Hardware Components of a Computer

A computer system consists of the physical computer, called the hardware, and the programs, called the software, that instruct the machine. The term architecture refers to the way the computer hardware is organized. There are several variations but basically the computer hardware is organized into five functional components. This organization is much the same as the organization outlined by John von Neumann over 50 years ago and is often called the von Neumann architecture.

The Five Hardware Components of a Computer

The CPU and main memory are realized in chips mounted on a circuit board called the motherboard or system board. The different components are connected by a group of wires called a bus. Data, instructions, and control signals travel along the bus as the various components communicate with each other.

The above description gives a general overview of basic computer hardware. There are many variations in modern computers designed to speed the computer up. Many modern computers are multiprocessors; that is, they have more than one CPU. Most modern computers have an additional type of memory called cache. Cache is an intermediate form of memory designed to speed up access to data. There is RAM cache which is used to speed up the CPU's access to data in RAM and disk cache which is used to speed up access to data on disk.

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