Computer hardware comprises the major electronic components of a desktop or laptop computer, including the case, motherboard, hard drive, main processor, input/output devices, optical drives, CPU cooler, hard disk, optical scanner, video card and motherboard. Earlier, computers had one main input/output device, like a joystick, keyboard or mouse. Nowadays however, there are many more devices that can be used to perform different tasks, including printers, scanners, digital cameras, wireless modems, USB drives, audio modules and so on. Hardware also includes the operating system and other software components such as drivers, security applications, web server software and so on.
The first type of hardware that was used in computers was hardware that came with an operating system and the hardware that ran the application software. These days however, there is a trend of moving towards using specialized hardware that runs specific applications. For example, the new laptops come with either dedicated processors from the manufacturer or a pre-configured machine. On the other hand, older computers come with the operating system and then the hardware that it comes with.
Another type of hardware is called block-level memory (HLM). This is more efficient than the RAM that it uses because it stores data in a cache and it is accessed very rarely. Block-level memory is especially suitable for machines that have several programs and graphics that are all doing intensive work in a common area. Block-level computer hardware has become increasingly popular in the past few years, probably because it supports more dynamic design and better performance.
The third type of computer hardware is called random access memory (RAM). It is usually attached to a central processing unit or a microprocessor. The most common form of RAM is the static random access memory or the nonvolatile memory or RV RAM. The main advantage of this type of computer hardware is that the operating system can access it without delay especially if multiple programs are running at the same time. On the other hand, it has been noted that random access memory tends to slow down the performance of the central processing units or the microprocessors.
The fourth type of hardware is the hard drive. A hard drive is an external device that stores files. Hard drives come in two forms, magnetic tape and also flash memory. The latter is much faster because it is capable of retrieving data even when the power is off. An additional benefit is that the hard drive can also be used as a read-only drive if the user has an operating system that does not permit write operations on the disks. In addition, flash memory has been noted to have random access capabilities but it is comparatively slower compared to magnetic tapes.
The fifth and most important hardware component is the non-volatile memory or the NVRAM. This is the most complex of all the hardware components as its function is defined by software and it is the memory most often found in personal computers. Basically, the NVRAM acts as a layer of dynamic RAM between the main CPU and the operating system. Therefore, it is very important that the operating system has enough memory to run efficiently without using too much of the hard drive.