Personal computer hardware are component devices which are typically installed into or peripheral to a computer case to create a personal computer upon which system software is installed including a firmware interface such as a BIOS and an operating system which supports application software that performs the operator's desired functions. Operating systems usually communicate with devices through hardware buses by using software device drivers.
Main article: Motherboard
The motherboard is the main component inside the case. It is a large rectangular board with integrated circuitry that connects the other parts of the computer including the CPU, the RAM, the disk drives (CD, DVD, hard disk, or any others) as well as any peripherals connected via the ports or the expansion slots.
Components directly attached to the motherboard include:
* The central processing unit (CPU) performs most of the calculations which enable a computer to function, and is sometimes referred to as the "brain" of the computer. It is usually cooled by a heat sink and fan. Newer CPUs include an on-die Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).
* The chip set mediates communication between the CPU and the other components of the system, including main memory.
* RAM (random-access memory) stores resident part of the current running OS (OS core and so on) and all running processes (application parts, using CPU or input/output (I/O) channels or waiting for CPU or I/O channels).
* The BIOS includes boot firmware and power management. The Basic Input Output System tasks are handled by operating system drivers. Newer motherboards use Unified Extensible Firmware Interface instead of BIOS.
* Internal buses connect the CPU to various internal components and to expansion cards for graphics and sound.
+ The north bridge memory controller, for RAM and PCI Express
# PCI Express, for expansion cards such as graphics, lannd and physics processors, and high-end network interfaces
+ PCI, for other expansion cards
+ SATA, for disk drives
+ AGP (superseded by PCI Express)
+ VLB VESA Local Bus (superseded by AGP)
+ ISA (expansion card slot format obsolete in PCs, but still used in industrial computers)
* External bus controllers support ports for external peripherals. These ports may be controlled directly by the south bridge I/O controller or based on expansion cards attached to the motherboard through the PCI bus.
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