Computer hardware is the physical part of a computer, including its digital circuitry, as distinguished from the computer software that executes within the hardware. The hardware of a computer is infrequently changed, in comparison with software and hardware data, which are "soft" in the sense that they are readily created, modified or erased on the computer. Firmware is a special type of software that rarely, if ever, needs to be changed and so is stored on hardware devices such as read-only memory (ROM) where it is not readily changed (and is, therefore, "firm" rather than just "soft").
Most computer hardware is not seen by normal users. It is in embedded systems in automobiles, microwave ovens, electrocardiograph machines, compact disc players, and other devices. Personal computers, the computer hardware familiar to most people, form only a small minority of computers (about 0.2% of all new computers produced in 2003). See Market statistics.
- 1 Typical PC hardware
- 2 See also
- 3 Internet
Typical PC hardwareInternals of typical personal computer. Inside a Custom Computer.
- Motherboard - the "body" or mainframe of the computer, through which all other components interface.
- Central processing unit (CPU) - Performs most of
the calculations which enable a computer to function, sometimes referred to as
the "brain" of the computer.
- Computer fan - Used to lower the temperature of the computer; a fan is almost always attached to the CPU, and the computer case will generally have several fans to maintain a constant airflow. Liquid cooling can also be used to cool a computer, though it focuses more on individual parts rather than the overall temperature inside the chassis.
- Random Access Memory (RAM) - Fast-access memory that is cleared when the computer is powered-down. RAM attaches directly to the motherboard, and is used to store programs that are currently running.
- Firmware is loaded from the Read only memory ROM run from the Basic Input-Output System (BIOS) or in newer systems Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) compliant
- Internal Buses - Connections to various internal components.
- External Bus Controllers - used to connect to external peripherals, such as printers and input devices. These ports may also be based upon expansion cards, attached to the internal buses.
- Main article: Computer power supply
A case that holds a transformer, voltage control, and (usually) a cooling fan, and supplies power to run the rest of the computer, the most common types of power supplies are AT and BabyAT (old) but the standard for PC's actually are ATX and Micro ATX.
Controllers for hard disk, CD-ROM and other drives like internal Zip and Jaz conventionally for a PC are IDE/ATA; the controllers sit directly on the motherboard (on-board) or on expansion cards, such as a Disk array controller. IDE is usually integrated, unlike SCSI which is found in most servers. The floppy drive interface is a legacy MFM interface which is now slowly disappearing. All these interfaces are gradually being phased out to be replaced by SATA and SAS.
Video display controller
- Main article: Graphics card
Removable media devices
- Main article: Computer storage
- CD (compact disc) - the most common type of removable media, inexpensive but has a short life-span.
- DVD (digital versatile disc) - a popular type of removable media that is the same dimensions as a CD but stores up to 6 times as much information. It is the most common way of transferring digital video.
- Blu-ray - a high-density optical disc format for the storage of digital information, including high-definition video.
- HD DVD - a high-density optical disc format and successor to the standard DVD. It was a discontinued competitor to the Blu-ray format.
- Floppy disk - an outdated storage device consisting of a thin disk of a flexible magnetic storage medium.
- Zip drive - an outdated medium-capacity removable disk storage system, first introduced by Iomega in 1994.
- USB flash drive - a flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB interface, typically small, lightweight, removable, and rewritable.
- Tape drive - a device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape, usually used for long term storage.
Hardware that keeps data inside the computer for later use and remains persistent even when the computer has no power.
- Hard disk - for medium-term storage of data.
- Solid-state drive - a device similar to hard disk, but containing no moving parts.
- Disk array controller - a device to manage several hard disks, to achieve performance or reliability improvement.
- Main article: Sound card
Enables the computer to output sound to audio devices, as well as accept input from a microphone. Most modern computers have sound cards built-in to the motherboard, though it is common for a user to install a separate sound card as an upgrade.
- Main article: Computer networks
Connects the computer to the Internet and/or other computers.
- Modem - for dial-up connections
- Network card - for DSL/Cable internet, and/or connecting to other computers.
