Central processing unit
A central processing unit called a central processor or main processor, is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logic and input/output operations specified by the instructions. The computer industry has used the term "central processing unit" at least since the early 1960s. Traditionally, the term "CPU" refers to a processor, more to its processing unit and control unit, distinguishing these core elements of a computer from external components such as main memory and I/O circuitry; the form and implementation of CPUs have changed over the course of their history, but their fundamental operation remains unchanged. Principal components of a CPU include the arithmetic logic unit that performs arithmetic and logic operations, processor registers that supply operands to the ALU and store the results of ALU operations and a control unit that orchestrates the fetching and execution of instructions by directing the coordinated operations of the ALU, registers and other components.
Most modern CPUs are microprocessors, meaning they are contained on a single integrated circuit chip. An IC that contains a CPU may contain memory, peripheral interfaces, other components of a computer; some computers employ a multi-core processor, a single chip containing two or more CPUs called "cores". Array processors or vector processors have multiple processors that operate in parallel, with no unit considered central. There exists the concept of virtual CPUs which are an abstraction of dynamical aggregated computational resources. Early computers such as the ENIAC had to be physically rewired to perform different tasks, which caused these machines to be called "fixed-program computers". Since the term "CPU" is defined as a device for software execution, the earliest devices that could rightly be called CPUs came with the advent of the stored-program computer; the idea of a stored-program computer had been present in the design of J. Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly's ENIAC, but was omitted so that it could be finished sooner.
On June 30, 1945, before ENIAC was made, mathematician John von Neumann distributed the paper entitled First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. It was the outline of a stored-program computer that would be completed in August 1949. EDVAC was designed to perform a certain number of instructions of various types; the programs written for EDVAC were to be stored in high-speed computer memory rather than specified by the physical wiring of the computer. This overcame a severe limitation of ENIAC, the considerable time and effort required to reconfigure the computer to perform a new task. With von Neumann's design, the program that EDVAC ran could be changed by changing the contents of the memory. EDVAC, was not the first stored-program computer. Early CPUs were custom designs used as part of a sometimes distinctive computer. However, this method of designing custom CPUs for a particular application has given way to the development of multi-purpose processors produced in large quantities; this standardization began in the era of discrete transistor mainframes and minicomputers and has accelerated with the popularization of the integrated circuit.
The IC has allowed 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 digital devices in modern life far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in electronic devices ranging from automobiles to cellphones, sometimes in toys. While von Neumann is most credited with the design of the stored-program computer because of his design of EDVAC, the design became known as the von Neumann architecture, others before him, such as Konrad Zuse, had suggested and implemented similar ideas; the so-called Harvard architecture of the Harvard Mark I, completed before EDVAC used a stored-program design using punched paper tape rather than electronic memory. The key difference between the von Neumann and Harvard architectures is that the latter separates the storage and treatment of CPU instructions and data, while the former uses the same memory space for both.
Most modern CPUs are von Neumann in design, but CPUs with the Harvard architecture are seen as well in embedded applications. Relays and vacuum tubes were used as switching elements; the overall speed of a system is dependent on the speed of the switches. Tube computers like EDVAC tended to average eight hours between failures, whereas relay computers like the Harvard Mark I failed rarely. In the end, tube-based CPUs became dominant because the significant speed advantages afforded outweighed the reliability problems. Most of these early synchronous CPUs ran at low clock rates compared to modern microelectronic designs. Clock signal frequencies ranging from 100 kHz to 4 MHz were common at this time, limited by the speed of the switching de
A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of called programs; these programs enable computers to perform an wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system; this term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster. Computers are used as control systems for a wide variety of industrial and consumer devices; this includes simple special purpose devices like microwave ovens and remote controls, factory devices such as industrial robots and computer-aided design, general purpose devices like personal computers and mobile devices such as smartphones. The Internet is run on computers and it connects hundreds of millions of other computers and their users.
