computer hardware

A personal computer is made up of multiple physical components of computer hardware, upon which can be installed a system software called operating system and a multitude of software applications to perform the operator's desired functions. Though a PC comes in many different forms, a typical personal computer consists of a case or chassis in a tower shape (desktop), containing components such as a motherboard.

Main article: Motherboard

The motherboard is the main component inside the case. It is a large rectangular board with integrated circuitry that connects the rest of the parts of the computer including the CPU, the RAM, the disk drives (CD, DVD, hard disk, or any others) as well as any peripherals connected via the ports or the expansion slots. Components directly attached to the motherboard include:


The central processing unit (CPU) performs most of the calculations which enable a computer to function, and is sometimes referred to as the "brain" of the computer. It is usually cooled by a heat sink and fan. The chip set mediates communication between the CPU and the other components of the system, including main memory.

or are able to accept any voltage between those limits. using CPU or input/output (I/O) channels or waiting for CPU or I/O channels). o Current  The north bridge memory controller. for other expansion cards  SATA. and high-end network interfaces  PCI. Internal Buses connect the CPU to various internal components and to expansion cards for graphics and sound. Power supply units used in computers are nearly always switch mode power supplies (SMPS). Other models have automatic sensors that switch input voltage automatically. The SMPS provides regulated direct current power at the several voltages required by the motherboard and accessories such as disk drives and cooling fans. . These ports may be controlled directly by the south bridge I/O controller or based on expansion cards attached to the motherboard through the PCI bus. The Basic Input Output System tasks are handled by operating system drivers. but still used in industrial computers) y External Bus Controllers support ports for external peripherals.y y y RAM (Random Access Memory) stores resident part of the current running OS (OS core and so on) and all running processes (applications parts. Some power supplies have a switch to change between 230 V and 115 V. for expansion cards such as graphics and physics processors. The BIOS includes boot firmware and power management. y y y y USB FireWire eSATA SCSI Power supply A power supply unit (PSU) converts alternating current (AC) electric power to low-voltage DC power for the internal components of the computer. for RAM and PCI Express  PCI Express. for disk drives o Obsolete  ATA (superseded by SATA)  AGP (superseded by PCI Express)  VLB VESA Local Bus (superseded by AGP)  ISA (expansion card slot format obsolete in PCs.

a device used for reading data from a DVD.a discontinued competitor to the Blu-ray format. and is popular for data storage. removable. o DVD-ROM Drive .a device used for both reading and writing data to and from a Blu-ray disc. Capacities vary.Removable media devices y y y y y y y y CD (compact disc) . o CD Writer . Blu-ray discs).a flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB interface. used for long term storage and backups. HD DVD . USB flash drive . Tape drive .a device used for both reading and writing data to and from a CD. first introduced by Iomega in 1994.a device used for reading data from a Blu-ray disc. typically small.a device used for reading data from a CD.a popular type of removable media that is the same dimensions as a CD but stores up to 12 times as much information. It is the most common way of transferring digital video. . o BD Writer . Secondary storage Hardware that keeps data inside the computer for later use and remains persistent even when the computer has no power. Can store 70 times as much information as a CD.a device used for rapid writing and reading of data from a special type of DVD.the most common type of removable media. and rewritable.a device used for both reading and writing data to and from a DVD. at great expense. Blu-ray Disc . outdated medium-capacity removable disk storage system. o BD-ROM Drive . from hundreds of megabytes (in the same ballpark as CDs) to tens of gigabytes (surpassing. o CD-ROM Drive . o DVD Writer .a high-density optical disc format for data and high-definition video. DVD (digital versatile disc) . o DVD-RAM Drive .a device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape. Iomega Zip drive .an outdated storage device consisting of a thin disk of a flexible magnetic storage medium. Floppy disk . suitable for music and data. Used today mainly for loading RAID drivers.

