- Introduction to the PC
How the PC Works
The Computer's Primary Jobs
How the Computer Computes
Example: What Happens When You Press A Key
Overview of Systems and Components
Binary vs. Decimal Measurements
Basic Electrical Components
Signaling, Clocks and Synchronous Data Transfer
- Systems and Components Reference Guide
Parts of the System Case
Styles and Sizes
Electrical Power Basics
External Power Problems
Protection Against Power Problems
Uninterruptible Power Supplies
Uninterruptible Power Supply Overview
Uninterruptible Power Supply Types
Parts of the Uninterruptible Power Supply
Uninterruptible Power Supply Functions and Features
Comparison of Power Protection Methods
The Power Supply
Power Supply Functions and Signals
Parts of the Power Supply
Power Supply Form Factors
Power Supply Output and Ratings
Power Supply Specifications and Certifications
Motherboard and System Devices
Motherboard Form Factors
Parts of the Motherboard
Motherboard Integrated Components
System Chipset and Controllers
Chipset Functions and Features
Chipset Processor Support
Chipset Cache Support
Chipset Memory Support
Chipset Timing and Flow Control
Chipset Peripheral and I/O Bus Control
Chipset Power Management Support
Fourth Generation (486 Class) Chipsets
Fifth Generation (Pentium Class) Intel Chipsets
Fifth Generation (Pentium Class) Non-Intel Chipsets
Sixth Generation (Pentium Pro / Pentium II Class) Chipsets
Keyboard Controller Functions
Super I/O Controller Functions
Additional Integrated Motherboard Functions
System Bus Functions and Features
System Bus Types
Older Bus Types
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Local Bus
Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
System BIOS Functions and Operation
BIOS System Boot Operations
BIOS Components and Features
BIOS Setup Program
Advanced Chipset Features
PCI / PnP Configuration
IDE Device Setup / Autodetection
Security / Password Settings
Hardware Device Settings / ("CPU Soft Menu")
Auto Configuration and Defaults
Role of Cache in the PC
"Layers" of Cache
Function and Operation of the System Cache
Cache Transfer Technologies and Timing
Cache Structure and Packaging
Interrupt Function and Operation
IRQ Details By Number
Direct Memory Access (DMA) Channels
DMA Channel Function and Operation
DMA Channel Details By Number
Input / Output (I/O) Addresses
Memory Addresses and Device BIOSes
Resource Conflicts and Conflict Resolution
Plug and Play
Roots of the Processor: Digital Logic and the Semiconductor
Processor Physical Characteristics
Physical Chip Characteristics
Processor Power and Voltage
Processor Sockets and Slots
Processor Architecture and Operation
External Processor Interfaces and Operation
Internal Processor Architecture and Operation
Processor Instruction Sets
Internal Architectural Components
Instruction Execution Process
Performance Enhancing Architectural Features
Explanation of Processor Summary Tables
First Generation Processors
Second Generation Processors
Third Generation Processors
Fourth Generation Processors
Fifth Generation Processors
Sixth Generation Processors
Memory Technology Types
Memory Speed, Access and Timing
Memory Errors, Detection and Correction
Logical Memory Layout
Video Card Overview
Video System Interfaces
Video Modes, Resolution and Color
Video Memory Function and Speed
Video Memory Technologies
Video Display Standards
3D Video Acceleration
Video Card Performance
Monitor Construction and Operation
Monitor Resolution, Color and Refresh
Monitor Power and Safety
Hard Disk Drives
A Brief History of the Hard Disk Drive
Construction and Operation of the Hard Disk Drive
Hard Disk Operational Overview
Hard Disk Platters and Media
Hard Disk Read/Write Heads
Read/Write Head Operation
Read/Write Head Technologies
Hard Disk Head Sliders, Arms and Actuator
Hard Disk Spindle Motor
Hard Disk Connectors and Jumpers
Hard Disk Logic Board
Hard Disk Cache and Cache Circuitry
Hard Disk Form Factors
Hard Disk Packaging and Mounting
Hard Disk Geometry and Low-Level Data Structures
Data Encoding and Decoding
Tracks, Cylinders and Sectors
Formatting and Capacity
Geometry Specifications and Translation
Error Management and Recovery
Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability
Hard Disk Performance
Hard Disk General Performance Issues
Hard Disk Performance Measurement
Hard Disk Performance Specifications
General Notes On Performance Specifications
Positioning Plus Transfer Performance Specifications
Positioning Performance Specifications
Transfer Performance Specifications
Other Performance Specifications
Hard Disk Internal Performance Factors
Mechanical Design Factors
Data Recording and Encoding Factors
Controller and Cache Factors
Hard Disk External Performance Factors
Disk Interface Factors
PC System Factors
File System Factors
Hard Disk Quality and Reliability
Hard Disk Quality and Reliability Specifications
Hard Disk Quality and Reliability Issues
Hard Disk Quality and Reliability Features
Hard Disk Warranty and Disaster Recovery Issues
Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID)
Why Use RAID? Benefits and Costs, Tradeoffs and Limitations
RAID Concepts and Issues
General RAID Concepts
RAID Performance Issues
RAID Reliability Issues
Technical Factors Differentiating RAID Levels
Single RAID Levels
Multiple (Nested) RAID Levels
"Just A Bunch Of Disks"
Summary Comparison of RAID Levels
RAID Configuration and Implementation
RAID Controllers and Controller Features
RAID Hard Disk Drive Requirements
Advanced RAID Features
Hard Disk BIOS and Capacity Factors
BIOS and the Hard Disk
Hard Disk Size Barriers
BIOS Translation Modes
Overcoming BIOS Disk Size Barriers
Hard Disk Interfaces and Configuration
Hard Disk General Interface Factors
Obsolete Hard Disk Interfaces
Specialty and Future Hard Disk Interfaces
Integrated Drive Electronics / AT Attachment (IDE/ATA) Interface
Overview and History of the IDE/ATA Interface
Official IDE/ATA Standards and Feature Sets
Unofficial IDE/ATA Standards and Marketing Programs
IDE/ATA Transfer Modes and Protocols
IDE/ATA Configuration and Cabling
Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI)
Overview and History of the SCSI Interface
SCSI Data Transfer Modes and Feature Sets
SCSI Protocols and Interface Features
Summary of SCSI Protocols and Transfer Modes
SCSI Host Adapters
SCSI Cables and Connectors
SCSI Configuration and Cabling
IDE/ATA vs. SCSI: Interface Comparison
Hard Disk Logical Structures and File Systems
Operating Systems and File Systems
PC File Systems
PC Operating System and File System Cross-Reference
Major Disk Structures and the Boot Process
FAT File System Disk Volume Structures
Clusters and File Allocation
Partitioning, Partition Sizes and Drive Lettering
Disk Partitioning and Formatting Programs
New Technology File System (NTFS)
Overview and History of NTFS
NTFS Architecture and Structures
NTFS Directories and Files
NTFS Security and Permissions
NTFS Reliability Features and System Management
Other NTFS Features and Advantages
NTFS Implementation Considerations
Floppy Disk Drives
Floppy Disk Drive Construction and Operation
Floppy Disk Media and Low-Level Data Structures
Floppy Disk Formats and Logical Structures
Floppy Disk Interfacing and Configuration
CD-ROM Drive Construction and Operation
Compact Disk Media
Compact Disk Formats
Recordable CD (CD-R)
Rewriteable CD (CD-RW)
CD-ROM Performance and Reliability
CD-ROM Interfaces and Configuration
Keyboard Construction and Operation
Other Regular Keyboard Components
Keyboard Key Groupings
General Layout Issues
Alphanumeric Key Layouts
Standard Keyboard Layouts
Non-Standard Keyboard Layouts
Special Keyboard Features and Accessories
Keyboard Software Issues
The PC Buyer's Guide
Introduction To The PC Buyer's Guide
Step-By-Step Summary Guide To Buying A PC
General Requirements Analysis Issues
Determining Your PC Requirements
Buying, Building and Upgrading
PC Use Profiles
Designing and Specifying PC Systems and Components
Designing PCs: Structure and Subsystems
PC Structural Design
PC Subsystem Design
Key Performance Issues In PC System Design
Key Non-Performance Issues In PC System Design
Component Specification Issues
System-Based Key Component Selection
Detailed Considerations and Tips for Specifying Particular Components
Notebook PC Specification Issues
