PC Hardware

This isn't so much a tutorial, as it doesn't actually teach you much.. It's more a text on hardware for those of you sick of newbie tutorials, and looking for something interesting and non-dangerous. This is mainly about motherboard stuff, but I stuck something about HDs, mice and Gfx cards at the end. Hey, if people like it and tell me, I might even stretch and do al the other computer bits and bobs. ;)


The Bios
(I) Functions
(II) Static + Passwords

(I) Fetch-Execute
(II) Clock Ticks
(III) Funky Athlon fridge chip.

The Clock
(I) What does it look like?
(II) Waves
(III) Some ASCII Art. ;)
(IV) What is Digital? (unrelated to Microns, but hey.)
(V) Howcome Digital can't be conceived in real life?
(VI) What does digital represent?
(VII) What is Binary?
(VIII) How do I translate between number systems?
(IX) sums?
(X) Use Wincalc.

(I) A what?
(II) Assembler and Machine Code
(III) Intel ones.

(I) Moore's Law
(II) Predictions / Intel. V. AMD. (Go, AMD!)

Hard Drives
(I) Origin
(II) How they work
(III) FIrst computer

(I) Rollers
(II) Cleaning
(III) Keyboard crud

Gfx Cards
(I) Built in v. NOT
(II) Components
(III) Stay away from S3s! warning
(IV) 3D and 2D cards

This contains instructions which are specific for that particular motherboard. Those programs and instructions will remain in the PC throughout its life; usually they are not altered. However, it is possible to get replacement / upgrade BIOS's. Primarily the ROM code holds start-up instructions. In fact there are several different programs inside the start-up instructions, but for most users, they are all woven together. You can differentiate between: * POST (Power On Self Test)

* The Setup instructions, which connect with the CMOS instructions

* BIOS instructions, which connect with the various hardware peripherals

* The Boot instructions, which call the operating system (DOS, OS/2, or Windows)

Note: Only very old or different OS's are stored on ROM, such as OS/2. This is actually a much more efficient system.
BIOS's are static sensitive, so take care when handling them. They can also be PWord protected... if you ever get round to doing this, don't forget the password. As you don't use the BIOS PWord often, this is easy to do. Don't. it's bloody hard getting the PWord back.

We all know what assembly language is, do we not? It is the programming language that is most native to a computer. The instructions go directly to the chip (more or less). (Assembly actually lays on top of Machine code, which is the real native: Assembler is a more human-friendly version)... Each chip has their own different version of assembler/machine code, called its _chipset_. Each new type of chip comes with an upgraded chipset: for example, the Intel MMX chip incorporated the...wait for it... MMX chipset! There are also chipsets such as 3D!Now. THe most basic of commands between, say, Intel and AMD are the same: they have to be in order for the two to be compatible, but more advanced things are different. This is why Alpha chips are incompatible with windows: The chipset is completely different.
Intel has hitherto been the leader in supplying chip sets to the Pentium motherboard. Therefore, let us just mention their chip sets, which have astronomical names. The Neptune chip set (82434NX) was introduced in June 1994. It replaced the Mercury set (82434LX). In both chip sets, there were problems with the PCI bus. In January 1995 Intel introduced the first Triton, where everything worked. This chip set supports some new features: it supports EDO RAM, and it offers bus master integrated EIDE control and NSP (Native Signal Processing - one of the many new creations, which was soon forgotten).
The sorts of things that new chipsets are used for are varied... for example, The Intel TX Chipset, for example, supports SDRam and UltraDMA (But the TX-set cannot cache above 64 MB RAM, and that is a problem.), while AMD chips have their own special Graphics chipset, which is better for that task.

The CPUs have doubled their calculating capacity every 18 months. This is called "Moore's Law" and was predicted in 1965 by Gordon Moore. He was right for more than 30 years. The latest CPUs use internal wiring only 0.25 microns wide (1/400 of a human hair). But if Moore's Law has to be valid into the next century, more transistors have to be squeezed onto silicon layers. And now there is a new hope. IBM has for the first time succeeded in making copper conductors instead of aluminum. Copper is cheaper and faster, but the problem was to isolate it from the silicon. The problem has been solved with a new type of coating, and now chips can be designed with 0.13 micron technology. The technology is expected later to work with just 0.05 micron wiring! Texas Instruments announced on August 27th 1998 that they expect 0.07 micron CMOS processing in the year 2001. At the time of writing, AMD chips run at .27 microns (?) and Intel at .33. This explains why AMD chips are hotter, as there is less wire, and therefore more probability of the electrons that the electricity is comprised of hitting the side of the wires, and creating heat.

