IT Fundamentals/Components

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Personal computer components

This lesson introduces internal system components and data storage.

Objectives and Skills[edit]

Objectives and skills for the components portion of IT Fundamentals certification include:[1]

  • Explain the purpose of common internal computing components.
    • Motherboard/system board
    • Firmware/BIOS
    • RAM
    • CPU
      • ARM
        • Mobile phone
        • Tablet
      • 32-bit
        • Laptop
        • Workstation
        • Server
      • 64-bit
        • Laptop
        • Workstation
        • Server
    • Storage
      • Hard drive
      • SSD
    • GPU
    • Cooling
    • NIC
      • Wired vs. wireless
      • On-board vs. add-on card
  • Compare and contrast storage types.
    • Volatile vs. non-volatile
    • Local storage types
      • RAM
      • Hard drive
        • Solid state vs. spinning disk
      • Optical
      • Flash drive
    • Local network storage types
      • NAS
      • File server
    • Cloud storage service

Readings[edit]

  1. Wikipedia: Computer hardware

Multimedia[edit]

  1. YouTube: Basics of Computing & Processing
  2. YouTube: Common Internal Computing Components
  3. YouTube: Storage Types

Activities[edit]

  1. Run the System Information or List Hardware utility for your operating system:
  2. Create an inventory list of all internal hardware components in your system. Using your preferred hardware vendor, check the hardware specifications for a new system. How recent is your hardware? Is the same technology still in use on current systems?
  3. Review the Consumer Reports "Computer Buying Guide". Visit your favorite computer retailer's website and go "shopping" for a new computer or familiarize yourself with the hardware of a computer at PCPartPicker and build your own system.
  4. Search the Internet for either RAM upgrade wizard or RAM upgrade tool. Using one of the vendor options available, test your system to determine how much RAM and what type is installed in your system. How much RAM will your system support? What would it cost to 'max out' your system's RAM?
  5. Run the hard drive utility for your operating system:
  6. Review MakeUseOf: How to Enter the BIOS on Windows 10 (And Older Versions). Restart your system and access the BIOS configuration screen. Review all options available. Exit and restart the system without saving any configuration changes.
  7. 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]

Motherboard
RAM
CPU
CPU fan
NIC
HDD
SSD
Optical drive
NAS
File server
Cloud storage

Internal Computing Components[edit]

  • A motherboard is the main printed circuit board (PCB) found in general purpose computers and other expandable systems. It holds, and allows, communication between many of the crucial electronic components of a system, such as the central processing unit (CPU) and memory, and provides connectors for other peripherals.[2]
  • BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is firmware used to perform hardware initialization during the booting process (power-on startup), and to provide runtime services for operating systems and programs.[3]
  • Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer memory that can be read and changed in any order, typically used to store working data and machine code.[4]
  • A central processing unit (CPU) is the electronic circuitry within a computer that executes instructions that make up a computer program.[5]
  • ARM, previously Advanced RISC Machine, is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors, configured for various environments.[6] ARM processors are currently used in mobile phones and tablets.
  • 32-bit processors support integers, memory addresses, or other data units that are 32 bits (4 octets) wide. A processor with 32-bit memory addresses can directly access at most 4 GiB of byte-addressable memory.[7]
  • 64-bit processors support integers, memory addresses, or other data units that are 64 bits (8 octets) wide. In principle, a 64-bit microprocessor can address 16 EiBs (16 × 10246 = 264 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes, or about 18.4 exabytes) of memory. However, not all instruction sets, and not all processors implementing those instruction sets, support a full 64-bit virtual or physical address space at this time.[8]
  • Most personal computers manufactured since 2005 have included 64-bit processors. Most operating systems released since 2010 have supported 64-bit processors. Recently, software developers have been dropping support for 32-bit systems.[9]
  • Computer storage includes both primary and secondary storage. Primary storage is volatile and typically referred to as RAM. Secondary storage non-volatile and is often referred to as a hard drive.[10]
  • A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized electronic circuit designed to rapidly manipulate and alter memory to accelerate the creation of images in a frame buffer intended for output to a display device.
  • Computer cooling is required to remove the waste heat produced by computer components, to keep components within permissible operating temperature limits. Components that are susceptible to temporary malfunction or permanent failure if overheated include integrated circuits such as central processing units (CPUs), chipset, graphics cards, and hard disk drives.[11]
  • Computer cooling systems may be active (power-driven, such as with a fan) or passive (using heat sinks and metal cases), or a combination of both. Active systems primarily use air, but liquid-cooled options are available for some high-end systems.[12]
  • A network interface controller (NIC) is a computer hardware component that connects a computer to a computer network.[13] NICs are designed to support either wired or wireless connections, and may be either built into the motherboard or added using an expansion card.

