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JOMO KENYATTA UNIVERSITY

OF
AGRICULTURE & TECHNOLOGY
JKUAT SODeL

SCHOOL OF OPEN, DISTANCE AND eLEARNING


P.O. Box 62000, 00200
2015

Nairobi, Kenya
E-mail: elearning@jkuat.ac.ke

HPS 2106 COMPUTER APPLICATIONS

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HPS 2106 COMPUTER APPLICATIONS
This presentation is intended to covered within one week.
The notes, examples and exercises should be supple-
mented with a good textbook. Most of the exercises have
solutions/answers appearing elsewhere and accessible by
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clicking the green Exercise tag. To move back to the same


page click the same tag appearing at the end of the solu-
tion/answer.
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Errors and omissions in these notes are entirely the re-


sponsibility of the author who should only be contacted
through the Department of Curricula & Delivery
(SODeL) and suggested corrections may be e-mailed to
elearning@jkuat.ac.ke.
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LESSON 2
Computer Hardware Processing and
Storage Subsystems
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1. Identify and give examples of the components and func-


tions of a computer system.
2. Identify the major hardware components of a computer
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system.
3. Describe the design and functioning of the central process-
ing unit.
4. Describe the main types of primary and secondary storage.
JJ II 5. Define enterprise storage and describe the various types of
J I enterprise storage.
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2.1. A Few Definitions First
Pin - A part of a connector that extends outward to extend into
and make contact with a socket. Referred to as the male
side of a connector.
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Socket - a part of a connector that contains an internal contact


to receive the extended side (pin) of a connector. Referred
to as the female side of a connector.
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Jack - A receptacle where power of signal connectors may be


plugged into. These are usually on the case of a computer
or the motherboard and are made to receive plugs from
devices such as keyboards.

JJ II Plug - The part that connects with the jack, which comes from
J I a keyboard, mouse, monitor or other device. This is the
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side associated with a cable.

2.1.1. Outside the Box (Computer Cases)


There are two basic styles of cases the computer may come as-
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sembled in. These are: the tower and the desktop style cases.
Desktop style is in the shape of a rectangular box that sits flat on
a desk. Usually the computer monitor is placed on top of it. A
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tower case looks similar to a tower as the name suggests. Tower


cases are normally placed off to the side of the keyboard and
monitor. The tower case is the most popular style of desktop
computer today. It is also recommended by some microprocessor
manufacturers since it can be designed for better heat dissipa-
JJ II tion. Tower cases come in several sizes which are:
J I Mini-tower - The smallest.
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Mid-tower - The standard size, recommended for most ap-
plications including standard desktop systems and some
servers.
Full-tower - The largest. Usually this is a very tall case and
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you may have a difficult time fitting it where overhead is


limited. This case is usually used for high powered servers.
Types of cases come to fit AT and ATX sizes. If you want a
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modern computer, you will want, or should have an ATX case.


The AT or ATX version refers to the type of motherboard the
case is designed to fit. The AT case is for the old type of moth-
erboards such as for the 80486 microprocessor based computers.
Following is a discussion of the various components or parts of
JJ II the computer casing.
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The Front Panel
When you look at the front of your computer, you will probably
see something a little different from the diagram to the right
below. There are a huge number of variations on the market.
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However, certain features are either standard or at least very


common. Well look at them starting with the buttons.
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The Buttons
The Power button is most important. If you cant find this one,
you wont get too far with your computer! This is either a push
button or a flip switch that turns on the computer. Computers
now put this on the front, but older models may have it on the
JJ II side or even the back of the computer. There is an LED light to
J I show you that the power is on.
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The Reset button is used to restart the computer quickly.
When the Reset button is pressed, called a Warm Boot, the
computer shuts down but does not stop the hard drives spin-
ning. It then immediately starts up again. This saves time since
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if the hard drive is turned off, you must wait about 30 seconds to
be sure that it has completely stopped before turning the power
back on.
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Note: Restarting the hard drive too soon can damage it.
Sometimes it is necessary to do a Cold Boot, that is let the drive
stop first and let the internals cool off for a bit before restarting,
in order to clear up a computer glitch. The Turbo button is
now obsolete on nearly all computers. This button made the
JJ II computers CPU run at a higher clock rate. On earlier models
J I there were times this was not desirable. Thus a button to switch
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the Turbo mode on and off. More recent models dont use this
feature

The Removable Media Drives


The diagram shows 3 different kinds of removable media drives,
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that is, drives for which you insert and remove the object that
contains the data. These include the two sizes of floppy drives,
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tape drives, CD-ROM drives, and other newer kinds like Zip
drives.
Floppy drives were the first such drive invented. CD-ROM
drives are now standard equipment on most new systems. Tape
drives are used mostly for backing up data in large quantity.
All of these drives must be connected to the power supply
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and to the motherboard. You can imagine how crowded it gets
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inside the computer case with all of these cables running around.
Indeed you can run out of physical space and connections for the
devices that you want. Sometimes it just wont all fit!
Each drive will have a small LED light that will light up
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when that drive is being accessed. These are in green on the


diagram.
You probably dont have all of these different kinds of drives.
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Notice that only a certain number will fit in the spaces provided
in your case. There are external versions, too, that plug into the
back of the computer. These are handy if you dont have room
for another device or if you want to use the device on more than
one computer. The internal types are usually faster though.
JJ II The hard drive is not accessible from the outside of the com-
J I puter. It is completely internal. There is a LED light, however,
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to let you know when the drive is being accessed. On most ma-
chines you can clearly hear the drive starting up and when the
head is moving around. Each drive has a different sound.
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The exact locations of many of these items vary somewhat


from computer to computer, but the overall layout is generally
the same.
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The Sound a drive makes is an important diagnostic tool


for these drives. Pay attention to what your drives sound like
under normal conditions so youll be able to catch problems right
away. If your drive starts making a sound that is different from
normal, something is wrong. It may be a software problem that
JJ II is causing the drive to hunt around too much or it may be a
J I hardware problem. Either way something needs to be fixed.
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A badly behaving drive can ruin the media you put in. If
you suspect something is going wrong with a drive, dont use
media with important data on it for testing. Use either a blank
or something with unimportant data until you can be confident
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that the drive wont trash it!

USB Drives
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External drives that connect to the parallel or USB port come in


handy when there is no more room inside the case. To switch be-
tween devices all you have to do is switch the connection. Thats
much easier than having to dig around inside the computer case
to physically switch out a device!! You dont even have to shut
down the computer to switch USB devices. No wonder they are
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so popular!
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The Back Panel
External devices connect to the computer from the back of the
case. The diagram overleaf shows the most common connections.
But the arrangement of these is quite varied from machine to
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machine. The name-brand computers often have unique designs


with special connectors for the peripherals that are sold with the
computer.
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Near the keyboard and mouse connectors is normally a con-


nector for a parallel printer. This is what is called a parallel
device, meaning that more than one line carries data in one di-
rection at a time. This is the connector you will plug your par-
allel printer into. See your computers motherboard or owners
JJ II manual for exact placement of these connectors.
J I Usually a little below the parallel printer connector are two
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serial connectors. There are two types of serial connectors, which
are called DB9 and DB25. One type, DB9 contains 9 pins or
sockets and the other contains 25 pins or sockets. You may have
any combination of the 9 or 25 pin connectors. Also some are
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female style connectors, and others are male. You will need to
make sure your connectors match for their given types. The
serial cables are normally used to connect a serial mouse, an
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external modem, or some other device to Your computer.

Below the parallel and serial connectors are a series of slots


which are covered by a metal plate. This is where additional
cards are plugged into your system. These cards are usually a
JJ II video card, a sound card, internal modem, and one or more net-
J I work cards. Your monitor connector would plug into a connector
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on your video card, and your speakers will plug into a connector
on your sound card. See your sound card and video card manual
for exact placement of these connectors on the card. These cards
are plugged into the motherboard and you must open your case
JJ II up to remove or add one of these cards.
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The Power Connectors
The back panel includes two power connectors. One is to connect
your computer to the wall outlet, and the other can be used to
connect the monitor power to operate from the socket on the
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back of the case. Usually the power connector for the monitor
is not used since many use a power strip or a surge protector to
control the power to all devices. The power cord connects the
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computer to electrical power. It is a thick, round cable with a


three prong plug on one end and a three-hole plug on the other.

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If you are ever working on the inside of the case, be SURE
that this cord is disconnected, else you might find out what it
feels like to stick your finger in an electrical socket. Zap! The
keyboard and mouse connectors are both normally PS2 connec-
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tors on new computers. There are two sizes of PS2 connectors;


normally with todays equipment you will want the smaller PS2
connector on your keyboard. Mice dont come with the larger
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PS2 connector. There are adapters made to allow smaller con-


nectors to adjust to a larger sockets and vice-versa. A PS2 con-
nector is a round connector with 6 pins and a plastic key. The
keyboard always uses the PS2 connector; however the mouse
may be a serial or a USB mouse and may plug into the serial ca-
JJ II ble on your computer or to any of the USB ports. With modern
J I computers, normally a PS2 mouse will be used.
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The Fan
The fan that you can see on the back of the computer is not a
connection, but it is critical to the health of your computer. It
cools the power supply. There is at least one other fan inside
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the computer, which keeps air flowing inside the case to remove
the heat that all this processing generates
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If things get too hot inside the casing, the CPU will fail to
calculate accurately. You will get wrong answers, the wrong
commands will be executed, there may be unpredictable crashes
of your programs. This could be annoying or disastrous, depend-
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ing on exactly what happens. If you have trouble only after the
computer has been on for awhile, you can put HEAT on the top
of your list of suspects. When your computer first starts up,
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most of the noise you hear comes from the fans.

Precaution with the Fan


Never block the vent holes in your computers case. Blow
the dust off the blades from time to time.

JJ II If you ever fail to hear a fan running, dont operate the


J I computer until it is fixed or youll be risking serious dam-
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age from heat.

The Keyboard Connector and Ports


Older Keyboards used the serial connector. Recent keyboards
use a PS/2 connector, which is smaller than the old style key-
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board connector and which can only fit one way some modern
keyboards also use USB connectors, See figure below. The stan-
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dard color coding scheme uses purple for the keyboard connector
and port, to make it easy to find the right port for each connec-
tor. Not all manufacturers use the standard scheme.
The barrel of the keyboard connector usually has a mark or
channel or a flat area to show where the top of the plug is.
That spot should match the top of the computer-side port. In
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tower cases the top is not toward the top of the case when it is
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in use, but toward the top as it is laying open for being worked
on.

Precaution with the PS/2 Keyboard


Never Disconnect a PS/2 keyboard with the computer on.
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Connecting or disconnecting a device with a PS/2 connec-


tor can cause a power surge to your motherboard, which
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can ruin it. The damage will not be visible, but it will
definitely not be repairable.
Some cases make it a little hard to get the keyboard plugged
in firmly. When computer boots, it checks for the presence
of a keyboard and will not continue if it cant find one. If
JJ II this happens while your keyboard is plugged in, first shut
J I down the computer and unplug the keyboard, then plug
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it up again. Try to be sure that the plug is fully seated.
Then reboot.
Keyboards can fail, especially after a session with spilled
liquids or crumbs. So keep such away from your computer
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working area. Your keyboard may recover from a swim-


ming session after it dries out if the liquid did not leave
anything behind like sugar or tea leaves.
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Heavy Keyboard use will eventually wear out the electrical


contacts in the keyboard, as in any electrical device.

2.1.2. The Mouse Connector


Newer mice use a PS/2 or a USB connection instead of a serial
JJ II connection. The port and the connector are light green, if the
J I manufacturer has followed the standard color scheme.
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2.1.3. The Universal Serial Bus
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) will soon be used for nearly all
computer peripherals. This is attributable to the fact that;
The computer chip on the main board can automatically
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recognize any USB device and assign the resources and


power that it needs. This avoids the hair-pulling sessions
that commonly go with the installation of a new device.
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A USB device can be connected or disconnected at any


time without having to shut down or reboot the computer.
A USB device can send data at 12 Mbps for devices like
scanners and printers or at 1.5 Mbps for keyboards and
JJ II joysticks.
J I The port allows the use of a USB HUB which you can then
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use to connect up to 127 other USB devices. They will have
to share power and resources, of course, but many can work
at the same time. No more problems with running out of
connectors!
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Most USB cables are 5 meters long (16.5 feet). This length
allows for the signal to get through properly. If you need
a longer cable, you can hook up several 5 m. cables and
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some USB hubs in a chain - up to 25 meters.


Most new computers now have multiple USB (Universal Serial
Bus) ports on the front as well as on the back of the computer.
Its much easier to use the ports on the front for connecting
cameras and USB drives, like the one at the right.
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2.1.4. Precaution with Some USB Devices
For some USB peripherals especially disks, you may need to stop
the device before unplugging. Use the menu from the Safely
Remove Hardware icon (in WinXPs notification tray). Failure
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to stop may lead to loss of data or damage to the disk.

2.1.5. Serial Ports


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Serial ports come in two sizes, 9 pin and 25 pin. The computer-
side connector will be male. (Older video types use the female
9-pin type.) Often there will be one of each size showing in the
same slot on the back of the computer. Notice that the connector
has angled sides so that the plug can fit only one way. Many
JJ II older devices use a serial port, including the computer mouse,
J I Printers, external modems, Keyboards etc. A serial port sends
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data one bit at a time.

