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This topic will introduce computer and its components. A computer is a machine
which manipulates data according to a list of instructions. Computer systems and
its operating system as well as the hardware and software will also be introduced
in this unit.

The objectives of this topic are to:
1. Understand the computer and its components.
2. Know the computer’s operating system and its hardware and software.

After completing this unit, the students should be able to:
1. Understand the personal computer (PC), its operating system and its
hardware and software

A general purpose computer has four main sections: the arithmetic and logic unit
(ALU), the control unit, the memory, and the input and output devices
(collectively termed I/O). These parts are interconnected by busses, often made
of groups of wires. Figure 1.1 summarizes the concepts.
The control unit, ALU, registers, and basic I/O (and often other hardware closely
linked with these) are collectively known as a central processing unit (CPU).
Early CPUs were composed of many separate components but since the mid1970s CPUs have typically been constructed on a single integrated circuit called
a microprocessor.


DAC 10203

1-2 DAC 10203 . Q3. Even though it might look different from the usual specification given out by computer shop today. this is the foundation of any Personal Computer available today.1 Q1. The next section will expand this basic Internal Hardware Component knowledge into the existing Personal Computer specification. Using the Internet.Figure 1.1: An Idealized Personal Computer Internal Hardware Component Basic knowledge of this internal hardware component of Personal Computer will enable us to visualize the operation of any computer systems. List two advantages of this new RAM compared with SD RAM. find more information regarding the history of PC and its operating system. Compare and contrast Window XP over Window Vista. DDR3 is currently the new RAM for Personal Computer available in the market. Q2. Exercise 1.

Floppy Disk Drive (FDD). higher RAM and hard disk capacity and the best available video card and sound systems.1: The overall mapping of PC components Items System Unit Monitor Component(s) Casing. HDD. There is no limit to the combinational complexity that can be obtained once we understand the functionality of each component. As an example. Video Card Stand alone component Notes All these components are assembled as System Unit.1 provides the overall mapping of PC components. Personal Computers can be assembled or built with different components according to our needs.1. Table 1. System Unit is usually wrongly called as CPU or Hard Disk. Table 1. CDROM Drive. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) . Basic Personal Computer (PC) can be grouped into System Unit and other components connected to it. We are now able to choose components according to our personal requirement if we know them. Users with detailed knowledge of all the computer components will get the best specification suitable to their daily task. RAM and Drive Controller.2 INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER COMPONENTS Now days. a student developing a Three Dimensional (3D) Games will choose or assembled Personal Computer with a powerful CPU. Motherboard installed with CPU. CD-ROM Drive and FDD are connected to the motherboard using IDE cables. Power Supply. CPU and Hard Disk drive are only two of the components within the System Unit. Monitor is connected to the System unit (video card) Keyboard Stand alone component Mouse Stand alone component Printer Stand alone component Scanner Stand alone component Keyboard is connected to the motherboard USB connector Mouse is connected to the motherboard USB connector Printer is connected to the motherboard USB connector Scanner is connected to the motherboard USB connector 1-3 DAC 10203 .

2: Example of PCs with mini tower model casing 1-4 DAC 10203 . Hard Disk. Tower model stands upright in a vertical position that allows easy placement on the floor. two CD ROM Drives. Two models of casings are available in the market: tower and desktop model. a user who required.1. Three towers design are available: mini-tower (2 CD ROM Drive slots). For example. Figure 1. Floppy Disk Drive (FDD) and Compact Disk (CD) Drive. two hard Disk Drive and two CPU installed with the motherboard will choose full tower case. mid-tower (3 CD ROM Drive slots). The selection on type of tower design usually depends on the number of components required for each PC.2.1 System Unit System Unit consists of several components: § Casing or computer Case Casing or computer case is used to place components such as Power Supply. motherboard installed with: Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Random Access Memory (RAM). and full tower case (5 CD ROM Drive slots).

Figure 1. The monitor can be set on top of the casing and can be a space saver.The desktop model sits on a desk horizontally. Figure 1.4: ATX Power Supply 1-5 DAC 10203 . AT power supply is an old model and has been replaced with ATX model which enable the computer to be shutdown using the operation system such windows XP.3: Example of PC with desktop model casing § Power Supply Computer power supply comes with the case. The old power supply model (AT). required the user to physically push the on/off button to shut down the computer. Two types of power supply available are AT Model and ATX model.

1-6 DAC 10203 . Input/Output (I/O) support. sound. Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) chip. expansion sockets. dipswitches and jumpers. Figure 1. Figure 1. power supply socket.5 shows the example of motherboard. and the memory cache.5: Motherboard The major components on the motherboard include the chipset. RAM sockets. Basic Input Output System (BIOS). networking and more are also mounted into this board. The cards for video. CPU socket.§ Motherboard This is where the core components of the computer reside.

