Explain the function of computer hardware components

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P1 - Explain the function of computer hardware components


A computer is an electronic device which handles information or data. The computer sees this information in 1’s and 0’s but can change it into more complex things like a photo, website or game. Computers use a combination of hardware and software. The hardware contains all of the internal components like the processor and the motherboard and even external components like the monitor and keyboard. The software is anything that gives the hardware a set of instructions, for example, web browser or word processor. Computers do not just have to be the desktop or laptop computers. Tablets, phones and game consoles are also types of computers although they do not do as many tasks as a desktop or laptop computer can do.


Hardware is the physical components that make up a computer system. Hardware in a computer includes, the processor, motherboard, BIOS, heat sink, fan, IDE, SATA, parallel and serial ports, ROM, RAM and cache internal memory, hard drive, network card, graphics card and the power supply. All of these components communicate with each other and the software allowing tasks to be completed by the user.


The processor more known as the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is a small chip; it is the main intelligence of the computer and controls everything that happens within the computer. The processor receives an output and input, and the processors job is to provide the correct output so that tasks can be completed by the user. The

CPU gets instructions from the RAM (which is the input), reads and processes it and then sends back the data so that the relevant components can carry out the instructions.

The speed of the CPU (central processing unit) is determined by the clock cycle. The clock cycle is the amount of time between two pulses of an oscillator. A computer processor can complete one or more instructions per clock cycle. The higher the amount of pulses the faster the processor will be. The speed is measured in MHz (Megahertz) or GHz (Giga hertz).


The motherboard contains all the main elements of the computer. It is the main circuit board which connects and communicates with all devices. All transitions on the computer must pass through the motherboard. They all communicate through a bus. A bus is the path which a device sends its data so that it can communicate with the CPU or other devices.

A motherboard bus consists of many wires which data passes through to transmit data to different parts of the computer. Buses which are in all personal computer connects all the inner components to the main memory and the CPU. A bus comes in two parts, first the address bus and then the data bus. The data bus transfers data and the address bus transfers information on where the data needs to go. The size of the bus is how many bits that can be carried in parallel. A bus size can be between 4 and 128 bits. The wider the bus, the quicker transitions can be made.

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BIOS stands for basic input/output system. BIOS is the first piece of software which is used when you turn the computer on. It is hosted on the motherboard and its most important role is to load the operating system. When you turn the computer on, the processor executes its first instruction, the BIOS provides the processor these first set of instructions. These instructions include a power-on self-test for all the components in the system to ensure everything is working correctly. Also it provides a set of low-level routines that the operating system uses. These routines manage the keyboard, the ...

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