HOME

TheInfoList




Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
, such as the
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
,
central processing unit A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of individual electroni ...

central processing unit
(CPU),
monitor Monitor or monitor may refer to: Places * Monitor, Alberta * Monitor, Indiana, town in the United States * Monitor, Kentucky * Monitor, Oregon, unincorporated community in the United States * Monitor, Washington * Monitor, Logan County, West Virg ...

monitor
,
mouse A mouse, plural mice, is a small mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which ...

mouse
,
keyboard
keyboard
,
computer data storage File:Maxell DVD-RW 4.7GB crop 20051120.jpg, A spindle of DVD-RWs Computer data storage is a technology consisting of computer components and Data storage device, recording media that are used to retain digital data (computing), data. It is a ...
,
graphics card A graphics card (also called a video card, display card, graphics adapter, video adapter, or display adapter) is an expansion card Modern EEPROM chip suitable for storing expansion card configuration electronically In computing Compu ...
,
sound card A sound card (also known as an audio card) is an internal expansion card Modern EEPROM chip suitable for storing expansion card configuration electronically In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting f ...

sound card
,
speakers Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech Electronics * Loudspeaker, a device that produces sound ** Computer ...
and
motherboard A motherboard (also called mainboard, main circuit board, or mobo) is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in general-purpose computers and other expandable systems. It holds and allows communication between many of the crucial electronic compone ...

motherboard
. By contrast,
software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. At the low level lang ...

software
is the set of instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is " hard" or rigid with respect to changes, whereas software is "soft" because it is easy to change. Hardware is typically directed by the software to execute any command or instruction. A combination of hardware and software forms a usable
computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and software. It has sci ...

computing
system, although other systems exist with only hardware.


Von Neumann architecture

The template for all modern computers is the
Von Neumann architecture The von Neumann architecture — also known as the von Neumann model or Princeton architecture — is a computer architecture In computer engineering Computer engineering (CoE or CpE) is a branch of engineering Engineering is t ...

Von Neumann architecture
, detailed in a 1945 paper by Hungarian mathematician
John von Neumann John von Neumann (; hu, Neumann János Lajos, ; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian Americans, Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally rega ...

John von Neumann
. This describes a design architecture for an electronic
digital computer A computer is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by animals and people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural ...
with subdivisions of a
processing unit
processing unit
consisting of an
arithmetic logic unit In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softw ...
and
processor register Processor may refer to: Computing Hardware * Processor (computing) **Central processing unit (CPU), the hardware within a computer that executes a program *** Microprocessor, a central processing unit contained on a single integrated circuit (I ...
s, a
control unit The control unit (CU) is a component of a computer's central processing unit A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just Processor (computing), processor, is the electronic circuitry that executes In ...
containing an
instruction register In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softwar ...
and
program counter The program counter (PC), commonly called the instruction pointer (IP) in Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Santa Clara, California. It is the wo ...
, a
memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If s could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, r ...
to store both data and
instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer program, a collection of instructions Music * Instruction (band), a 2002 rock band from New Y ...
, external
mass storage In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softwa ...
, and
input and output In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and soft ...

input and output
mechanisms. The meaning of the term has evolved to mean a
stored-program computer A stored-program computer is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer pro ...
in which an instruction fetch and a data operation cannot occur at the same time because they share a common
bus trolleybus in Toronto Toronto is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. With a recorded population of 2,731,571 in 2016, it is the List of the 100 largest municipalities in Canada by p ...
. This is referred to as the
Von Neumann bottleneck The von Neumann architecture—also known as the von Neumann model or Princeton architecture—is a computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organiza ...
and often limits the performance of the system.


