IC3/Computer Hardware

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Computer hardware refers to the physical parts or components of a computer. Hardware includes components such as input devices, output devices, secondary storage devices, and internal system components.[1]

This lesson introduces computer hardware and helps learners prepare for the IC3 Computing Fundamentals certification exam. Computer Hardware is one of three exam topics that are required to become certified. The exam covers computer hardware, computer software, and using an operating system. 

Objectives and Skills[edit]

Objectives and skills for the computer hardware portion of IC3 certification include:

Objectives[2]

  • Identify types of computers, how they process information, and the purpose and function of different hardware components
  • Identify how to maintain computer equipment and solve common problems relating to computer hardware

Skills[3]

  • Common computer terminology: hardware and peripherals, storage, types of devices, server, desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone, other mobile devices
  • Computer performance: pros and cons of particular devices, processing vs. memory vs. storage
  • Troubleshooting: cables and connections, devices and peripherals, firmware updates

Readings[edit]

  1. Wikipedia: Computer hardware
  2. Wikipedia: Wearable computer
  3. Wikipedia: Input device
  4. Wikipedia: Output device
  5. Wikipedia: Computer data storage
  6. Wikipedia: Classes of computers
  7. Wikipedia: Computer maintenance
  8. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  9. Wikipedia: Upgrade

Multimedia[edit]

  1. YouTube: Types of computer
  2. YouTube: How To Identify The Components Inside Your Computer
  3. YouTube: Computer Hardware Repair
  4. YouTube: Computer Basics Hardware
  5. YouTube: Laptop Hardware Repair
  6. YouTube: Using Windows Tools for Troubleshooting
  7. YouTube: PC Tune-Up Cleaning and Basic Upgrades
  8. YouTube: Computer Hardware in Plain English
  9. YouTube: How numbers are encoded as characters in ASCII
  10. YouTube: Intro to Binary Numbers
  11. YouTube: How to update and flash your Motherboard BIOS

Activities[edit]

  1. Complete the tutorial Getting Started on the Computer. Identify the external parts of your computer (case, monitor, mouse, keyboard, ports).
  2. Complete the tutorial Getting to Know Computers. Identify the types of computers you use regularly (desktops, laptops, servers, tablets, mobile phones, game consoles, other).
  3. Complete the tutorial Basic Parts of a Desktop Computer. If you have a desktop computer, identify the external parts of your computer (case, monitor, power cord, keyboard, mouse or other pointing device). Where possible, note the manufacturer's product name and model number.
  4. Complete the tutorial Buttons, Sockets and Slots on a Desktop Computer. Identify the buttons, sockets, and slots available on your computer. List each type of button, socket, or port you have, and where on the case they are located. Also list any connected peripheral devices, including product name and model number.
  5. Complete the tutorial Inside a Desktop Computer. If you have a computer available you are willing to open, look inside and identify your CPU, RAM, hard drive, and any expansion cards. Where possible, note the manufacturer's product name and model number. Do not remove any parts unless you are comfortable with reconnecting them.
  6. Complete the tutorial Laptop Computers and Notebooks. If you have a laptop or similar computer, identify the external parts of your computer (case, display, power adapter, keyboard, touchpad, ports).
  7. Complete the tutorial Getting to Know Mobile Devices. If you have a mobile device, identify the type, manufacturer's product name and model number.
  8. Complete the tutorial Setting Up a Computer. Identify each cable connected to your computer, the type of port used, and the peripheral it connects to.
  9. Complete the tutorial Time: See the Wearable Tech of the Future. If you have wearable technology, identify the peripherals and hardware.
  10. Use Quia to play an interactive game where you match key computer hardware terms with definitions.
  11. Review MathsIsFun: Binary, Decimal and Hexadecimal Numbers and MathsIsFun: Binary to Decimal to Hexadecimal Converter. Experiment with converting decimal values to hexadecimal and binary, and then back to decimal again.
  12. Use your operating system's calculator and change the view to programmer mode. Perform simple math calculations in binary and hexadecimal. Convert the values to decimal to check your work.
  13. Review Understanding Troubleshooting. Research any warnings or errors you are currently experiencing with your computer and then use the DETECT method to troubleshoot these issues.
  14. Check your computer or motherboard manufacturer's web site to see if there are any BIOS or firmware updates available for your system. If there are, research the problems the updates resolve and determine whether or not you want to upgrade your system. If so, be sure to back up your system first, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. In particular, do not remove power during a firmware upgrade process.

