Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
One of the most important pieces of processing hardware on the motherboard is the
microprocessor , also called the processor or the central processing unit CPU ), which (
consists of transistors and electronic circuits on a silicon chip (an integrated circuit
embedded in semiconductor material). See Figure 7. The processor is mounted on the
motherboard and is responsible for executing instructions to process data.
Figure 7
Microprocessor (front and back views)
The speed of the microprocessor determines how fast a computer processes data
and executes instructions. The microprocessor’s speed is determined by several factors,
including its clock speed and word size. Think of the clock speed as the pulse of the
processor. It is measured in megahertz MHz ), millions of cycles per second, or gigahertz (
GHz ), billions of cycles per second. Word size refers to the number of bits—the smallest (
unit of information in a computer—that are processed at one time; for example, a 32-bit
processor processes 32 bits at a time. A computer with a large word size can process
faster than a computer with a small word size. PCs come with 32-bit or 64-bit processors.
A dual-core processor , which has two processors on a single chip, can process
information up to twice as fast as a single-core processor , which has one processor on the
chip; likewise, a quad-core processor , with four processors on a chip, processes
information up to four times as fast as a single-core processor.
What is the microprocessor type and clock speed for the computer advertised in the
Visual Overview? It has an Intel Pentium dual-core microprocessor that can operate at
2.93 GHz. Because it doesn’t specify 64 bits, you can assume it is a 32-bit processor.
Cards are removable circuit boards that are inserted into slots on the motherboard to
expand the capabilities of the motherboard. A sound card, for example, translates the
digital audio information from the computer into analog sounds that the human ear
can hear.
Memory and Storage
Another important component of PC hardware is memory. Computer memory is a set
of storage locations on the motherboard. Memory is different from permanent storage ,
where the data you create and the instructions you use remain when you are not
using them.
A computer has several types of memory. Random access memory RAM ), which consists (
of chips on cards that plug into the motherboard, temporarily holds programs and data
while the computer is on, and allows the computer to access that information randomly;
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