- Direct Cable Connection - Use of a null modem, connecting two computers together using their serial ports or a Laplink Cable, connecting two computers together with their parallel ports.
dial up connections broad band connections
- Main article: Peripheral
In addition, hardware devices can include external components of a computer system. The following are either standard or very common.Wheel mouse
- Main article: Input
- Text input devices
- Pointing devices
- Mouse - a pointing device that detects two dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface.
- Trackball - a pointing device consisting of an exposed portruding ball housed in a socket that detects rotation about two axes.
- Xbox 360 Controller - A controller used for Xbox 360, Which with the use of the application Switchblade(tm), can be used as an additional pointing device with the left or right thumbstick.
- Gaming devices
- Joystick - a general control device that consists of a handheld stick that pivots around one end, to detect angles in two or three dimensions.
- Gamepad - a general game controller held in the hand that relies on the digits (especially thumbs) to provide input.
- Game controller - a specific type of controller specialized for certain gaming purposes.
- Image, Video input devices
- Audio input devices
- Microphone - an acoustic sensor that provides input by converting sound into an electrical signals
- Main article: Output
- Image, Video output devices
- Audio output devices
See alsoElectronics Portal
- Computer architecture
- Digital circuit
- Green computing
- History of computing hardware
- Origins of computer terms
- Open hardware
- Optical computer
- DNA computing
- Legacy system
Internetv • d • eMajor information technologycompanies Cellular hardwareApple · HTC · Motorola · Nokia · Palm · Qualcomm · RIM · Sony EricssonConglomeratesGE · HCL · Hitachi · LG · Matsushita · NCR · News Corp. · Philips · Samsung · Siemens · Sony · Thomson · Toshiba · VivendiComputer hardware Acer · Apple · Asus · Dell · Fujitsu Siemens · Hewlett-Packard · Lenovo · Quanta · Sony · ToshibaComputer networks3Com · Alcatel-Lucent · Allied Telesis · Avaya · Cisco · Ericsson · Foundry · Huawei · Juniper · Nokia Siemens · Nortel · ZTEDot-com/web servicesAmazon.com · AOL · eBay · Google · Microsoft · Yahoo!Electronics manufacturersCelestica · Elcoteq · Flextronics · Foxconn · Jabil · Kimball · Plexus · Quanta · Sanmina-SCI · SMTC · SolectronITservicesAccenture · ACS · Atos Origin · Avanade · BearingPoint · Booz Allen Hamilton · BT · Capgemini · CGI · Cognizant · CSC · Compuware · Deloitte · EDS · First Data · Getronics · HCL Tech · i-flex · Neusoft · Safesoft Global · Indra · Infosys · Keane · Logica · PA · Perot · SAIC · Sapient · Satyam · Steria · Syntel · TCS · ThoughtWorks · TietoEnator · Titan · Unisys · WiproStorageEMC · Fujitsu · Maxtor · NetApp · Samsung · Seagate · Hitachi · Western DigitalSemiconductorsAMD · Analog Devices · Broadcom · Elpida · Fairchild · Freescale · Skyworks · Hynix · Infineon · Intel · Micron · National · Nvidia · NXP · Qimonda · Renesas · Rohm · Sharp · STMicroelectronics · TI · TSMC · VIASoftwareActivision Blizzard · Adobe · Apple · CA · Citrix · EA · IBM · Intuit · McAfee · Microsoft · Nintendo · Novell · Oracle · Red Hat · SAP · Sega · Sony · Symantec · Take-Two Interactive · UbisoftTelecom3 · América Móvil · AT&T · Bharti Airtel · BSNL · BT · Cablevision · China Mobile · Comcast · Deutsche Telekom · EarthLink · France Télécom · KPN · KT · NTT · Qwest · RCN · Rogers · SK Telecom · Sprint Nextel · Swisscom · Telecom Italia · Telefónica · Telenor · Telmex · Telstra · Time Warner · Turkcell · Verizon · Virgin · VodafoneVertically integrated
manufacturersApple · HP · IBM · NEC · Sun
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