CSC231 2010 Angela Z.
17 September 2010
The goal of this lab was for the class to learn about the internal parts of a computer by taking it apart. The class took apart a desktop PC while identifying its parts and discussing their functions.
Buses are used to transfer information from part to part within a computer. Internal buses carry data within the actual machine, from various components to the motherboard. External buses connect external parts to the machine. The buses in the computer we looked at were parallel buses. The most common bus is PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect).
The CD drive processes compact discs, known as CDs. They may read or write to CDs and are frequently used to store computer software and music.
CPU stands for central processing unit and is more commonly known as the processor. The processor is responsible for carrying out the functions of the computer. It receives and executes instructions from programs. The part we looked at was an Intel processor. Modern machines typically use Intel Pentium or Intel Core processors with an operating frequency from 2.4 to 3.2. These advanced processors can use up to 150 watts.
Fans are used within the computer to cool various parts and prevent the machine from overheating. They may work in conjunction with a heat sink by blowing air over or through the heat sink. They are usually used to cool the case of the computer, the power supply, the processor, and the graphics card.
Floppy drives are used to read floppy disks, a formerly popular portable storage device. Standard floppy disks were 3 1/2" and had 1.44 MB of storage. They were later replaced by zip drives.
Graphics cards, also known as video cards, are used to process and output images. They use some of the system's RAM to run and are connected to the motherboard. Graphics cards also have their own processors and may have video-out ports as well.
Hard drives are the primary device used for storing data within a computer. The hard drive of the computer we looked at was damaged, most likely to prevent access to the data stored on it. Today's hard drives are typically 250 GBs but can hold up to 500 GBs of data.
Heat sinks are most often used to cool the processor and graphics card of the computer. They are used to draw heat away from the part they are used for and are most often made of aluminum. Unlike a fan, they produce no noise within the machine.
Random-access memory, more commonly shortened to memory, is a form of data storage within a computer. Data can be retrieved in any order, hence the name random-access memory. It stores data temporarily and loses stored data each time the computer is shut down. Modern computers typically have 4 GBs of RAM.
The motherboard is a circuit board within a computer that holds many of the components of the system. It typically holds chipsets, memory, power connectors, expansion cards, and other components of the machine. Motherboards almost always use heat sinks and fans to dissipate heat.
Network cards allow computers to connect to a network and communicate with other systems on the network. They typically include Ethernet ports that can be used to connect to a network with an Ethernet cord. Modern network computers also enable computers to connect to networks wirelessly.
The power supply unit of a computer supplies power to all components of the computer. The typical input voltage is 120V. A power supply can be expected to about 300 W of power to the system.
Ribbon cables are wide and flat cables and are made up of several wires running parallel to each other. They are often used within computers to connect components such as hard drives to the motherboard.
A sound card is an internal component of a computer that provides audio input and output for the machine.
Zip drives are similar to floppy drives in functionality and look, but have greater storage capacity. Zip disks initially had a capacity of 100 MB, which later increased. Today they are rarely used and have been replaced by flash drives for the most part.