Computer Hardware: Definition, Description and Types

Modern computers use hardware and software to maximize productivity and work correctly, which are very interrelated and clearly interact in different directions. Now we will touch on the consideration of hardware, since initially they occupy the leading position in ensuring the operability of any computer or even mobile system.

Hardware systems: general classification

So, what are we dealing with? In fact, the hardware complex is familiar to everyone. In fact, many users call it computer hardware. Indeed, hardware is exactly the "iron", not the software components of any computer system. In the simplest version of the classification, they are divided into internal and external.

In addition, in this division, there are three main and most meaningful classes of devices:

  • Input Devices;
  • Output devices;
  • Devices of information storage.

Naturally, it's worth mentioning the main elements of computer systems like motherboard, processor, etc., which do not belong to any of the above classes and are the basic elements, without which no computer will simply not work.

Basic computer elements

Describing the hardware of any computer, start with the most important element - the motherboard, on which all the internal elements are located. And to it due to the use of various kinds of connectors and slots are connected external devices.

Today there are many varieties of "motherboards" and their producers. True, such boards for stationary computers and laptops and in shape and location of individual elements may vary. Nevertheless, the essence of their application in computer systems does not change.

The second most important element is the central processor, which is responsible for the speed. One of the main characteristics is the clock frequency, expressed in mega- or gigahertz, and more simply, the amount that determines how many elementary operations a processor can produce in one second. It is not difficult to guess that speed is nothing less than the ratio of the number of operations to the number of cycles that is necessary to perform (calculate) one elementary operation.

Computer hardware can not be imagined without the slats of RAM and hard disks that are related to storage devices. About them will be told a little bit later.


In modern computers, hybrid devices are also used, such as, for example, ROM or permanent nonvolatile CMOS memory, which is the basis of a basic input / output system called the BIOS.

This is not only an "iron" chip, located on the motherboard. It has its own firmware, which allows not only to store unchanged data, but also to test internal components and peripheral devices when the computer is turned on. Probably, many owners of stationary PCs noticed that at the moment of switching on the system speaker is heard. This is just a testament to the fact that the device check was successful.

Means of information input

Now let's look at the input devices. At the moment, their varieties can be considered quite a lot, and judging by the development of IT-technologies, soon they will become even more. Nevertheless, the following are considered basic in this list:

  • keyboard;
  • Mouse (trackpad for laptops);
  • joystick;
  • digital camera;
  • microphone;
  • External scanner.

Each of these devices allows you to enter a different type of information. For example, using a scanner, you enter graphics, with the camera - video, on the keyboard - text, etc. However, both the mouse and the trackpad in addition to all are also controllers (manipulators).

As for the keyboard, the controlling functions in it are used through buttons or their combinations. You can also get access to certain functions, parameters and commands of operating systems or other software.

Means of information output

Hardware can not be imagined without output devices. The standard list includes the following:

  • monitor;
  • Printer;
  • Plotter;
  • Sound and video system;
  • multimedia projector.

Here the main is a computer monitor or a laptop screen. It is clear that with modern methods of object-oriented programming, the user interacts with the user through a graphical interface, although this situation is equally applicable to systems where commands are supposed to be input. In any case, the user must see what is displayed on the screen.

As for the other elements, they are desirable, although not necessary (well, except that the graphics adapter, without which modern systems may not work).

Means of information storage

Finally, one and most important classes are the storage devices. Their presence, whether internal components or external carriers, is simply necessary. This class includes the following varieties:

  • Hard disk (hard drive);
  • RAM;
  • Cache memory;
  • External drives (floppy disks, optical disks, USB-devices).

Sometimes it also includes a BIOS with CMOS memory, however, as mentioned above, these are rather hybrid devices that can be attributed equally to different categories.

Undoubtedly, the main place here is occupied by hard disks and "operativka". A hard disk is a hardware information medium (rather, a means of storing it), because it is stored permanently on it, and in RAM - temporarily (when running or running programs, copying content to the clipboard , etc.).

When the computer is turned off, the RAM is automatically cleared, but the information from the hard drive does not disappear anywhere. In principle, now with a hard drive compete and removable media such as USB-devices of high capacity, but the floppy disk and optical discs go into oblivion, at least because of their small capacity and the possibility of physical damage.

Communication devices

An optional class, although in the modern world and very popular, can be called and devices responsible for providing communication both between individual computer terminals connected directly, and in networks (or even at the level of access to the Internet). Here the main devices can be identified as follows:

  • network adapters;
  • Routers (modems, routers, etc.).

As already understood, they can not be dispensed with when organizing networks (stationary or virtual), while providing access to the World Wide Web. But few people today know that two computers, for example, can be connected via cable directly, as it was done about twenty years ago. Of course, this looks somewhat impractical, nevertheless, one should not forget about this possibility, especially when it is necessary to copy large volumes of information, and there is no suitable carrier at hand.

Security and data protection devices

Now one more type of device. This is hardware protection, which can include, for example, "iron" network screens, also called firewalls (firewall from English - "fire wall").

For some reason today, most users are used to the fact that a firewall (aka a firewall) is only a software product. This is not true. When organizing networks with an increased level of security, the use of such components is not something that is desirable, but sometimes even simply necessary. Agree, because the software does not always cope with its functions and may not respond in time to interference in the network from outside, not to mention access to confidential information stored on hard disks of computers or servers.

Interaction of software and hardware

So, we briefly reviewed the hardware. Now a few words about how they interact with software products.

Agree, the operating systems, which provide user access to the computing capabilities of the PC, have their own requirements. Modern "operating systems" devour so much resources that with obsolete processors, which do not have enough processing power, or if there is not enough RAM, they simply will not work. This, by the way, applies equally to modern applications. And, of course, this is far from the only example of such an interaction.


Finally, it should be said that the hardware part of the modern computer has been considered quite succinctly, but it is possible to draw conclusions about the classification of the main elements of the system. In addition, it is worth noting that computer technology is evolving, and this also leads to the fact that external and internal devices of different types appear more and more (take at least virtual helmets). But with regard to the basic configuration, in this case, the most important components are listed, without which the existence of any computer system is impossible today. However, for obvious reasons, mobile devices were not considered here, because they have a slightly different device from computer terminals, although there is a lot in common.

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