CSC231 2010 Julia

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PC demolition report

Julia Burns

CSC 231



For this lab, as a class we deconstructed a Dell desktop PC and removed its parts. The purpose of the lab was to familiarize ourselves with the workings of a personal computer to begin our study of microprocessors and assembly language. When studying assembly language it is very important to understand what is going on in a computer at the physical level; this is the main difference between the study of assembly language and higher-level languages. More specifically, we wanted to get an idea of what the processor and the memory of the computer look like in real life, since we will be dealing with them throughout the semester.

Parts of the Computer


The central processing unit, also known as the CPU or the processor, of a computer is the part that reads, interprets, and executes the instructions of a program. When we write in assembly language, we are sending instructions to the processor directly. The instructions must be very basic for the processor to understand them, this is why assembly programs are written in more elementary steps than programs in higher-level languages. The operating frequency of a CPU is a large factor in determining the efficiency of the computer; Modern CPUs run at operating frequencies exceeding 3 GHz. A common CPU model is the MOS 6502.


Random-access memory or RAM is a system of integrated circuits where the computer's data is stored. RAM is held on removable cards, which makes it simple to add RAM to a computer when in need of more memory. A typical desktop computer might have 2GB of RAM, but many specialized computers have more. The advantage of RAM as opposed to a hard disk is that the memory of the RAM is very quick to access, both reading and writing. Thus, a machine with more RAM will be able to do data operations more quickly.

Power supply

The power supply of a computer converts 120 V AC wall power to DC power for the computer. Typical output voltages range from 3.3 to 12 V. A modern computer's power supply might supply 750 W of power to the computer to run the digital circuits as well as the disk drives and the fans.

Hard disk

Heat sink


Sound and video

Sound card

Video card


Floppy drive

Zip drive