environment. Breather holes can be seen on all disk drives — they usually have a sticker next to them, warning the user not to cover the holes. The air inside the operating drive is constantly moving too, being swept in motion by friction with the spinning platters. This air passes through an internal recirculation (or "recirc") filter to remove any leftover contaminants from manufacture, any particles or chemicals that may have somehow entered the enclosure, and any particles or outgassing generated internally in normal operation. Very high humidity for extended periods can corrode the heads and platters. For giant magnetoresistive (GMR) heads in particular, a minor head crash from contamination (that does not remove the magnetic surface of the disk) still results in the head temporarily overheating, due to friction with the disk surface, and can render the data unreadable for a short period until the head temperature stabilizes (so called "thermal asperity", a problem which can partially be dealt with by proper electronic filtering of the read signal).

[edit] Actuation of moving arm
The hard drive's electronics control the movement of the actuator and the rotation of the disk, and perform reads and writes on demand from the disk controller. Feedback of the drive electronics is accomplished by means of special segments of the disk dedicated to servo feedback. These are either complete concentric circles (in the case of dedicated servo technology), or segments interspersed with real data (in the case of embedded servo technology). The servo feedback optimizes the signal to noise ratio of the GMR sensors by adjusting the voice-coil of the actuated arm. The spinning of the disk also uses a servo motor. Modern disk firmware is capable of scheduling reads and writes efficiently on the platter surfaces and remapping sectors of the media which have failed.

[edit] Landing zones and load/unload technology

Microphotograph of an older generation hard disk head and slider (1990s). The size of the front face (which is the "trailing face" of the slider) is about 0.3 mm × 1.0 mm. It is the location of the actual 'head' (magnetic sensors). The not visible bottom face of the slider is about 1.0 mm × 1.25 mm (so called "nano" size) and faces the platter. It contains the lithographically micro-machined air bearing surface (ABS) that allows the slider to fly in a highly controlled fashion. One functional part of the head is the round, orange structure

58 visible in the middle - the lithographically defined copper coil of the write transducer. Also note the electric connections by wires bonded to gold-plated pads.

Modern HDDs prevent power interruptions or other malfunctions from landing its heads in the data zone by parking the heads either in a landing zone or by unloading (i.e., load/unload) the heads. Some early PC HDDs did not park the heads and they could land on data. A landing zone is an area of the platter usually near its inner diameter (ID), where no data is stored. This area is called the Contact Start/Stop (CSS) zone. Disks are designed such that either a spring or, more recently, rotational inertia in the platters is used to park the heads in the case of unexpected power loss. In this case, the spindle motor temporarily acts as a generator, providing power to the actuator. Spring tension from the head mounting constantly pushes the heads towards the platter. While the disk is spinning, the heads are supported by an air bearing and experience no physical contact or wear. In CSS drives the sliders carrying the head sensors (often also just called heads) are designed to survive a number of landings and takeoffs from the media surface, though wear and tear on these microscopic components eventually takes its toll. Most manufacturers design the sliders to survive 50,000 contact cycles before the chance of damage on startup rises above 50%. However, the decay rate is not linear: when a disk is younger and has had fewer start-stop cycles, it has a better chance of surviving the next startup than an older, higher-mileage disk (as the head literally drags along the disk's surface until the air bearing is established). For example, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 series of desktop hard disks are rated to 50,000 start-stop cycles, in other words no failures attributed to the head-platter interface were seen before at least 50,000 start-stop cycles during testing.[47] Around 1995 IBM pioneered a technology where a landing zone on the disk is made by a precision laser process (Laser Zone Texture = LZT) producing an array of smooth nanometer-scale "bumps" in a landing zone,[48] thus vastly improving stiction and wear performance. This technology is still largely in use today (2008), predominantly in desktop and enterprise (3.5 inch) drives. In general, CSS technology can be prone to increased stiction (the tendency for the heads to stick to the platter surface), e.g. as a consequence of increased humidity. Excessive stiction can cause physical damage to the platter and slider or spindle motor. Load/Unload technology relies on the heads being lifted off the platters into a safe location, thus eliminating the risks of wear and stiction altogether. The first HDD RAMAC and most early disk drives used complex mechanisms to load and unload the heads. Modern HDDs use ramp loading, first introduced by Memorex in 1967,[49] to load/unload onto plastic "ramps" near the outer disk edge. All HDDs today still use one of these two technologies listed above. Each has a list of advantages and drawbacks in terms of loss of storage area on the disk, relative difficulty of mechanical tolerance control, non-operating shock robustness, cost of implementation, etc.


