Hardware is a term used to describe any component that is required to operate the internal mechanisms of a PC. Computer hardware includes the smallest components of a computer, including the microprocessor, hard disk, random-access memory (RAM), graphics adapter, motherboard, USB and video card. While all these components are important, it is the quality of the hardware that determines the speed and performance of the computer.
The CPU (an acronym for “cycle operation processor”) is the central processing unit of the computer system. The CPU performs the critical operation that enables all the other hardware components to function correctly. The CPU helps in managing the resources of the computer and controls all the other hardware devices through a set of instructions known as instruction sets. Instructions are executed in the CPU through the instruction decoders. The main task of the CPU is to control and manage the various processes in a computer system.
The central processing units or the CPUs have an architecture that resembles a traditional personal computer. They use the main memory for storing the information and the execution of instructions occurs within the CPU. The operating system of the CPU contains the software that allows the user to interact with the hardware of the computer. The operating system is installed on the hard drive and runs continuously in the background when the PC is switched on. The software driver manages the communication between the hardware and the operating system through the Ethernet ports. The software also controls the features of the hardware, which enables users to increase the performance of the computer systems through software modifications.
The computer hardware also includes the integrated circuits (ICs). Integrated circuits are used in the input devices of the computer system. They form the input path for the computer system to receive and send data, voice signals, and graphics. A chip is generally manufactured using a semiconductor material, like silicon. Integrated circuits can be found in digital cameras, medical devices, personal computers, microwave ovens, smoke detectors, televisions, compact discs, and other electronic equipment.
The physical components of the computer hardware to determine its functionality. For instance, a microprocessor determines how a device works and it performs many tasks. The device driver provides a protocol that enables a device to communicate with a microprocessor.
One type of hardware that is seen in most computer systems is the boot device. Boot devices act as a temporary storage for data during the start up of the computer system. The hard disk drives stores large files and the data stored in these devices resides on the hard disk. The random access memory or RAM stores data that is frequently used by the computer system. The solid state drive or SSD is a recent development and is widely used in modern desktop and laptop computers.
The type of hardware that is used for a specific application determines the type of hardware that must be used for that application. For example, the graphics card of an operating system is specialized hardware that is required to run an application. A sound card is specialized hardware that is used for audio input and output. Networking hardware is another important component of computer hardware. The internet and intranet use bandwidth which is transmitted through networking hardware.
There are many types of computer hardware components, but they are categorized into five main categories: system, hardware, operating system, peripheral devices, and software. The operating system is the software that controls the operations of the computer. Boot devices, such as hard disks or other storage media, are needed to launch applications. Other hardware devices include the keyboard, mouse, monitor, tower cases, motherboards, expansion cards, external drives, and audio devices.