103b ab 2012

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The unopened computer
This Demolition Lab took place in Ford Hall, specifically in the Atrium on the 13th of February, 2012. With this project, my partner and I were assigned to take apart the computer down to its individual components and examine these objects and their purposes. The computer taken apart by my partner and I was the Dell Windows XP Professional X80.

Summary of Components

Top view of all the components intact
The Demolition Lab enabled us students to examine the components of the computer, the brain of the computer. In looking and dismantling these computer components, we see that these components although distinct in nature and different in purposes, are all interdependent on each other and the malfunction of one component can obscure the smooth operation of the computer. These components of the computer are as follows:
  • Motherboard
  • RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • Processor
  • CD/DVD player/ burner
  • Power Supply Unit
  • Power Supply Cables
  • Hard Disk
  • Crystal
  • Motherboard battery



A picture of the motherboard
The motherboard is found on the leftmost part of the computer. The motherboard of circuits and gates. The lines on the motherboard are peripherals called buses. The motherboard is the part of the computer where most of the components of the computer are found. It contains the main processes such as the Processor and the RAM and it has cables that connected to the computer's power supply that makes sure that it is operated by electricity. It also has peripherals connected to it that send computing commands to other parts of the computer. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherboard )


A picture of the lithium cell in the computer
At the top center part of the motherboard is a battery. It serves as a backup for the computer for when there are abrupt power disruptions to it. According to Wikipedia, this component of the computer is known as the CMOS battery, a lithium coin cell that last between two and ten years depending on the motherboard, the heat levels and the duration of time the computer is powered off. Longer power-off time and higher relative temperatures due to computer processes will shorten the battery life. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonvolatile_BIOS_memory )


Image of crystal oscillator
The crystal is found between the RAM and the motherboard battery. Also known as a crystal oscillator, this device serves as the clock monitor for the computer. According to Wikipedia, this device is an electronic oscillator that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal to create an electric signal at a very high frequency and this frequency is what allows this device to keep track of time, to provide a stable clock signal, and to stabilize radio frequencies. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonvolatile_BIOS_memory)


Image of the coding radiator used to cool off the processor
Image of a Pentium 4 Processor with 2.8GHz speed
  • Intel Pentium 4
  • 2.8 GHz
  • The processor is a small, square metallic object (usually gold) and it is housed in a silicon chip called a microprocessor. The processor is found at the lower left part of the motherboard underneath a fan known as the coding radiator. The processor is also known as the CPU, the Central Processing Unit of the computer, made up of large scale integrated circuits and connecting pins beneath. This processor in the computer we dismantled is the Intel Pentium 4 with a speed of 2.8 GHz. The processor can be seen as the "brain" of the computer, where most of the instructions by the computer are carried out. According to Wikipedia, the two components of the CPU are the ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) which performs the arithmetic and logic data for the computer and the CU (Control Unit) which retrieves information from memory and decodes and executes the information, sometimes in conjunction with the ALU. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_processing_unit)

RAM ( Random Access Memory)

A picture of four RAMs
  • Crucial Tech
  • According to Wikipedia, the RAM is a form of storage for the computer. It serves as space for the computer to process data to be retrieved by the Central Processing Unit (CPU). RAM is volatile, which means that the information stored on the RAM is only stored as long as the computer is running; that means that as soon as your computer is switched off, the stored information disappears. In a personal computer one can modify the number of RAM for the computer; on the motherboard there are extra slots where these extra RAMs can be installed. Once more RAM is added to a computer that means that the computer runs faster because it reduces the number of times the computer needs to go to the hard disk to retrieve the data. During the Demolition project, the RAMs we found in the computer were two 512MB RAMs and two 256MB RAMs, meaning it's 1.5GB RAM, made by Crucial Tech and NNNIX. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory)

CD/DVD Drive

My partner Abby!
  • Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology
  • During the Demolition Project, the the CD/DVD drive was found on the opposite end of the motherboad, specifically to the right. It was a CD-RW/ DVD drive. Also known as an optical disk drive, according to Wikipedia the disk drive is a device that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves near a light spectrum as a way to read or writing information to and from an optical disk.
    A picture of a CD/DVD drive with its information visible
    These devices according to Wikipedia, are commonly used by computers to read computer software or consumer media distributed on disks or to record data for storage, backup or data exchanging purposes. CD/DVD drives can be used solely as consumer appliances for devices such as DVD players, CD players etc. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD/DVD_drive)

Power Supply

The power supply unit
  • Dell
  • 210 watts maximum output
  • The power supply unit was found on the the lower right section of the computer during the Demolition Project. Connected to it were cables, used as peripherals to transmit electricity from the Power supply Unit to the parts of the computer that need electricity to run. In this computer, the maximum number of watts it could output was 210 watts.
    An image showing the cables (peripherals) for the power supply
    According to Wikipedia, a power supply units turns AC to low voltage DC regulated power for the other internal components of the computer; some power supply units have a manual selector for the input of voltage while some others just adapt to the supply the computer has. According to Wikipedia, most power supply units conform to the ATX form factor; where these power supplies are turned on and off by a signal on the motherboard. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_supply_unit_(computer) )

Hard Drive

An opened up hard disk drive
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7
  • 40 Gigabytes
  • The hard disk drive was found at the top right corner of the computer, and its capacity is 40Gigabytes. According to Wikipedia, the hard disk drive of a computer is the location for storing and retrieving computer data, and it consists of one or more rapidly rotating disks called platters. The hard disk contains tracks and bits on the magnetic disk, and a device to read information known as the Read Write Head. This device is covered in magnetic heads arranged to have data written on it as well as read on. These devices are non-volatile, digital, data storage devices invented by IBM in 1954. Over the years, hard disks drives have reduced in price and increased in speed and capacity at the same time. (Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive )


At the end of the Demolition Project, my partner and I were able to put back all the components of the computer back into place and to return the computer to how it looked before we dismantled it. It was indeed a very exciting as well as insightful, hands-on experiment!
The computer pieced back together after the Demolition Project