2.1.6. The Parallel Port


A parallel port is used primarily by printers. Scanners and ex-
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ternal storage devices of many types also connect to the parallel


port. USB connections are replacing the parallel port. While a
serial port sends data one bit at a time parallel ports can send 8
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bits at a time. The parallel port uses a 25 pin female connector.

2.1.7. The Video Connector


The monitor cable plugs into a port on the video card with places
for 15 pins, but there are not 15 pins on the cable connector. The
JJ II sides of the plug are sloped so there is only one way to insert the
J I plug. Digital monitors have a different connector without pins
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and require a digital video card.
The video connector seems to be easier to knock off than
the other connectors. There are screws on either side to fasten
it down. Keeping it fastened down will protect the pins in the
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plug from getting bent. It is easy to bend the pins by pushing


too hard when the pins and holes are not quite lined up. You
may think that you have a good connection. If the color is not
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right on the monitor after youve connected it back up, you have
probably bent the pin that carries the instructions for red. It
seems to be the one bent most often.
You can straighten a pin that is out of alignment by carefully
using a small flat blade of a knife or screwdriver to move the pin
JJ II back in place. If its really kinked, take hold of the pin with
J I needle-nosed pliers and gently straighten it. Be VERY gentle.
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You dont want to get into the problem of replacing the video
plug.

2.1.8. The Sound Card and Its Connectors


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A sound card has holes (ports) for connecting a microphone,


speakers or headphones, and an outside sound source with a
single prong plug. There is also a serial port for connecting
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devices like musical keyboards and synthesizers.

Recent devices are color coded to help you match the con-
nector to the correct port.
Audio line IN is blue
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microphone is pink
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Audio line OUT (speakers) is lime green.
Some sound cards do not have the plug-in holes colored or even
marked as to which is which. If you cant find the documentation
that came with the sound card, youll have to experiment to see
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which one your speakers go in. Once you figure it out, mark the
holes with fingernail polish or something so you wont have the
experience of working for hours to fix your sound when the
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only problem is that the speakers are plugged into the wrong
hole. Some sound cards have a volume control wheel but others
rely on software volume controls. Some kinds of speakers have
volume control knobs or slides.

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2.1.9. Modem and Network Connectors
An internal modem has connectors for phone lines, both in and
out. The in line runs from the telephone wall outlet. The
out line runs from the computer to another device, usually
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either a FAX machine or a regular telephone.


Network cable may be a coaxial cable. Its round, insu-
lated, and has a single wire in the middle. There is a collar to
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screw down to make the connection firm. A network patch cable


is round but the connector is similar to a telephone connector
but wider.

2.1.10. Access Slots


JJ II The access slots are openings in the back of the computer to
J I allow devices to connect. The peripheral cards have a metal
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tongue which fits into the opening and contains the connectors.
The tongue is held in place with a screw at the top. When
selecting a computer, be sure the case has an extra bay for that
future device you dont know about yet.
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2.1.11. Inside the Computer Case


Before you see what is inside the computer case, you would need
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to open and remove the case cover. We now learn the precautions
we need to take while opening the case.

2.1.12. Opening the Case


JJ II Warning! Before deciding to open your computer case and touch
J I or remove any parts inside, you should be aware that your body
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can contain static electricity that may be discharged to the cir-
cuits inside your computer. A static discharge can damage or
ruin your computer. Therefore prior to doing any work inside
your computer, you should get a grounding strap. A grounding
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strap can be attached to one of your wrists and be plugged into


the wall (if it is the type made for a wall outlet). If you dont
have the ground strap made for the wall outlet, you may need
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to attach your ground strap to a cold water pipe. A ground


strap grounds your body using the earth ground in the wall out-
let or from a cold water pipe. A grounding strap should cost
less than twenty dollars and should be available at an electrical
equipment store. You should always wear a ground strap when
JJ II working inside your computer case. Especially when working
J I with the microprocessor, memory, motherboard, or other plug
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in boards. Alternatively, ground yourself by touching something
metal like the power supply or metal parts of the case. Also,
prior to opening your computer case, be sure it is turned off and
unplugged. 110 volts can cause injury or death! Also working
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on your computer while it is plugged in can damage or destroy


it.
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2.1.13. Removing the Case


To open the computer case, depending on the type of case you
may need to follow one of the following sets of instructions.
1. For the less expensive cases normally you need to:
(a) Remove 4 or 5 screws in the back of the case. Be
JJ II sure these screws hold the case and not some other
J I component like the power supply.
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(b) Slide the case foreword on its slots and remove it.
2. For higher quality cases :
(a) Remove one thumbscrew or one or two Phillips head
screws from the back of your case that may hold one
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or more panels.
(b) Remove the top panel and/or one or more necessary
side panels.
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Once you have opened the case, lay it on its side so you can
look at the inside components. You should see some variation
of the picture overleaf. While you may not often tinker with the
insides of your computer, it is a good idea to know a little about
what it is like in there. The diagram shows a basic tower case
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arrangement.
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2.1.14. Components Inside the case
The System Board (mother board)
The single largest component inside the case is the system board.
Also known as the motherboard, the system board is the main
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component of a computer and is the bedrock for all the other


devices. In basic terms, it provides a data path for all of the
other components. At some point, all input to and all output
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from a computer must travel across the system board.


Manufacturers design system boards for specific CPU types
or families. By designing and integrating the components into
the total design of the system board, they can provide optimized
speed and functionality with the CPU type. Although you can
JJ II upgrade to a newer CPU within the same family, this is not
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always the best solution, because you will need to determine if
the system board design can utilize the new features of the CPU
and if its components are optimized. In some cases, it is better
to purchase a new system board that, by design, can fully utilize
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the functions of a new CPU chip.


The original PCs had very few integrated devices on the sys-
tem board, and the only guaranteed port was for the keyboard.
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All other components including a display adapter, floppy or


hard disk controllers, or serial and parallel ports were add on
cards. In comparison, today manufacturers include many I/O
devices on mordent PC system boards as integrated components.
However, other components such as high resolution graphics,
JJ II networking, SCSI, and sound are usually add on cards. Because
J I these add on components are usually for special environments,
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integrating them is not cost effective.
Server class machines often have integrated SCSI and net-
working capabilities; entry level home PCs often have integrated
sound, but little more; and business class PCs often have inte-
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grated networking but limited sound capabilities. The figure


below shows an example ATX Type System board and its vari-
ous components. Note that the front of the computer is at the
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bottom and the rear is at the top of the figure.

System Buses
The system bus is a parallel collection of conductors that carry
data and control signals from one component to the other. They
serve as communication paths to connect the basic components
JJ II
of the computer. The buses are actually metallic traces on the
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circuit board. There are three major system bus types that can
be identified based on the type of information they carry. These
include the address bus, data bus, and control bus.

The Address Bus


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The address bus is a unidirectional pathway. Unidirectional


means that information can only flow one way. The function
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of the pathway is to carry addresses generated by the CPU to


the memory and I/O elements of the computer. The number
of conductors in the bus determines the size of the address bus.
The size of the address bus determines the number of memory
locations and I/O elements that the microprocessor can address.

JJ II
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The Data Bus
The data bus is a bidirectional pathway for data flow. Bidirec-
tional means that information can flow in two directions. Data
can flow along the data bus from the CPU to memory during a
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write operation, and data can move from the computer memory
to the CPU during a read operation. However, should two de-
vices attempt to use the bus at the same time, data errors will
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occur.
Any device connected to the data bus must have the capabil-
ity to temporarily put its output on hold when it is not involved
in an operation with the processor. This is also called a floating
state. The data bus size, measured in bits, represents the com-
JJ II puter word size. Generally, the larger the bus size is, the faster
J I the computer system is. Common data bus sizes are 8-bits or
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16-bits for older systems and 32 bits and 64 bit data bus for new
systems.

The Control Bus


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The control bus carries the control and timing signals needed
to coordinate the activities of the entire computer. Control bus
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signals are not necessarily related to each other, unlike data


and address buses. Some are output signals from the CPU, and
others are input signals to the CPU from I/O elements of the
system. Every microprocessor type generates or responds to a
different set of control signals. The most common control signals
JJ II in use today are as follows:
J I System Clock (SYSCLK)
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JJ II
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Memory Read (MEMR)
Memory Write (MEMW)
Read/Write Line (R/W Line)
I/O Read (IOR)
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I/O Write (IOW)

The microprocessor (CPU)


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The system boards most important component is the central


processing unit, or CPU, which ultimately processes or controls
all instructions. A processor is defined as an electronic compo-
nent of a computer that carries out all the executions of the com-
puter system. It also refers to the central processing unit (CPU)
JJ II
of a computer and acts like the brain of a computer. It provides
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resources and operation sequencing necessary for implementa-
tion of smooth operation of the computer. Any computer must
have a processor. A processor also carries out logical, arithmetic
and control operations within a computer.
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Aside from the CPU, the other components on a system


board include the random access memory (RAM), the read-only
memory (ROM), the complementary metal oxide semiconduc-
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tor (CMOS), cache, input/output (I/O) ports, expansion slots,


and the clock. The sections below briefly discuss each of these
components in detail.
The microprocessor, or central processing unit (CPU), fol-
lows software instructions to perform the calculations and log-
JJ II ical manipulations that transform input data into output. Not
J I all CPUs are compatible with each other; each is capable of
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processing a particular set of instructions, so a software pro-
gram written for one family of processors cant necessarily be
understood by a processor from another family. Engineers are
constantly improving the clock speed and architecture of CPUs,
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making computers capable of processing information faster.


The CPU uses RAM (random access memory) as a tem-
porary storage area a scratch pad for instructions and data.
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Another type of memory, ROM (read-only memory), contains


unchangeable information that serves as reference material for
the CPU as it executes program instructions. The CPU and
main memory are housed in silicon chips on the motherboard
and other circuit boards inside the computer. Buses connect to
JJ II slots and ports that enable the computer to communicate with
J I internal devices and external peripherals.
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2.1.15. Major Functions of the Processor (CPU)
1. The CPU fetch the instructions from the memory
2. It then decodes / interprets the instructions to determine,
what action is required
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3. It fetches data from the memory or the I/O devices


4. It processes / manipulates data
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5. It writes the result of the processing of data. It writes the


data to memory or the I/O devices

Internal Structure of Processor (CPU)


Internally a CPU consists of Processor registers, Arithmetic and
JJ II logic unit, Control unit, and bus structures (interconnection
J I structure)
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Processor Registers
These are small internal memory units within the processor used
to store data temporarily during execution. CPU requires inter-
nal memory to hold data There are special registers within the
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CPU that are used by the control unit to control the opera-
tions of the CPU and hold programs which have been executed
Examples of CPU registers include:
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P.C Program Counter: contains the address or instructions


to be fetched next
Instructions register (IR): Contains instructions recently
fetched
Memory Address Register (MAR): This contains the ad-
JJ II
dress of the location of the memory for the data or instruc-
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tion to be fetched
Memory Buffer register (MBR): contains one of data to be
written to the memory
NB: Some registers are visible to programmers (programmers
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are aware of their existence)

2.1.16. Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU)


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This implements the computation instructions required by the


CPU. It carries out the arithmetic, logic and shift operations
as required by the CPU The ALU contains registers which are
loaded to the variables. Variables are the values to be computed.
Then control signals are issued determining the kind of operation
JJ II t be carried out.
J I A and B are Registers to be loaded with variables x and y.
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Control Signals determine the operation to be carried out add,
subtract, divide etc.

Control Unit (CU)


The function of a control unit is to co-ordinate all the operation
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in the CPU in order to realize the instruction cycle. It generates


the control signals to make the execution take place.
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Bus Structure \ Interconnection Structure


BUS : Refers to pathways in which signals are sent from one
component to another. The CPU contains internal BUS to fa-
cilitate the interconnection of the CPU components. The bus
JJ II
consists of 3 types of signal patterns:
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Data signal pathways: These carry data from one compo-


nent to another in the CPU
Control signal pathways: These carry the instructions or
control signal from one computer to the other
JJ II Address signal pathway: Transmit memory addresses from
J I one component to another
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Classification of Processors
1. By manufacturer: e.g. Intel, Cyrix, Celeron, Amo, IBM
etc
2. By processor Speed: e.g. 8088 384, 486 PI, PII, PIII, PIV
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etc
3. By technology geometry: e.g. Pin Grid Array, Single Slot
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processor etc

Expansion Slots
Expansion slots are receptacles on the computer motherboard
that accept printed circuit boards. Expansion slots are also
known as sockets. All computers have expansion slots that allow
JJ II additional devices to be added. Devices include video cards, I/O
J I cards, sound cards et cetera There are several types of expan-
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sion slots on a motherboard. The number and type of expansion
slots in the computer determines the possibilities of future ex-
pansion. The most common expansion slots include the ISA,
the PCI, and the AGP.
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Industry Standard Architecture (ISA)


The Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) is a 16-bit expansion
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slot developed by IBM. It transfers data with the motherboard


at 8 MHz. ISA slots are becoming obsolete. They are being
replaced by PCI slots in new systems. However, many mother-
board manufacturers still include one or two ISA slots for back-
ward compatibility with older expansion cards. In 1987, IBM
introduced the 32-bit, Extended ISA (EISA) bus, which accom-
JJ II
modates the Pentium chip. EISA became fairly popular in the
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PC market.