Addressing shock robustness, IBM also created a technology for their ThinkPad line of laptop computers called the Active Protection System. When a sudden, sharp movement is detected by the built-in accelerometer in the Thinkpad, internal hard disk heads automatically unload themselves to reduce the risk of any potential data loss or scratch defects. Apple later also utilized this technology in their PowerBook, iBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook line, known as the Sudden Motion Sensor. Sony,[50] HP with their HP 3D DriveGuard[51] and Toshiba[52] have released similar technology in their notebook computers. This accelerometer based shock sensor has also been used for building cheap earthquake sensor networks.[53]

[edit] Disk failures and their metrics
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of Minimizing hard disk drive failure and data loss

Most major hard disk and motherboard vendors now support S.M.A.R.T. (SelfMonitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), which measures drive characteristics such as temperature, spin-up time, data error rates, etc. Certain trends and sudden changes in these parameters are thought to be associated with increased likelihood of drive failure and data loss. However, not all failures are predictable. Normal use eventually can lead to a breakdown in the inherently fragile device, which makes it essential for the user to periodically back up the data onto a separate storage device. Failure to do so will lead to the loss of data. While it may sometimes be possible to recover lost information, it is normally an extremely costly procedure, and it is not possible to guarantee success. A 2007 study published by Google suggested very little correlation between failure rates and either high temperature or activity level; however, the correlation between manufacturer/model and failure rate was relatively strong. Statistics in this matter is kept highly secret by most entities. Google did not publish the manufacturer's names along with their respective failure rates,[54] though they have since revealed that they use Hitachi Deskstar drives in some of their servers.[55] While several S.M.A.R.T. parameters have an impact on failure probability, a large fraction of failed drives do not produce predictive S.M.A.R.T. parameters.[54] S.M.A.R.T. parameters alone may not be useful for predicting individual drive failures.[54] A common misconception is that a colder hard drive will last longer than a hotter hard drive. The Google study seems to imply the reverse -- "lower temperatures are associated with higher failure rates". Hard drives with S.M.A.R.T.-reported average temperatures below 27 °C (80.6 °F) had failure rates worse than hard drives with the highest reported average temperature of 50 °C (122 °F), failure rates at least twice as high as the optimum S.M.A.R.T.-reported temperature range of 36 °C (96.8 °F) to 47 °C (116.6 °F).[54]


SCSI, SAS and FC drives are typically more expensive and are traditionally used in servers and disk arrays, whereas inexpensive ATA and SATA drives evolved in the home computer market and were perceived to be less reliable. This distinction is now becoming blurred. The mean time between failures (MTBF) of SATA drives is usually about 600,000 hours (some drives such as Western Digital Raptor have rated 1.2 million hours MTBF), while SCSI drives are rated for upwards of 1.5 million hours.[citation needed] However, independent research indicates that MTBF is not a reliable estimate of a drive's longevity. [56] MTBF is conducted in laboratory environments in test chambers and is an important metric to determine the quality of a disk drive before it enters high volume production. Once the drive product is in production, the more valid metric is annualized failure rate (AFR). [citation needed] AFR is the percentage of real-world drive failures after shipping. SAS drives are comparable to SCSI drives, with high MTBF and high reliability.[citation

Enterprise S-ATA drives designed and produced for enterprise markets, unlike standard S-ATA drives, have reliability comparable to other enterprise class drives.[57][58] Typically enterprise drives (all enterprise drives, including SCSI, SAS, enterprise SATA and FC) experience between 0.70%-0.78% annual failure rates from the total installed drives.[citation needed] Eventually all mechanical hard disk drives fail. And thus the strategy to mitigate loss of data is to have redundancy in some form, like RAID and backup. RAID should never be relied on as backup, as RAID controllers also break down, making the disks inaccessible. Following a backup strategy, for example - daily differential and weekly full backups, is the only sure way to prevent data loss.

[edit] Manufacturers

A Western Digital 3.5 inch 250 GB SATA HDD. This specific model features both SATA and Molex power inputs.


Seagate's hard disk drives being manufactured in a factory in Wuxi, China See also List of defunct hard disk manufacturers

Short for Compact Disc-Read Only Memory, CD-ROM drives are CD players inside computers that can have speeds in the range from 1x and beyond, and have the capability of playing audio CDs and computer data CDs. Below is a picture of the front and back of a standard CD-ROM drive.