Input and output peripherals Input and output devices are typically housed externally to the main computer chassis. Solid-state drive . o Touchscreen . The following are either standard or very common to many computer systems. Most modern computers have sound cards built-in to the motherboard. as well as accept input from a microphone. Pointing devices o Mouse . to detect angles in two or three dimensions. either built-in or added. though it is common for a user to install a separate sound card as an upgrade. have surround sound capabilities. o Trackball .uses light to determine mouse motion.a pointing device that detects two dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. y .  Optical Mouse .a device to input text and characters by depressing buttons (referred to as keys or buttons). Most sound cards.a pointing device consisting of an exposed protruding ball housed in a socket that detects rotation about two axes.senses the user pressing directly on the display Gaming devices o Joystick . Sound card Enables the computer to output sound to audio devices.a control device that consists of a handheld stick that pivots around one end.a device to manage several internal or external hard disks and optionally some peripherals in order to achieve performance or reliability improvement in what is called a RAID array. but containing no moving parts and stores data in a digital format. Input Main article: Input device y y Text input devices o Keyboard .a device similar to hard disk.for medium-term storage of data. RAID array controller .y y y Hard disk .

nuclear engineering. and similar business related functions. o Web cam . The borders between those three terms are highly acoustic sensor that provides input by converting sound into electrical signals.). as well as the ³electronic office´.a device that provides input by analyzing images. o LED .y y Game pad . etc. performing music. illustration. non-contiguous. . shipping and receiving. or an object.(Liquid Crystal Display) as of 2010. and erratically shifting. Monitor . This includes such things as billing.Organic Light-Emitting Diode what are computers used for? Computers are used for a wide variety of purposes.). thermodynamics. recording music. instructional materials. etc. editing film and video.) and multimedia playback (games. o Game controller . handwriting. DVDs.a specific type of controller specialized for certain gaming purposes.(light-emitting diode) display o OLED . it is the primary visual display for personal computers. o Headphones . parts of a computer The classic crude oversimplication of a computer is that it contains three elements: processor unit. printed text. Audio input devices o Microphone . memory. laying out print materials. Video input devices o Image scanner . Speakers . o Output Main article: Output device y y y Printer .for a single user hearing the audio.a video camera used to provide visual input that can be easily transferred over the internet. etc. Image.typically a pair of devices (2 channels) which convert electrical signals into audio. inventory control. Data processing is commercial and financial work.a device that produces a permanent human-readable text of graphic document. This can be as simple as gathering and analyzing raw data and as complex as modelling natural phenomenon (weather and climate models. and I/O (input/output).a hand held game controller that relies on the digits (especially thumbs) to provide input. o CRT . electronic visual display with textual and graphical information from the computer. special effects.(Cathode Ray Tube) display o LCD . Scientific processing is using a computer to support science. Multimedia includes content creation (composing music.

the built-in software that determines what a computer can do without accessing programs from a disk. so all PCs are similar at this level (although there are different BIOS versions). and a number of miscellaneous functions. because if you cant able to configure it well it can cause a damage in your motherboard and possible to happen your motherboard will not function anymore. which means that the BIOS has been recorded on a flash memory chip. On PCs. or PnPaware BIOSes. But in making a setup in the BIOs you should have to be careful in configuring a BIOS. Bios is an important part of the computer or to be specific an important part of the system unit. This means you can upgrade to a newer version of DOS without changing the BIOS. It also makes it possible for a computer to boot itself. This ensures that the BIOS will always be available and will not be damaged by disk failures. Additional DOS functions are usually added through software modules. Because RAM is faster than ROM. These BIOSes are always implemented with flash memory rather than ROM. PC BIOSes that can handle Plug-and-Play (PnP) devices are known as PnP BIOSes. which can be updated if necessary. Many modern PCs have a flash BIOS. disk drives. It is the one that checks if some of your hardware components are workng properly. serial communications. The PC BIOS is fairly standardized. display screen. This is known as shadowing. And especially you have also to protect it in other of your computer. You can make a password . The BIOS is typically placed in a ROM chip that comes with the computer (it is often called a ROM BIOS).BIOS (b s) Acronym for basic input/output system. many computer manufacturers design systems so that the BIOS is copied from ROM to RAM each time the computer is booted. the BIOS contains all the code required to control the keyboard. though.

