Computer Hardware - Essay Example

Its hardware components include Input and output devices, a central processing unit (CPU), and primary and secondary storage devices. The major functions and hardware In a computer system are summarized in Figure 13. 9 Microcomputer Systems – Microcomputers are used as personal computers, network computers, personal digital assistants, technical workstations, and information appliances. Like most computer systems today, microcomputers are interconnected in a variety of telecommunications networks.

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This typically includes local area networks, client/server networks, Intranets and extranets, and the Internet. Other Computer Systems -? Midrange computers are Increasingly used as powerful network servers, and for many multiuse business data processing and scientific applications. Mainframe computers are larger and more powerful than most midsized computers. They are usually faster, have more memory capacity, and can support more network users and peripheral devices.

Some experts predict the merging or disappearance of several computer categories. They feel that many midrange and mainframe systems have been made obsolete by the power and versatility of client/server networks of microcomputers and servers. Most recently, some industry experts have predicted that the emergence of network computers and information appliances for applications on the Internet and corporate intranets will replace many personal amputees, especially in large organizations and in the home computer market.

Microcomputers are the smallest but most important categories of computers systems for business people and consumers. They are also referred to as personal computers (or PC’s). The computing power of current microcomputers exceeds that of the mainframe computers of previous generations at a fraction of their cost. They have become powerful-networked professional workstations for use by end users in business. Microcomputers categorized by size 1. Handheld 2. Notebook 3. Laptop 4. Portable 5. Desktop 6.

Floor-standing Microcomputers categorized by use 1. Home 2. Personal 4. Workstation 5. Multi-user Systems categorized by special purpose 1 . Workstation Computers 2. Network Servers 3. Personal Digital Assistants Workstation Computers – some microcomputers are powerful workstation computers (technical work stations) that support applications with heavy mathematical computing and graphics display demands such as computerized design (CAD) in engineering, or investment and portfolio analysis in the securities industry.

Network Servers – are usually more powerful microcomputers that co-ordinate telecommunications and resource haring in small local area networks (Lana), and Internet and intranet websites. This is the fastest growing microcomputer application category. Network Computers: ; Network Computers (NCSC) are a major new microcomputer category designed primarily for use with the Internet and corporate intranets by clerical workers, operational employees, and knowledge workers with specialized or limited computing applications.

In-between NCSC and full-featured PC’s are stripped-down PC’s known as Entice or legacy-free PC’s. Entice are designed for the Internet and a limited range of applications within a company. Examples are: Dell’s Web, Compass’s Pips, Hap’s e-PC, and machine’s none. Network computers (also called thin clients) are low-cost, sealed, networked microcomputers with no or minimal disk storage. Users of network computers depend primarily on Internet and intranet servers for their operating system and web browser, Java-enabled application software, and data access and storage.

Main attractions of network computers over full-featured PC’s are their low cost to: ; Purchase ; Upgrade ; Maintenance ; Support Other benefits to businesses include: ; Ease of software distribution and licensing Computing platform standardization ; Reduced end user support requirements ; Improved manageability through centralized management and enterprises Information Appliances The market is offering a number of gadgets and information appliances that offer users the capability to perform enable host of basic computational chores.

Examples of some information appliances include: ; Personal Digital Assistants – (Pads) are designed for convenient mobile communications and computing. Pads use touch screens, pen-based handwriting recognition, or keyboards to help mobile workers end and receive E-mail, access the Web, and exchange information such as appointments, to-do lists, and sales contacts with their desktop PC’s or web servers. ; Set-top boxes and video-game consoles that connect to home TV sets.

These devices enable you to surf the Web or send and receive E-mail and watch TV programs or play video games at the same time. ; Wireless Pads and cellular and PC’S phones and wired telephone-based appliances that can send and receive E-mail and access the Web. Computer Terminals Computer terminals are undergoing a major conversion to networked computer devices. For example: ; Dumb terminals are keyboard/video monitor devices with limited processing capabilities, to intelligent terminals, which are modified networked PC’s, network computers or other microcomputer-powered network devices.

Intelligent terminals can perform data entry and some information processing tasks independently. ; Networked terminals which may be Windows terminals that are dependent on network servers for Windows software, processing power, and storage, or Internet terminals, which depend on Internet or intranet website servers for their operating systems and application software. ; Transaction terminals are a form of intelligent terminal. Uses can be found in banks retail stores, factories, and other work sites.