Software Issues in PC Specification
Understanding PC Sources, Vendors and Prices
The PC Industry, Vendors and The Market
Sources For PC Systems and Components
Online, Catalog and Mail Order Sources
Summary Comparison of PC Sources
Cross-Reference Between PC Sources and PC Types
Researching Vendors and Prices
Vendor Evaluation Factors
Reputation and History
Pricing, Selection and Stock
Factors Affecting Pricing
Guarantees and Return Policies
Warranty Service and Warranty Policies
Vendor "Danger Signals"
Purchasing PCs and Components
Delivery Methods and Issues
Immediate Payment Options
Delayed Payment Options
Comparison of Payment Methods
Making The Purchase
Vendor and Order Problems and Solutions
Common Vendor and Order Problems
Dealing With Difficult Vendors and Order Problems
Dealing With Vendor Abuses and Deceptive Practices
After The Purchase
Upon System Receipt
Problems With Your System
System Care Guide
System Care: Protecting Your PC
General System Care Factors
Environmental Care Factors
Cooling and Ventilation Care Factors
Power Care Factors
Care of Specific Components
Care of Media
Data Loss and Virus Prevention
Data Problem Prevention
Data Problem Detection
Virus Detection and Protection
Background on Viruses
Virus Infection Mechanisms and Prevention
Virus Scanning and Antivirus Software
Backups and Disaster Recovery
A Mental Exercise To Underscore the Importance of Backups
The Risks To Your Data
Backup Methods, Devices and Media
Backup Scheduling and Media Rotation Systems
What To Back Up
How To Back Up
Troubleshooting and Repair Guide
General Troubleshooting Techniques
Troubleshooting and Your Mental State
Steps To Take First When Troubleshooting
General Diagnostic Techniques
Diagnostic, Troubleshooting and Repair Tools
The Troubleshooting Expert
Using the Troubleshooting Expert
Troubleshooting Boot Problems
Boot Problem Troubleshooting Walkthrough
Quick Access to Boot Process Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting The System Overall
Troubleshooting BIOS Beep Codes
American Megatrends Inc. (AMI BIOS)
Older BIOS Family (Phoenix BIOS Plus, PhoenixBIOS 1.x)
Newer BIOS Family (PhoenixBIOS 4.x)
Troubleshooting Boot-Time Error Messages
Troubleshooting Run-Time Error Messages
Troubleshooting System Instablity, Reboots and Crashes
Troubleshooting System Slowdowns
Troubleshooting Specific Components
Assembly or Physical Issues
LEDs or Case Buttons
Power Sources and Power Protection Devices
Motherboard and System Devices
CMOS Memory or Real-Time Clock
System Bus, Resources and Expansion Cards
Memory Not Recognized
Out of Memory Problems
Failure or Improper Operation
Image Quality Problems
Performance or Video Mode Issues
Failure or Improper Operation
Image Quality Problems
Hard Disk Drives
Booting or Operation Problems
Missing Space Issues
Dynamic Drive Overlay Problems
Disk Compression Issues
Drive Letter Issues
File System Problems
Floppy Disk Drives
Booting or Operation Problems
Disk Formatting Problems
File System Problems
Drive Not Recognized
Peripheral I/O Ports
Operation and Connection Problems
Errors and Download Problems
Call Waiting Problems
Software Modem Issues
Operating Systems and Applications
Obtaining Technical Support
Using Automated Technical Support Systems
Calling For Technical Support
Other Alternatives for Technical Support
Repairs, Returns and Refunds
Determining the Feasibility of Repair
Deciding On A Course Of Action
Performing a Repair or Return
System Optimization and Enhancement Guide
System Optimizations and Enhancements
Using the System Optimizations and Enhancements
Enhance and Streamline the Boot Process
Improve the PC's Physical and Environmental Characteristics
System Resource (IRQ, DMA, I/O, COM) Conservation and Optimization
General System Performance Optimization
Operating System Performance Optimization
Hard Disk Performance Optimization
Windows System Resource Optimization
Conventional and Upper Memory Optimization
Video and Image Optimization
File System Optimization and Freeing Disk Space
Improve the Reliability of the System
Overclocking: The Dissenting Opinion
Introduction to Overclocking
Overclocking Risks and Rewards
Should You Overclock?
