103b at 2012f

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Inside a Computer

  • In late September, members of the CSC 103 class participated in a PC Demolition Lab.
  • Their findings are available throughout the student wiki pages.
  • This page highlights the main components of a Dell 270.

The Motherboard

  • A circuit board where the processor can talk to the memory
  • Has four main components:
  1. Processor
  2. Ram
  3. Crystal
  4. Battery


  • Intel Pentium 4
  • Model Number 3332A626
  • "Incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and provides results as output" (Retrieved Oct. 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microprocessor).


  • Random Access Memory (RAM)
  • 512 MB
  • "A random-access device allows stored data to be accessed in very nearly the same amount of time for any storage location, so data can be accessed quickly in any random order" (Retrieved Oct. 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory).


  • Metronome - controls the speed of the motherboard


  • Powers the motherboard when the computer is off
  • Keeps the time/date

CD/DVD Drive

  • "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....Commonly used in computers to read software and consumer media distributed on disc, and to record discs for archival and data exchange purposes" (Retrieved Oct. 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cd_drive).

Power Supply



  • Thin cables: power supply
  • Ribbon cables: data transfer

Hard Disk

  • 40 GB
  • Magnetic
  • "Consists of one or more rigid ("hard") rapidly rotating discs (platters) coated with magnetic material. Magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm read and write data to the surfaces. The read-write heads are supported on a thin layer of air inside the enclosed disk unit with only tiny gaps between the heads and the disk surface" (Retrieved Oct. 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk).