Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tech Guide Questions

What is computer hardware and what are the major hardware components?

- Computer hardware refers to the physical equipment used for the input, processing, output and storage activities of a computer system.
- The major hardware components are as follows:
· Central processing unit (CPU) ├ámanipulates the data and controls the tasks performed
· Primary storage --> temporarily stores the data and program instructions during processing
· Secondary storage -->external to the CPU; stores data and programs for future use
· Input technologies --> accept data and instructions and convert them into a form that the computer can understand
· Output technologies --> present data and information in a form people can understand
· Communication technologies --> provide for flow of data from external computer networks to the CPU and from the CPU to computer networks

What is Moore's Law/what does it mean in relation to computers.

- Gordon Moore predicted that microprocessor complexity would double approximately every two years. This means that computers will double in speed every 24 months. As computer speed doubles processors will become smaller and smaller.

In basic terms, describe how a microprocessor functions.

- In laymen’s terms the function of a microprocessor is as follows, it sets inputs, then processes the data after processing the data it stores the data until it is needed. When the data is needed it then retrieves the data.
- The control unit accesses programs instructions, decodes them and controls the flow of data to and from the ALU and various output devices. The arithmetic-logic unit (ALU) performs the mathematic calculations and makes logical comparisons. The registers are high-speed storage areas that store very small amounts of data and instructions for short periods of time.

What factors determine the speed of the microprocessor?

- Clock speed – preset speed of the clock that times all chip activities, measured in GHz and MHz
- Word length – the number of binary units, or bits that the CPU can process in one machine cycle
- Bus width – the size of the physical paths down which the data and instructions travel as electrical impulses. (the wider the bus, the more data can be moved and the faster the processing)
- Line width – the distance between the transistors. The smaller the line width, the more transistors that can be packed on to a chip, and the faster the chip.

What are the four main types of primary storage.

- Registers --> part of the CPU. They have the least capacity, storing extremely limited amounts of instructions and data immediately before and after processing.
- Random Access Memory (RAM) --> holds software program and small amounts of data for processing. RAM is temporary and in most cases, volatile.
- Cache memory --> type of high-speed memory that enables the computer to temporarily store blocks of data that are used more often and that a processor can access more rapidly than main memory (RAM)
- Read-only Memory --> a type of chip where certain critical instructions are safeguarded. It is non-volatile (retains instructions even when the computer is switched off. ROM is the instructions needed to “boot” the computer after it has been shut off.

What are the main types of secondary storage?

- Magnetic media --> magnetic tape is kept on a large open reel or in a smaller cartridge or cassette, although this is an old type of media, it is still used because it can hold enormous amonts of data and is the cheapest form of storage
- Optical storage devices --> a laser reads the surface of a reflective plastic platter. Slower than magnetic hard drives but are less susceptible to damage from contamination and are less fragile.
- Flash memory devices --> non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. They are electronic storage devices that contain no moving parts and use 30 times less battery power than hard drives.
- Solid state media --> e.g. USB

How does primary storage differ from secondary storage in terms of speed cost and capacity?

- Secondary storage is non-volatile. It takes more time to retrieve data from secondary storage than it does from RAM. Secondary storage is cheaper than primary storage. Secondary storage can take place on a variety of media, each with its own technology. Secondary storage has higher capacity and lower costs.

What are enterprise storage systems?

- An independent, external system with intelligence that includes two or more storage devices. There are three major types of enterprise storage subsystems: redundant arrays of independent disks (RAIDs), storage area networks (SANs), and network-attached storage (NAS). enterprise storage systems are known for providing large amounts of storage, high performance data transfer, a high degree of availability, protection against data loss and sophisticated management tools

Distinguish between human data input devices and source data automation.

Human data input devices: rely on humans to input data, and prone to human error. Such as: keyboards, mouse
Source data automation: far more accurate and faster. Such as barcode scanners

What is one new technology that will change how we do things? You need to do some research

A new technology available that will change how we do things is the LG watchphone. this will allow people to use their watches rather than carrying phones around with them. it has an inbuilt speaker and microphone, so people can make phone calls directly from their wrists. it has bluetooth, so you can wear your headset instead of holding your wrist next to your mouth.

more information is available on the following website:


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