103a-af PC Lab

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103a-xx Open-it Up! Lab

The main parts inside a computer, and how they work

You will add the new information here

  • Processor:

Traditionally the most important part of every computer is the central processing unit (CPU, or simply a processor), because it actually operates on data, performs any calculations, and controls all the other components [1] Transistors are the tiny switches in modern computers. They transport the electrical currents that move the zeros and ones of the binary system that is what the computer follows for its instructions. They are integral to the efficient functioning of the computer. [2] MHz (megahertz) – 1 MHz = one million ticks of the computers clock per second, this is what makes the computer go. [2] “While Intel created the first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971.Intel combines advanced chip design capability with a leading-edge manufacturing capability. Originally known primarily to engineers and technologists, Intel's successful "Intel Inside" advertising campaign of the 1990s made it and its Pentium processor household names. The Pentium brand refers to Intel’s single-core x86 microprocessor based on the P5 fifth-generation microarchitecture. The name Pentium was derived from the Greek pente (πέντε), meaning 'five', and the Latin ending - ium” [3].

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  • Memory:

Byte – most common unit of storage, typically consisting of 8 bits. A contiguous sequence of a fixed number of bits (binary digits). A bit is a unit of measurement, the information capacity of one binary digit.Binary system is the way a computer is able to function, and bits provide this basic unit of information storage and communication. Each has a value of either zero (0) or one (1). [4] - (Gigabyte – 1,000,000,000 bytes) - (Megabytes – 1,000,000 bytes). In order for the computer to function properly the CPU (central processing unit) has to be able to access memory. Examples of this are RAM or ROM.

File:103a-af computer17jpg

  • CD-ROM

“CD-ROM drives employ a near-infrared 780 nm laser diode. The laser beam is directed onto the disc via an opto-electronic tracking module, which then detects whether the beam has been reflected or scattered.”[5.]

CD-ROMs are popularly used to distribute computer software, including games and multimedia applications, though any data can be stored (up to the capacity limit of a disc). Some CDs hold both computer data and audio with the latter capable of being played on a CD player, whilst data (such as software or digital video) is only usable on a computer (such as PC CD-ROMs). These are called Enhanced CDs. On read only media (ROM), during the manufacturing process the groove, made of pits, is pressed on a flat surface, called land. Because the depth of the pits is approximately one-quarter to one-sixth of the laser's wavelength, the reflected beam's phase is shifted in relation to the incoming reading beam, causing mutual destructive interference and reducing the reflected beam's intensity. This is detected by photodiodes that output electrical signals” [6].

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  • Disk drive

“A hard disk drive (HDD), commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive, is a non-volatile storage device which stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating platters (or re-write head) with magnetic surfaces “In modern computers, hard disks are usually used as secondary storage. The time taken to access a given byte of information stored on a hard disk is typically a few thousandths of a second.. By contrast, the time taken to access a given byte of information stored in random access memory is measured in billionths of a second, or nanoseconds. This illustrates the very significant access-time difference which distinguishes solid-state memory from rotating magnetic storage devices: hard disks are typically about a million times slower than memory. Rotating optical storage devices, such as CD and DVD drives, have even longer access times.” [7.]

File:103a-af computer15.jpg

  • Power-supply

“The main specification of a power supply is in watts. A watt is the product of the voltage in volts and the current in amperes or amps When you turned the PC on or off, you knew you were doing it. These switches actually controlled the flow of 120 volt power to the power supply” [11]. 110 volts A power inverter converts 12V DC power into conventional 110V AC power which can run all kinds of household products such as: kitchen appliances, microwaves, power tools, TVs, radios, computers and more. [ 9]. An alternating current (AC) is an electric current whose direction reverses cyclically, as opposed to direct current which is uncontrollable. When the DC current is converted into the AC current which is maintained and allows the computer to function [10]

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  • Cables

IDE devices use a ribbon cable to connect to each other. Ribbon cables have all of the wires laid flat next to each other instead of bunched or wrapped together in a bundle. IDE ribbon cables have either 40 or 80 wires. There is a connector at each end of the cable and another one about two-thirds of the distance from the motherboard connector. This cable cannot exceed 18 inches (46 cm) in total length (12 inches from first to second connector, and 6 inches from second to third) to maintain signal integrity. The three connectors are typically different colors and attach to specific items: The blue connector attaches to the motherboard. The black connector attaches to the primary (master) drive. The grey connector attaches to the secondary (slave) drive [12].

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  • Battery

"Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics. They are currently one of the most popular types of battery for portable electronics, with one of the best energy-to-weight ratios, no memory effect, and a slow loss of charge when not in use. In addition to uses for consumer electronics, lithium-ion batteries are growing in popularity for defense, automotive, and aerospace applications due to their high energy density. However certain kinds of mistreatment may cause Li-ion batteries to explode" [13]. These batteries are popular because they last longer, and are used in laptops and ipods because of their long shelf-life.

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  • Crystal

"A crystal oscillator is an electronic circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a very precise frequency. This frequency is commonly used to keep track of time (as in quartz wristwatches), to provide a stable clock signal for digital integrated circuits, and to stabilize frequencies for radio transmitters/receivers" [14].

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Lab report

(This part will be the old lab)

  • Jenna Christie
  • September 22, 2008
  • Model # 620GX

Open it Up! LAB


  • Today the goals of our class project were to take apart a computer and identify some of the components that make up a computer! We documented our findings by photographing the different parts that we found inside the computer. I never thought that i would have the opportunity to take apart a computer. It was a very exciting experience.

My Partner and I

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Pictures of Dismantled Computer

  • Processor
 103a-af computer1.jpg
  • Memory

103a-af computer2.jpg

  • Power Supply

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  • Hard Drive and Cd/DVD Drive

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  • Mother Board

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Artistic Interpretation of the Computer

  • Image 1

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  • Image 2

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  • Image 3

103a-af computer10.jpg


Some challenges of this lab were just getting started! My partner and I had some difficulty opening the computer and needed to ask for some assistance. We also had some troubles figuring out how to begin dismantling the many different parts of the computer. Once we finally became comfortable and understood how the computer was put together we were able to separate the pieces of the computer. Another professor volunteering showed us some tricks to make it much easier to get out specific parts. One obstacle that i feel everyone probably faced was dealing with the sharp edges and maneuvering around the soldered elements withing the computers. Taking apart a computer can be quite hazardous to your health! :) But thankfully Professor Thiebaut came to the rescue with his handy first aid kit! THANKS!!!