Hard Drives
Hard drives work in much the same way as a floppy disk does. They can, however, store a much larger capacity of data, and therefore are much more fragile, and compact . For this reason, they are hermetically sealed. NEVER OPEN ONE IF YOU WANT TO USE IT AGAIN. There is, inside, 3 or 4 goldy-brown circular plates on which the data is stored. These are much the same as the ones inside a floppy disk, except that they are not 'floppy' but hard, or stiff. The data is stored on the platters magnetically, which explains why floppy disks have a "keep magnets away from me" warning on boxes u buy them in.
IBM introduced the first hard disk in 1957, when data usually was stored on tapes. The first 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) consisted of 50 platters, 24 inch diameter, with a total capacity of 5 MB, a huge storage medium for its time. It cost $35,000 annually in leasing fees (IBM would not sell it outright) and was twice the size of a refrigerator.
In the early 80s, HD's became the preferred storage medium as opposed to floppy drives (these were previously used due to increased reliability). IBM's PS/2 (one of which I have - yay) was one of the first PCs to be equipped with a Hard drive. I think.

Mice are, as we all know, Input devices, and as we also know, they tell where you are on the mousemat by moving a ball in the bottom. Which you can see. But how does it read how the ball is moving? Well, inside the mouse are 2 rollers, at 90 degrees to each other. When you move the mouse, u move the ball, and thus the rollers. THe rollers have some little discs on the end of them with slits in, and either side of the disc are light-readers, so that when you move tha ball, the mouse can tell because light flasles on and off in its light reader. There is also a 3rd non-functional roller to keep the ball rolling smoothly. Note: It is perfectly safe to turn your mouse upside down ,. take the ball out and look inside, as long as you don't prod anything too hard (twiddle the rollers by all means, just don't stick bits of paper in there). It is also a good idea to get a blunt knife or screw driver and clean the crud off the rollers every few weeks... it solidifies into little rings around the rollers, and works to the detriment of the mouse. If it isn't cleaned off, it can also, fallinto the mouse, and reak havok with the insides. :) The same sort of crud builds up in keyboards, but is harder to remove. ;)

GFX Cards
A video card is typically an adapter, a removable expansion card in the PC. Thus, it can be replaced! The video card can also be an integral part of the system board...This is the case in certain brands of PCs and is always the case in lap tops. This is not nice, as it is hard to upgrade to a better card. On a OC with a non-removable gfx or sound card, the normal procedure if you _do_ want to replace it is to disable the built-in graphics card using jumpers or dip switches... consult your motherboard manual. ;) Regardless of whether it is replaceable or integrated, it consists of three components:

* A video chip of some brand (ATI, Matrox, S3, Cirrus Logic, or Tseng, to name some of the better known). The video chip creates the signals, which the screen must receive to form an image.
* Some kind of RAM (EDO, SGRAM, or VRAM, which are all variations of the regular RAM). Memory is necessary, since the video card must be able to remember a complete screen image at any time.
* A RAMDAC - a chip converting digital/analog signals.

NOTE: Never buy an S3. Never. Ever. I've had lots, they're all useless. Remember that.

All ordinary graphics cards can show 3D games. That is really no special trick. The problem is to present them smoothly and fast. If the PC’s video card is made for 2D execution only, the CPU must do the entire workload of geometric transformations etc.! And that task can cause even the fastest CPU to walk with a limp. In recent years there has been an enormous development in 3D graphics cards. Let me briefly describe those here.

There are two types of graphics cards, which can be used for 3D acceleration:

Combination 2D/3D cards. These are ordinary graphics cards, which have been equipped with extra 3D power.
The pure 3D cards, which only work as accelerators. These cards require that there also is an ordinary (2D) graphics card in the PC.
Of course the pure 3D card yields the best acceleration, but there are also good combination cards on the market.


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