Types of computer systems


Personal computer

The
personal computer A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or technician ...
is one of the most common types of computer due to its versatility and relatively low price. Desktop personal computers have a
monitor Monitor or monitor may refer to: Places * Monitor, Alberta * Monitor, Indiana, town in the United States * Monitor, Kentucky * Monitor, Oregon, unincorporated community in the United States * Monitor, Washington * Monitor, Logan County, West Virg ...

monitor
, a
keyboard
keyboard
, a
mouse A mouse, plural mice, is a small mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which ...
, and a
computer case A computer case, also known as a computer chassis, tower, system unit, or cabinet, is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a personal computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithme ...
. The computer case holds the
motherboard A motherboard (also called mainboard, main circuit board, or mobo) is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in general-purpose computers and other expandable systems. It holds and allows communication between many of the crucial electronic compone ...

motherboard
, fixed or removable disk drives for data storage, the power supply, and may contain other peripheral devices such as
modem A modulator-demodulator, or simply a modem, is a hardware device that converts data from a digital format, intended for communication directly between devices with specialized wiring, into one suitable for a transmission medium such as telep ...

modem
s or network interfaces. Some models of desktop computers integrated the monitor and keyboard into the same case as the processor and power supply. Separating the elements allows the user to arrange the components in a pleasing, comfortable array, at the cost of managing power and data cables between them.
Laptop A laptop, laptop computer, or notebook computer is a small, portable personal computer File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, which includes a metal case with ...

Laptop
s are designed for portability but operate similarly to desktop PCs. They may use lower-power or reduced size components, with lower performance than a similarly priced desktop computer. Laptops contain the keyboard, display, and processor in one case. The monitor in the folding upper cover of the case can be closed for transportation, to protect the screen and keyboard. Instead of a mouse, laptops may have a
touchpad A touchpad or trackpad is a pointing device featuring a tactile sensor, a specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers to a relative position on the operating system that is made output to the screen. Touchpa ...

touchpad
or
pointing stick ] A pointing stick (or trackpoint, also referred to generically as a nub) is a small analog stick used as a pointing device typically mounted centrally in a computer keyboard. Like other pointing devices such as computer mouse, mice, touchpads o ...
. Tablet computer, Tablets are portable computer that uses a
touch screen A touchscreen or touch screen is the assembly of both an input ('touch panel') and output ('display') device. The touch panel is normally layered on the top of an electronic visual display of an information processing system An information proce ...

touch screen
as the primary input device. Tablets generally weigh less and are smaller than laptops. Some tablets include fold-out keyboards, or offer connections to separate external keyboards. Some models of laptop computers have a detachable keyboard, which allows the system to be configured as a touch-screen tablet. They are sometimes called "2-in-1 detachable laptops" or "tablet-laptop hybrids".


Case

The computer case encloses most of the components of the system. It provides mechanical support and protection for internal elements such as the motherboard, disk drives, and power supplies, and controls and directs the flow of cooling air over internal components. The case is also part of the system to control electromagnetic interference radiated by the computer and protects internal parts from electrostatic discharge. Large tower cases provide space for multiple disk drives or other peripherals and usually stand on the floor, while desktop cases provide less expansion room. All-in-one style designs include a video display built into the same case. Portable and laptop computers require cases that provide impact protection for the unit. Hobbyists may decorate the cases with colored lights, paint, or other features, in an activity called
case modding /Modder's-Inc contest in 2011. Case modification, commonly referred to as case modding, is the modification of a computer case A computer is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement t ...
.


Power supply

A power supply unit (PSU) converts alternating current (AC) electric power to low-voltage direct current (DC) power for the computer. Laptops can run on built-in rechargeable battery. The PSU typically uses a
switched-mode power supply 250px, An adjustable switched-mode power supply for laboratory use A switched-mode power supply (switching-mode power supply, switch-mode power supply, switched power supply, SMPS, or switcher) is an electronic power supply A power supply is a ...
(SMPS), with
power MOSFET A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS tr ...
s (power
metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor that is fabricated by th ...
s) used in the converters and regulator circuits of the SMPS.


Motherboard

The motherboard is the main component of a computer. It is a board with
integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of indiv ...

integrated circuit
ry that connects the other parts of the computer including the
CPU A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of ...

CPU
, the
RAM Random-access memory (RAM; ) is a form of computer memory In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic proces ...

RAM
, the disk drives (,
DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electr ...