Lesson Summary[edit]

  • Types of computers include personal computers or workstations, midrange computers or servers, mainframe computers and supercomputers.[4]
  • Data processing is the collection and manipulation of items of data to produce meaningful information.[5]
  • Data processing includes validation, sorting, summarization, aggregation, analysis, and reporting.[6]
  • A modern digital computer represents data using the binary numeral system. Text, numbers, pictures, audio, and nearly any other form of information can be converted into a string of bits, or binary digits, each of which has a value of 1 or 0.[7]
  • The byte is a unit of digital information that consists of eight bits, historically used to encode a single character of text in a computer.[8]
  • Unit multiples of bytes include kilobytes (1000 or 1024), megabytes (10002 or 10242), gigabytes (10003 or 10243) and terabytes (10004 or 10244).[9]
  • Hardware component functions include input, processing, output, and storage.[10]
  • Input components include the keyboard, mouse, touchpad, touchscreen, joystick, scanner, microphone, and camera.[11]
  • Processing components include the CPU, motherboard, chipset, RAM, ROM, busses, and expansion cards.[12]
  • Output components include the display, printers, and speakers.[13]
  • Storage components include fixed media such as hard drives and solid state drives and removable media such as USB flash drives, optical disk drives, and tape drives.[14]
  • Computers require regular monthly or quarterly maintenance. This includes computer cleaning, dust removal, and disk maintenance.[15]
  • Troubleshooting is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again. Troubleshooting requires identification of the malfunction(s) or symptoms within a system. Then, experience is commonly used to generate possible causes of the symptoms. Determining the most likely cause is a process of elimination - eliminating potential causes of a problem. Finally, troubleshooting requires confirmation that the solution restores the product or process to its working state.[16]
  • A basic principle in troubleshooting is to start from the simplest and most probable possible problems first.[17]
  • Serial substitution involves checking each component in a system one by one, substituting known good components for each potentially suspect one.[18]
  • Bisection involves separating a larger system into two or more subsystems to isolate and identify problems and causes.[19]
  • One of the core principles of troubleshooting is that reproducible problems can be reliably isolated and resolved.[20]
  • Intermittent problems are often the result of components that are thermally sensitive, because the resistance of a circuit varies with the temperature of the conductors in it.[21]
  • Troubleshooters must always consider the possibility that there is more than one fault causing a given system failure.[22]
  • One approach to troubleshooting is known as the DETECT method - Discover the problem, Evaluate the system, Track potential solutions, Execute a plan, Check results, and Take a proactive approach to prevent the problem from reoccurring.[23]
  • An upgrade is generally a replacement of hardware, software or firmware with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics.[24]
  • It may be necessary to modify BIOS settings or update or flash the BIOS or other firmware in order to troubleshoot operating system and driver installation issues.[25]
  • Upgrades of software introduce the risk that the new version (or patch) will contain a bug, causing the program to malfunction in some way or not to function at all.[26]

Key Terms[edit]

