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Computer Architecture. How Does a Computer Work? Chapter 6. Student Learning Outcomes. Identify the system unit as well as the motherboard with its components. Define ASCII and describe how information is represented inside a computer.

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Computer architecture

Computer Architecture

How Does a Computer Work?

Chapter 6

Student learning outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the system unit as well as the motherboard with its components.

  • Define ASCII and describe how information is represented inside a computer.

  • Describe the role of the CPU, RAM, and CPU cycles in the functioning of a computer.

  • Define and explain the role of connectors, ports, expansion buses, expansion cards, and expansion slots.

  • Describe how you connect external devices to your computer.

©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies


At one of the spectrum a computer can be as big as a giant warehouse such as the Cray X1. At the other end of the spectrum is a tiny computer the size of a credit card being developed by Sharp. No matter how big or small computers are, they all have certain characteristics in common.

©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

System unit
System Unit

  • System unit is the case or box in which the motherboard and storage units are housed

p. 6.162 Fig. 6-1

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6 1 the big picture
6.1 The Big Picture







©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

The system unit
The System Unit

  • Motherboard is the large circuit board inside your system unit that holds the CPU, memory, and other essential electronic components


  • SimNet Concepts Support CD:

    “The Motherboard” and “Inside the Computer”

p. 6.164 Fig. 6.3

©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

System unit terminology

Port – Place through which information and instructions flow to your computer system

Connector - plug used to connect a device to a computer

CPU –Chip that carries out instructions it receives from the software

RAM – Temporary memory that holds software instructions and information for the CPU

System Unit Terminology

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System unit terminology1

Expansion Slot – socket on the motherboard into which an expansion card is inserted

Expansion Card – Circuit board that is inserted into an expansion slot

Expansion Bus – highway system that moves information coming from & going to devices outside the motherboard

System Unit Terminology

©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

6 2 representing information inside a computer
6.2 Representing Information Inside a Computer

  • Binary digit (bit) has two states - 0 or 1

  • By combining bits into groups of 8, we can represent letters, symbols, and numbers, like the word "cool" (below)

  • A group of 8 bits represents one natural language character and is called abyte

©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

Ascii ebcidic and unicode
ASCII, EBCIDIC, and Unicode

  • ASCII—AmericanStandardCodeforInformationInterchange

    • Used on personal computers; eight-bit coding system; 256 different patterns

  • EBCDIC—ExtendedBinaryCodedDecimalInterchangeCode

    • Used by IBM mainframes; eight-bit coding system; 256 different patterns

  • Unicode—coding scheme capable of representing many languages

    • Usable on many computers; 16-bit coding system; approximately 65,000 patterns

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “Data Representation Using Binary Codes”

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Ascii ebcdic binary representations
    ASCII & EBCDIC Binary Representations

    p. 6.168 Fig. 6.7

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    6 3 cpu ram and machine cycles
    6.3 CPU, RAM, and Machine Cycles

    • Central processing unit (CPU or microprocessor or processor). Chip that carries out instructions it receives from your software

    • Random access memory (RAM) Temporary memory that holds software instructions and information for the CPU

    • Machine cycle (CPU cycle or clock cycle) consists of retrieving, decoding, and executing the instruction, and returning the result to RAM

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Central processing unit
    Central Processing Unit

    Chip that carries out instructions it receives

    from your software

    Role of the CPU is analogous to the role of

    your brain – keeps everything functioning

    as it’s supposed to

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “The CPU”

    p. 6.169 Fig. 6.3

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Random access memory ram

    Work being






    Strokes & Mouse


    Random Access Memory (RAM)

    OS Instructions

    RAM Holds

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Machine cycle cpu cycle

    1. Retrieve an

    instruction from RAM

    Machine cycle consists of:

    4. Store the result

    In RAM

    3. Execute the


    2. Decode the


    Machine Cycle (CPU Cycle)

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    How a cpu works
    How a CPU Works

    p. 6.170 Fig. 6.9

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    Cpu clock
    CPU Clock

    • Sliver of quartz that beats at regular intervals in response to an electrical charge

    • CPU clock keeps all the computer’s operations synchronized

    • Each tick of the CPU clock is called a clock cycle and is equivalent to a CPU cycle (machine cycle)

    • CPU uses the CPU clock to keep instructions and information flowing through your CPU at a fixed rate

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “System Clock”

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Cpu clock1
    CPU Clock

    Each beat or tick of the

    clock is called a CPU

    cycle/machine cycle

    CPU speed is quoted in

    Megahertz (MHz = 1 million

    CPU cycles per second) or

    Gigahertz (GHz= 1 billiion

    CPU cycles per second).