Explanation of Procedure Overviews
General Installation and Assembly Tips
New PC Assembly Procedure
System Layout Planning Procedure
Case Floor Relocation Procedure
Floppy Disk Drive Connection Procedure
Hard Disk Drive Connection Procedure
CD-ROM Drive Connection Procedure
IDE/ATA Device Configuration Procedure
Motherboard Configuration Procedure
Motherboard and Case Connection Procedure
External Peripheral Connection Procedure
Physical Installation Procedures
System Case Preparation Procedure
Floppy Disk Drive Physical Installation Procedure
Hard Disk Drive Physical Installation Procedure
CD-ROM Drive Physical Installation Procedure
Processor Physical Installation Procedure
Heat Sink Physical Installation Procedure
Cache Module Physical Installation Procedure
Memory Module Physical Installation Procedure
Motherboard Physical Installation Procedure
I/O Port Connector Physical Installation Procedure
PS/2 Mouse Port Connector Physical Installation Procedure
Video Card Physical Installation Procedure
Uninstallation and Disassembly Procedures
System Case Cover Removal Procedure
Setup and Inspection Procedures
Post-Assembly Inspection Procedure
Post-Assembly Initial Boot Procedure
Safe BIOS Setup Procedure
Post-Assembly Initial Test Procedure
Hard Disk Partitioning and Formatting Procedure
CD-ROM Driver Installation Procedure
System Documentation Procedure
Video Card Identification Procedure
Windows 95 Version Identification Procedure
File System Identification Procedure
Boot Disk Creation Procedure
Manual Windows 95 Recovery Procedure
Windows 95 Installation Procedure
Technical Resource Guide (Including Links)
Online Technical Resources (Links)
General World Wide Web Links
Component-Specific World Wide Web Links
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
- PC Architecture. Preface.
- Chapter 1. The PC, history and logic.
- Chapter 2. The Von Neumann model.
- Chapter 3. A data processor.
- Chapter 4. Intro to the motherboard.
- Chapter 5. It all starts with the CPU.
- Chapter 6. The CPU and the motherboard.
- Chapter 7. The south bridge.
- Chapter 8. Inside and around the CPU.
- Chapter 9. Moores' Law.
- Chapter 10. The cache.
- Chapter 11. The L2 cache.
- Chapter 12. Data and instructions.
- Chapter 13. FPU’s and multimedia.
- Chapter 14. Examples of CPU’s.
- Chapter 15. The evolution of the Pentium 4.
- Chapter 16. Choosing a CPU.
- Chapter 17. The CPU’s immediate surroundings.
- Chapter 18. Overclocking.
- Chapter 19. Different types of RAM.
- Chapter 20. RAM technologies.
- Chapter 21. Advice on RAM.
- Chapter 22. Chipsets and hubs.
- Chapter 23. Data for the monitor.
- Chapter 24. Intro to the I/O system.
- Chapter 25. From ISA to PCI Express.
- Chapter 26. The CPU and the motherboard.
- Chapter 27. Inside and around the CPU.
- Chapter 28. The cache.
- Chapter 29. Data and instructions.
- Chapter 30. Inside the CPU.
- Chapter 31. FPU’s and multimedia.
- Chapter 32. Examples of CPU’s.
- Chapter 33. Choosing a CPU.
- Chapter 34. The CPU’s immediate surroundings.
- Chapter 35. Different types of RAM.
- Chapter 36. Chipsets and hubs.
- Chapter 37. Data for the monitor.
- Chapter 38. The PC’s I/O system.
- Chapter 39. From ISA to PCI.
- Chapter 40. I/O buses using IRQ’s.
- Chapter 41. Check your adapters.
- Chapter 42. I/O and The south bridge.
- Chapter 43. SCSI, USB and Firewire.
- Chapter 44. Hard disks, ATA and SATA.
- Chapter 45. System software. A small glossary.
Chapter 1. The PC, history and logic
The PC is a fascinating subject, and I want to take you on an illustrated, guided tour of its workings. But first I will tell you a bit about the background and history of computers. I will also have to introduce certain terms and expressions, since computer science is a subject with its own terminology. Then I will start to go through the actual PC architecture!
The PC is a microcomputer, according to the traditional division of computers based on size.
No-one uses the expression microcomputer much anymore, but that is what the PC actually is. If we look at computers based on size, we find the PC at the bottom of the hierarchy.
- Mainframes and super computers are the biggest computers – million dollar machines, as big as a refrigerator or bigger. An example is the IBM model 390.
