The Parts of a Computer

The core of a computer has five parts:

  • A set of instructions called a program

  • The central processor that performs actions based on the instructions it receives from the program

  • A memory that provides a workspace for the processor to read the program and hold the results of its work

  • Inputs and outputs (known collectively as I/O) that allow the processor to communicate with the outside world

  • A special type of I/O device called a disk drive, or some other storage medium that stores programs and data

Figure 5.5 shows how these five elements interact with one another. The computer processor performs work, specified by a program, on input signals and stores it in memory while it waits for the next instruction from the program. When the process is complete, the processor either sends a signal to an output, stores it on the disk drive, or both.

image from book
Figure 5.5: A simple computer has five elements.

A modern personal computer can perform millions of processes every second. And it can handle either four or eight 8-bit bytes at a time (32-bit or 64-bit processing), so the total number of different I/O conditions is up in the hundreds of millions. This combination of high speed and extremely flexible I/O allows the computer to perform many types of work extremely quickly. But what does it take to move from processing bits to performing useful work?

PC User's Bible
PC Users Bible
ISBN: 0470088974
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 372

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