Basic Computer System Components

 
 
 
 
A basic computer system consists of six integrated components of operation: operations hardware, data-storage hardware, operating system software, application software, application hardware (peripherals). Every computer system--for example Apple/Mac and IBM/PC machines--has each of these components and all of them. Component attributes will be summarized and explained hereafter, but it is important to recognize at the outset that each component interacts or "interfaces" with others. Accordingly, definitions of system components, whether hardware or software, are best conceptualized operationally and functionally, in terms of what the user wants to do with the system or component instead of in terms of what it is.

Central Processing Unit (CPU). The CPU, as the term implies, is the hardware platform, aka motherboard, containing the assemblage of circuits, resistors, switches, sockets, terminals, cables, chips, plugs, etc., that enable data processing to take place. At minimum, any CPUs being purchased after 2000 should have Pentium II or Pentium III compatibility, and should have an internal speed of 300 Mhz; 500 Mhz is preferable. Some sources distinguish between speed and processor chip capacity for laptop and desktop models, and it is true that high-speed laptop computers tend to be more expensive machines. However, when buying a computer it is imperative not to look at hardware per se but to look at it operationally: What do you want the computer to do f

     
 
 
 
    

 

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