Chapter 2 computer systems
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Chapter 2: Computer Systems. Computer Hardware. The physical pieces of a computer system, such as a central processing unit (CPU), a microprocessor, a printer, a disk drive, or a modem Something you can touch. Evolution of Computer Systems.

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Chapter 2: Computer Systems

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Chapter 2: Computer Systems

Computer Hardware

  • The physical pieces of a computer system, such as a central processing unit (CPU), a microprocessor, a printer, a disk drive, or a modem

  • Something you can touch

Evolution of Computer Systems

  • First Generation - 1946-1959 - vacuum tubes, rotating drum memory

  • Second Generation - 1959-1964 - transistors, magnetic core memory

  • Third Generation - 1964-1979 - integrated circuits, semiconductor memory, operating systems

  • Fourth Generation - 1979-present - LSI and VLSI circuits, communications

Basic Components of Computers

  • Input/Output

  • Computer Memory

  • Arithmetic/Logical Unit

  • Computer Files

  • Control Unit


Control Unit

Arithmetic/ Logical Unit





Stored Program Concept

  • The concept of preparing a precise list of exactly what the computer is to do (this list is called a program), loading or storing this program in the memory of the computer, and then letting the control unit carry out the program at electronic speed. The program must be in a form that the control unit of the computer has been built to understand.

Types of Computers

  • Microcomputers

  • Workstations

  • Midrange computers (minicomputers)

  • Mainframes

  • Supercomputers

  • These categories are listed in general order of increasing size, power, and cost

Network Computer / NetPC

  • Basic idea of both is a stripped down, less expensive PC for users who will always be connected to a network

  • Network Computer would have minimal memory, processor, disk storage (perhaps no hard drive)

  • NetPC (Microsoft) would be more powerful so that Windows could be implemented locally

RISC Chips

  • Reduced Instruction Set Computing

  • By working with a reduced instruction set, designers were able to create a smaller, faster chip than had been possible previously

  • Basis for HP 9000, IBM RISC/6000, Sun SPARCsystem, other high-powered workstations

Cache Memory

  • Very high speed, high cost storage unit

  • Used as an intermediary between pieces of the computer that operate at quite different speeds

  • Example -- between the control unit (microprocessor) and main memory

  • Example -- between disk drive and data channel


  • A hardware device to link input/output or file devices to the CPU and memory of large computer systems

  • A highly specialized processor which manages the operation of its attached devices to free the CPU from these tasks

Data Channel

  • A specialized input/output processor (a computer) that takes over the function of device communication from the CPU

  • The role of the data channel is to correct for the speed mismatch between the slow peripheral devices and the very fast CPU

Symmetric Multiprocessor

  • Multiprocessor machine in which all of the processors (CPUs) are identical, with each processor operating independently of the others

  • This design technique is used in most mainframes and an increasing number of midrange machines

Parallel Processor (PP)

  • A multiprocessor configuration (multiple CPUs installed as part of a single computer system) designed to give a separate piece of the same program to each of the processors so that work on the program can proceed in parallel on the separate pieces

Massively Parallel Processor (MPP)

  • A parallel processing computer with some large number of parallel processors

  • 32 or more parallel CPUs if the different CPUs are capable of performing different instructions at the same time

  • 1000 or more parallel CPUs if the different CPUs must all carry out the same instruction at the same time

Changing Nature of Hardware

  • Decreasing price/performance ratio -- faster and cheaper

  • Increasing miniaturization

  • Increasing multimedia (data, video, sound)

  • More plug-and-play and portability

  • Greater management complexity due to linking of distributed, cross-platform technologies

The Information Technology Industry

  • The Information Technology industry is the largest industry in the world, by far.

  • Let’s look at the primary players.

Top IS Companies in the World, 1996

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