Computer hardware usually refers to the non-software components of a computer system. Computer hardware includes the microprocessor, hard disk, random-access memory (RAM), graphics adapter, motherboard, USB and power units. These components together form the basic building blocks of a personal computer. The term ‘hardware’ also refers to any number of integrated components that can be used in a desktop or laptop computer. Hardware can also refer to specific hardware devices like printers, scanners, keyboards and mouse.
One of the first computer hardware devices that helped form the basis of desktop and laptop computers was the motherboard. The motherboard is the main component of any computer system and houses the most critical components. A motherboard contains an instruction processor, which execute computer programs during operation, and a random access memory (RAM), which is used to store data files for long-term storage and operation, and an operating system.
Any computer system needs additional hardware to operate with the software that is already installed on it. The most critical pieces of computer hardware are the keyboard and the mouse. The keyboard enables a user to input text and the mouse enables him or her to control the operation of the computer system. A keyboard requires no software to operate, and it is used by all users when they first get a computer system because of its physical structure. In addition, a mouse is used to point at objects on a screen, and a keyboard helps a user to type text messages into a message box.
Another important piece of hardware in computers is the microprocessor. The microprocessor performs multiple functions, including managing the execution of various software programs and controlling the operations of the hardware. The typical architecture of a microprocessor consists of a single main processing unit (CPU) and multiple processing units (MIU). A typical type of microprocessor in a personal computer is the register machine, which executes instructions while keeping track of interruptions.
An external hardware device is any physical item that can be attached to the computer system. Common hardware components include external drives, expansion cards, printers, keyboards, mice, monitors, and speakers. Many devices that are attached to the computer system come in the form of buses, or peripheral devices. A peripheral device is a chip that is added to an existing computer system and usually operates only as an add-on. Some of the most common peripheral devices are printers, disk drives, scanners, card readers, USB drives, modems, wireless routers, wireless bridges, and memory sticks.
The most important part of any operating system, also known as the central processing unit (CPU), is the computer’s motherboard. The motherboard is the device that actually creates the reality that the operating system is operating inside of. The most important role of the motherboard in a computer is that it provides the platform for the programming language code that is written to make the computer work. Without the existence of the motherboard, the various hardware components such as hard drives, processors, and graphics cards would not be able to function.