Computing Introduction

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Computing Introduction

Computing Introduction

What is a computer system?

A computer system is made up of hardware, which are the physical constituents of a computer (e.g. monitor), and software, which are the programs that give the computer instruction, i.e. tell it what to do (e.g. an Operating System). There are five main components of a computer system. These can be shown by using the diagram below.

It can be seen above that a computer system processes the raw data, which is entered via input peripherals (such as a keyboard), into useful information. Via output devices (such as printers), this information is then output, as a visible result or one which can be heard (i.e. sound), due to the work of data processing, which is carried out by the central processing unit (CPU). The processor is vital to the system with its three functions of controlling the transmission of data from input devices to memory, processing the data held in the memory and then controlling the transmission of information from main memory to output devices. This is the basic working of a computer system.

However, as displayed above, there are two other components of main memory (primary storage) and auxiliary storage (secondary storage). The main memory holds the instructions that the CPU has to follow, where Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read Only Memory (ROM) are the two kinds of memory. RAM is used for storing programs, which are currently running, and data, which is being processed. RAM is described as volatile memory. This is because once the computer is turned off all the contents of this memory are lost. ROM holds instructions, which are fixed permanently into the memory chip. For example the bootstrap loader is held by ROM in order to instruct the computer to load the operating system as soon as the computer is turned on. ROM is non-volatile memory as its contents do not vanish as soon as the computer is turned off.

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In addition to the main memory, there is also the auxiliary storage. This is where programs are stored outside of the CPU. Information can be saved and loaded from secondary storage devices such as CD-ROM and disk. The contents held within these storage devices are stored permanently. With this being said, the processor also has the job of controlling the transmission of information from main memory to auxiliary storage.

Some computer system can involve feedback. Output peripherals feed back into the system to control future outputs. This means that information which has been processed before and output ...

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