DVD
,
hard disk A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device File:Reel-to-reel recorder tc-630.jpg, On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment an ...

hard disk
, or any others) as well as any peripherals connected via the ports or the
expansion slot Expansion may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * ''L'Expansion ''L'Expansion'' was a French former monthly business magazine based in Paris, France, which existed between 1967 and 2017. History and profile ''L'Expansion'' was founded by ...
s. The
integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of indiv ...

integrated circuit
(IC) chips in a computer typically contain billions of tiny
metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor that is fabricated by th ...
s (MOSFETs). Components directly attached to or to part of the motherboard include: * The
CPU A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of ...

CPU
(central processing unit), which performs most of the calculations which enable a computer to function, and is referred to as the brain of the computer. It takes program instructions from
random-access memory Random-access memory (RAM; ) is a form of computer memory In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic proces ...
(RAM), interprets and processes them and then sends back results so that the relevant components can carry out the instructions. The CPU is a
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip ...

microprocessor
, which is fabricated on a
metal–oxide–semiconductor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor The field-effect tran ...
(MOS)
integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of indiv ...

integrated circuit
(IC) chip. It is usually cooled by a heat sink and fan, or water-cooling system. Most newer CPU includes an on-die
graphics processing unit A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized designed to rapidly manipulate and alter to accelerate the creation of in a intended for output to a . GPUs are used in s, s, s, s, and s. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and ...
(GPU). The
clock speed In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softwar ...
of CPU governs how fast it executes instructions and is measured in GHz; typical values lie between 1 GHz and 5 GHz. Many modern computers have the option to overclock the CPU which enhances performance at the expense of greater thermal output and thus a need for improved cooling. * The
chipset In a computer system, a chipset is a set of electronic components An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components ar ...

chipset
, which includes the north bridge, mediates communication between the CPU and the other components of the system, including main memory; as well as south bridge, which is connected to the north bridge, and supports auxiliary interfaces and buses; and, finally, a
Super I/O Super I/O is a class of I/O controller integrated circuits that began to be used on personal computer motherboards in the late 1980s, originally as add-in cards, later embedded on the motherboards. A super I/O chip combines interfaces for a varie ...
chip, connected through the south bridge, which supports the slowest and most legacy components like
serial port In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and so ...

serial port
s,
hardware monitoring A system monitor is a hardware or software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, physical hardware, fr ...
and fan control. *
Random-access memory Random-access memory (RAM; ) is a form of computer memory In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic proces ...
(RAM), which stores the code and data that are being actively accessed by the CPU. For example, when a web browser is opened on the computer it takes up memory; this is stored in the RAM until the web browser is closed. It is typically a type of
dynamic RAM photograph of the Micron Technology Micron Technology, Inc. is an American producer of computer memory and computer data storage including dynamic random-access memory, flash memory Flash memory is an electronic non-volatile ...
(DRAM), such as synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), where
MOS memory Semiconductor memory is a digital electronic semiconductor device A device is an that relies on the properties of a material (primarily , , and , as well as s) for its function. Semiconductor devices have replaced s in most application ...
chips store data on memory cells consisting of MOSFETs and
MOS capacitor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor The field-effect trans ...
s. RAM usually comes on
dual in-line memory module upright=1.8, Three SDRAM DIMM slots on a computer motherboard A DIMM or dual in-line memory module, commonly called a RAM stick, comprises a series of dynamic random-access memory photograph of the Micron Technology MT4C1024 DRAM integrate ...
s (DIMMs) in the sizes of 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB, but can be much larger. *
Read-only memory Read-only memory (ROM) is a type of non-volatile memory used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be electronically modified after the manufacture of the memory device. Read-only memory is useful for storing sof ...
(ROM), which stores the
BIOS In computing, BIOS (, ); an acronym for Basic Input/Output System and also known as the System BIOS, ROM BIOS or PC BIOS) is firmware used to perform Computer hardware, hardware initialization during the booting process (power-on startup), and t ...