Interfaces Below are the different types of Interfaces that allow a CD-ROM and other disc drives to connect to the computer.
• • • • • • • IDE / ATA - One of the most commonly used interfaces used still today to connect disc drives to the computer. Panasonic - Older proprietary interface. Parallel - Interface used with old external CD-ROM drives. PCMCIA (PC Card) - Interface sometimes used to connect external disc drives to laptop computers. SATA - Quickly replacing IDE as the new standard to connect disc drives. SCSI - It is highly recommended to get a card that matches the CD-ROM drive as some of the earlier drives had proprietary SCSI interfaces. Otherwise, a SCSI-2 card is recommended. USB - Interface most commonly used to connect external disc drives.


CD-ROM transfer speeds Below is the standard transfer rates and access times of the majority of CD-ROM drives. The below figures are averages you can expect to find on each speed of CD-ROM drive. These averages may be slower or faster than your CD-ROM drive and to where the CDROM is accessing the data from the CD-ROM. In general the higher this number is the faster the transfer rate or in the case of a disc burner the faster the write rate.
Drive speed Single-speed (1x) Double-speed (2x) Triple-speed (3x) Quad-speed (4x) Six-speed (6x) Eight-speed (8x) Ten-speed (10x) Twelve-speed (12x) Sixteen-speed (16x) Eighteen-speed (18x) Twenty-four-speed (24x) Thirty-two-speed (32x) One-hundred-speed (100x) CAV drives (12x - 24x) Transfer rate (BPS) 153,600 307,200 460,800 614,400 921,600 1,228,800 1,536,000 1,843,200 2,457,600 2,764,800 3,686,400 4,915,200 15,360,000 1,843,200 - 3,686,400 Access time (ms) 400 300 200 150 150 100 100 100 90 90 90 85 80 150-90

See document CH000219 which explains CAV vs. CLV and what max means when written next to the speed of the CD-ROM drive. Additional information about the trailing x following the CD-ROM speed can be found on our x dictionary definition.
• Support and help with computer CD-ROM drives can be found on our CD-ROM help page.

Real-time clock
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Dallas semiconductor realtime clock from an older PC. This version also contains a battery backed SRAM.

A real-time clock (RTC) is a computer clock (most often in the form of an integrated circuit) that keeps track of the current time. Although the term often refers to the devices in personal computers, servers and embedded systems, RTCs are present in almost any electronic device which needs to keep accurate time.

• • • • • • • 1 Terminology 2 Purpose 3 Power source 4 Timing 5 Examples 6 See also 7 References

[edit] Terminology
The term is used to avoid confusion with ordinary hardware clocks which are only signals that govern digital electronics, and do not count time in human units. RTC should not be confused with real-time computing, which shares its three-letter acronym, but does not directly relate to time of day.

[edit] Purpose
Although keeping time can be done without an RTC[1], using one has benefits:
• • • Low power consumption (important when running from alternate power) Frees the main system for time-critical tasks Sometimes more accurate than other methods

A GPS receiver can shorten its startup time by comparing the current time, according to its RTC, with the time at which it last had a valid signal.[2] If it has been less than a few hours then the previous ephemeris is still usable.


[edit] Power source
RTCs often have an alternate source of power, so they can continue to keep time while the primary source of power is off or unavailable. This alternate source of power is normally a lithium battery in older systems, but some newer systems use a supercapacitor[3], because they are rechargeable and can be soldered. The alternate power source can also supply power to battery backed RAM.

[edit] Timing
Most RTCs use a crystal oscillator[4][5], but some use the power line frequency[6] . In many cases the oscillator's frequency is 32.768 kHz.[4] This is the same frequency used in quartz clocks and watches, and for the same reasons, namely that the frequency is exactly 215 cycles per second, which is a convenient rate to use with simple binary counter circuits.

[edit] Examples

This chip, labeled ODIN, is a generic equivalent to a particular Dallas RTC.

Many integrated circuit manufacturers make RTCs, including Intersil, Maxim, Philips, Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics. The RTC was introduced to PC compatibles by the IBM PC/AT in 1984, which used a MC146818 RTC. Later Dallas made compatible RTCs, which was often used in older personal computers, and are easily found on motherboards because of their distinctive black battery cap and silkscreened logo. In newer systems the RTC is integrated into the southbridge chip.[7] Some microcontrollers have a real-time clock built in, generally only the ones with many other features and peripherals.

TV tuner card
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Hauppauge WinTV TV tuner card

A TV tuner card is a computer component that allows television signals to be received by a computer. Most TV tuners also function as video capture cards, allowing them to record television programs onto a hard disk.

