Inside the Personal Computer

By: Dean Barnard

Copyright (c) 2007 Dean Barnard

We may become used to computers at our office and homes, but the innards always remain a mystery of sorts. What lies inside the box? What creates the dazzling images and almost reads your mind? The components which make up a personal computer are barely few.

The biggest part of a PC is the mother board. It is called so because it acts as a substratum on which other components are mounted. The motherboard itself has many slots in which other parts can be added. First of all, the motherboard requires power to operate. Being a digital component, it works on direct current. The conversion from the usual alternating current supply to direct current is accomplished by the power supply. The power supply gives off heat and therefore requires a fan to cool it down. This is the whirring sound which you normally hear from the back of a PC box. This box which contains the modules and the motherboard is called a mini tower or a full tower depending on its size.

The heart of any PC is the microprocessor. This device accepts, modifies and presents data. Intel and AMD are two companies which manufacture microprocessors. The microprocessor is designed in a compact form and sits in the slot provided on the motherboard. It can be recognized by the fan which is mounted right on top of it.

The motherboard also has slots for the video card, audio card and the internet card, which is also called a network interface card. The latest motherboards have all features built into itself and therefore does not need cards to be added. Video cards are connected to the output device or what we know as a monitor.

The advanced video cards have their own memory for faster operation .They are called video RAM or Video random access memory.

The PC requires some other essential components called the memory. Memory itself can be divided into three categories. The ROM or read only memory is in the form of a chip which is mounted on the motherboard. The information residing on the ROM cannot be altered. This memory is used to boot strap the PC or in simple words it is used while the computer is being started. There are slots built into the motherboard for RAM, or random access memory. This memory is used while the microprocessor is storing temporary data. Another important kind of memory is the hard disc drive which is connected externally to the motherboard. This memory stores processed information.

We may also find a floppy disc drive or FDD (which has almost become redundant). A CDROM or DVDROM drive has replaced FDD as the main source of storage and retrieval of external data.

Add input devices, which are for providing data to the PC, like a keyboard and a mouse and we have a fully working PC, right in front of us.

The PC essentially has input devices which provide data, the microprocessor to process this information and output device to display the results. Memory in different forms is required to store data. This in short is what a PC is made of.

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