Storage Types[edit]

  • Volatile memory is computer memory that requires power to maintain the stored information; it retains its contents while powered on but when the power is interrupted, the stored data is quickly lost.[14]
  • Non-volatile memory (NVM) or non-volatile storage is a type of computer memory that can retrieve stored information even after having been power cycled.[15]
  • Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer memory that can be read and changed in any order, typically used to store working data and machine code.[16]
  • Local secondary storage options includes hard disk drives, solid state drives, optical drives, and flash drives.
    • A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk[b] is an electro-mechanical data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital data using one or more rigid rapidly rotating platters coated with magnetic material.[17]
    • A solid-state drive (SSD) is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently, typically using flash memory.[18]
    • Optical storage uses a laser to store and retrieve data from optical media. Examples of optical media include compact discs (CD) and DVDs.[19]
    • A flash drive is a portable computer drive that uses flash memory.[20]
  • Local network storage options include network-attached storage (NAS) and file servers.
    • Network-attached storage (NAS) is a file-level (as opposed to block-level) computer data storage server connected to a computer network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients.[21]
    • A file server runs one or more server programs, which share file resources with clients.[22] A file server may be dedicated or non-dedicated. A dedicated server is designed specifically for use as a file server, with workstations attached for reading and writing files.[23]
  • Cloud storage is a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools on one or more physical Internet-based servers, sometimes replicated across multiple locations.[24]

Key Terms[edit]

ARM (Advanced RISC Machine)
A family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors, configured for various environments.[25]
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)
Firmware used to perform hardware initialization during the booting process (power-on startup), and to provide runtime services for operating systems and programs.[26]
bus
A communication system that transfers data between components inside a computer, or between computers.[27]
cache
A hardware or software component that stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster.[28]
chipset
A set of electronic components in an integrated circuit known as a "Data Flow Management System" that manages the data flow between the processor, memory and peripherals.[29]
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The electronic circuitry within a computer that executes instructions that make up a computer program.[30]
DDR (Double Data-Rate)
A computer bus that transfers data on both the rising and falling edges of the clock signal.[31]
DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module)
A series of dynamic random-access memory integrated circuits.[32]
FRU (Field Replaceable Unit)
A printed circuit board, part, or assembly that can be quickly and easily removed from a computer or other piece of electronic equipment, and replaced by the user or a technician without having to send the entire product or system to a repair facility.[33]
form factor
The specification of a motherboard – the dimensions, power supply type, location of mounting holes, number of ports on the back panel, etc.[34]
HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
An electro-mechanical data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital data using one or more rigid rapidly rotating platters coated with magnetic material.[35]
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
A specialized electronic circuit designed to rapidly manipulate and alter memory to accelerate the creation of images in a frame buffer intended for output to a display device.[36]
IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second)
A performance measurement used to characterize secondary computer storage devices.[37]
NIC (Network Interface Card)
A computer hardware component that connects a computer to a computer network.[38]
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
A company that produces parts and equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer.[39]
PCB (Printed Circuit Board)
Mechanically supports and electrically connects electrical or electronic components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from one or more sheet layers of copper laminated onto and/or between sheet layers of a non-conductive substrate.[40]
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
A local computer bus for attaching hardware devices in a computer.[41]
PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express)
A high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard, designed to replace older bus standards[42]
PSU (Power Supply Unit)
A device that supplies electric power to a computer system, converting electric current from a source to the correct voltage, current, and frequency.[43]
RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks)
A data storage virtualization technology that combines multiple physical disk drive components into one or more logical units for the purposes of data redundancy, performance improvement, or both.[44]
RAM (Random Access Memory)
A form of computer memory that can be read and changed in any order, typically used to store working data and machine code.[45]
ROM (Read-Only Memory)
A type of non-volatile memory useful for storing firmware.[46]
SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)
A computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives, optical drives, and solid-state drives.[47]
SSD (Solid State Drive)
A device that uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently, typically using flash memory.[48]
VGA (Video Graphics Array or Video Graphics Adapter)
A graphics standard for video display controllers first introduced with the IBM PS/2 line of computers in 1987.[49]

Assessments[edit]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. CompTIA: IT Fundamentals (ITF+) Exam Objectives FC0-U61
  2. Wikipedia: Motherboard
  3. Wikipedia: BIOS
  4. Wikipedia: Random-access memory
  5. Wikipedia: Central processing unit
  6. Wikipedia: ARM architecture
  7. Wikipedia: 32-bit computing
  8. Wikipedia: 64-bit computing
  9. Wikipedia: 64-bit computing
  10. Wikipedia: Computer memory
  11. Wikipedia: Computer cooling
  12. Wikipedia: Computer cooling
  13. Wikipedia: Network interface controller
  14. Wikipedia: Volatile memory
  15. Wikipedia: Non-volatile memory
  16. Wikipedia: Random-access memory
  17. Wikipedia: Hard disk drive
  18. Wikipedia: Solid-state drive
  19. Wikipedia: Optical storage
  20. Wikipedia: Flash drive
  21. Wikipedia: Network-attached storage
  22. Wikipedia: Client–server model
  23. Wikipedia: File server
  24. Wikipedia: Cloud storage
  25. Wikipedia: ARM architecture
  26. Wikipedia: BIOS
  27. Wikipedia: Bus (computing)
  28. Wikipedia: Cache (computing)
  29. Wikipedia: Chipset
  30. Wikipedia: Double data rate
  31. Wikipedia: Double data rate
  32. Wikipedia: DIMM
  33. Wikipedia: Field-replaceable unit
  34. Wikipedia: Computer form factor
  35. Wikipedia: Hard disk drive
  36. Wikipedia: Graphics processing unit
  37. Wikipedia: IOPS
  38. Wikipedia: Network interface controller
  39. Wikipedia: Original equipment manufacturer
  40. Wikipedia: Printed circuit board
  41. Wikipedia: Conventional PCI
  42. Wikipedia: PCI Express
  43. Wikipedia: Power supply
  44. Wikipedia: RAID
  45. Wikipedia: Random-access memory
  46. Wikipedia: Read-only memory
  47. Wikipedia: Serial ATA
  48. Wikipedia: Solid-state drive
  49. Wikipedia: Video Graphics Array