• 1 Variants o 1.1 Analog TV tuners o 1.2 Digital TV tuners o 1.3 Hybrid tuners o 1.4 Combo tuners o 1.5 Mobile TV 2 Video capture 3 See also

• •

[edit] Variants

A DVB-S2 tuner card

66 D-Link external TV tuner

TV tuners are available in a number of different interfaces: as PCI bus expansion card, PCI Express (PCIe) bus, PCMCIA, ExpressCard, or USB devices also exist. In addition, some video cards double as TV tuners, notably the ATI All-In-Wonder series. The card contains a tuner and an analog-to-digital converter (collectively known as the analog front end) along with demodulation and interface logic. Some lower-end cards lack an onboard processor and, like a Winmodem, rely on the system's CPU for demodulation. There are currently four kinds of tuner card on the market:

[edit] Analog TV tuners
Analog television cards output a raw video stream, suitable for real-time viewing but ideally requiring some sort of compression if it is to be recorded. More advanced TV tuners encode the signal to Motion JPEG or MPEG, relieving the main CPU of this load. Some cards also have analog input (composite video or S-Video) and many also provide FM radio.

[edit] Digital TV tuners
Digital TV is broadcast as an MPEG-2 stream, so no encoder is necessary; instead, the digital cards either provide the whole MPEG transport stream or extract the individual (audio and video) elementary streams.

[edit] Hybrid tuners
A hybrid tuner has one tuner that can be configured to act as an analog tuner or a digital tuner. Switching in between the systems is fairly easy, but cannot be done immediately. The card operates as a digital tuner or an analog tuner until reconfigured.

[edit] Combo tuners
This is similar to a hybrid tuner, except there are two separate tuners on the card. One can watch analog while recording digital, or vice versa. The card operates as an analog tuner and a digital tuner simultaneously. The advantages over two separate cards are cost and utilization of expansion slots in the computer. As many regions around the world convert from analog to digital broadcasts, these tuners are gaining popularity. Like the analog cards, the Hybrid and Combo tuners can have specialized chips on the tuner card to perform the encoding, or leave this task to the CPU. The tuner cards with this 'hardware encoding' are generally thought of as being higher quality.[citation needed] Small USB tuner sticks have become more popular in 2006 and 2007 and are expected to increase in popularity. These small tuners generally do not have hardware encoding due to size and heat constraints.


While most TV tuners are limited to the radio frequencies and video formats used in the country of sale, many TV tuners used in computers use DSP, so a firmware upgrade is often all that's necessary to change the supported video format. Many newer TV tuners have flash memory big enough to hold the firmware sets for decoding several different video formats, making it possible to use the tuner in many countries without having to flash the firmware. However, while it is generally possible to flash a card from one analog format to another due to the similarities, it is generally not possible to flash a card from one digital format to another due to differences in decode logic necessary. Many TV tuners can function as FM radios; this is because there are similarities between broadcast television and FM radio. The FM radio spectrum is close to (or even inside) that used by VHF terrestrial TV broadcasts. And many broadcast television systems around the world use FM audio. So listening to an FM radio station is simply a case of configuring existing hardware.

[edit] Mobile TV
External TV tuner card attachments are available for mobile phone handsets like the iPhone, for watching mobile TV, via TV stations on 1seg in Japan (SoftBank), and for soon for the proprietary subscription-based MediaFLO in the U.S. (Qualcomm). There is also a "converter" for watching DVB-H in Europe and elsewhere via WiFi streaming video (PacketVideo).

[edit] Video capture
Video capture cards are a class of video capture devices designed to plug directly into expansion slots in personal computers and servers. Models from many manufacturers are available; all comply with one of the popular host bus standards including PCI, newer PCI Express (PCIe) or AGP bus interfaces. These cards typically include one or more software drivers to expose the cards' features, via various operating systems, to software applications that further process the video for specific purposes. As a class, the cards are used to capture baseband analog composite video, S-Video, and, in models equipped with tuners, RF modulated video. Some specialized cards support digital video via digital video delivery standards including Serial Digital Interface (SDI) and, more recently, the emerging HDMI standard. These models often support both standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) variants. While most PCI and PCI-Express capture devices are dedicated to that purpose, AGP capture devices are usually included with the graphics adapted on the board as an all-inone package. Unlike video editing cards, these cards tend to not have dedicated hardware for processing video beyond the analog-to-digital conversion. Most, but not all, video capture cards also support one or more channels of audio. There are many applications for video capture cards including converting a live analog source into some type of analog or digital media, (such as a VHS tape to a DVD),


archiving, video editing, scheduled recording (such as a DVR), television tuning, or video surveillance. The cards may have significantly different designs to optimally support each of these functions. One of the most popular applications for video capture cards is to capture video and audio for live Internet video streaming. The live stream can also be simultaneously archived and formatted for video on demand. The capture cards used for this purpose are typically purchased, installed, and configured in host PC systems by hobbyists or systems integrators. Some care is required to select suitable host systems for video encoding, particularly HD applications which are more affected by CPU performance, number of CPU cores, and certain motherboard characteristics that heavily influence capture performance.

USB flash drive
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search "JumpDrive" redirects here. For the fictional propulsion system, see Jump drive.

A SanDisk 16 GB USB retractable flash drive.

A USB flash drive consists of flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.1 or 2.0 interface. USB flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, much smaller than a floppy disk, and most weigh less than 1 ounce (30 g).[1] Storage capacities can range from a few megabytes to 256 GB[2] with steady improvements in size and price per capacity. Some allow 1 million write or erase cycles [3] [4] and have 10-year data retention,[5]. USB flash drives are often used for the same purposes as floppy disks were. They are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable due to their lack of moving parts. Until approximately 2005, most PC and laptop computers were supplied with floppy disc drives, but most recent equipment has abandoned floppy disk drives in favor of USB ports.


Flash drives use the USB mass storage standard, supported natively by modern operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other Unix-like systems. USB drives with USB 2.0 support can store more data and transfer faster than a much larger optical disc drive and can be read by most other systems such as the Microsoft Xbox 360. Nothing moves mechanically in a flash drive; the term drive persists because computers read and write flash-drive data using the same system commands as for a mechanical disk drive, with the storage appearing to the computer operating system and user interface as just another drive.[4] Flash drives are very robust mechanically, and can withstand anything that does not actually break the circuit board or connector. A flash drive consists of a small printed circuit board carrying the circuit elements and a USB connector, insulated electrically and protected inside a plastic, metal, or rubberized case which can be carried in a pocket or on a key chain, for example. The USB connector may be protected by a removable cap or by retracting into the body of the drive, although it is not likely to be damaged if unprotected. Most flash drives use a standard type-A USB connection allowing plugging into a port on a personal computer, but drives for other interfaces also exist. Most USB flash drives derive their power from the USB connection, and do not require a battery. Some devices which combine the functionality of a digital audio player with flash-drive-type storage require a battery for the player function.


• • • 1 Technology 2 History o 2.1 First commercial product o 2.2 Second generation 3 Design and implementation o 3.1 Essential components o 3.2 Additional components o 3.3 Size and style of packaging o 3.4 File system 4 Fake products 5 Uses o 5.1 Personal data transport o 5.2 Secure storage of data, application and software files o 5.3 System administration o 5.4 Application carriers o 5.5 Computer forensics and law enforcement o 5.6 Booting operating systems o 5.7 Windows Vista and Windows 7 ReadyBoost o 5.8 Audio players o 5.9 Music storage and marketing o 5.10 In arcades o 5.11 Brand and product promotion o 5.12 Backup 6 Advantages and disadvantages o 6.1 Advantages o 6.2 Disadvantages 7 Comparison with other portable storage o 7.1 Tape o 7.2 Floppy disk o 7.3 Optical media o 7.4 Flash memory cards o 7.5 External hard disk o 7.6 Obsolete devices 8 Security o 8.1 Encryption o 8.2 Security threats o 8.3 Security breaches 9 Naming 10 Current and future developments 11 Flash drives for non-USB interfaces 12 See also 13 References