In the IBM PC and AT. which is short for bootstrapping. hard disk. today BIOS is a legacy system. will provide replacement software interfaces to applications. and EFI booting has only been supported in Microsoft OS products supporting GPT [3] and Linux Kernels 2. In bios you can see that there is set supervisor password or set password. Typically this is a menu system accessed by pressing a certain key on the keyboard when the PC starts. but BIOS remains in widespread use. The BIOS software is specifically designed to work with the particular type of system in question. and is the first code run by a PC when powered on ('boot firmware'). such as a hard disk or a CD. the BIOS chip's contents can be rewritten allowing BIOS software to be upgraded. including having a knowledge of the workings of various devices that make up the complementary chipset of the system. and these software library functions are callable by external software. A BIOS will also have a user interface (or UI for short). such as a password for securing access to the BIOS UI functions itself and preventing malicious users from booting the system from unauthorized peripheral devices. In modern computer systems. Operating systems and executive software. a user can: y y y y y configure hardware set the system clock enable or disable system components select which devices are eligible to be a potential boot device set various password prompts. When the PC starts up. The BIOS then locates software held on a peripheral device (designated as a 'boot device').to protect you BIOS from other user. the first job for the BIOS is to initialize and identify system devices such as the video display card. BIOS The BIOS software is built into the PC.[2] This process is known as booting. BIOS software is stored on a non-volatile ROM chip built into the system on the mother board. In the BIOS UI. superseded by the more complex EFI (EFI). designed to supersede this basic firmware functionality. which provided additional functionality. giving it control of the PC. The BIOS provides a small library of basic input/output functions used to operate and control the peripherals such as the keyboard. CD/DVD drive and other hardware. or booting up.6. The primary function of the BIOS is to load and start an operating system. in which you can able to protect your BIOS by enabling it. and loads and executes that software. certain peripheral cards such as hard-drive controllers and video display adapters carried their own BIOS extension ROM. text display functions and so forth. The role of the BIOS has changed over time. keyboard and mouse.1 and greater builds [4] .

Open Firmware (used on the OLPC XO-1) and coreboot.but the BIOS service to print a character on the screen in text mode would be the same. EPROM chips may be erased by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light.BIOS is primarily associated with the 16-bit. making BIOS a catch-all term for both systems. As its complexity and need for updates grew. Today BIOS is primarily used for booting a system and for video initialization (in X. operating systems instead generally directly accessed the hardware using their own device drivers.[5] BIOS versions are upgraded to take advantage of newer versions of hardware and to correct bugs in previous revisions of BIOSes. This rewriting of the contents is sometimes termed 'flashing'. There are a few alternatives for Legacy BIOS in the x86 world: Extensible Firmware Interface. Prior to the early 1990s. In the 32-bit era and later.SYS" that is analogous to the CP/M BIOS. According to Robert Braver. the distinction between BIOS and EFI is rarely made in terminology by the average computer user. which accessed the chip via the window. Some Sun and PowerPC-based computers use Open Firmware for this purpose. boot loader or boot ROM were commonly used. This is done by a special . Flash BIOS chips became common around 1995 because the electrically erasable PROM (EEPROM) chips are cheaper and easier to program than standard erasable PROM (EPROM) chips. allowing lowlevel services (such as reading a keystroke or writing a sector of data to diskette) to be provided in a standardized way to the operating system. an IBM PC might have had either a monochrome or a color display adapter. IBM PC-compatible BIOS chips In principle. BIOSes were stored in ROM or PROM chips. Chip manufacturers use EPROM programmers (blasters) to program EPROM chips. and the beginning of the 64-bit architecture eras. using different display memory addresses and hardware . the president of the BIOS manufacturer Micro Firmware. while EFI is used for some newer 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.[6] Flashing the BIOS In modern PCs the BIOS is stored in rewritable memory. BIOS firmware was most commonly stored on EEPROM or flash memory devices. which could not be altered by users. Among other classes of computers. BIOS was used for hardware access ± operating systems (notably MS-DOS) would call the BIOS rather than directly accessing the hardware. Terminology The term first appeared in the CP/M operating system. However. Most versions of DOS have a file called "IBMBIO. but otherwise is not used during the ordinary running of a system. Electrically erasable (EEPROM) chips come with the additional feature of allowing a BIOS reprogramming via higher-than-normal amounts of voltage. For example. allowing the contents to be replaced or 'rewritten'.COM" or "IO. while in early systems (particularly in the 16-bit era). the BIOS in ROM was customized to the particular manufacturer's hardware. describing the part of CP/M loaded during boot time that interfaced directly with the hardware (CP/M machines usually had only a simple boot loader in their ROM). and re-programmable parts became more available. the generic terms boot monitor.