Early computers were only conceived as calculating devices. Since ancient times, simple manual devices like the abacus aided people in doing calculations. Early in the Industrial Revolution, some mechanical devices were built to automate long tedious tasks, such as guiding patterns for looms. More sophisticated electrical machines did specialized analog calculations in the early 20th century; the first digital electronic calculating machines were developed during World War II. The speed and versatility of computers have been increasing ever since then. Conventionally, a modern computer consists of at least one processing element a central processing unit, some form of memory; the processing element carries out arithmetic and logical operations, a sequencing and control unit can change the order of operations in response to stored information. Peripheral devices include input devices, output devices, input/output devices that perform both functions. Peripheral devices allow information to be retrieved from an external source and they enable the result of operations to be saved and retrieved.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of the word "computer" was in 1613 in a book called The Yong Mans Gleanings by English writer Richard Braithwait: "I haue read the truest computer of Times, the best Arithmetician that euer breathed, he reduceth thy dayes into a short number." This usage of the term referred to a human computer, a person who carried out calculations or computations. The word continued with the same meaning until the middle of the 20th century. During the latter part of this period women were hired as computers because they could be paid less than their male counterparts. By 1943, most human computers were women. From the end of the 19th century the word began to take on its more familiar meaning, a machine that carries out computations; the Online Etymology Dictionary gives the first attested use of "computer" in the 1640s, meaning "one who calculates". The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the use of the term to mean "'calculating machine' is from 1897."
The Online Etymology Dictionary indicates that the "modern use" of the term, to mean "programmable digital electronic computer" dates from "1945 under this name. Devices have been used to aid computation for thousands of years using one-to-one correspondence with fingers; the earliest counting device was a form of tally stick. Record keeping aids throughout the Fertile Crescent included calculi which represented counts of items livestock or grains, sealed in hollow unbaked clay containers; the use of counting rods is one example. The abacus was used for arithmetic tasks; the Roman abacus was developed from devices used in Babylonia as early as 2400 BC. Since many other forms of reckoning boards or tables have been invented. In a medieval European counting house, a checkered cloth would be placed on a table, markers moved around on it according to certain rules, as an aid to calculating sums of money; the Antikythera mechanism is believed to be the earliest mechanical analog "computer", according to Derek J. de Solla Price.
It was designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was discovered in 1901 in the Antikythera wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, between Kythera and Crete, has been dated to c. 100 BC. Devices of a level of complexity comparable to that of the Antikythera mechanism would not reappear until a thousand years later. Many mechanical aids to calculation and measurement were constructed for astronomical and navigation use; the planisphere was a star chart invented by Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī in the early 11th century. The astrolabe was invented in the Hellenistic world in either the 1st or 2nd centuries BC and is attributed to Hipparchus. A combination of the planisphere and dioptra, the astrolabe was an analog computer capable of working out several different kinds of problems in spherical astronomy. An astrolabe incorporating a mechanical calendar computer and gear-wheels was invented by Abi Bakr of Isfahan, Persia in 1235. Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī invented the first mechanical geared lunisolar calendar astrolabe, an early fixed-wired knowledge processing machine with a gear train and gear-wheels, c. 1000 AD.
The sector, a calculating instrument used for solving problems in proportion, trigonometry and division, for various functions, such as squares and cube roots, was developed in
Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it rigid with respect to changes or modifications. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", software, coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface; the progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing. Hardware is directed by the software to execute any command or instruction. A combination of hardware and software forms a usable computing system, although other systems exist with only hardware components; the template for all modern computers is the Von Neumann architecture, detailed in a 1945 paper by Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann.
This describes a design architecture for an electronic digital computer with subdivisions of a processing unit consisting of an arithmetic logic unit and processor registers, a control unit containing an instruction register and program counter, a memory to store both data and instructions, external mass storage, input and output mechanisms. The meaning of the term has evolved to mean a stored-program computer in which an instruction fetch and a data operation cannot occur at the same time because they share a common bus; this is referred to as the Von Neumann bottleneck and limits the performance of the system. The personal computer known as the PC, is one of the most common types of computer due to its versatility and low price. Laptops are very similar, although they may use lower-power or reduced size components, thus lower performance; the computer case encloses most of the components of the system. It provides mechanical support and protection for internal elements such as the motherboard, disk drives, power supplies, controls and directs the flow of cooling air over internal components.
The case is part of the system to control electromagnetic interference radiated by the computer, protects internal parts from electrostatic discharge. Large tower cases provide extra internal space for multiple disk drives or other peripherals and stand on the floor, while desktop cases provide less expansion room. All-in-one style designs include a video display built into the same case. Portable and laptop computers require cases. A current development in laptop computers is a detachable keyboard, which allows the system to be configured as a touch-screen tablet. Hobbyists may decorate the cases with colored lights, paint, or other features, in an activity called case modding. A power supply unit converts alternating current electric power to low-voltage DC power for the internal components of the computer. Laptops are capable of running from a built-in battery for a period of hours; the motherboard is the main component of a computer. It is a board with integrated circuitry that connects the other parts of the computer including the CPU, the RAM, the disk drives as well as any peripherals connected via the ports or the expansion slots.