BIOS
that runs when the computer is powered on or otherwise begins execution, a process known as
Bootstrapping In general, bootstrapping usually refers to a self-starting process that is supposed to continue or grow without external input. Etymology Tall boot A boot, plural boots, is a type of specific footwear Footwear refers to garments worn ...
, or "
booting In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithm of an algorithm (Euclid's algorithm) for calculating the greatest ...
" or "booting up". The ROM is typically a
nonvolatile BIOS memory motherboard Nonvolatile BIOS memory refers to a small Memory (computers), memory on PC motherboard A motherboard (also called mainboard, main circuit board, system board, baseboard, planar board, logic board, or mobo) is the main printed cir ...
chip, which stores data on
floating-gate MOSFETThe floating-gate MOSFET (FGMOS), also known as a floating-gate MOS transistor or floating-gate transistor, is a type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) where the gate is electrically isolated, creating a floating node ...
memory cells. ** The
BIOS In computing, BIOS (, ); an acronym for Basic Input/Output System and also known as the System BIOS, ROM BIOS or PC BIOS) is firmware used to perform Computer hardware, hardware initialization during the booting process (power-on startup), and t ...

BIOS
(Basic Input Output System) includes boot
firmware In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithm of an algorithm (Euclid's algorithm) for calculating the greatest commo ...
and power management firmware. Newer motherboards use
Unified Extensible Firmware Interface The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, computer software, software resour ...
(UEFI) instead of BIOS. *
Buses A bus (contracted from omnibus, with variants multibus, motorbus, autobus, etc.) is a designed to carry many s. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type is the , with larger loads carried by and es, and sm ...
that connect the CPU to various internal components and to expand cards for graphics and sound. * The
CMOS Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS, pronounced "see-moss"), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor The metal–oxide–sem ...
(complementary MOS)
battery Battery may refer to: Energy source * Electric battery, an electrochemical device to provide electrical power ** Automotive battery, a device to provide power to certain functions of an automobile ** List of battery types * Energy storage, inclu ...
, which powers the CMOS memory for date and time in the BIOS chip. This battery is generally a
watch battery A watch battery or button cell is a small single cell battery Battery may refer to: Energy source * Electric battery, an electrochemical device to provide electrical power ** Automotive battery, a device to provide power to certain functions of ...
. * The
video card A graphics card (also called a video card, display card, graphics adapter, video adapter, or display adapter) is an expansion card which generates a feed of output images to a display device (such as a computer monitor). Frequently, these are ad ...

video card
(also known as the graphics card), which processes computer graphics. More powerful graphics cards are better suited to handle strenuous tasks, such as playing intensive
video games#REDIRECT Video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device ...

video games
or running
computer graphics Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, cell phone and computer displays, and many specialized applications. A great dea ...

computer graphics
software. A video card contains a
graphics processing unit A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized designed to rapidly manipulate and alter to accelerate the creation of in a intended for output to a . GPUs are used in s, s, s, s, and s. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and ...
(GPU) and
video memory photograph of the Micron Technology Micron Technology, Inc. is an American producer of computer memory and computer data storage including dynamic random-access memory, flash memory Flash memory is an electronic non-volatile ...
(typically a type of
SDRAM Synchronous dynamic random-access memory (synchronous dynamic RAM or SDRAM) is any where the operation of its external pin interface is coordinated by an externally supplied . DRAM s (ICs) produced from the early 1970s to early 1990s used an ' ...

SDRAM
), both fabricated on
MOS integrated circuit file:MOSFET Structure.png, upright=1.6, MOSFET, showing metal gate, gate (G), body (B), source (S) and drain (D) terminals. The gate is separated from the body by an gate oxide, insulating layer (pink). The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-eff ...
(MOS IC) chips. *
Power MOSFET A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS tr ...
s make up the
voltage regulator module A voltage regulator module (VRM), sometimes called processor power module (PPM), is a buck converter that provides a microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single ...
(VRM), which controls how much
voltage Voltage, electric potential difference, electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential The electric potential (also called the ''electric field potential'', potential drop, the electrostatic potential) is the ...

voltage
other hardware components receive.


Expansion cards

An
expansion card Modern EEPROM chip suitable for storing expansion card configuration electronically In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentati ...
in computing is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard or backplane to add functionality to a computer system via the expansion bus. Expansion cards can be used to obtain or expand on features not offered by the motherboard.


Storage devices

A storage device is any computing hardware and
digital media Digital media means any media (communication), communication media that operate with the use of any of various encoded machine-readable data formats. Digital media can be created, viewed, distributed, modified, listened to, and preserved on a di ...
that is used for storing, porting and extracting data files and objects. It can hold and store information both temporarily and permanently and can be internal or external to a computer, server or any similar computing device. Data storage is a core function and fundamental component of computers.


=Fixed media

= Data is stored by a computer using a variety of media.
Hard disk drive A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment and the magnetic tape is a data stora ...

Hard disk drive
s (HDDs) are found in virtually all older computers, due to their high capacity and low cost, but
solid-state drive A solid-state drive (SSD) is a solid-state storage Solid-state storage (SSS) is a type of non-volatile computer storage that stores and retrieves digital information Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary di ...
s (SSDs) are faster and more power efficient, although currently more expensive than hard drives in terms of dollar per gigabyte, so are often found in personal computers built post-2007. SSDs use
flash memory Flash memory is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses act ...
, which stores data on
MOS memory Semiconductor memory is a digital electronic semiconductor device A device is an that relies on the properties of a material (primarily , , and , as well as s) for its function. Semiconductor devices have replaced s in most application ...
chips consisting of
floating-gate MOSFETThe floating-gate MOSFET (FGMOS), also known as a floating-gate MOS transistor or floating-gate transistor, is a type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) where the gate is electrically isolated, creating a floating node ...
memory cells. Some systems may use a
disk array controllerA disk array controller is a device that manages the physical disk drives On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment and the magnetic tape is a data storage medium. Data Data are units of informa ...
for greater performance or reliability.


=Removable media

= To transfer data between computers, an external
flash memory Flash memory is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses act ...
device (such as a
memory card A memory card is an electronic data storage device On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment and the magnetic tape is a data storage medium. Data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics ...

memory card
or
USB flash drive A USB flash drive (i.e. thumb drive) is a that includes with an integrated interface. It is typically removable, rewritable and much smaller than an . Most weigh less than . Since first appearing on the market in late 2000, as with virtuall ...

USB flash drive
) or
optical disc In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithm of an algorithm (Euclid's algorithm) for calculating the greatest ...
(such as a
CD-ROM A CD-ROM (, compact disc read-only memory) is a pre-pressed optical compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital ...

CD-ROM
,
DVD-ROM The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital media, digital optical disc data storage format invented and developed in 1995 and released in late 1996. The medium can store any kind of digital data ...

DVD-ROM
or
BD-ROM The Blu-ray Disc (BD), often known simply as Blu-ray, is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of elec ...
) may be used. Their usefulness depends on being readable by other systems; the majority of machines have an
optical disk drive In computing, an optical disc drive (ODD) is a disk drive, disc drive that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves within or near the visible light spectrum as part of the process of reading or writing data to or from optical discs. Some ...
(ODD), and virtually all have at least one
Universal Serial Bus Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard ''Industry Standard'' is a 1982 album by Dixie Dregs, The Dregs. It is their only album featuring vocals (by Alex Ligertwood of Santana (band), Santana and Patrick Simmons of The Doobie Bro ...
(USB) port. Additionally, USB sticks are typically pre-formatted with the
FAT32 File Allocation Table (FAT) is a file system In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and developm ...
file system, which is widely supported across
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
s.


Input and output peripherals

Input Input may refer to: Computing * Input (computer science), the act of entering data into a computer or data processing system * Information, any data entered into a computer or data processing system * Input device * Input method * Input port (disam ...
and
output Output may refer to: * The information produced by a computer, see * An output state of a system, see * , the amount of goods and services produced ** in economics, the value of net output or GDP plus intermediate consumption ** in economics, ...
devices are typically housed externally to the main computer chassis. The following are either standard or very common to many computer systems.