Mac OS X. To repair this. and also other Flash ROM IC types. Also. appeared for the first time in mid-1998 and became active in April 1999. plug-in adapter cards such as SCSI. Firmware on adapter cards A computer system can contain several BIOS firmware chips. or a reflashing operation might be needed to fix a damaged BIOS. Modern systems are not vulnerable to CIH because of a variety of chipsets being used which are incompatible with the Intel i430TX chipset. Other BIOS viruses remain possible. There is also extra protection from accidental BIOS rewrites in the form of boot blocks which are protected from accidental overwrite or dual and quad BIOS equipped systems which may. Windows XP and newer. Virus attacks There are at least three known BIOS attack viruses. however[8]: since most Windows users run all applications with administrative privileges. Overclocking may. CIH has become essentially harmless. RAID. and IDE or SATA hard disk controllers). Windows NT-based Windows OS like Windows 2000. Overclocking Some BIOS chips allow overclocking. As a result. In addition. CIH The first was a virus which was able to erase Flash ROM BIOS content. It affected systems' BIOS's and often they could not be fixed on their own since they were no longer able to boot at all. if available. at worst causing annoyance by infecting executable files and triggering alerts from antivirus software. such as the keyboard (either PS/2 or on a USB human interface device). as of 2008. seriously compromise system reliability in insufficiently cooled computers and generally shorten component lifespan. two of which were for demonstration purposes. CIH. a modern CIH-like virus could in principle still gain access to hardware. and video boards often include their own BIOS . A BIOS might be reflashed in order to upgrade to a newer version to fix bugs or provide improved performance or to support newer hardware. however. use a backup BIOS. The motherboard BIOS typically contains code to access hardware components absolutely necessary for bootstrapping the system.program. rendering computer systems unstable. A file containing such contents is sometimes termed 'a BIOS image'. and storage (floppy drives. an action in which the CPU is adjusted to a higher clock rate than its factory preset. also known as "Chernobyl Virus". and the most common operating systems of the time were based on the Windows 9x family allowing direct hardware access to all programs. usually provided by the system's manufacturer. Network interface cards. do not allow user mode programs to have direct hardware access. Flash ROM IC had to be removed from the motherboard to be reprogrammed elsewhere. in the event of a crash. Damage from CIH was possible since the virus was specifically targeted at the then widespread Intel i430TX motherboard chipset. all modern operating systems like Linux.