• •

• •

• • • • •

[edit] Technology
Main articles: Flash memory and USB


Flash memory combines a number of older technologies, with lower cost, lower power consumption and small size made possible by recent advances in microprocessor technology. The memory storage was based on earlier EPROM and EEPROM technologies. These had very limited capacity, were very slow for both reading and writing, required complex high-voltage drive circuitry, and could only be re-written after erasing the entire contents of the chip. Hardware designers later developed EEPROMs with the erasure region broken up into smaller "fields" that could be erased individually without affecting the others. Altering the contents of a particular memory location involved copying the entire field into an offchip buffer memory, erasing the field, modifying the data as required in the buffer, and re-writing it into the same field. This required considerable computer support, and PCbased EEPROM flash memory systems often carried their own dedicated microprocessor system. Flash drives are more or less a miniaturized version of this. The development of high-speed serial data interfaces such as USB made semiconductor memory systems with serially accessed storage viable, and the simultaneous development of small, high-speed, low-power microprocessor systems allowed this to be incorporated into extremely compact systems. Serial access requires far fewer electrical connections for the memory chips than does parallel access, which has simplified the manufacture of multi-gigabyte drives. Computers access modern flash memory systems very much like hard disk drives, where the controller system has full control over where information is actually stored. The actual EEPROM writing and erasure processes are, however, still very similar to the earlier systems described above. Many low-cost MP3 players simply add extra software and a battery to a standard flash memory control microprocessor so it can also serve as a music playback decoder. Most of these players can also be used as a conventional flash drive, for storing files of any type.

[edit] History
[edit] First commercial product
Trek Technology and IBM began selling the first USB flash drives commercially in 2000. Singaporean company Trek Technology sold a model dubbed the "ThumbDrive," and IBM marketed the first such drives in North America, with its product the "DiskOnKey" (which was manufactured by the Israeli company M-Systems). IBM's USB flash drive became available on December 15, 2000,[6] and had a storage capacity of 8 MB, more than five times the capacity of the commonly used floppy disks (floppy disks having a capacity of 1.44MB). In 2000 Lexar introduced a Compact Flash (CF) card with a USB connection, and a companion card read/writer and USB cable that eliminated the need for a USB hub.


On July 24, 2002 Netac Technology was granted a highly-contested Chinese patent for the USB flash drive.[7] In 2004 Trek Technology brought several lawsuits against other USB flash drive manufacturers and distributors in an attempt to assert its patent rights to the USB flash drive. A court in Singapore ordered competitors to cease selling similar products[8] that would be covered by Trek's patent, but a court in the United Kingdom revoked [9] one of Trek's patents in that country.

[edit] Second generation
Modern flash drives have USB 2.0 connectivity. However, they do not currently use the full 480 Mbit/s (60MB/s) the USB 2.0 Hi-Speed specification supports due to technical limitations inherent in NAND flash. The fastest drives currently available use a dual channel controller, although they still fall considerably short of the transfer rate possible from a current generation hard disk, or the maximum high speed USB throughput. Typical overall file transfer speeds vary considerably, and should be checked before purchase. Speeds may be given in Mbyte per second, Mbit per second, or optical drive multipliers such as "180X" (180 times 150 KiB per second). Typical fast drives claim to read at up to 30 megabytes/s (MB/s) and write at about half that. Older "USB full speed" 12 Mbit/s devices are limited to a maximum of about 1 MB/s.

[edit] Design and implementation
One end of the device is fitted with a single male type-A USB connector. Inside the plastic casing is a small printed circuit board. Mounted on this board is some power circuitry and a small number of surface-mounted integrated circuits (ICs). Typically, one of these ICs provides an interface to the USB port, another drives the onboard memory, and the other is the flash memory. Drives typically use the USB mass storage device class to communicate with the host.



Essential components

There are typically four parts to a flash drive:
• Male type-A USB connector – provides an interface to the host computer. USB mass storage controller – implements the USB host controller. The controller contains a small microcontroller with a small amount of on-chip ROM and RAM. NAND flash memory chip – stores data. NAND flash is typically also used in digital cameras. Crystal oscillator – produces the device's main 12 MHz clock signal and controls the device's data output through a phaselocked loop.

Internals of a typical USB flash drive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 USB connector USB mass storage controller device Test points Flash memory chip Crystal oscillator LED Write-protect switch (Optional) Space for second flash memory chip


Additional components

The typical device may also include:
• • • • • Jumpers and test pins – for testing during the flash drive's manufacturing or loading code into the microprocessor. LEDs – indicate data transfers or data reads and writes. Write-protect switches – indicate whether the device should be in "write-protection" mode. Unpopulated space – provides space to include a second memory chip. Having this second space allows the manufacturer to use a single printed circuit board for more than one storage size device. USB connector cover or cap – reduces the risk of damage and prevents the ingress of fluff or other contaminants, and improves overall device appearance. Some flash drives use retractable USB connectors instead. Others have a swivel arrangement so that the connector can be protected without removing anything. Transport aid – the cap or the body often contains a hole suitable for connection to a key chain or lanyard. Connecting the cap, rather than the body, can allow the drive itself to be lost. Some drives offer expandable storage via an internal memory card slot, much like a memory card reader.[10][11]

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