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)


The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) is a 32-bit local
bus slot developed by Intel. Since they talk to the motherboard
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at 33 MHz, the PCI bus slots offer a significant improvement


over ISA or EISA expansion slots. With the PCI bus, each
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add-on card contains information that the processor uses to au-


tomatically configure the card. The PCI bus is one of the three
components necessary for plug-and-play. The main purpose of
the PCI bus is to allow direct access to the CPU for devices
such as memory and video. PCI expansion slots are the most
commonly used type in current motherboards.
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Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
The Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) was developed by Intel.
AGP is a dedicated high-speed bus that is used to support the
high demands of graphical software. This slot is reserved for
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video adapters. This is the standard graphics port in all new


systems. On AGP-equipped motherboards, a single AGP slot
holds the display adapter, and the PCI slot can be used for
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another device. Slightly shorter than the white PCI slot, the
AGP slot is usually a different color and is located about an
inch beyond the PCI slot. AGP 2.0 currently defines an interface
supporting 1x and 2x speeds at 3.3V, and 1x, 2x, and 4x speeds
at 1.5V signaling. AGP 3.0 is the latest specification defining the
JJ II new signaling scheme for 4x and 8x speeds at .8V signaling levels.
J I AGP 3.0 delivers over 2.1 GB/s of bandwidth to support graphic
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intensive applications, including digital photos and video.

2.1.17. Expansion or Peripheral Cards


A peripheral is a device that connects to the motherboard and
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includes such things as a monitor, mouse, keyboard, modem,


scanner, digital camera, and printer. Many of these devices at-
tach to an expansion card also called a peripheral card (also
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called a controller card, adapter card, interface card, expansion


board) which is connected to the motherboard via an expansion
slot, or socket.
1. Inserting and removing these cards can be tricky at times.
If a new card doesnt seem to work, be very sure that it is
JJ II inserted all the way. If the motherboard flexes too much
J I while you are pushing the card into the slot, you may break
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it or the card. In many cases you can place a flat book
like a phone book under the computer case to block the
flexing enough for you to get the card inserted.
2. The bottom edge of a peripheral card may have a gap or
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two. Be careful to line these up with the corresponding


spots in the socket before applying pressure to insert the
card.
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3. When selecting a computer, be sure that there are unused


slots for peripherals. You may need to add one that you
havent thought of yet.
4. If the top of the tongue doesnt lie flat on top of the screw
hole, the peripheral card is not all the way down in the
JJ II
slot.
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Connecting things backwards inside a computer is sometimes
possible, even though good design would shape the parts so that
theyll only fit one way. But just because its possible, doesnt
mean its not damaging to the devices connected. So be careful.
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If the connector has a pin marked as 1 (you may need a strong


light to see), it is important that you plug the cable in the right
way!
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There are also some pins which can be joined together with a
jumper. This is a little piece that slides over two pins at the same
time. Placing a jumper over pins closes the circuit, changing the
path of the electricity. Different combinations of open and closed
jumpers are used depending on whether you have just one hard
JJ II drive or more than one. You need the manual for the hard drive
J I to know for sure how to set the jumpers.
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Keep all manuals until you get rid of that piece of hardware.
If you trade or sell it, be kind and send the documents, too. It
can be hard to get replacements

2.1.18. The IDE Cables


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Between the hard, floppy, and CD-ROM drive bays you will see
some thin flat grey cables going to the floppy and hard drive con-
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nectors on the motherboard. These are data also called control


cables used by the system to control the drives and get and send
data from and to them. On one side of the grey cable should be
a red stripe going along the cable. This red stripe should always
be placed on the pin 1 side of the connector. You will need to
JJ II look closely at the connectors on your hard and floppy drives to
J I determine which is the pin 1 side or read your manual. On hard
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drives and most CD-ROMs pin 1 is on the side closest to the
power supply connector.

The Power Supply Unit


The power supply converts the electricity from the wall outlet
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into the flavor that the computer can digest. While all power
supplies look pretty much alike, they are not all alike in what
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they put out.


It is critical that the power supply provide exactly the right
kind of power or the motherboard will be fried! Be careful when
you are replacing the power supply or motherboard that they
match.

JJ II
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The Power supply and Power Cables
Notice the sets of colored wires coming out of the power supply.
These are the power cables. There should be Cables running
between the power supply are colored black, red, and yellow.
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There is one going to each hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM


drive and any other drive the system is using such as a mass
storage device. There is also a multicolored power supply cable
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with about 12 wires going between the power supply and the
motherboard.

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The wires are colored black, red, yellow, orange, and there is
one that is blue. The primary rating on the power supply that
JJ II you should be concerned about is wattage. Most are standard
J I in the range from 230 through 300 watts. 250 watts is the rec-
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ommend wattage for most standard systems today. If you are
buying a high powered system with a microprocessor that uses
a lot of power such as an AMD Athlon, you will need to buy a
case that has a power supply capable providing 300 watts.
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The following sections talk about the motherboard and asso-


ciated components such as memory, the microprocessor, and the
expansion cards. The first task is to remove the case so we can
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see whats inside. Click on the parts in the diagram and youll
be moved to a description. Use the Return to Top arrows to get
back to the diagram for another choice.

2.1.19. Computer Memory and Storage Subsystem

JJ II Computer Memory is that part of a computer system used to


J I hold data and instructions and programs within the computer for
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execution or future use there are 2 main categories of memory:
Primary memory: It is internal fast and volatile memory
that holds data and instructions. It is usually accessible
by the CPU. It is also known as internal memory or pri-
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mary storage e.g. Main memories, Cache i.e. RAM and


registers.
Secondary Memory: Provides mass storage of data in
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programs that is immediately not required by the CPU. It


stores data for future use and reference. It also provides
permanent storage of data and programs It is not directly
accessible by the CPU, but the CPU can access the data
through the input and output devices. Secondary memory
JJ II is also known as external memory, secondary storage, or
J I storage device e.g. hard disk, floppy disk, flash disk, CDs,
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DVDs, etc
Memory in computer system is arranged in a hierarchy and there
is the general characteristic for this memory as one move from
the top to the bottom of the memory hierarchy
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Primary Memory
Primary memory holds data that is immediately needed by the
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CPU. It temporarily stores the programs, instructions and data


when in execution. It is characterized by fast access, low capac-
ity, high cost and volatility. It works as a working space for the
CPU. Due to the small size of the memory, it only accommodates
the data required by the CPU. The data that is not immediately
JJ II required is retained in the secondary memory. When a program
J I is opened / started it is held up in the main memory. When it
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closes, it is taken back to the secondary memory.
Each memory consists of a number of memory location units
which are available for the storage of data and instructions. This
storage of data is referred to as the bit cells. Each memory loca-
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tion has a physical address which is used by the CPU to retrieve


programs or instructions. The data or instruction stored in a bit
cell is referred to as word.. The size of data that can be stored in
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a bit cell is referred to as word length. Each cell has a fixed num-
ber of bits that can be stored in it. The number of words that
can be stored in a memory is equivalent to addressable memory.
The memory address begins with a (0) zero, to N-1, where
N is the number of words that can be stored in a memory. The
JJ II program instruction or data can be referred through use of these
J I addresses
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JJ II
Figure 2.1: The Computer Memory (Storage Hierarchy)
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Types of Primary Memory