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Central processing unit1
    Central Processing Unit

    • The faster a CPU is, the more heat it generates

    • A heat sink and a fan are necessary to cool the CPU down

    CPU Cooling fan

    CPU Heat Sink

    p. 6.172 Fig. 6.11

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Classes of cpu s
    Classes of CPU’s

    • Intel and AMD are two major manufacturers of CPUs for consumer computers

    • CPU speed and power continue to get faster

    • Higher-performance CPUs have top speeds and are the most expensive

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Ram capacity
    RAM Capacity

    • “Buy as much as you can afford”. For optimal performance purchase, more than the minimum specifications

    • 512 MB is standard on new computers – i.e. 512 million bytes

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “Memory”

    p.6.173 Fig. 6.13

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Ram capacity how much do you need


    Kilobyte (KB)

    Megabytes (MB)

    Gigabytes (GB)

    Terabytes (TB)

    Petabyte (PB)

    Exabyte (EB)

    = 8 bits

    ≈1 Thousand Bytes

    ≈ 1 Million Bytes

    ≈1 Billion Bytes

    ≈1 Trillion Bytes

    ≈1 quadrillion Bytes

    ≈1 quintillion Bytes

    RAM Capacity: How Much Do You Need?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Ram and virtual memory
    RAM and Virtual Memory

    • If your computer runs out of physical RAM space, it uses hard disk space as temporary RAM, which is called virtual memory

    • Virtual memory is slower than physical RAM because instructions temporarily stored on the hard disk must be moved into RAM as they are needed

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    How virtual ram works
    How Virtual RAM Works

    p.6.174 Fig. 6.14

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    6 4 making connections
    6.4 Making Connections

    • Portsare places in a computer system where external devices are plugged in, and through which information and instructions flow into the computer system

    • Connectorsconsist of cables that are used to join peripheral to the computer. Common types of connectors:

      • USB

      • Firewire

      • Serial

      • PS/2

      • Parallel

      • RJ-45

    p.6.175 Fig. 6.15

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Usb connectors and ports
    USB Connectors and Ports

    • USB (Universal serial bus) connector – is a plug-and-play interface between a computer and add-on device

    • With plug and play, a new device can be added to your computer without having to add an adapter card or even having to turn the computer off

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Firewire ieee 1394
    Firewire (IEEE 1394)

    • Firewire (IEEE1394) although different from USB, allows you to connect hot-swap, plug and play devices to your computer

    • Firewire used mostly for video camcorders and digital video disk (DVD) players

    • A popular implementation of IEEE 1394 is Sony’s I-LINK

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Serial connectors and ports
    Serial Connectors and Ports

    • Serial means one event at a time. It is usually contrasted with parallel, meaning more than one event happening at a time

    • In the context of computer hardware and data transmission, serial connection, operation, and media usually indicate a simpler, slower operation and parallel indicates a faster operation

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Parallel connectors and port s
    Parallel Connectors and Ports

    • On a PC, the printer is usually attached through a parallel interface and cable so that it will print faster

    • Keyboard and mouse are one-way devices that only require a serial interface and line

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “Ports and Cables”

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Wireless ports
    Wireless Ports

    • Wireless is a term used to describe telecommunications in which electromagnetic waves (rather than some form of wire) carry the signal over part or all of the communications path

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Wireless ports cont
    Wireless Ports – Cont.

    • Common examples of wireless equipment

      • Cellular phones

      • Global positioning systems

      • Cordless mouse

      • Wireless networks

      • Baby monitors

      • TV remote controls

    p.6.178 Fig. 6.17

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Wireless ports1
    Wireless Ports

    • IrDA (Infrared Data Association) port

      • Use infrared light to send and receive information

    • Bluetooth uses radio waves over distances of up to 30 feet

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Irda infrared data association
    IrDA (Infrared Data Association)

    • In this form of radio transmission, a focused ray of light in the infrared frequency spectrum, measured in terahertz, or trillions of hertz (cycles per second), is modulated and sent from a relatively short distance

    • IrDa communications is playing an important role in wireless data communication due to the popularity of laptop computers, personal digital assistants, digital cameras, mobile telephones, pagers, and other devices

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Examples for using irda
    Examples for Using IrDA

    • Exchange business cards between handheld PCs

    • Send a document from a notebook computer to a printer

    • Coordinate schedules and telephone books between a desktop and notebook computer

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Examples for using irda1
    Examples for Using IrDA

    • Send faxes from a notebook computer to a distant fax machine through a public telephone

    • Beaming images from a digital camera into a computer

    • Interconnecting local area networks. Maximum effective distance is somewhat under 1.5 miles

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies


    • Bluetooth is a computing and telecommunications industry specification that describes how mobile phones, computers, and PDAs can easily interconnect with each other and with home and business phones and computers using a short-range wireless connection

    • Bluetooth requires that a low-cost transceiver chip be included in each device

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Expansion slots on the motherboard
    Expansion Slots on the Motherboard

    • SimNet Concepts Support CD: “Expansion Cards and Slots”

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies


    • Data buses

      • Carries information in the form of bits around the motherboard

      • Two types: system and expansion

    • System bus

      • Electrical pathways which move information between RAM and CPU

      • The more bits that can travel together at one time, the faster the bus

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Expansion bus
    Expansion Bus

    • Moves information coming from and going to devices outside the motherboard

    • Types of expansion buses

      • ISA (industry standard architecture)

      • PCI (peripheral component interconnect)

      • AGP (accelerated graphics port)

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Pci and agp busses
    PCI and AGP Busses

    p.6.180 Fig. 6.19

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    6 5 notebook computers
    6.5 Notebook Computers

    • Notebook computer is smaller and power to run devices is limited

    • Biggest advantage is its portability

    • Electronic engineers work to reduce the power and size requirements of these computers

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Notebook computers cpus and ram
    Notebook Computers CPUs and RAM

    • Notebook hardware has special features

    • A mobile CPU is a special type of CPU for a notebook computer that changes speed, and therefore power consumption, in response to fluctuations in demand

    • The CPU fan comes on only when the CPU gets too hot

    • RAM for a notebook looks a little different from desktop RAM

    Notebook RAM

    Desktop RAM

    p. 6.181 Fig. 6.13 & 6.20

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Notebook computers expansion cards and slots
    Notebook Computers – Expansion Cards and Slots

    • Devices are added to a notebook by sliding a PC card into the PC Card slot on the notebook, and connecting the device to the PC card

    • A PC Card is the expansion card used to add devices to notebook computers

    p.6.181 Fig. 6.21

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    6 6 consumer q a
    6.6 Consumer Q&A

    • Why Does My USB Device Not Work Right in My USB Port?

    • How Long Can I Expect My Notebook Battery to Last?

    • How Do I Connect Multiple Devices to a USB or Firewire Port?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    6 7 key terms




    Central processing unit


    CPU cache

    Expansion bus

    Expansion card

    Expansion slot

    Gigahertz (GHz)


    Machine cycle

    Megahertz (MHz)

    Mobile CPU

    PC Card

    PC Card Slot

    6.7 Key Terms

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    6 7 key terms1

    Peripheral component interconnect (PCI) slot



    System bus

    Virtual memory

    6.7 Key Terms

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    Review of concepts
    Review of Concepts

    • Working with Nibbles

      • What’s less than a byte?

    • Comparing CPUs to the Human Body

    • Can You Identify Ports and Components?

      • Where would a DVD burner plug in?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Hands on projects e commerce
    Hands On ProjectsE-Commerce

    • Buying RAM

      • Is your software running slower than it should be?

    • Buying Devices with the Right Connectors

    • Buying Music

      • Get the best music from the Web

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Hands on projects ethics security privacy
    Hands On ProjectsEthics, Security & Privacy

    • Business Computers Classify You as Profitable – or Not

      • Should they be able to?

      • They want good customers – can computers help find bad ones?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Hands on projects on the web
    Hands On Projectson the Web

    • Compare Computer Systems

    • Getting the Right Video Card

      • At what cost?

    • Find Out about Wireless Devices

      • What’s available now?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Hands on projects group activities
    Hands On ProjectsGroup Activities

    • How Fast Is a Gigahertz?

      • How long would it take you to blink a gigahertz?

    • Visualize the Magnitude of Memory

      • How many megabytes are in a football field?

    • Play CPU Cycle

    • What Type of Connectors Come on What Devices?

    ©2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies