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Parallel ATA (PATA), originally ATA, is an interface standard for the connection of storage devices such as hard disks, solid-state drives, floppy drives, and Optical disc drives in computers. The standard is maintained by X3/INCITS committee. It uses the underlying AT Attachment (ATA) and AT Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) standards. The Parallel ATA standard is the result of a long history of incremental technical development, which began with the original AT Attachment interface, developed for use in early PC AT equipment. The ATA interface itself evolved in several stages from Western Digital's original Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) interface. As a result, many near-synonyms for ATA/ATAPI and its previous incarnations are still in common informal use. After the introduction of Serial ATA in 2003, the original ATA was retroactively renamed Parallel ATA. Parallel ATA cables have a maximum allowable length of only 18 in (457 mm). Because of this length limit the technology normally appears as an internal computer storage interface. For many years ATA provided the most common and the least expensive interface for this application. It has since been largely been replaced by Serial ATA (SATA) in new systems.
Floppy Disk Drive
A floppy disk drive is a hardware device that reads one of the first types of portable data storage media -- floppy diskettes, also known as floppy disks. Over the years, like many other aspects of personal computing, these disks got smaller and smaller, but increased their capacity. As they changed, the floppy disk drive also changed. But as newer storage technologies are developed and the floppy disk becomes increasingly outdated, the drives that read them are becoming increasingly rare as well.
Optical Disc Drive
In computing, an optical disc drive (ODD) is a disk drive that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves near the light spectrum as part of the process of reading or writing data to or from optical discs. Some drives can only read from discs, but recent drives are commonly both readers and recorders. Recorders are sometimes called burners or writers. Compact discs, DVDs, and Bluray discs are common types of optical media which can be read and recorded by such drives. Optical disc drives are an integral part of stand-alone consumer appliances such as CD players, DVD players and DVD recorders. They are also very commonly used in computers to read software and consumer media distributed in disc form, and to record discs for archival and data exchange. Optical drives²along with flash memory²have mostly displaced floppy disk drives and magnetic tape drives for this purpose because of the low cost of optical media and the nearubiquity of optical drives in computers and consumer entertainment hardware. Disc recording is generally restricted to small-scale backup and distribution, being slower and more materially expensive per unit than the moulding process used to mass-manufacture pressed discs.
In personal computers, a motherboard is the central printed circuit board (PCB) in many modern computers and holds many of the crucial components of the system, while providing connectors for other peripherals. The motherboard is sometimes alternatively known as the main board, system board, or, on Apple computers, the logic board. It is also sometimes casually shortened to mobo.
A motherboard, like a backplane, provides the electrical connections by which the other components of the system communicate, but unlike a backplane, it also connects the central processing unit and hosts other subsystems and devices. A typical desktop computer has its microprocessor, main memory, and other essential components connected to the motherboard. Other components such as external storage, controllers for video display and sound, and peripheral devices may be attached to the motherboard as plug-in cards or via cables, although in modern computers it is increasingly common to integrate some of these peripherals into the motherboard itself.
An important component of a motherboard is the microprocessor's supporting chipset, which provides the supporting interfaces between the CPU and the various buses and external components. This chipset determines, to an extent, the features and capabilities of the motherboard. Modern motherboards include, at a minimum:
y y y y y y y
sockets (or slots) in which one or more microprocessors may be installed slots into which the system's main memory is to be installed (typically in the form of DIMM modules containing DRAM chips) a chipset which forms an interface between the CPU's front-side bus, main memory, and peripheral buses non-volatile memory chips (usually Flash ROM in modern motherboards) containing the system's firmware or BIOS a clock generator which produces the system clock signal to synchronize the various components slots for expansion cards (these interface to the system via the buses supported by the chipset) power connectors, which receive electrical power from the computer power supply and distribute it to the CPU, chipset, main memory, and expansion cards.
The Octek Jaguar V motherboard from 1993. This board has 6 ISA slots but few onboard peripherals, as evidenced by the lack of external connectors. Additionally, nearly all motherboards include logic and connectors to support commonly used input devices, such as PS/2 connectors for a mouse and keyboard. Early personal computers such as the Apple II or IBM PC included only this minimal peripheral support on the motherboard. Occasionally video interface hardware was also integrated into the motherboard; for example, on the Apple II and rarely on IBM-compatible computers such as the IBM PC Jr. Additional peripherals such as disk controllers and serial ports were provided as expansion cards. Given the high thermal design power of high-speed computer CPUs and components, modern motherboards nearly always include heat sinks and mounting points for fans to dissipate excess heat.
CPU sockets Main article: CPU socket
A CPU socket or slot is an electrical component that attaches to a printed circuit board (PCB) and is designed to house a CPU (also called a microprocessor). It is a special type of integrated circuit socket designed for very high pin counts. A CPU socket provides many functions, including a physical structure to support the CPU, support for a heat sink, facilitating replacement (as well as reducing cost), and most importantly, forming an electrical interface both with the CPU and the PCB. CPU sockets can most often be found in most desktop and server computers (laptops typically use surface mount CPUs), particularly those based on the Intel x86 architecture on the motherboard. A CPU socket type and motherboard chipset must support the CPU series and speed.
Hard disk drive
A hard disk drive (HDD) is a non-volatile, random access device for digital data. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the platters. Introduced by IBM in 1956, hard disk drives have fallen in cost and physical size over the years while dramatically increasing in capacity. Hard disk drives have been the dominant device for secondary storage of data in general purpose computers since the early 1960s. They have maintained this position because advances in their areal recording density have kept pace with the requirements for secondary storage. Today's HDDs operate on high-speed serial interfaces; i.e., serial ATA (SATA) or serial attached SCSI (SAS).
Floppy drive cables look a lot like IDE cables except that they are a little narrower, have only 34 conductors, and have a twist at the end of the cable that attaches to the drives. They may have from two to five connectors: one to attach to the motherboard, and as many as four drive connectors. Why as many as four? Well, prior to the advent of hard drives, most PC's had two floppy drives (A: and B:), both of which were connected to a single controller by the same cable. When the ancient 5.25-inch floppy drives were replaced by 3.5-inch drives (which have different connectors), cable manufacturers began including both types of connectors on floppy drive cables. So the same cable could have one connector for the motherboard, two connectors for 5.25-inch drives, and two connectors for 3.5-inch drives. But the total number of floppy drives is still limited to two; the "wrong" connectors simply go unused. Since few computers today have two floppy drives (most don't even have one anymore), and most of us haven't seen a 5.25inch drive in years, most floppy cables manufactured in this century have only two connectors: one end gets attached to a 3.5-inch floppy drive, and the other end gets attached to the motherboard.
The memory and real-time clock are generally powered by a CR2032 lithium coin cell. These cells last two to ten years, depending on the type of motherboard, ambient temperature and the time that the system is powered off, while other common cell types can last significantly longer or shorter periods, such as the CR2016 which will generally last about 40% as long. Higher temperatures and longer power-off time will shorten cell life. When replacing the cell, the system time and CMOS BIOS settings may revert to default values. This may be avoided by replacing the cell with the power supply master switch on. On ATX motherboards, this will supply 5V standby power to the motherboard even if it is apparently "switched off", and keep the CMOS memory energised. Some computer designs have used non-button cell batteries, such as the cylindrical "1/2 AA" used in the Power Mac G4 as well as some older IBM PC compatibles, or a 3-cell NiCd CMOS battery that looks like a "barrel" (common in Amigas and older IBM PC compatibles), which serves the same purpose.
Power supply unit (computer)
A power supply unit (PSU) is the component that supplies power to the other components in a computer. More specifically, a power supply unit is typically designed to convert general-purpose alternating current (AC) electric power from the mains (100-127V in North America, parts of South America, Japan, and Taiwan; 220-240V in most of the rest of the world) to usable low-voltage direct current (DC) power for the internal components of the computer. Some power supplies have a switch to change between 230 V and 115 V. Other models have automatic sensors that switch input voltage automatically, or are able to accept any voltage between those limits. The most common computer power supplies are built to conform to the ATX form factor. This enables different power supplies to be interchangeable with different components inside the computer. ATX power supplies also are designed to turn on and off using a signal from the motherboard, and provide support for modern functions such as the standby mode available in many computers. The most recent specification of the ATX standard PSU as of mid-2008 is version 2.31.
Random-access memory (RAM)
Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (that is, at random). "Random" refers to the idea that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether it is related to the previous piece of data. The word "RAM" is often associated with volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where the information is lost after the power is switched off. Many other types of memory are RAM as well, including most types of ROM and a type of flash memory called NOR-Flash.
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