Components directly attached to or to part of the motherboard include: The CPU, which performs most of the calculations which enable a computer to function, is sometimes referred to as the brain of the computer. It is cooled by a heatsink and fan, or water-cooling system. Most newer CPUs include an on-die graphics processing unit; the clock speed of CPUs governs how fast it executes instructions, is measured in GHz. Many modern computers have the option to overclock the CPU which enhances performance at the expense of greater thermal output and thus a need for improved cooling; the chipset, which includes the north bridge, mediates communication between the CPU and the other components of the system, including main memory. Random-access memory, which stores the code and data that are being accessed by the CPU. For example, when a web browser is opened on the computer it takes up memory. RAM comes on DIMMs in the sizes 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, but can be much larger. Read-only memory, which stores the BIOS that runs when the computer is powered on or otherwise begins execution, a process known as Bootstrapping, or "booting" or "booting up".
The BIOS includes power management firmware. Newer motherboards use Unified Extensible Firmware Interface instead of BIOS. Buses that connect the CPU to various internal components and to expand cards for graphics and sound; the CMOS battery, which powers the memory for date and time in the BIOS chip. This battery is a watch battery; the video card, which processes computer graphics. More powerful graphics cards are better suited to handle strenuous tasks, such as playing intensive video games. An expansion card in computing is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard or
Computer data storage
Computer data storage called storage or memory, is a technology consisting of computer components and recording media that are used to retain digital data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers; the central processing unit of a computer is. In practice all computers use a storage hierarchy, which puts fast but expensive and small storage options close to the CPU and slower but larger and cheaper options farther away; the fast volatile technologies are referred to as "memory", while slower persistent technologies are referred to as "storage". In the Von Neumann architecture, the CPU consists of two main parts: The control unit and the arithmetic logic unit; the former controls the flow of data between the CPU and memory, while the latter performs arithmetic and logical operations on data. Without a significant amount of memory, a computer would be able to perform fixed operations and output the result, it would have to be reconfigured to change its behavior. This is acceptable for devices such as desk calculators, digital signal processors, other specialized devices.
Von Neumann machines differ in having 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 be reprogrammed with new in-memory instructions. Most modern computers are von Neumann machines. A modern digital computer represents data using the binary numeral system. Text, pictures 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 or device whose storage space is large enough to accommodate the binary representation of the piece of information, or data. For example, the complete works of Shakespeare, about 1250 pages in print, can be stored in about five megabytes with one byte per character. Data are encoded by assigning a bit pattern to digit, or multimedia object.
Many standards exist for encoding. By adding bits to each encoded unit, redundancy allows the computer to both detect errors in coded data and correct them based on mathematical algorithms. Errors occur in low probabilities due to random bit value flipping, or "physical bit fatigue", loss of the physical bit in storage of its ability to maintain a distinguishable value, or due to errors in inter or intra-computer communication. A random bit flip is corrected upon detection. A bit, or a group of malfunctioning physical bits is automatically fenced-out, taken out of use by the device, replaced with another functioning equivalent group in the device, where the corrected bit values are restored; the cyclic redundancy check method is used in communications and storage for error detection. A detected error is retried. Data compression methods allow in many cases to represent a string of bits by a shorter bit string and reconstruct the original string when needed; this utilizes less storage for many types of data at the cost of more computation.
Analysis of trade-off between storage cost saving and costs of related computations and possible delays in data availability is done before deciding whether to keep certain data compressed or not. For security reasons certain types of data may be kept encrypted in storage to prevent the possibility of unauthorized information reconstruction from chunks of storage snapshots; 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 and off-line storage is guided by cost per bit. In contemporary usage, "memory" is semiconductor storage read-write random-access memory DRAM or other forms of fast but temporary storage. "Storage" consists of storage devices and their media not directly accessible by the CPU hard disk drives, optical disc drives, other devices slower than RAM but non-volatile. Memory has been called core memory, main memory, real storage or internal memory. Meanwhile, non-volatile storage devices have been referred to as secondary storage, external memory or auxiliary/peripheral storage.
Primary storage referred to as memory, is the only one directly accessible to the CPU. The CPU continuously reads instructions executes them as required. Any data operated on is stored there in uniform manner. Early computers used delay lines, Williams tubes, or rotating magnetic drums as primary storage. By 1954, those unreliable methods were replaced by magnetic core memory. Core memory remained dominant until the 1970s, when advances in integrated circuit technology allowed semiconductor memory to become economically competitive; this led to modern random-access memo