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Arithmetic/Logic Unit (ALU): processes data arithmetically (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) or logically (greater than, less than, equal to)
Control Unit: works with the operating system to move data between auxiliary storage and main memory; and between main memory and the ALU
Main Memory: contains both program instructions and the data that is required.
A single machine can have multiple CPUs to share processing tasks (co-processors, multiprocessing), but each CPU can execute only a single task.
Inside the System Unit
Main component: motherboard
Circuit board that “houses” integrated circuits (microscopic elements … wires, transistors, etc…) required to make the digital pulse flow inside of the computer. Pulses flow from component to component via the “bus”
Some microcomputers contain a special local bus (VESA or PCI) which increase data transfer rates to the display and/or storage devices
Attachments to the motherboard include:
Main Memory: types of main memory include:
RAM - temporary (includes virtual memory storage). Include RAM cache
ROM - permanent
CMOS - semipermanent battery powered
Memory chips attach with either a DIP (dual inline pin - old PCs) or as a SIMM (single inline memory module) board
When add main memory, make sure add-on chips are compatible
Real time clock (current date and time)
Microprocessor or CPU (central processing unit)
Control Unit: traffic cop portion of the CPU
ALU: arithmetic logic unit processes all math and logical operations performed by the computer
Expansion slots/add on boards - allow “cards” that attach various peripheral devices to the motherboard
monitors, hard drive, internal fax/modem, network cards,etc
PCMCIA slots: special slots developed for laptops to attach devices and add on RAM
Expansion devices may provide an external “port” which you connect a cable to. Device ports will either be from an internal or external bay in the system unit.
Serial Port: transmits data one bit at a time (modem)
Laserjet - more expensive. Faster. High quality. Nonimpact.
Screen size- diagonal measurement from corner to corner. Popular sizes are 14”, 15” and 17”
Dot pitch - measure of image clarity. The smaller the dot pitch, the crisper the image or resolution.
Video adapters/cards impact image resolution and display speed. Today, most monitors are Super VGA (1024 x 768)and use non-interlaced projection technology (flicker)
Laptop - liquid crystal display (LCD). Passive matrix vs active matrix screen (display method which impacts image quality). Active matrix is much better but more expensive and can have problems.
Floppy Disk: removable DASD. Most common density is 1.44Mb.
Hard Disk: usually don’t remove (but newer devices you can). Higher storage capacity than floppy disks. Faster access.
Winchester drive architecture is not removable.
Can be drives that have removable disk platters.
Optical disk: CD_ROM (read-only) Erasable optical disk is also available. WORM - write once, read many.
Flash memory: main memory on a card. Non volatile. PCMCIA card.
All data stored on DASD media is stored in pie-shaped sectors that determines how much data is moved into and out of main memory at a time.
Virtual storage: operating system uses hard disk drive as an extension of main memory.
Cache memory: operating system assumes that most data used by an application is accessed over and over again. Cache is a special area in main memory where such data is put instead of paging it back and forth to DASD.
WORM: write-once, read many. (CD ROM). Also have rewriteable CD ROM.
Floptical Disk: optical storage capacities on floppy disk.
DVD: Digital video disk
Hierarchical Storage: use of many different types of DASD & SASD devices to achieve storage requirements.
Desktop vs Laptop - expansion slots and capability
Power management & battery considerations (hot swap)
Multimedia devices - sound cards, speakers and MPC standards
Common File Types
Data Files: files of information created when people use various types of software
Executable Files: Types of systems files that are used by the computer to perform certain tasks. With some executable files (.exe., .com, .bat) you can initiate the processing while with others the computer initiates the process (.dll, .sys, .drv, etc.)
You and your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.
Anatomy of a Filename
Rules for creating valid filenames (appropriate characters, length of names, etc.) depends on the operating system being used.
Components of a filename consist of:
File name from
supplied by the
How you perceive that data is stored on an auxiliary storage media
No indication of fragmentation
How data actually resides on your auxiliary storage media
File Allocation Table (FAT)
Fragmentation is normal
Measurements of Computer Power
Clock speed: electronic pulses used to synchronize processing. Faster clock speeds result in more operations in a give amount of time. Measured in megahertz (MHz).
Bus width: determines how much data can be transferred at any one time. 16 bit, 32 bit, 64 bit.
IBM’s Microchannel (MCA) Architecture vs EISA (open architecture)
Word size: number of bits/bytes manipulated at once. Same as the bus width.
Other determinants include main memory capacity, MIPs.
This is not the same as throughput but it can affect throughput..
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