Primary or Main memory breaks down into two main categories.
These are the Random Access Memory (RAM) and the Read
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Only Memory (ROM).

Random Access Memory (RAM)


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This is used to temporarily hold data and instructions that is


needed by the CPU. It is highly volatile, meaning that data held
in time will be lost if the computer is suddenly shutdown before
saving the data. This also happens if the computer loses power..
The CPU can read the RAM to retrieve the information in it,
JJ II and can write to it to store information.
J I RAM is used to Read and Store data. It allows for random
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access of the memory: This means that the data in any part of
the memory can be accessed and used in the same amount of
time. RAM is divided into 2 categories:
1. DRAM
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2. SRAM
DRAM stores information inform of a charge. These charges
need constant supply of power in order to continue holding the
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data.
SRAM stores the bit of information within a flip flop tech-
nology and illustrating this, the content is stable as long as the
power is available e.g. DIMMS

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Read Only Memory ROM
Provides permanent or semi permanent storage of data. The
content can be READ but cannot be REWRITTEN during the
normal computer operation. The application of this is perma-
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nent storage of instructions e.g. boot configuration information.


It is non-volatile, thus data is stored permanently.
Major Characteristics of ROM
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It is a read only memory


It cannot be modified
It is non- volatile
Types of ROMS
JJ II 1. Mask programming ROM
J I 2. Field programming ROM
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3. Erasable programming ROM
4. Electrical programming ROM
5. Flash Electrical Programming ROM
6. Cache memory
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Cache Memory
It is a high speed memory used to hold programs and data cur-
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rently needed by the CPU for execution. It is a subset of main


memory used to interface the main memory and the CPU i.e.
it bridges between the gap for slow communication between the
main memory and the CPU. It gets the data / instructions from
the main memory, which it forward quickly to the CPU, and
JJ II vice-versa.
J I The aim of the cache is to reduce the access time between
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the CPU and the main memory, hence improving speedy oper-
ation of the CPU. It achieves this by restricting the number of
references to the main memory by the CPU. Normally the cache
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will frequently access the application by the CPU.


Computer systems can have:
Single cache (level 1): outside the CPU
Level 1 and Level 2 cache (Level 2 inside the CPU)

JJ II
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Virtual Memory
This refers to a situation where the secondary memory (hard
disk) is regarded as an extension of the main memory which is
used as a swap are for programs temporarily removed from the
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CPU and must be returned back to the CPU for execution. The
secondary memory is used as temporary main memory. This is
because the main memory can not hold all the programs / data.
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Thus they are temporarily kept in the secondary memory.

Secondary Memory (Storage)


Secondary memory is also referred to as backing storage, aux-
iliary storage or secondary memory. This refers to computer
JJ II storage which offers permanent storage for programs, data and
J I Information that are not currently being executed by the CPU.
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It is basically used to supplement the main memory because
they are large in size and are non-volatile.
Example of secondary storage devices includes hard disk drive
and tape drives which are capable of two-way communication
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with the computer, have high capacity and are inexpensive. In


addition to these, secondary storage also comprises a variety of
removable media such as Optical discs and external hard disks
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that are used mostly as high capacity backup storage media.

Advantages of Secondary Storage


1. Offer mass storage of data
2. Offer permanent storage of data
JJ II 3. Are cheaper than the main memory
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Disadvantages Secondary Storage
Are slow in terms of access to computers

Uses of Secondary Storage


1. Offers storage of master file, databases and programs
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2. Online storage of database organization


3. Provides means of backup for data and programs
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4. Exchange of program and data including the softwares


5. Provides virtual storage of programs

2.1.20. Classification of Secondary Storage


Are classified in 3 categories:
JJ II
J I 1. Magnetic tapes
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2. Magnetic disks
3. Optical disks

Magnetic Tapes
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These were the kinds of memory where the technology of home


tape recorders is based. The data is stored in blocks separated
by interblock gaps for stopping purposes. The tape cant be
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stored abruptly when the destination record is reached. The


interblock gaps are provicec to ensure that data is not lost.

Features of Magnetic Tapes


Consist of plastic base coated with metal oxide film

JJ II The data is recorded in terms of magnetic and non-magnetic


J I spots to represent words or digits
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In terms of length, it can be 300, 600, 1200, 2400, and
3600 feet

Benefits of Magnetic Tapes


When used as input media, they offer high speed input of
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data hence improve the CPU utilization


Has a high storage capacity which is 10Mb, 6Mb
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It is cheaper than magnetic disk


It is light, thus convenient to store in a library

Limitations Magnetic Tapes


Doesnt allow / accept hydrate / random access because
JJ II it is a serial device
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It has a limited lifespan 2yrs i.e. cant be used to store
historical data
Requires storage in special environment e.g. Away from
sunlight
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Uses of Magnetic Tapes


Input media to a type system
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Not commonly used nowadays because technology is improving.


It is not common

Magnetic Disk Drives


Hard drives consist of a series of round metal plates called plat-
JJ II ters, also called cylinders. They are coated with an electro-
J I magnetic material which can support magnetic states that are
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capable of being electrically altered. This means some type of
electrical signal can alter the magnetic polarization of various
areas of the plates. The state of these polarized areas can also
be sensed. Each platter can hold large amounts of data. There
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are several platters mounted on a hard drive. Between each plat-


ter is a head which is used to sense and modify the states of the
platter. There are two heads on each platter.
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The figure below shows a device that has four disks (or
platters). The white rings in each platter indicate a specific
track. The white rings compose a cylinder Each platter has
data stored on it in a specific pattern for read and write access.
The data is organized into tracks which are rings around the
JJ II platter. The distance the head moves into the platter will de-
J I termine which track is read. A sector is a section of data in the
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cylinder. Different hard drives have different numbers of sectors,
tracks, and platters. The total storage space on the hard drive
is traditionally equal to: Sector size times sectors/track times
tracks/cylinder times the number of cylinders. With more mod-
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ern drives, however, to increase storage space, some drives have


more sectors on the outer tracks than the inner tracks. This
is because there is more physical room for data on the outer
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tracks. Therefore this method of calculating hard drive capacity


may not be effective in the future.