=Input device

=
Input devices In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softwar ...
allow the user to enter information into the system, or control its operation. Most personal computers have a
mouse A mouse, plural mice, is a small mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which ...
and keyboard, but laptop systems typically use a
touchpad A touchpad or trackpad is a pointing device featuring a tactile sensor, a specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers to a relative position on the operating system that is made output to the screen. Touchpa ...

touchpad
instead of a mouse. Other input devices include
webcam A webcam is a video camera that feeds or streams an image or video in real time to or through a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern com ...

webcam
s,
microphone A microphone, colloquially called a mic or mike (), is a device – a transducer – that converts sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''ph ...

microphone
s,
joystick A joystick is an input device In computing, an input device is a piece of equipment used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system, such as a computer or information appliance. Examples of input devices include ...

joystick
s, and
image scanner An image scanner—often abbreviated to just scanner—is a device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting Handwriting is the writing done with a writing instrument, such as a pen or pencil, in the hand. Handwriting includes both ...
s.


=Output device

=
Output device An output device is any piece of computer hardware Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Mode ...
s are designed around the senses of human beings. For example, display text that can be read,
speakers Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech Electronics * Loudspeaker, a device that produces sound ** Computer ...
produce sound that can be heard. Such devices also could include
printer Printers may be: Technology * Printer (publishing) In publishing, printers are both companies A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal ...
s or a
Braille embosser A braille embosser is an impact printer that renders text as tactile braille cells. Using braille translator, braille translation software, a document can be embossed with relative ease. This makes braille production efficient and cost-effective. ...
.


Mainframe computer

A
mainframe computer A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform gener ...
is a much larger computer that typically fills a room and may cost many hundreds or thousands of times as much as a personal computer. They are designed to perform large numbers of calculations for governments and large enterprises.


Departmental computing

In the 1960s and 1970s, more and more departments started to use cheaper and dedicated systems for specific purposes like
process control An industrial process control in continuous production processes is a discipline that uses industrial control system#REDIRECT Industrial control system Industrial control system (ICS) is a general term that encompasses several types of control ...
and
laboratory automation Laboratory automation is a multi-disciplinary strategy to research, develop, optimize and capitalize on technologies in the laboratory that enable new and improved processes. Laboratory automation professionals are academic, commercial and govern ...
. A minicomputer, or colloquially mini, is a class of smaller
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
s that was developed in the mid-1960s and sold for much less than Mainframe computer, mainframe and mid-size computers from IBM and its direct competitors.


Supercomputer

A supercomputer is superficially similar to a mainframe but is instead intended for extremely demanding computational tasks. , the fastest supercomputer on the TOP500 supercomputer list is Fugaku (supercomputer), Fugaku, in Japan, with a LINPACK benchmark score of 415 PFLOPS, superseding the second fastest, Summit (supercomputer), Summit, in the United States, by around 294 PFLOPS. The term supercomputer does not refer to a specific technology. Rather it indicates the fastest computations available at any given time. In mid-2011, the fastest supercomputers boasted speeds exceeding one petaflop, or 1 quadrillion (10^15 or 1,000 trillion) floating-point operations per second. Supercomputers are fast but extremely costly, so they are generally used by large organizations to execute computationally demanding tasks involving large data sets. Supercomputers typically run military and scientific applications. Although costly, they are also being used for commercial applications where huge amounts of data must be analyzed. For example, large banks employ supercomputers to calculate the risks and returns of various investment strategies, and healthcare organizations use them to analyze giant databases of patient data to determine optimal treatments for various diseases and problems incurring to the country.


Hardware upgrade

When using computer hardware, an upgrade means adding new or additional hardware to a computer that improves its performance, increases its capacity, or adds new features. For example, a user could perform a hardware upgrade to replace the hard drive with a faster one or a SSD, Solid State Drive (SSD) to get a boost in performance. The user may also install more Random-access memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) so the computer can store additional temporary data, or retrieve such data at a faster rate. The user may add a USB 3.0
expansion card Modern EEPROM chip suitable for storing expansion card configuration electronically In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentati ...
to fully use USB 3.0 devices, or could upgrade the GPU, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for cleaner, more advanced graphics, or more . Performing such hardware upgrades may be necessary for aged computers to meet a new, or updated program's system requirements.


Sales

Global revenue from computer hardware in 2016 reached 408 billion Euros.


