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Chapter 1

Fundamentals of Computers

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After learning this chapter, you will able to…

Define what computer is

Define functional units of computer
Know classifications of computers
Identify Computer Architectures
Identify Major components of computer system
Know the representation of information in computers

Fundamentals of Computers
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What is a computer? 11/28/2018

• Simply put, a computer is a sophisticated electronic

calculating machine that:
Accepts input information,
Processes the information according to a list of internally stored
instructions and
Produces the resulting output information.
Fundamentals of Computers
• Functions performed by a computer are:
Accepting information to be processed as input.
Storing a list of instructions to process the information.
Processing the information according to the list of instructions.
Providing the results of the processing as output.
• What are the functional units of a computer?
Functional units of a
Input unit accepts Arithmetic and logic unit(ALU):
information: •Performs the desired
•Human operators, operations on the input
•Electromechanical devices information as determined
•Other computers by instructions in the memory

Instr1 & Logic
Instr3 Fundamentals of Computers
Output Data2 Control

I/O Processor
information: Control unit coordinates
Output unit sends various actions
results of processing: •Instructions,
•Data •Input,
•To a monitor display, •Output
•To a printer •Processing

Input unit
Binary information must be presented to a computer in a specific format. This
task is performed by the input unit:
- Interfaces with input devices.
- Accepts binary information from the input devices.
- Presents this binary information in a format expected by the computer.
- Transfers this information to the memory or processor.
Real world


Keyboard Memory
Audio input
…… Input Unit

Processor 5

Output unit
 Computers represent information in a specific binary form. Output units:
- Interface with output devices.
- Accept processed results provided by the computer in specific binary form.
- Convert the information in binary form to a form understood by an
output device.
Computer Real world

Memory Printer
Graphics display
Fundamentals of Computers

Output Unit


Memory unit

Memory unit stores instructions and data.

 Data is represented as a series of bits (1 or 0).
 To store data, memory unit thus stores bits.
Processor reads instructions and reads/writes data
from/to the memory during the execution of a
 In theory, instructions and data could be fetched one bit at a time.(serially)
 In practice, a group of bits is fetched at a time.(parallel)
 Group of bits stored or retrieved at a time is termed as “word”
 Number of bits in a word is termed as the “word length” of a computer.

In order to read/write to and from memory, a

processor should know where to look: 7
 “Address” is associated with each word location.
Memory unit (contd..) 11/28/2018

Primary storage of the computer consists of RAM units.

 Fastest, smallest unit is Cache.
 Slowest, largest unit is Main Memory.
Primary storage is insufficient to store large amounts of
data and programs.
 Primary storage can be added, but it is expensive.
Fundamentals of Computers
Store large amounts of data on secondary storage
 Magnetic disks and tapes,
 Optical disks (CD-ROMS).
 Access to the data stored in secondary storage in slower, but take advantage of
the fact that some information may be accessed infrequently.
Cost of a memory unit depends on its access time, 8
lesser access time implies higher cost.
Information in a computer -- Instructions
Instructions specify commands to: 11/28/2018

Transfer information within a computer (e.g., from memory to

Transfer of information between the computer and I/O devices
(e.g., from keyboard to computer, or computer to printer)
 Perform arithmetic and logic operations (e.g., Add two numbers,
Perform a logical AND).
A sequence of instructions to perform a task is called a
program, which is stored in the memory.
Processor fetches instructions that make up a program
from the memory and performs the operations stated in
those instructions.
What do the instructions operate upon?
Information in a computer -- Data 11/28/2018

Data are the “operands” upon which instructions operate.

Data could be:
 Numbers,
 Encoded characters.

Data, in a broad sense means any digital information.

Computers use data that is encoded as a string of binary digits called

Arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) 11/28/2018

Operations are executed in the Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU).

 Arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction.
 Logic operations such as comparison of numbers.

In order to execute an instruction, operands need to be brought into

the ALU from the memory.
 Operands are stored in general purpose registers available in the ALU.
 Access times of general purpose registers are faster than the cache memory.

Results of the operations are stored back in the memory or retained in

the processor for immediate use.
Control unit 11/28/2018

Operation of a computer can be summarized as:

 Accepts information from the input units (Input unit).
 Stores the information (Memory).
 Processes the information (ALU).
 Provides processed results through the output units (Output unit).
Operations of Input unit, Memory, ALU and Output unit are
coordinated by Control unit. Fundamentals of Computers

Instructions control “what” operations take place (e.g. data transfer,

Control unit generates timing signals which determines “when” a
particular operation takes place.
How are the functional units
 For a computer to achieve its operation, the functional units need to
communicate with each other.
 In order to communicate, they need to be connected.

Input Output Memory Processor


 Functional units may be connected by a group of parallel wires.

 The group of parallel wires is called a bus.
 Each wire in a bus can transfer one bit of information.
 The number of parallel wires in a bus is equal to the word length of
a computer

Computer Architecture basics

Architecture: specification detailing how a set of software and

hardware technology standards interact to form computer system.
Design of computer and its technology compatibility.
Two types
Von Neumann Architecture
Harvard architecture

Von Neumann Architecture 11/28/2018

John von Neumann was a consultant to the ENIAC project. The team discussed
changing the way computers were programmed. Von Neumann publicized and
popularized these ideas.
The instructions could be converted into numbers and placed in memory along
with the data. This is known as the stored program concept.
The combination of the basic units (ALU, control, memory, input and output) and
the stored program concept give one the “von Neumann architecture.”


Harvard architecture 11/28/2018

In the von Neumann architecture, the instructions and data are held in
the same memory.
A variation on this, known as the Harvard architecture, has the
instructions and data held in separate memories.
A more modern variation on the Harvard architecture isofto
Fundamentals have the

data and instructions in the same main memory but to place them in
separate caches.


Fundamentals of Computers

Computer System Components
1. hardware

Input Devices
Input Devices: devices that input
information into the computer such

digital camera…etc

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Output Devices
Output: devices that output
information from the computer
such as a

 printer

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Central Processing Unit
 CPU (Central Processing Unit) also called the Microprocessor or “The Brain” or
Processor of the Computer.

 Processor speed: The speed at which a microprocessor executes instructions. This is

usually measured in megahertz (MHz).

 Brands of Processors include:

 Intel

Some of intel processor families are

 Intel Pentium
 Intel core i3
 Intel core i5 etc.

Reading Assignment
Study the differences of each intel processor family.

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Central Processing Unit
Computer chip: also called the microprocessor
may contain an entire processing unit.
Computer chips contain millions of transistors.
They are small pieces of semi-conducting
material (silicon).
An integrated circuit is embedded in the silicon.
Computers are made of many chips on a circuit

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Data Storage Devices

The hard-drive is a mechanical

storage device typically located

Fast recording and recovery of

Large storage capacity
Primary storage device for data
and programs
Speed is measured in R.P.M.’s

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2. Software
The software component of the computer is used to operate the computer
Divided into two parts
Application software (AutoCAD, Microsoft word etc.)
System software (Operating Systems)

Operating System
Perform common computer hardware functionsFundamentals of Computers
Provide a user interface
Manage system memory
Manage processing tasks
Provide networking capability
Control access to system resources
Manage files
Role of the Operating System 11/28/2018

Fundamentals of Computers

Application Software Interface 11/28/2018

Popular Operating Systems


Fundamentals of Computers

Sources of Software 11/28/2018

Summary 11/28/2018

 Hardware devices work together to perform input, processing, data storage, and output.

 There are two main categories of software: systems software and application software.

 An operating system (OS) is a set of computer programs that controls the computer hardware to
support users’ computing needs.

 Application software may be proprietary or off-the-shelf.

Assignment (In a Group of 5)

1. What are different computer classifications? Describe each

2. List all computer evolutions and describe

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Binary Number Representations on Computers

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