more powerful. PC BIOS implementations scan real memory from 0xC0000 to 0xF0000 on 2 KiB boundaries. their option ROMs can be stored as separate code on the main BIOS flash chip. using BIOS services to register interrupt vectors for use by post-boot applications. IBM's RS/6000 line. the main BIOS. use their own. looking for a ROM signature: 0xAA55 (0x55 followed by 0xAA.(e. native drivers which also makes it much easier to extend support to new hardware. Later x86-based personal computer operating systems. Larger. (This code is generally referred to as an option ROM. and early-stage bootloaders. these device drivers only use BIOS and option ROM calls for very specific (non-performance-critical) tasks. such as preliminary device initialization. In a valid expansion ROM. An add-in card usually only requires an option ROM if it: y y Needs to be used before the operating system can be loaded (usually this means it is required in the bootstrapping process). may continue to use the BIOS for input and output. servers and workstations using PowerPC or SPARC CPUs by several manufacturers developed a platform-independent Open Firmware (IEEE-1275). based on the Forth programming language. However. Generally. At this point. while the BIOS still relies on a legacy 16-bit real mode runtime interface. since the x86 architecture is little-endian). or separately to. The next byte contains an offset describing the option ROM's entry point. There was a similar transition for the Apple Macintosh. or display diagnostic information. the expansion ROM code takes over.) Even devices built into the motherboard can behave in this way. rely on the BIOS to carry out most input/output tasks within the PC. and other PowerPC CHRP motherboards. such as Microsoft DEBUG or the UNIX dd. like Windows NT. where the system software originally relied heavily on the ToolBox²a set of drivers and other useful routines stored in ROM based . and Is too sophisticated or specific a device to be handled by the main BIOS Older PC operating systems. It is included with Sun's SPARC computers. and upgraded either in tandem with. provide a user configuration interface. for example MS-DOS. this signature is immediately followed by a single byte indicating the number of 512-byte blocks it occupies in real memory. the restrictions of the BIOS environment means that modern OSes will almost always use their own device drivers to directly control the hardware. such as MS-DOS (including all DOS-based versions of Microsoft Windows).g.[11] A variety of technical reasons makes it inefficient for some recent operating systems written for 32-bit CPUs such as Linux and Microsoft Windows to invoke the BIOS directly. In order to discover memory-mapped ISA option ROMs during the boot process. complementing or replacing the system BIOS code for the given component. There are many methods and utilities for examining the contents of various motherboard BIOS and expansion ROMs. Changing role of the BIOS Some operating systems. to which the BIOS immediately transfers control. Video BIOS).

etc. MSI and Gigabyte Technology have followed suit with the MSI K9ND MS-9282 and MSI K9SD MS-9185 resp. only 1 MiB addressable space. These Apple ROMs were replaced by Open Firmware in the PowerPC Macintosh. Otherwise. an industry Special Interest Group. they will need to have possession of both the OEM key and the digital certificate for their SLIC in order to bypass activation. the Pentium FDIV bug became an expensive fiasco for Intel that required a product recall because the original Pentium did not have patchable microcode.[12] For example. the specification development is driven by The Unified EFI Forum. the M57SLI-S4 models. Some BIOSes contain a "SLIC". Computer manufacturers that distribute OEM versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft application software can use the SLIC to authenticate licensing to the OEM Windows Installation disk and/or system recovery disc containing Windows software. these functions include power management. Systems having a SLIC can be activated with an OEM Product Key. and they verify an XML formatted OEM certificate against the SLIC in the BIOS as a means of self-activating.on Motorola's 680x0 CPUs. hot swapping. then EFI in Intel Macintosh computers. Later BIOS took on more complex functions. a digital signature placed inside the BIOS by the manufacturer. This SLIC is inserted in the ACPI table and contains no active code. AMD provided product specifications for some chipsets.) were seen as clearly unacceptable for the newer computer platforms. Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is a specification which replaces the runtime interface of the legacy BIOS. Initially written for the Itanium architecture. Recent Intel processors (P6 and P7) have reprogrammable microcode. If a user performs a fresh install of Windows. PC AT hardware dependencies. . by way of interfaces such as ACPI. updating the processor microcode each time the system is powered up. an expensive processor swap would be required. Linux has supported EFI via the elilo boot loader. The Open Source community increased their effort to develop a replacement for proprietary BIOSes and their future incarnations with an open sourced counterpart through the coreboot and OpenBIOS/Open Firmware projects. The BIOS may contain patches to the processor code to allow errors in the initial processor code to be fixed. for example Dell. in practice this is extremely unlikely and hence the only real way this can be achieved is if the user performs a restore using a pre-customised image provided by the OEM. EFI is now available for x86 and x86-64 platforms. and Google is sponsoring the project. However BIOS limitations (16bit processor mode. thermal management. Motherboard manufacturer Tyan offers coreboot next to the standard BIOS with their Opteron line of motherboards.