Recycling

Because computer parts contain hazardous materials, there is a growing movement to recycle old and outdated parts. Computer hardware contain dangerous chemicals such as: lead, mercury, nickel, and cadmium. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA these e-wastes have a harmful effect on the Natural environment, environment unless they are disposed of properly. Making hardware requires energy, and recycling parts will reduce air pollution, water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Disposing unauthorized computer equipment is in fact illegal. Legislation makes it mandatory to Recycling, recycle computers through the government approved facilities. Recycling a computer can be made easier by taking out certain reusable parts. For example, the Random-access memory, RAM, DVD drive, the Graphics hardware, graphics card, Hard disk drive, hard drive or Solid-state drive, SSD, and other similar removable parts can be reused. Many materials used in computer hardware can be recovered by recycling for use in future production. Reuse of tin, silicon, iron, aluminium, and a variety of plastics that are present in bulk in computers or other electronics can reduce the costs of constructing new systems. Components frequently contain copper, gold, tantalum, silver, platinum, palladium, and lead as well as other valuable materials suitable for reclamation.


Toxic computer components

The
central processing unit A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of individual electroni ...

central processing unit
contains many toxic materials. It contains lead and chromium in the metal plates. Resistors, semi-conductors, infrared detectors, stabilizers, cables, and wires contain cadmium. The circuit boards in a computer contain mercury, and chromium. When these types of materials, and chemicals are disposed improperly will become hazardous for the environment.


Environmental effects

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency only around 15% of the e-waste actually is recycled. When e-waste byproducts leach into groundwater, are burned, or get mishandled during recycling, it causes harm. Health problems associated with such toxins include impaired mental development, cancer, and damage to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. That's why even wires have to be recycled. Different companies have different techniques to recycle a wire. The most popular one is the grinder that separates the copper wires from the plastic/rubber casing. When the processes are done there are two different piles left; one containing the copper powder, and the other containing plastic/rubber pieces. Computer monitors, Computer mouse, mice, and Computer keyboard, keyboards all have a similar way of being recycled. For example, first, each of the parts are taken apart then all of the inner parts get separated and placed into its own bin. Computer components contain many toxic substances, like Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cadmium, chromium, radionuclide, radioactive isotopes and mercury (element), mercury. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 6% lead by weight, much of which is in the lead glass of the cathode ray tube (CRT). A typical 15 inch (38 cm) computer monitor may contain of lead but other monitors have been estimated to have up to of lead. Circuit boards contain considerable quantities of lead-tin solders that are more likely to leach into groundwater or create air pollution due to incineration. In US landfills, about 40% of the lead content levels are from e-waste. The processing (e.g. incineration and acid treatments) required to reclaim these precious substances may release, generate, or synthesize toxic byproducts. Recycling of computer hardware is considered environmentally friendly because it prevents hazardous waste, including Toxic heavy metal, heavy metals and carcinogens, from entering the atmosphere, landfill or waterways. While electronics consist a small fraction of total waste generated, they are far more dangerous. There is stringent legislation designed to enforce and encourage the sustainable disposal of appliances, the most notable being the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive of the European Union and the United States National Computer Recycling Act.


Efforts for minimizing computer hardware waste

As computer hardware contain a wide number of metals inside, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages the collection and recycling of computer hardware. "E-cycling", the recycling of computer hardware, refers to the donation, reuse, shredding and general collection of used electronics. Generically, the term refers to the process of collecting, brokering, disassembling, repairing and recycling the components or metals contained in used or discarded electronic equipment, otherwise known as electronic waste (e-waste). "E-cyclable" items include, but are not limited to: televisions, computers, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, telephones and cellular phones, stereos, and VCRs and DVDs just about anything that has a cord, light or takes some kind of battery. Recycling a computer is made easier by a few of the national services, such as Dell and Apple Inc., Apple. Both companies will take back the computer of their make or any other make. Otherwise a computer can be donated to Computer Aid International which is an organization that recycles and refurbishes old computers for hospitals, schools, universities, etc.


See also

* Computer architecture * Electronic hardware * Glossary of computer hardware terms * History of computing hardware * Microprocessor * MOSFET * List of computer hardware manufacturers * Open-source computing hardware * Open-source hardware * Transistor


References


External links

* * * {{Authority control Computer hardware, Digital electronics