ASCII
A character-encoding scheme originally based on the English alphabet that encodes 128 specified characters - the numbers 0-9, the letters a-z and A-Z, some basic punctuation symbols, some control codes that originated with Teletype machines, and a blank space - into binary integers, and used to represent text in computers and communications equipment.[27]
Basic Input/Output System (BIOS)
A current standard defining a firmware interface for personal computers, and the first software run by a PC when powered on.[28]
binary
The base-2 numeral system, which represents numeric values using the symbols 0 and 1.[29]
central processing unit (CPU)
The hardware within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system.[30]
computer data storage
Often called storage or memory, is a technology consisting of computer components and recording media used to retain digital data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers. The central processing unit (CPU) of a computer is what manipulates data by performing computations.[31]
computer hardware
The physical parts or components of a computer, including the monitor, keyboard, hard drive disk, mouse, printers, graphic cards, sound cards, memory, motherboard and chips, etc.[32]
control unit
A component of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) that directs operation of the processor.[33]
desktop computer
A personal computer in a form intended for regular use at a single location.[34]
decimal
The base-10 numeral system, which represents numeric values using the symbols 0 - 9.[35]
input
The data that is entered into a computer.[36]
firmware
The combination of persistent memory and program code and data stored in it.[37]
flash drive
Portable storage device that usually appears as a long stick with a USB connector; also known as a memory key, flash card, or thumb drive.[38]
hard disk drive
A secondary data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital information using rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material.[39]
hexadecimal
The base-16 numeral system, which represents numeric values using the symbols 0 - 9 and A - F.[40]
mainframe computer
A high-end commercial computer used primarily by corporate and governmental organizations for critical applications and bulk data processing, with a focus on very high volume input, output (I/O) and throughput.[41]
memory
Computer data storage that is directly accessible to the CPU, typically implemented as Random Access Memory (RAM) and is volatile, with access time measured in nanoseconds. Also known as primary storage, main memory or internal memory.[42]
microprocessor
The main processing unit of a computer or information processing device; the "brains" of the machine carrying out instructions, performing calculations, and interacting with the components used to operate the computer.[43]
modem
A network hardware device that modulates one or more carrier wave signals to encode digital information for transmission and demodulates signals to decode the transmitted information.[44]
motherboard
The main printed circuit board found in computers and other expandable systems, which holds many of the crucial electronic components of the system such as the CPU and memory.[45]
multi-core processor
A single computing component with two or more independent actual processing units, which are the units that read and execute program instructions.[46]
octal
The base-8 numeral system, which represents numeric values using the symbols 0 - 7.[47]
optical disc drive
A disk drive that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves within or near the visible light spectrum as part of the process of reading or writing data to or from optical discs such as CD's, DVDs, and Blu-ray.[48]
peripheral
A device that is connected to a host computer, but not part of it.[49]
port
An interface between the computer and other computers or peripheral devices.[50]
power supply
A device that converts alternating current (AC) electric power to low-voltage DC power for the internal components of the computer.[51]
random-access memory (RAM)
A form of volatile computer data storage that allows stored data to be accessed directly in any random order.[52]
read-only memory (ROM)
A class of non-volatile storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices which cannot be modified, or can be modified only slowly or with difficulty, so that it is mainly used to distribute firmware.[53]
server
A system (software and suitable computer hardware) that responds to requests across a computer network to provide, or help to provide, a network service.[54]
solid-state drive (SSD)
A secondary data storage device using integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently, while using electronic interfaces compatible with traditional block input/output (I/O) hard disk drives.[55]
storage
Computer data storage that is not directly accessible by the CPU, typically implemented using some type of hard disk drive and is non-volatile, with access time measured in milliseconds. Also known as secondary storage, external memory, or auxiliary storage.
supercomputer
A high-end science/research computer with a focus on very high processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.[56]
USB flash drive
A data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface.[57]
wearable technology / wearables
Smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body as implant or accessories. The design often incorporates practical functions and features.[58]

Review Questions[edit]

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  1. Types of computers include _____, _____, _____ and _____.
    Types of computers include personal computers or workstations, midrange computers or servers, mainframe computers and supercomputers.
  2. Data processing includes _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, and _____.
    Data processing includes validation, sorting, summarization, aggregation, analysis, and reporting.
  3. A modern digital computer represents data using the _____ numeral system. Text, numbers, pictures, audio, and nearly any other form of information can be converted into a string of _____, each of which has a value of _____.
    A modern digital computer represents data using the binary numeral system. Text, numbers, pictures, audio, and nearly any other form of information can be converted into a string of bits, or binary digits, each of which has a value of 1 or 0.
  4. The byte is a unit of digital information that consists of _____, historically used to encode _____ in a computer.
    The byte is a unit of digital information that consists of eight bits, historically used to encode a single character of text in a computer.
  5. Unit multiples of bytes include _____ (1000 or 1024), _____ (10002 or 10242), _____ (10003 or 10243) and _____ (10004 or 10244).
    Unit multiples of bytes include kilobytes (1000 or 1024), megabytes (10002 or 10242), gigabytes (10003 or 10243) and terabytes (10004 or 10244)
  6. Hardware component functions include _____, _____, _____, and _____.
    Hardware component functions include input, processing, output, and storage.
  7. Input components include _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, and _____.
    Input components include the keyboard, mouse, touchpad, touchscreen, joystick, scanner, microphone, and camera.
  8. Processing components include _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, _____, and _____.
    Processing components include the CPU, motherboard, chipset, RAM, ROM, busses, and expansion cards.
  9. Output components include _____, _____, and _____.
    Output components include the display, printers, and speakers.
  10. Storage components include fixed media such as _____ and _____ and removable media such as _____, _____, and _____.
    Storage components include fixed media such as hard drives and solid state drives and removable media such as USB flash drives, optical disk drives, and tape drives.
  11. Computers require regular monthly or quarterly maintenance. This includes _____, _____, and _____.
    Computers require regular monthly or quarterly maintenance. This includes computer cleaning, dust removal, and disk maintenance.
  12. Troubleshooting is a _____ search for the _____ of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again. Troubleshooting requires _____ of the malfunction(s) or symptoms within a system. Then, _____ is commonly used to generate _____ of the symptoms. Determining the most likely cause is _____. Finally, troubleshooting requires _____ that the solution restores the product or process to its working state.
    Troubleshooting is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again. Troubleshooting requires identification of the malfunction(s) or symptoms within a system. Then, experience is commonly used to generate possible causes of the symptoms. Determining the most likely cause is a process of elimination - eliminating potential causes of a problem. Finally, troubleshooting requires confirmation that the solution restores the product or process to its working state.
  13. A basic principle in troubleshooting is to start _____.
    A basic principle in troubleshooting is to start from the simplest and most probable possible problems first.
  14. Serial substitution involves _____.
    Serial substitution involves checking each component in a system one by one, substituting known good components for each potentially suspect one.
  15. Bisection involves _____.
    Bisection involves separating a larger system into two or more subsystems to isolate and identify problems and causes.
  16. One of the core principles of troubleshooting is that _____ problems can be reliably isolated and resolved.
    One of the core principles of troubleshooting is that reproducible problems can be reliably isolated and resolved.
  17. Intermittent problems are often the result of _____, because _____.
    Intermittent problems are often the result of components that are thermally sensitive, because the resistance of a circuit varies with the temperature of the conductors in it.
  18. Troubleshooters must always consider the possibility that _____ is causing a given system failure.
    Troubleshooters must always consider the possibility that more than one fault is causing a given system failure.
  19. One approach to troubleshooting is known as the DETECT method - _____ the problem, _____ the system, _____ potential solutions, _____ a plan, _____ results, and _____ a proactive approach to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
    One approach to troubleshooting is known as the DETECT method - Discover the problem, Evaluate the system, Track potential solutions, Execute a plan, Check results, and Take a proactive approach to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
  20. An upgrade is generally a replacement of _____, _____ or _____ with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics.
    An upgrade is generally a replacement of hardware, software or firmware with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics.
  21. It may be necessary to modify _____ settings or update or flash _____ in order to troubleshoot operating system and driver installation issues.
    It may be necessary to modify BIOS settings or update or flash the BIOS or other firmware in order to troubleshoot operating system and driver installation issues.
  22. Upgrades of software introduce the risk that the new version (or patch) will _____.
    Upgrades of software introduce the risk that the new version (or patch) will contain a bug, causing the program to malfunction in some way or not to function at all.