The BIOS displays a message during power-on self-test (POST) identifying the type of BIOS and the revision code. so Intel motherboards can direct it to spin only as fast as required (from a low 800RPM to moderately audible 3200RPM). A very . thus keeping unnecessary noise down. allowing the BIOS to execute from 64bit onboard write-protected Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). which is stored in flash memory and may be upgraded using a disk-based program. It's 80mm fan is Pulse Width Modulation compliant. Fan The Glacialtech Igloo 5610 PWM is a compact LGA775 Intel heatsink suitable for office work computers.BIOS Chip The Intel motherboard uses an Intel/AMI basic input/output system (BIOS). In addition to the BIOS. a small section of extruded aluminum heatsink and a short array of aluminum cooling fins. Use the links below to explore other BIOS features. The Igloo 5610 PWM is comprised of two heatpipes. the flash memory contains the following: y y y y y BIOS Setup Utility Power-On Self Test (POST) Advanced Power Management (APM) software PCI automatic configuration utility Windows 95-ready Plug and Play This motherboard supports computer BIOS shadowing.

At most common resolution settings. it needs a translator -. Think of a computer as a company with its own art department.4 to 59. The heatsink stands 100mm tall.simple CPU cooler.. To do this. A graphics card's job is complex. and the computer has to decide what to do with every one in order to create an image. Unless a computer has graphics capability built into the motherboard. and that is best suited towards generic office PCs. The end result is that someone's idea becomes an actual. we will look at the basic parts of a video card and what they do.. Graphics Cards The images you see on your monitor are made of tiny dots called pixels. or industrial PC applications a screw based heatsink retention mechanism fits the bill. When people in the company want a piece of artwork. We'll also examine the factors that work together to make a fast. that translation takes place on the graphics card. In this article. Perhaps that is the intended application here. Instead with the Igloo 5610 PWM we find four captive screws and a metal motherboard support bracket which necessitates removing the board from the PC chassis. . A graphics card works along the same principles.5 dBA in noise output. efficient graphics card. they send a request to the art department. a screen displays over a million pixels. The art department decides how to create the image and then puts it on paper. For the time being. The CPU. and in Frostytech's real world tests ranges from 45. working in conjunction with software applications. The only odd thing with the Glacialtech Igloo 5610 PWM heatsink is the manufacturer's choice of using screw based clips. For a heatsink that weighs 373grams. viewable picture. that comes with pre-applied thermal compound. Glacialtech's Igloo 5610 PWM heatsink weighs just 373grams. all Frostytech is interested in is how the Glacialtech Igloo 5610 PWM heatsink performs thermally. Let's begin the analysis. and one that is priced in the $10-$15 range making it cost effective for office PCs. It then sends that information to the monitor through a cable. we would have expected the standard Intel push-to-click plastic retention mechanisms used with the reference heatsinks. and ships with a pre-applied patch of thermal compound on its base. For a heatsink this lightweight. For system integrators. this isn't a smart choice. but its principles and components are easy to understand. sends information about the image to the graphics card.something to take binary data from the CPU and turn it into a picture you can see. The graphics card decides how to use the pixels on the screen to create the image.

Then. the graphics card first creates a wire frame out of straight lines. It also adds lighting. it rasterizes the image (fills in the remaining pixels).Creating an image out of binary data is a demanding process. texture and color. Without a graphics card to perform the necessary calculations. the computer has to go through this process about sixty times per second. . the workload would be too much for the computer to handle. To make a 3-D image. For fast-paced games.

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