Hardware is often confused with software because both hardware and software are used together to build and maintain a PC or laptop. Computer hardware comprises the internal components of a personal computer, including the hard drive, memory card, motherboard, processor, hard drive, optical disc/DVD burner, video card, audio adapter and so on. Software on the other hand, consists of applications written to run on a PC. Hardware can be divided further into computer hardware and peripheral hardware. Peripheral hardware is hardware that is not required for running applications, but is used for connecting a PC to external hardware.
The typical laptops, desktop PCs and workstations come pre-built with pre-installed software and hardware. These have typically been designed for a particular manufacturer’s needs and are optimized to perform specific tasks. Some examples of typical external and internal hardware include printers, disk drives, scanners, keyboards, mice, touch-screens, printers, speakers, USBs, cameras, video interconnects, USBs, webcams, Wi-Fi adapters and wireless cards. All these are designed to enhance the general operation of computing.
Central processing unit (CPU) is the brains of the CPU. This component determines how the PC operates by interpreting instructions contained in main memory, main CPU registers, installed applications and so on. Modern PC has an Intel Core Duo processor, which is one of the most widely used microprocessors. The software that runs on the CPU is known as kernel or user software.
Kernel is a type of software that controls the different processes inside a PC. For example, if you want to watch movies on your PC, you would first need to install the appropriate video drivers and then set up the main memory, storage area and hard disk drive. When you are done with it, you could shut down your PC and continue using it without installing any additional hardware or software. You will notice that when you restarted your PC, the new hardware has already been installed into your CPU.
The storage or hard drive is where all the data stored on your computer is kept. It is usually built into the PC or motherboard but some newer PCs use a separate hard drive. In addition to storing data, it also helps in speeding up the PC. The size and speed of the hard drive depends on the RAM or random access memory. These days almost all the computers use some form of RAM and the faster the RAM the faster the hard drive must be.
Other hardware includes video display, audio output, microphone, speaker and mouse. Video display is used to present graphics to the user. On the other hand, audio output converts the audio signals from the PC speakers to an electronic signal that can be sent to headphones or speakers. microphone is used to hear the voice input and speakers are used to output audio to the PC. All these components make your PC very efficient.