Assessments[edit]

See Also[edit]

Additional Resources[edit]

References[edit]

Nuvola apps edu miscellaneous.svg Type classification: this is a lesson resource.
Progress-1000.svg Completion status: this resource is considered to be complete.
  1. Wikipedia: Computer hardware
  2. IC3 GS4 Computing Fundamentals
  3. IC3 GS4 Computing Fundamentals Skills Measured
  4. Wikipedia: Classes of computers
  5. Wikipedia: Data processing
  6. Wikipedia: Data processing
  7. Wikipedia: Computer data storage
  8. Wikipedia: Byte
  9. Wikipedia: Byte
  10. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  11. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  12. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  13. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  14. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  15. Wikipedia: Computer maintenance
  16. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  17. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  18. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  19. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  20. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  21. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  22. Wikipedia: Troubleshooting
  23. TechNet: Understanding Troubleshooting
  24. Wikipedia: Upgrade
  25. Wikipedia: Upgrade
  26. Wikipedia: Upgrade
  27. Wikipedia: ASCII
  28. Wikipedia: BIOS
  29. Wikipedia: Binary number
  30. Wikipedia: Central processing unit
  31. Wikipedia: Computer data storage
  32. Wikipedia: Computer hardware
  33. Wikipedia: Control unit
  34. Wikipedia: Desktop computer
  35. Wikipedia: Binary number
  36. [Quizlet computer-fundamentals]
  37. Wikipedia: Firmware
  38. [Quizlet computer-fundamentals]
  39. Wikipedia: Hard disk drive
  40. Wikipedia: Binary number
  41. Wikipedia: Mainframe computer
  42. Wikipedia: Computer data storage
  43. [Quizlet computer-fundamentals]
  44. Wikipedia; modem
  45. Wikipedia: Motherboard
  46. Wikipedia: Multi-core_processor
  47. Wikipedia: Binary number
  48. Wikipedia: Optical disc drive
  49. Wikipedia: Peripheral
  50. Wikipedia: Computer port (hardware)
  51. Wikipedia: Personal computer hardware
  52. Wikipedia: Random-access memory
  53. Wikipedia: Read-only memory
  54. Wikipedia: Server (computing)
  55. Wikipedia: Solid-state drive
  56. Wikipedia: Supercomputer
  57. Wikipedia: USB flash drive
  58. Wikipedia: Wearable technology