What is Computer Hardware?
Computer Hardware is the name for the collection of components inside a computer, which are collectively called its hardware. This collection of peripherals is usually housed in a case and loaded with system software, which includes a software interface called firmware. Firmware (or BIOS as it is more commonly known) allows with the hardware to communicate with the operating system, which is what we as an operator use. Examples of an operating system are the famous Windows or the not so famous Mac OS X. This whole process is communicated through a hardware bus using another piece of software called a device driver. A device driver sits on top of the operating system to finalize the communication between the operating system and the hardware.
The Components of Computer Hardware
1. The Motherboard.
As you can tell by its name the Motherboard is the main component inside the computer casing. It is the main circuit board, which connects all the other components of the computer together, such as the CPU, the Ram and the Hard Drives.
2. The CPU (Central Processing Unit)
This could be called the brain of the computer as it performs most of the calculations needs by the computer to function. Inside a CPU there are many micro-switches, which process data calculations millions of times a second. Due to the massive strain put on the CPU it gets very hot and can even seize up if not cooled properly, therefore it is cooled by a fan and a heat sink. Some PC enthusiasts even use water cooling systems to keep their previous process nice and cool. The data flowing to and from the CPU is processed by a Chipset, which distributes and communicates to all the other pieces of hardware.
3. The Hard Drive.
The Hard Drive is the storage facility of the computer This is where all data is stored until it is needed by the CPU. For instance, your favourite album will sit on the hard drive until you click it, then the CPU calls it from the hard drive, processes the data and sends it to the sound card to output from your speakers.
4. The Ram
The RAM is another piece of memory storage, which sits between the hard drive and the CPU. The CPU processes data so quickly that the slow hard drive cannot find and present it quickly enough. This then produces a bottleneck. The RAM is an extremely fast piece of memory, which also has quick random access capabilities. The RAM will call programs and data from the Hard Drive just before it knows the CPU will require it, it then waits for the CPU to access and request data at lightening speeds. Anything which is no longer required is then passed back to the Hard Drive for storage.
5. The Sound Card.
The Sound Card takes the data and translates it into data that sound devices understand, such as headphones or speakers. Many sound cards are built into the Motherboard but some professionals prefer a separate sound card. A sound card is a very powerful device, which runs the recording studios of today.
6. The Graphics Card.
The Graphics Card is the piece of Computer Hardware which produces all the visual output of a computer. The Graphics Card will take the data from the CPU and change it into image and video and send this to the display device. In today’s world, exist some very powerful graphics cards, which have their own CPU, built-in (called a GPU, Graphics Processing Unit)
7. The Optical Drive
The term Optical Drive refers to any device, which uses laser technology to read data. Common types of Optical Drive are the DVD Drive or CD Drive. An example of the latest optical drive is the Blu-Ray Drive.
Collectively this list of components are called the Computer Hardware. They work together to create the computers that we use today. Every computer in today’s world, is fundamentally the same, and has the computer components inside.