Minicomputers could easily handle such uses because these applications are narrow in scope and do not demand the processing versatility of mainframe systems. ; Serve as industrial process-control and manufacturing plant computers and they play a major role in computerized manufacturing (CAM). ; Take the form of powerful technical workstations for computer-aided design (CAD) and other computation and graphics-intensive applications. ; Are used as front-end computers to assist mainframe computers in telecommunications processing and network management. Can function in ordinary operating environments (do not need air conditioning or electrical wiring). ; Smaller models of minicomputers do not need a staff of specialists to operate them. MIDRANGE COMPUTER APPLICATIONS Serve as industrial process-control and manufacturing plant computers. Play a major role in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Serve as powerful technical workstations for computer-aided design (CAD) and other computation and graphics-intensive applications Serve as front-end computers to assist mainframe computers in telecommunications processing and network management.

Midrange Computer as Network Server: and financial applications. ; Other applications, like data warehouse management, ATA mining, and online analytical processing are contributing to the growth of high- end servers and other midrange systems. ; Serve as powerful network servers to help manage large Internet web sites, corporate Intranets and extranets, and client/server networks MAINFRAME COMPUTER SYSTEMS Mainframe computers are large, fast, and powerful computer systems.

Characteristics of mainframe computers include: ; They are physically larger and more powerful than micros and mints. ; Can process hundreds of millions of instructions per second (MIPS). ; Have large primary storage capacities. Main memory capacity can range from hundreds of megabytes to many gigabytes of primary storage. ; Mainframes have slimmed down drastically in the last few years, dramatically reducing air-conditioning needs, electronic power consumption, and floor space requirements, and thus their acquisition and operating costs. Sales of mainframes have increased due to cost reductions and the increase in applications such as data mining and warehousing, decision support, and electronic Mainframe Computer Applications: ; Handle the information processing needs of major corporations and government agencies with many employees and customers. Handle enormous and complex computational problems. ; Used in organizations processing great volumes of transactions. ; Handle great volumes of complex calculations involved in scientific and engineering analyses and simulations of complex design projects. Serve as supervisors for the large client/server networks and high-volume Internet web sites of large companies. ; Are becoming a popular business-computing platform for data mining and warehousing, and electronic commerce applications. Supercomputer Systems: The term supercomputer describes a category of extremely powerful computer yester specifically designed for scientific, engineering, and business applications requiring extremely high-speeds for massive numeric computations.

Supercomputer Applications: ; Used by government research agencies, large universities, and major corporations. ; Are used for applications such as global weather forecasting, military defense systems, computational cosmology and astronomy, microprocessor research and design, large scale data mining, large time-sharing networks, and so on. ; Use parallel processing architectures of interconnected microprocessors (which can execute many instructions at the same time in parallel). Can perform arithmetic calculations at speeds of billions of floating-point operations per second (spillages).

Teraflop (1 trillion floating-point operations per second) supercomputers, which use advanced massively parallel processing (MAP) designs of thousands of interconnected microprocessors, are becoming available. ; Purchase price for large supercomputers are in the $5 million to $50 million range. Mini-supercomputers: The use of symmetric multiprocessing (SMS) and distributed shared memory (ADSM) designs of smaller numbers of interconnected microprocessors has spawned a breed f mini-supercomputer with prices that start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

TECHNICAL NOTE: THE COMPUTER SYSTEM CONCEPTS – [Figure 13. 9] As a business professional, you do not need a detailed technical knowledge of computers. However, you do need to understand some basic facts and concepts about computer systems. This should help you be an informed and productive user of computer system resources. Basic system functions of input, processing, output, storage, and control, thus providing end users with a powerful information-processing tool. Understanding the imputer as a computer system is vital to the effective use and management of computers.

A computer is a system of hardware devices organized according to the following system functions: ; Input. Examples of some input devices of a computer system include: 1. Keyboards 2. Touch Screens. Light Pens 4. Electronic Mice 4. Optical Scanners 5. Voice Input They convert data into electronic machine-readable form for direct entry or through a telecommunications network into a computer system. Processing. The central processing unit (CAP’) is the main processing component of a computer system. In microcomputers, it is the main microprocessor).

One of the Cups major components is the arithmetic-logic unit (ALLIS) that performs the arithmetic and logic functions required in computer processing. Components of the CPU include: 1 . Control Unit 2. Arithmetic-Logic Unit 3. Primary Storage Unit Output. Convert electronic information produced by the computer system into human-intelligible form for presentation to end-users. Examples of output devices include: 1. Video Display Units 2. Audio Response Units 3. Printers Storage. The storage function of a computer system is used to store data and aerogram instructions needed for processing.

Storage devices include: 1. Primary Storage Unit (main memory) 2. Secondary Storage Devices (magnetic disk and tape units, optical disks) Control. The control unit of a CPU interprets computer program instructions and transmits directions to the other components of the computer system. Computer Processing Speeds: Milliseconds – Thousands of a second. Microseconds – Millionths of a second. Nanoseconds – Billionth of a second Picoseconds – Trillionth of a second Other terminology used includes: ; Teraflop – used by some supercomputers MIPS – Million instructions per second

Megahertz (Much) – Millions of cycles per second Gigahertz (GHz) – Billions of cycles per second Clock Speed – used to rate microprocessors by the speed of their timing circuits and internal clock. Section II: Computer Peripherals: Input, Output, and Storage Technologies INTRODUCTION A computer is Just a high-powered “processing box” without peripherals. Your personal computing needs will dictate the components you choose for our particular computing needs. Analyzing United Technologies and Eastman Kodak We can learn a lot about the business value of consolidating computer operations and systems from this case.

Take a few minutes to read it, and we will discuss it (See United Technologies and Eastman Kodak in Section ‘X). PERIPHERALS Peripherals are the generic name for all input, output, and secondary storage devices that are part of a computer system. Peripherals depend on direct connections or telecommunications links to the central processing unit of a computer system. Thus, all peripherals are online devices, that is, separate from, but can be electronically connected to and controlled by, a CAP]. This is the opposite of off-line devices, which are separate from and not under the control of the CAP].

INPUT TECHNOLOGY There has been a major trend toward the increased use of input technologies that provide a more natural user interface for computer users. More and more data and commands are being entered directly and easily into computer systems through pointing devices like electronic mice and touch pads, and technologies like optical POINTING DEVICES Keyboards are still the most widely used devices for entering data and text into computer systems. However, pointing devices are a better alternative for issuing commands, making choices, and responding to prompts displayed on your video screen.

They work with your operating system’s graphical user interface (GU’), which presents you with icons, menus, windows, buttons, bars, and so on, for your selection. Examples of pointing devices include: ; Electronic Mouse – A device used to move the cursor on the screen, as well as to issue commands and make icon and menu selections. ; Trackball – A device used to move the cursor on the display screen. Pointing Stick – A small buttonhole device, sometimes likened to the eraser head of a pencil. The cursor moves in the direction of the pressure you place on the track point.

Touched – A small rectangular touch-sensitive surface usually placed below the keyboard. The cursor moves in the direction your finger moves on the pad. Touch Screens – A device that accepts data input by the placement of a finger on or close to the CRT screen. PEN-BASED COMPUTING Pen-based computing technologies are being used in many hand-held computers and personal digital assistants. These small PC’s and Pads contain fast processors and software that recognizes and digitizes handwriting, hand printing, and hand drawing.

They have a pressure-sensitive layer like a graphics pad under their socialite liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. A variety of fanlike devices are available: ; Digitized Pen – A photoelectric device that can be used as a pointing device, or used to draw or write on a pressure-sensitive surface of a graphics tablet. Graphics Tablet – A device that allows an end user to draw or write on a pressure- sensitive tablet and has their handwriting or graphics digitized by the computer and accepted as input.

SPEECH RECOGNITION SYSTEMS Speech recognition and voice response (in their infancy) promise to be the easiest method of data entry, word processing, and conversational computing, since speech is the easiest, most natural means of human communication. Speech recognition systems analyses and classify speech or vocal tract patterns and recognition products used discrete speech recognition, where you had to pause between each spoken word. New continuous speech recognition (CAR) software recognizes controlled, conversationally paced speech.

Examples of continuous speech recognition software include: ; Industrialization by Dragon Systems ; Voice by IBM ; Possessives by Laurent & Hauser ; Preferences by Philips Areas where speech recognition systems are used include: ; Manufacturers use it for inspection, inventory, and quality control ; Airlines and racer delivery companies use it for voice-directed sorting of baggage and parcels ; Voice activated GAPS systems are being used in advanced car design ; Physicians use it to enter and printout prescriptions ; Gemologists use it to free up their hands when inspecting and grading precious stones ; Handicapped individuals use voice-enabled software to operate their computers, e-mail, and surf the World Wide Web.

Speaker-independent voice recognition systems allow a computer to understand a few words from a voice it has never heard before. They enable computers to respond to verbal and touch-tone input over the telephone. Examples include: ; Computerized telephone call switching ; Telemarketing surveys ; Bank pay-by-phone bill-paying services ; Stock quotations services ; University registration systems ; Customer credit and account balance inquiries OPTICAL SCANNING Optical scanning devices read text or graphics and convert them into digital input for a computer. Optical scanning enables the direct entry of data from source documents into a computer system.