Summary of Hard Disk Components


A number of platters (disks) on which data is stored (the
more disks, the greater the drives capacity)
JJ II
J I A motor to rotate the disks
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A head to read and write data (The heads fly over the
surface of a disk supported by a few molecules of air)
An actuator to move the heads over the disks
Each disk is segmented radially into tracks. Tracks are
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about 300 millionths of an inch apart.


Each track is divided into sectors. A sector is the smallest
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addressable unit on a direct access storage device.


A cylinder is made up of all the tracks that are at the same
location of each platter in the device.

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Data Storage inside the Disk
A magnetic disk stores the on and off bits of binary data as
microscopic magnetized needles on the surface of the disk. This
data can be recorded and erased any number of times. When
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computer power is turned off, the data remains stored on the


disk. When data that is larger than one track is read or written
to a device that has multiple platters, a head change is required
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to continue reading or writing. Although changing to another


head can be done quickly, the time required may be long enough
to miss the first sector of the track on the next platter. If the first
sector is missed, the head has to wait almost a complete rotation
before it can continue. To prevent this situation, a technique
JJ II called track skewing can be implemented whereby sectors that
J I should be consecutive are actually spaced apart. e.g. SECTOR1
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SECTOR 3 SECTOR2 SECTOR4. The slower the seek, the
further the sectors must be skewed or separated.
Areal density defines how tightly information is packed
together on a medium. Increasing capacity per platter results in
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fewer parts, lower power consumption, less heat, and less noise.
Increasing areal density increases performance because the head
reads bits quickly as more pass under the head in the same
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amount of time; a lower speed disk could outperform a higher


speed disk.
SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Tech-
nology) is an industry-standard specification for EIDE and SCSI
disks that allows the monitoring of disks for reliability and im-
JJ II pending disk drive failures. Software can interrogate the disk at
J I any time to see if any error conditions exist. In 1999, SMART II
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extended the reliability of a SMART disk by testing all sectors
of the disk during periods of inactivity.
Partial response maximum likelihood (PRML) is a
digital signaling technique that makes it possible for the read
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head to get an imperfect reading from the drive surface and de-
termine what the data represents. This technique allows data
to be packed more closely, and a little interference from adja-
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cent data will be tolerated. It increases reliability, in that this


technology makes sense out of misread signals. Yes, folks : some-
times the hard disk simply guesses what the data is!
In 2000, IBM started shipping disks with glass disk platters
instead of conventional aluminum magnesium. The smoother
JJ II and more rigid glass disks allow the recording head to read
J I smaller bits of information that are packed more closely together
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as the head can fly closer to the surface. Glass disks are also
more stable at higher speeds.
Hard disks: seriously primitive but amazingly reliable and
accurate. Using one is like tossing a coin and hoping you get a
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million heads in a row but it works! Imagine an aluminum disk


about 3.5 (9 cm) in diameter and 2mm thick. Imagine it is on
a spindle with maybe 10 or 20 similar disks on the same spindle
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spinning at 7,200 revolutions per minute (a racing motor bike


would be screaming to change gear at that speed).
Imagine each disk had a tiny read/write head on a metal stick
hovering above its upper and lower surfaces how high is the head
hovering? Considerably lower than the height of human hair or
JJ II a speck of grease left by a finger print. The only thing keeping
J I the head off the surface of the disk is the few atoms of air holding
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the head up. Imagine this flying head trying to magnetize a part
of the disk, or read the magnetic information already stored on
the disk. It has to pack a few million ones and zeros into a few
millimeters of disk. It has to do it with 100% accuracy. Its
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like trying to drop a tennis ball into a bucket from a jet fighter
doing 1000 km/h at 10,000 feet. Then you have to circle the
fighter and pluck the ball from the bucket 600 times without
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ever making a mistake.


Yet, thats what we expect our hard disks to do every day
and swear like sailors when they fail. Personally, I would give
hard disk makers medals for magic. The whole concept is mind-
boggling, but its happening even as you read this. Your average
JJ II hard disk today stores between 250 and 500 GIGABYTES.
J I Most of the time I prefer not to think about how amazing
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it is that my hard disk works as well as it does. Most of you
probably didnt even need to know it was important that you
shouldnt think about it. What is important is to back up your
data so when the magic of the hard disk inevitably stumbles,
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you are not surprised. It will fail. At some time, it will fail. It
has to. You just need to be prepared when it does: and give
thanks that it lasted as long as it did.
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Hard Disk Controller Interface Types


The disk subsystem consists of a disk and a disk controller.
Common disk controllers today include Enhanced IDE (EIDE)
and SCSI. Earlier disk controllers were ST506, ESDI (Enhanced
Small Device Interface), and IDE.
JJ II
There are two types of hard drives with regard to the con-
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troller:
1. EIDE: IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) has been re-
placed with EIDE (Enhanced IDE). The original IDE sup-
ported only hard disks (not CD-ROMs or tapes). Also,
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BIOS limitations allowed a maximum of only 528 MBps


on a DOS or Windows 3.x system. The maximum data
transfer speed was 4 MBps.
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2. SCSI - SCSI (pronounced skuzzy) is an acronym for Small


Computer System Interface. The host adapter (sometimes
referred to as the controller) functions as the gateway be-
tween the SCSI bus and the system I/O bus (i.e., PCI).
Depending on the SCSI controller and cable that is used,
JJ II a total of eight or sixteen SCSI devices may be connected
J I to a single SCSI bus. At least one of these devices must be
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a SCSI controller. SCSI uses a separate bus hooked to the
system bus using a host adapter. It is a more expensive
system than IDE, but is better built and has a great deal of
flexibility. If you are considering running a server or high
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performance system, this is the best way to go. There are


several types of SCSI interface, the primary characteristic
being the width of the data transfer (how many data bits
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are carried over the cable at a time). The important item


is to be sure you get compatible controllers with your SCSI
device such as your hard drive or CD-ROM drive.

Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI)


A disk controller with its own bus (SCSI bus) and protocol. It
JJ II
supports any SCSI device: disk, CD-ROM, tape, scanners. It
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can manage 5 to 320 MBps maximum data transfer speed, and
supports up to 15 maximum devices per SCSI controller by daisy
chaining them.

IDE - Integrated Drive Electronics


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A controller based interface. If your primary concern is low price


with reasonable performance IDE is a good choice. It is still the
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most popular controller interface because of price.

Enhanced IDE and SCSI Comparison


Enhanced IDE is the best solution for desktop and notebook
clients. SCSI is the best solution for servers, because it allows
simultaneous processing of multiple I/O requests.
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Other controller types are:
ST506 has a maximum transfer speed of 1 MBps and sup-
ports a maximum of two disks.
ESDI has a maximum transfer speed of 3 MBps and also
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supports up to two disks.

The disk controllers job is to:


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Translate a logical address into a physical address (cylin-


der, track, sector)
Seek (move the right head to the correct track)
Latency (waiting for the correct sector to spin under the
head)
JJ II
Read/write data
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Data goes into disk buffer

Most hard drives have three characteristics of main im-


portance for performance
1. Size - The size of the hard drive is expressed in terms of
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Gigabytes which is roughly 1000 Megabytes. It is difficult


to buy a drive less than 4 Gb today. Typical size are 8
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through 20 Gb.
2. Reliability - The other performance factor that is worth
considering is reliability. This is expressed as mean time
between failure (MTBF) The higher the number, the bet-
ter. Look for this specification on the manufacturers spec-
JJ II ification sheets for each product.
J I 3. Speed - The data output of a hard drive is primary lim-
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ited by the amount of time it takes for the electromag-
netic head to reach the data at specific locations on the
drive. The primary factor of limitation is hard drive rota-
tion speed. Common speeds today are 5400 RPM (revolu-
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tions per minute), 7200 RPM, and 10000 RPM. Consider-


ing price and performance, we currently recommend 7200
RPM hard drives.
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Disk speeds are often measured in average access time, which


is the sum of the average seek time and average latency - all
measured in milliseconds.
Seek time is the time required for the read/write head to
be positioned on the correct track of the disk.A faster seek time
JJ II yields better performance. Typical seek times today vary from
J I 5 ms to 12 ms.
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Latency is the time required for the intended sector on a
track to come under the read/write head. Average latency is de-
termined by rotational speed. A shorter latency is better for the
performance. Latency occurs more often than seeks, so latency
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has a bigger influence on total performance.


Rotation speed is the speed in revolutions per minute (RPM)
at which the disk rotates. The higher the rotation speed, the
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lower the latency. Common rotation speeds of a disk are 5400,


7200, 10,000, and 15,000 rpm.The maximum rotation speed of a
device of a certain size is limited. For example, a 3.5-inch device
can run at about 10,000 rpm at the most before the reliability
of the device becomes questionable. To get a higher speed, a
JJ II smaller device is needed. A 2.5-inch disk is able to have a much
J I higher speed than a larger disk.
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5400 rpm disks have a 5.6 ms latency
7200 rpm disks have a 4.17 ms latency
10,000 rpm disks have a 2.99 ms latency
15,000 rpm disks have a 2.00 ms latency
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Example . The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is today used for


nearly all computer peripherals. To what characteristics of the
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USB is this attributable?


Solution:

The computer chip on the main board can automatically rec-


ognize any USB device and assign the resources and power that
JJ II it needs. This avoids the hair-pulling sessions that commonly
J I go with the installation of a new device.
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A USB device can be connected or disconnected at any time
without having to shut down or reboot the computer.
A USB device can send data at 12 Mbps for devices like
scanners and printers or at 1.5 Mbps for keyboards and joysticks.
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The port allows the use of a USB HUB which you can then
use to connect up to 127 other USB devices. They will have to
share power and resources, of course, but many can work at the
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same time. No more problems with running out of connectors!


Most USB cables are 5 meters long (16.5 feet). This length
allows for the signal to get through properly. If you need a longer
cable, you can hook up several 5 m. cables and some USB hubs
in a chain - up to 25 meters. 
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Revision Questions

Exercise 1.  Most hard drives have three characteristics of


main importance for performance. Briefly outline them.
Exercise 2.  Clearly outline the key Performance Measure-
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ments factors you would bear in mind while selecting a Visual


display Unit for your computer.
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Exercise 3.  Discuss any two major printing technologies in


use today. Give examples of each?
Exercise 4.  What key factors would you consider while pur-
chasing a visual display unit for your computer system?

JJ II Exercise 5.  What is an operating system? Describe the


J I three key components of any operating system?
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Solutions to Exercises
Exercise 1.

Size - The size of the hard drive is expressed in terms of


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Gigabytes which is roughly 1000 Megabytes. It is difficult to


buy a drive less than 4 Gb today. Today typical size sare 8o
through 320 Gb.
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Reliability - The other performance factor that is worth con-


sidering is reliability. This is expressed as mean time between
failure (MTBF) The higher the number, the better. Look for
this specification on the manufacturers specification sheets for
each product.
JJ II Speed - The data output of a hard drive is primary limited
J I by the amount of time it takes for the electromagnetic head to
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reach the data at specific locations on the drive. The primary
factor of limitation is hard drive rotation speed. Common speeds
today are 5400 RPM (revolutions per minute), 7200 RPM, and
10000 RPM. Considering price and performance, we currently
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recommend 7200 RPM hard drives. Exercise 1


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Exercise 2.
The performance parameters of a monitor are:
Luminance, measured in candelas per square metre (cd/m).
Viewable image size, measured diagonally. For CRTs the
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viewable size is typically one inch (25 mm) smaller than the
tube itself.
Display resolution, the number of distinct pixels in each di-
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mension that can be displayed. Maximum resolution is limited


by dot pitch.
Dot pitch, describes the distance between pixels of the same
color in millimetres. In general, the smaller the dot pitch (e.g.
0.24 mm), the sharper the picture will appear.
JJ II Refresh rate, the number of times in a second that a display
J I is illuminated. Maximum refresh rate is limited by response
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time.
Response time, the amount of time a pixel in a monitor takes
to go from active (black) to inactive (white) and back to active
(black) again. It is measured in milliseconds (ms). Lower num-
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bers mean faster transitions and therefore fewer visible image


artifacts.
Contrast ratio, the contrast ratio is defined as the ratio of the
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luminosity of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest


color (black) that the monitor is capable of producing.
Power consumption, measured in watts (W).
Aspect ratios, which is the horizontal size compared to the
vertical size, e.g. 4:3 is the standard aspect ratio, so that a screen
JJ II with a width of 1024 pixels will have a height of 768 pixels. A
J I widescreen display can have an aspect ratio of 16:9, which means
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a display that is 1024 pixels wide will have a height of 576 pixels.
Viewing angle, the ability to be seen from an angle without
excessive degradation to the image, measured in degrees hori-
zontally and vertically.
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Exercise 2
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