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Computer

We are all familiar with what a computer is in a specific, contemporary sense. Personal computers are found in most aspects of daily life, and for some it is hard to even imagine a world without them. But the term computer means more than simply the Macs and PCs we are familiar with. A computer is, at its most basic, a machine which can take instructions, and perform computations based on those instructions. A Precise definition of a computer is as follows: A computer is a programmable machine that receives input, stores and manipulates data, and provides output in a useful format. It is the ability to take instructions often known as programs in the parlance of computers and execute them that distinguishes a computer from a mechanical calculator. While both are able to make computations, a calculator responds simply to immediate input. In fact, most modern calculators are actually computers, with a number of pre-installed programs to help aid in complex tasks. Computers range from the very small to the very large. Some are capable of doing millions of calculations in a single second, while others may take long periods of time to do even the most simple calculations. But theoretically, anything one computer is capable of doing, another computer will also be able to do. Given the right instructions, and sufficient memory, a computer found in a wristwatch should be able to accomplish anything a supercomputer can although it might take thousands of years for the wristwatch to complete the operation. At one time, computers were extremely large, and required enormous amounts of power. This made them useful only for a small amount of tasks computing trajectories for astronomical or military applications, for example, or code breaking. Over time, with technological advances, the computer was scaled down and its energy requirements lowered immensely. This allowed the power of the computer to be harnessed for a staggering array of uses. As prevalent as personal computers are, they do not nearly begin to scratch the surface of computer use in our world. Interactive devices of all sorts contain their own computers. Cellular telephones, GPS units, portable organizers, ATM machines, gas pumps, and millions of other devices all make use of computers to streamline their operations, and to offer features which would be impossible without a computer. A computer like this is often referred to as an embedded computer. An embedded computer is differentiated from a personal computer because it is essentially static in its function. While a personal computer, or some cellular telephones, or some personal organizers are able to have new software installed, and make use of a wide range of features, an embedded computer usually has only a few purposes, which are relatively fixed once the computer is manufactured. While a computer can, in theory, be made out of almost anything and mechanical examples of computers have existed through much of recorded human history, the first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century (19401945). Originally, they were the size of a large

room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs). [1] Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space.[2] Simple computers are small enough to fit into mobile devices, and can be powered by a small battery. Personal computers in their various forms are icons of the Information Age and are what most people think of as "computers". However, the embedded computers found in many devices from MP3 players to fighter aircraft and from toys to industrial robots are the most numerous Embedded systems vary in the amount of change that can happen to them after production. An MP3 player, for example, is an embedded computer, but can have quite a bit of interaction and changes made to it. It may allow the user to alter the colors used, change the clock, update firmware, and change the songs or playlists in memory. An embedded computer within a traffic light, to take another example, is probably quite fixed. It is set to respond to a few certain programs time of day, a trigger when a car approaches, and perhaps input from a central database in the case of more advanced systems. These programs are not built for interactivity, and will likely never be changed over the systems life. Computers have been used to coordinate information between multiple locations since the 1950s. The U.S. military's SAGE system was the first large-scale example of such a system, which led to a number of special-purpose commercial systems like Sabre. In the 1970s, computer engineers at research institutions throughout the United States began to link their computers together using telecommunications technology. This effort was funded by ARPA (now DARPA), and the computer network that it produced was called the ARPANET. The technologies that made the Arpanet possible spread and evolved. In time, the network spread beyond academic and military institutions and became known as the Internet. The emergence of networking involved a redefinition of the nature and boundaries of the computer. Computer operating systems and applications were modified to include the ability to define and access the resources of other computers on the network, such as peripheral devices, stored information, and the like, as extensions of the resources of an individual computer. Initially these facilities were available primarily to people working in high-tech environments, but in the 1990s the spread of applications like e-mail and the World Wide Web, combined with the development of cheap, fast networking technologies like Ethernet and ADSL saw computer networking become almost ubiquitous. In fact, the number of computers that are networked is growing phenomenally. A very large proportion of personal computers regularly connect to the Internet to communicate and receive information. "Wireless" networking, often utilizing mobile phone networks, has meant networking is becoming increasingly ubiquitous even in mobile computing environments.

Central processing unit

The central processing unit (CPU) is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, and is the primary element carrying out the computer's functions. The central processing unit carries out each instruction of the program in sequence, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. This term has been in use in the computer industry at least since the early 1960s. The form, design and implementation of CPUs have changed dramatically since the earliest examples, but their fundamental operation remains much the same. Early CPUs were custom-designed as a part of a larger, sometimes one-of-a-kind, computer. However, this costly method of designing custom CPUs for a particular application has largely given way to the development of mass-produced processors that are made for one or many purposes. This standardization trend generally began in the era of discrete transistor mainframes and mini computers and has rapidly accelerated with the popularization of the integrated circuit (IC). The IC has allowed increasingly complex CPUs to be designed and manufactured to tolerances on the order of nanometers. Both the miniaturization and standardization of CPUs have increased the presence of these digital devices in modern life far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in everything from automobiles to cell phones and children's toys. The fundamental operation of most CPUs, regardless of the physical form they take, is to execute a sequence of stored instructions called a program. The program is represented by a series of numbers that are kept in some kind of computer memory. There are four steps that nearly all CPUs use in their operation: fetch, decode, execute, and writeback. The first step, fetch, involves retrieving an instruction (which is represented by a number or sequence of numbers) from program memory. The location in program memory is determined by a program counter (PC), which stores a number that identifies the current position in the program. In other words, the program counter keeps track of the CPU's place in the current program. After an instruction is fetched, the PC is incremented by the length of the instruction word in terms of memory units.[5] Often the instruction to be fetched must be retrieved from relatively slow memory, causing the CPU to stall while waiting for the instruction to be returned. This issue is largely addressed in modern processors by caches and pipeline architectures (see below).

The instruction that the CPU fetches from memory is used to determine what the CPU is to do. In the decode step, the instruction is broken up into parts that have significance to other portions of the CPU. The way in which the numerical instruction value is interpreted is defined by the CPU's instruction set architecture (ISA).[6] Often, one group of numbers in the instruction, called the opcode, indicates which operation to perform. The remaining parts of the number usually provide information required for that instruction, such as operands for an addition operation. Such operands may be given as a constant value (called an immediate value), or as a place to locate a value: a register or a memory address, as determined by some addressing mode. In older designs the portions of the CPU responsible for instruction decoding were unchangeable hardware devices. However, in more abstract and complicated CPUs and ISAs, a microprogram is often used to assist in translating instructions into various configuration signals for the CPU. This microprogram is sometimes rewritable so that it can be modified to change the way the CPU decodes instructions even after it has been manufactured. After the fetch and decode steps, the execute step is performed. During this step, various portions of the CPU are connected so they can perform the desired operation. If, for instance, an addition operation was requested, an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) will be connected to a set of inputs and a set of outputs. The inputs provide the numbers to be added, and the outputs will contain the final sum. The ALU contains the circuitry to perform simple arithmetic and logical operations on the inputs (like addition and bitwise operations). If the addition operation produces a result too large for the CPU to handle, an arithmetic overflow flag in a flags register may also be set. The final step, writeback, simply "writes back" the results of the execute step to some form of memory. Very often the results are written to some internal CPU register for quick access by subsequent instructions. In other cases results may be written to slower, but cheaper and larger, main memory. Some types of instructions manipulate the program counter rather than directly produce result data. These are generally called "jumps" and facilitate behavior like loops, conditional program execution (through the use of a conditional jump), and functions in programs. [7] Many instructions will also change the state of digits in a "flags" register. These flags can be used to influence how a program behaves, since they often indicate the outcome of various operations After the execution of the instruction and writeback of the resulting data, the entire process repeats, with the next instruction cycle normally fetching the next-in-sequence instruction because of the incremented value in the program counter. If the completed instruction was a jump, the program counter will be modified to contain the address of the instruction that was jumped to, and program execution continues normally. In more complex CPUs than the one described here, multiple instructions can be fetched, decoded, and executed simultaneously. This section describes what is generally referred to as the "Classic RISC pipeline", which in fact is quite common among the simple CPUs used in many electronic devices (often called microcontroller). It largely ignores the important role of CPU cache, and therefore the access stage of the pipeline

A CPU is further divided into two parts Control Unit and Arithmetic Logic Unit.
A Control unit in general is a central (or sometimes distributed but clearly distinguishable) part of whatsoever machinery that controls its operation, provided that a piece of machinery is complex and organized enough to contain any such unit. One domain in which the term is specifically used is the area of computer design. In the automotive industry, the control unit helps maintain various functions of the motor vehicle. The control system's function is as followsnote that this is a simplified description, and some of these steps may be performed concurrently or in a different order depending on the type of CPU: 1. Read the code for the next instruction from the cell indicated by the program counter. 2. Decode the numerical code for the instruction into a set of commands or signals for each of the other systems. 3. Increment the program counter so it points to the next instruction. 4. Read whatever data the instruction requires from cells in memory (or perhaps from an input device). The location of this required data is typically stored within the instruction code. 5. Provide the necessary data to an ALU or register. 6. If the instruction requires an ALU or specialized hardware to complete, instruct the hardware to perform the requested operation. 7. Write the result from the ALU back to a memory location or to a register or perhaps an output device. 8. Jump back to step (1). An Arithmetic logic unit (ALU) is a digital circuit that performs arithmetic and logical operations. The ALU is a fundamental building block of the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer, and even the simplest microprocessors contain one for purposes such as maintaining timers. The processors found inside modern CPUs and graphics processing units (GPUs) accommodate very powerful and very complex ALUs; a single component may contain a number of ALUs. The ALU is capable of performing two classes of operations: arithmetic and logic The set of arithmetic operations that a particular ALU supports may be limited to adding and subtracting or might include multiplying or dividing, trigonometry functions (sine, cosine, etc.) and square roots. Some can only operate on whole numbers (integers) whilst others use floating point to represent real numbersalbeit with limited precision. However, any computer that is capable of performing just the simplest operations can be programmed to break down the more complex operations into simple steps that it can perform. Therefore, any computer can be programmed to perform any arithmetic operationalthough it will take more time to do so if its ALU does not directly support the operation. An ALU may also compare numbers and

return boolean truth values (true or false) depending on whether one is equal to, greater than or less than the other ("is 64 greater than 65?"). Logic operations involve Boolean logic: AND, OR, XOR and NOT. These can be useful both for creating complicated conditional statements and processing boolean logic.

Memory (Computer data storage)


A computer's memory can be viewed as a list of cells into which numbers can be placed or read. Each cell has a numbered "address" and can store a single number. The computer can be instructed to "put the number 123 into the cell numbered 1357" or to "add the number that is in cell 1357 to the number that is in cell 2468 and put the answer into cell 1595". The information stored in memory may represent practically anything. Letters, numbers, even computer instructions can be placed into memory with equal ease. Since the CPU does not differentiate between different types of information, it is the software's responsibility to give significance to what the memory sees as nothing but a series of numbers. In almost all modern computers, each memory cell is set up to store binary numbers in groups of eight bits (called a byte). Each byte is able to represent 256 different numbers (2^8 = 256); either from 0 to 255 or 128 to +127. To store larger numbers, several consecutive bytes may be used (typically, two, four or eight). When negative numbers are required, they are usually stored in two's complement notation. Other arrangements are possible, but are usually not seen outside of specialized applications or historical contexts. A computer can store any kind of information in memory if it can be represented numerically. Modern computers have billions or even trillions of bytes of memory. The CPU contains a special set of memory cells called registers that can be read and written to much more rapidly than the main memory area. There are typically between two and one hundred registers depending on the type of CPU. Registers are used for the most frequently needed data items to avoid having to access main memory every time data is needed. As data is constantly being worked on, reducing the need to access main memory (which is often slow compared to the ALU and control units) greatly increases the computer's speed. Computer main memory comes in two principal varieties: random-access memory or RAM and read-only memory or ROM. RAM can be read and written to anytime the CPU commands it, but ROM is pre-loaded with data and software that never changes, so the CPU can only read from it. ROM is typically used to store the computer's initial start-up instructions. In general, the contents of RAM are erased when the power to the computer is turned off, but ROM retains its data indefinitely. In a PC, the ROM contains a specialized program called the BIOS that orchestrates loading the computer's operating system from the hard disk drive into RAM whenever the computer is turned on or reset. In embedded computers, which frequently do not have disk drives, all of the required software may be stored in ROM. Software stored in ROM is often called firmware, because it is notionally more like hardware than software. Flash memory blurs the distinction between ROM and RAM, as it retains its data when turned off but is also rewritable. It is typically much slower than conventional ROM and RAM however, so its use is restricted to applications where high speed is unnecessary. In more sophisticated computers there may be one or more RAM cache memories which are slower than registers but faster than main memory. Generally computers with this sort of cache are designed to move frequently needed data into the cache automatically, often without the need for any intervention on the programmer's part.

Many different forms of storage, based on various natural phenomena, have been invented. So far, no practical universal storage medium exists, and all forms of storage have some drawbacks. Therefore a computer system usually contains several kinds of storage, each with an individual purpose. A digital computer represents data using the binary numeral system. Text, numbers, pictures, audio, and nearly any other form of information can be converted into a string of bits, or binary digits, each of which has a value of 1 or 0. The most common unit of storage is the byte, equal to 8 bits. A piece of information can be handled by any computer whose storage space is large enough to accommodate the binary representation of the piece of information, or simply data. For example, using eight million bits, or about one megabyte, a typical computer could store a short novel. Traditionally the most important part of every computer is the central processing unit (CPU, or simply a processor), because it actually operates on data, performs any calculations, and controls all the other components. Without a significant amount of memory, a computer would merely be able to perform fixed operations and immediately output the result. It would have to be reconfigured to change its behavior. This is acceptable for devices such as desk calculators or simple digital signal processors. Von Neumann machines differ in that they have a memory in which they store their operating instructions and data. Such computers are more versatile in that they do not need to have their hardware reconfigured for each new program, but can simply be reprogrammed with new in-memory instructions; they also tend to be simpler to design, in that a relatively simple processor may keep state between successive computations to build up complex procedural results. Most modern computers are von Neumann machines. In practice, almost all computers use a variety of memory types, organized in a storage hierarchy around the CPU, as a trade-off between performance and cost. Generally, the lower a storage is in the hierarchy, the lesser its bandwidth and the greater its access latency is from the CPU. This traditional division of storage to primary, secondary, tertiary and off-line storage is also guided by cost per bit.

Input/output
In computing, input/output, or I/O, refers to the communication between an information processing system (such as a computer), and the outside world possibly a human, or another information processing system. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it. The term can also be used as part of an action; to "perform I/O" is to perform an input or output operation. I/O devices are used by a person (or other system) to communicate with a computer. For instance, a keyboard or a mouse may be an input device for a computer, while monitors and printers are considered output devices for a computer. Devices for communication between computers, such asmodems and network cards, typically serve for both input and output. Note that the designation of a device as either input or output depends on the perspective. Mouse and keyboards take as input physical movement that the human user outputs and convert it into signals that a computer can understand. The output from these devices is input for the computer. Similarly, printers and monitors take as input signals that a computer outputs. They then convert these signals into representations that human users can see or read. For a human user the process of reading or seeing these representations is receiving input. These interactions between computers and humans is studied in a field called humancomputer interaction. In computer architecture, the combination of the CPU and main memory (i.e. memory that the CPU can read and write to directly, with individual instructions) is considered the brain of a computer, and from that point of view any transfer of information from or to that combination, for example to or from a disk drive, is considered I/O. The CPU and its supporting circuitry provide memory-mapped I/O that is used in low-level computer programming in the implementation of device drivers. An I/O algorithm is one designed to exploit locality and perform efficiently when data reside on secondary storage, such as a disk drive. I/O Interface is required whenever the I/O device is driven by the processor. The interface must have necessary logic to interpret the device address generated by the processor. Handshaking should be implemented by the interface using appropriate commands like (BUSY,READY,WAIT), and the processor can communicate with I/O device through the interface. If different data formats are being exchanged, the interface must be able to convert serial data to parallel form and vice-versa. There must be provision for generating interrupts and the corresponding type numbers for further processing by the processor if required A computer that uses memory-mapped I/O accesses hardware by reading and writing to specific memory locations, using the same assembler language instructions that computer would normally use to access memory. Some of the Devices are described Below:

Input Devices
(a) Keyboard

It is a text base input device that allows the user to input alphabets, numbers and other characters. It consists of a set of keys mounted on a board.

(b) Mouse
The mouse is a small device used to point to a particular place on the screen and select in order to perform one or more actions. It can be used to select menu commands, size windows, start programs etc. The most conventional kind of mouse has two buttons on top: the left one being used most frequently. Mouse Actions Left Click : Used to select an item. Double Click : Used to start a program or open a file. Right Click : Usually used to display a set of commands. Drag and Drop : It allows you to select and move an item from one location to another. To achieve this place the cursor over an item on the screen, click the left mouse button and while holding the button down move the cursor to where you want to place the item, and then release it. (c) Joystick The joystick is a vertical stick which moves the graphic cursor in a direction the stick is moved. It typically has a button on top that is used to select the option pointed by the cursor. Joystick is used as an input device primarily used with video games, training simulators and controlling robots (d) Scanner Scanner is an input device used for direct data entry from the source document into the computer system. It converts the document image into digital form so that it can be fed into the computer. Capturing information like this reduces the possibility of errors typically experienced during large data entry.

Output Devices
(a) Monitor Monitor is an output device that resembles the television screen and uses a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) to display information. The monitor is associated with a keyboard for manual input of characters and displays the information as it is keyed in. It also displays the program or application output. Like the television, monitors are also available in different sizes. (b) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) LCD was introduced in the 1970s and is now applied to display terminals also. Its

advantages like low energy consumption, smaller and lighter have paved its way for usage in portable computers (laptops).

(c) Printer Printers are used to produce paper (commonly known as hardcopy) output. Based on the technology used, they can be classified as Impact or Non-impact printers. Impact printers use the typewriting printing mechanism wherein a hammer strikes the paper through a ribbon in order to produce output. Dot-matrix and Character printers fall under this category. Non-impact printers do not touch the paper while printing. They use chemical, heat or electrical signals to etch the symbols on paper. Inkjet, Deskjet, Laser, Thermal printers fall under this category of printers. When we talk about printers we refer to two basic qualities associated with printers: resolution, and speed. Print resolution is measured in terms of number of dots per inch (dpi). Print speed is measured in terms of number of characters printed in a unit of time and is represented as characters-per-second (cps), lines-per-minute (lpm), or pages-per-minute (ppm). (d) Audio Output: Sound Cards and Speakers: The Audio output is the ability of the computer to output sound. Two components are needed: Sound card Plays contents of digitized recordings, Speakers Attached to sound card.