6: Intel’s Pentium II CPU 1-7 DAC 10203 .4 Gigahertz 1. Four common specifications for CPU are: Processor type.6 shows an example of Intel’s Pentium II CPU.4 GHz 400 MHz L2 Cache Size 256 KB The Bus Speed must be supported by the motherboard Higher size of L2 Cache enhanced the processing ability of the CPU Figure 1. As an example.2: Example of CPU specification for a PC CPU Specification Processor Type Processor Speed Bus Speed Values Explanation Xeon This is one of the Intel Corporation’s Family of CPU The CPU speed of 1. Figure 1. It performs commands and instructions and controls the operation of the computer.2. Two main manufacturers of CPU in the market now are Intel Corporation and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Corporation. Table 1. Every year. both of them produces new CPU model and specification which offer new design and faster processing power. a PC specification which related to the PC in the market is listed in Table 1. Processor speed (in Gigahertz (GHz)).§ Central Processing Unit (CPU) This is the brain of the personal computer. Bus speed (Megahertz (MHz)): and L2 Cache Size (in Kilobytes (KB)).

DRAM stores data in tiny capacitors that must be refreshed to maintain the data. The current type of RAM available in the market is Double Data Rate 3(DDR3) Synchronous Dynamic (SD) RAM. DRAM is inexpensive and somewhat slow. The amount and type of memory in the system can make a big difference in the system performance. It will maintain data only as long as voltage is available. This is memory that must be powered on to retain its contents. the data is lost. Static RAM (SRAM) and Dynamic RAM (DRAM). In other words. The contents of RAM are lost when the computer power is turned off. There are two classes of RAM that are commonly used today.§ Random Access Memory (RAM) The RAM in PC system is mounted on the motherboard. Table 1. RAM chips on the computer hold the data and programs that the microprocessor is processing.3 gives further explanation of DDR3 SDRAM. Once the power is turned off. Random Access Memory (RAM) is considered temporary. but it is fast. SRAM is used for cache memory. or volatile memory. but very dense for the size. A computer with higher RAM can hold and process large programs and files.3: Example of DDR3 SDRAM specification for a PC. Table 1. The advancement in the development of RAM and other PC components are very fast and one model of RAM or other components usually lasted less than two years. Allows for RAM capacities of 512 Megabyte (MB) to 8 Gigabyte (GB) 512 Megabyte 1-8 DAC 10203 . RAM is memory that stores frequently used data for rapid retrieval by the processor. RAM Specification RAM Type Capacity Values Explanation DDR3 SDRAM New generation of RAM called Double Data Rate 3 Synchronous Dynamic RAM. SRAM is relatively more expensive.

Cache memory stores frequently used information and transfers it to the processor much faster than RAM. If data is not found in L1 cache. It is the first place the CPU looks for its data. The controllers let your hard drives and CD ROM Drives work by controlling their operation. the search will then continue with L2 cache. As an example. § Hard disk drive(s) Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is used to stored data and the Operating System on the PC. The HDD has a much larger storage capacity than the floppy for longterm storage. Typically. On most PCs.§ Cache Memory Cache is a specialized form of computer chip that is designed to enhance memory performance. and then on to RAM. 1-9 DAC 10203 . Intel XEON CPU has L2 Cache size of 256 Kilobit as part of the CPU which can be used to speed up the processing time of the computer. Additional controllers for faster or other types of drives such as Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) can also be added to the motherboard when SCSI Hard Disk is added to the PC. they are included on the motherboard and each of their feature(s) is described in the motherboard manual which comes with the PC when we purchased them. L1 cache is faster than L2 because it is located within the CPU and runs at same speed as the CPU. § Drive controllers The drive controllers control the interface of your system to hard disk drives and the CD ROM Drives. Most personal computers have two separate memory cache levels: Level 1 (L1) cache is located on the CPU and Level 2 (L2) cache is located between the CPU and DRAM Cache Memory. the HDD is installed inside the Casing as an internal drive and cannot be seen outside the System Unit. It has a more complex design and provides a greater speed of access.

Table 1. Table 1. The setting for this configuration is usually available in the motherboard manual supplied with each PC.4 gives example of hard disk drive specification.7: Hard Disk Drive (Internal) Every motherboard can support up to four hard disk drives if CD ROM drive is not installed (One master and one slave at IDE1 and IDE2). three Hard Disk Drives can be installed with one CD ROM Drive (One master and one slave HDD on IDE1) and one master HDD on IDE2 and one slave CDROM Drive on IDE2.4: Example of Hard Disk Drive specification for a PC Hard Disk Drive Model Specification Model Quantum Capacity Explanation 80 Gigabyte (GB) A common type of Hard Disk Drive installed with PC The Hard Sizes is getting bigger as the technology for this component improves over time .Figure 1. Otherwise. 1-10 DAC 10203 .

§ CD-ROM Drive and DVD-ROM Drive This is normally a read only drive where files are permanently stored. CD-ROM drive is replacing the functionality of Floppy Disk Drive (FDD). Figure 1. Exiting CD-ROM Drive can be used to backup data up 700 Megabytes (MB) of data in a single CD.8: CD-ROM Drive (Internal) § Floppy Disk Drive (FDD) A Floppy Disk Drive uses floppy disk which is a small disk storage device that today typically has about 1.4 Megabytes of memory capacity.9: Floppy Disk Drive (FDD) 1-11 DAC 10203 . Figure 1. Figure 1.8 shows example of CD-ROM drive. Slowly. There are now read/write CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives that use special software to allow users to read from and write to these drives. The introduction of cheaper Thumb Drives (storage size can varies from 128 MB to 1 GB) has slowly replaced the usage of floppy disk as the common device for storing data for backup purpose. CD-ROM Drive with writable capability has become important for data backup purpose.

§ Video Cards The video card or video adapter is the interface between the computer and monitor. An AGP card allows game and 3D applications to store and retrieve finer. A 64-bit AGP video card with 4 MB of RAM should be enough. The video card is either an expansion card (installed into one of the motherboard expansion slots) or it can be built into the motherboard. AGP also doubles the PCI transfer speed. AGP is designed exclusively for video cards. but more graphic intensive games may perform better with a video card having 32 MB or more video RAM. The display capabilities of a computer depend on both the video adapter and the monitor. The Pentium IV has an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) expansion slot for installing a video card. A significant advantage of the AGP is that the PCI bus is relieved of handling graphics data. what color the pixels should be and the intensity of the color. so that the PCI slot can concentrate on other demanding duties. The video card tells the monitor which pixels to light up.10: AGP Video Card 1-12 DAC 10203 . These adapters are referred to as graphics accelerators. Figure 1. A newer form of VRAM is WRAM (Windows RAM). Figure 1.10 shows the example of AGP video card. Some video cards even include a graphics coprocessor for performing graphics calculations. without incurring any performance problems. more realistic textures in system memory rather than video memory.

green. This number is measured in bits." 15. Monitor screen sizes are measured in inches. Some have a 0. Look for the smaller number. § Keyboard Keyboard is used for entering commands into the computer.§ Monitor This device which operates like a TV set lets the user see how the computer is responding to our commands. Monitors are available in different types. but actually it flickers every time the electron beam hits the phosphor-coated dots. There are now SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) and XGA (Extended Graphics Array) with resolutions all the way up to 1600 x 1200. Resolution varies based on the number of pixels. and blue (RGB). Most monitors today have a 0. The finer the dot pitch. Refresh rates are measured in Hertz (HZ). Pixels are picture elements. 1-13 DAC 10203 . which are arranged in rows across the screen. Have this in mind when shopping for a monitor for the computer. The higher the depth. sizes." 19. which gives a very fine resolution. which means times per second." 17. Refresh rate is also called vertical frequency or vertical refresh rate. measured diagonally. Some key monitor-related terms are: pixels. colour depth. and size. The most common sizes are 14. Colour Depth refers to the number of different colors each pixel can display. Understanding the characteristics of a good monitor will help determine which is best suited for a specific system. which is called VGA (Video Graphics Array). and characteristics. It may look like a steady picture. The refresh rate is the rate per seconds that the screen image is refreshed. refresh rate. Note that the visible size is actually smaller than the measurement size. the more colors that can be produced. The more pixels in the screen. The higher the refresh rate. dot pitch. Each pixel consists of three colors: red.22mm dot pitch. the more steady the screen image will be. Dot pitch is a measurement of how close together the phosphor dots are on the screen. just like televisions. the better the resolution.25mm dot pitch. Better resolution means a sharper image. The lowest screen resolution on modern PCs is 640 x 480 pixels." and 21" screens. resolution. The screen image is made of pixels (tiny dots). the better image quality you will have.

LINK or IEEE 1394 is a high-speed.11 shows example of USB port. also known as a network adapter. The following items summarize the devices: n A Modem is a device that converts the digital data used by computers into analog signals that are suitable for transmission over a telephone line and converts the analog signals back to digital signals at the destination n A Network Interface Card (NIC). is used to connect a local computer to a group of other computers so they can share data and resources in a networked environment. printers. scanners. Figure 1. printers. Figure 1. mice.Some other devices are also important in personal computer. also known as i. digital cameras.12 shows example of FireWire. n Figure 1. modems. and hard drives.11: USB Port Figure 1. platformindependent communication bus that interconnects digital devices such as digital video cameras. n Universal Serial Bus (USB) port allows user to connect up to 127 external PC peripherals.12: FireWire 1-14 DAC 10203 . and external disk drives. scanners. including USB keyboards. n A FireWire.

Compare and contrast handy drive over hard drive. Using the Internet. What is the difference between DVD ROM and CD ROM? Q3. find more information regarding the personal computer (PC) and its components.Exercise 1. 1-15 DAC 10203 .2 Q1. Q2.

3 OPERATING SYSTEM An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access the resources. At the foundation of all system software. controlling input and output devices. prioritizing system requests. sending output the display screen. 1-16 DAC 10203 .13: Operating System as a platform for other applications and devices Operating system is also the most important program that runs on a computer. such as recognizing input from the keyboard.5.13. An operating system processes system data and user input. Most operating systems come with an application that provides a user interface for managing the operating system such a command line interpreter or graphical user interface. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. facilitating networking and managing file systems. The operating system forms a platform for other system software and for application software as shown in Figure 1. Some of the examples of operating system are listed in Table 1. an operating system performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory. Figure 1. and responds by allocating and managing tasks and internal system resources as a service to users and programs of the system.1. Operating systems perform basic tasks. and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. keeping track of files and directories on the disk.

Compare and contrast Unix Operating System over Window Operating System. Q2. Windows Vista. PC-DOS. Windows NT. AIX.5: Examples of Operating System UNIX System V.Table 1. IRIX.3 Q1. Windows 98. 1-17 DAC 10203 . HP-UX. find more information regarding the operating systems. Operating system (OS) is also known as a heart of a computer. Solaris (SunOS). Mac OS X Exercise 1. MS-DOS. Windows 7 DOS 86-DOS (QDOS). Comparison of Linux distributions Microsoft Windows Windows 95. Windows XP. What happen if OS is mal-function or does not working? Q3. Unix/BSD List of BSD operating systems Operating system GNU/Linux List of Linux distributions. Windows CE. FreeDOS Mac OS Mac OS classic. Using the Internet.

Unit 1. tracing. We can buy software at the computer shops. device drivers. debugging. and often blurred. It includes operating systems. Circuits. such as programs. cables. Typical applications include industrial automation. educational software. debuggers and so on. readers. interpreters. because the IDE usually has an advanced graphical user interface or GUI. Software refers to parts of the computer which do not have a material form. · System software helps run the computer hardware and computer system. especially memory and other hardware features. data. An Integrated development environment (IDE) merges those tools into a software bundle. interpreter. diagnostic tools. The tools include text editors.. Some examples of software include Microsoft Visual C++. business software. · Programming software usually provides tools to assist a programmer in writing computer programs and software using different programming languages in a more convenient way. keyboards. compilers. 1-18 DAC 10203 . Micromedia Flash and Adobe Illustrator.1. and a programmer may not need to type multiple commands for compiling. protocols. and etc. Practical computer systems divide software systems into three major classes: system software. printers. windowing systems. programming software and application software. utilities and more. · Application software allows end users to accomplish one or more specific (non-computer related) tasks. printers and mice are all hardware. displays.2 already discussed these. servers. The purpose of systems software is to insulate the applications programmer as much as possible from the details of the particular computer complex being used. and such as accessory devices as communications. etc. power supplies. displays. but almost every field of human activity now uses some form of application software. it is sometimes called "firmware" to indicate that it falls into an uncertain area somewhere between hardware and software. databases and computer games. When software is stored in hardware that cannot easily be modified (such as BIOS ROM in an IBM PC compatible).4 HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE The term hardware covers all of those parts of a computer that are tangible objects. although the distinction is arbitrary. etc. medical software. Adobe Dreamweaver. keyboards. linkers. Businesses are probably the biggest users of application software.

Wiley Publishing. Inc. we have reviewed about PC and its components. Dan Gookin. Alpha Books. 2. PCs for Dummies. Compare and contrast hardware over software. Osborne. Q2. SUMMARY In this topic. 2001. find more information about hardware and software.Exercise 1. 11th Edition. REFERENCES 1. The hardware and software of a computer are also reviewed. 2007. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Computer Basics. 4th Edition. 2007. An operating system of a computer is also reviewed.4 Q1. Give 5 examples of hardware and software. 1-19 DAC 10203 . PC Hardware: A Beginner’s Guide. Joe Kraynak. Q3. Using the Internet. Ron Gilster. 3.