- Minicomputers are large, powerful machines which are often found at the centre of networks of “dumb” terminals and PC’s. For example, IBM’s AS/400. A definition that was used in the past, was that minicomputers cost between $10,000 and $100,000.
- Workstations are very powerful user machines. They have the capacity to execute technical/scientific programs and calculations, and typically use a UNIX variant or Windows NT as their operating system. Workstations used to be equipped with powerful RISC processors, like Digital Alpha, Sun Sparc or MIPS, but today workstations can be configured with one or more of Intel’s more powerful CPU’s.
- The PC is the baby of the family: Small, cheap, mass-produced computers which typically run Windows and which are used for standard programs which can be purchased anywhere.......
- Cables - Types and standards - General descriptions of networking and peripheral cables.
- RAM - Descriptions - Technology overview: banking, capacity and form factors.
- Processors - Intel Family - From the 8086 to the Pentium 4.
- Hard Drives - Standards - ST-506, ESDI, ATA, SCSI .
- Main Board - Evolution and Technology - XT, AT,baby AT, ATX .
- PC Bus types - Expansion Slots - Peripheral connectors and internal data routes.
- Storage Media - How data is stored - Methods for storing data onto digital media.
- Networking - IEEE 802.3 LAN's - Ethernets, TCP/IP, Equipment.
- Universal Serial Bus (USB)
- ATX Power Supply
- VGA (15)
- Serial (PC 9)
- VGA (VESA DDC)
- ATA (44) Internal
- Nullmodem (9-9)
- Ethernet 10/100/1000Base-T Straight Thru
- Video to TV SCART
- Ethernet 10/100/1000Base-T and 100Base-T4 Crossover
- S-Video to SCART
- S-Video to Composite
- Cisco Console (9)
- 9 to 15 pin VGA
- IEEE1394 cable
- Amiga to SCART
- Apple TV
- Amiga 500
- Amiga 1200
- ZX Spectrum 128K
- PS/2 to Serial Mouse
- PS/2 Keyboard Y (Gateway)
- GameCube Memory Card to SD
- 9 to 25 Serial
- DIN to Mini-DIN Keyboard
- Serial to PS/2 Mouse
- Macintosh Video to VGA
- PS/2 Keyboard Y (IBM Thinkpad)
- Mini-DIN to DIN Keyboard
- Sinclair Research
What is a computer? A computer is a machine that inputs (takes in) facts and information (known as data), and then processes (does something to or with) it. Afterwards it outputs, or displays, the results for you to see. Data is all kinds of information, including, pictures, letters, numbers, and sounds. There are two main parts of computers, hardware and software. Hardware is all of the parts of the computer you can see and touch. Software is the instructions that a computer uses to do what you ask it to. Pieces of software are often called programs.
There are different styles of monitors. One of these is the one already shown. It is called a CRT monitor. It takes more power than the other popular kind, called LCDs. However, CRT monitors work faster, which makes them better for fast games because the movement will blur less. LCDs are thinner than CRTs, but they are more expensive.
- Pentium II, Pentium Pro, Pentium, 486, and earlier central processing unit (CPU) chips.
- The latest processor upgrade socket and slot specifications.
- New motherboard chipsets and designs, including the ATX form factor.
- Special bus architectures and devices, including high-speed PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and VL-Bus (VESA Local), EISA (Extended Industry Standard Architecture), and MCA (Micro Channel Architecture).
- Bus resources which often conflict such as Interrupt ReQuest (IRQ) lines, Direct Memory Access (DMA) channels, and Input Output (I/O) port addresses.
- Plug and Play architecture.
- Larger, faster hard drives and hard drive interfaces, including EIDE and SCSI.
- Floppy drives, including 360K, 1.2M, 1.44M, and 2.88M drives.
- New storage devices such as DVD, CD-ROM, and Magneto-Optical drives.
- Increasing system memory capacity with SIMM and DIMM modules.
- New types of memory including Synchronous Pipeline Burst cache, EDO RAM, Burst EDO, and Synchronous DRAM.
- Large-screen Super VGA monitors and high-speed graphics adapter cards.
- Peripheral devices such as CD-ROM drives, sound boards, and tape backups.
- PC-Card and Cardbus devices for laptops.
Intro to Systems, Critical Thinking about Systems, the Role of Complexity
- Lucky's Bozos on the bus
- Science of Scientific Writing
- Worse is better
- Architecture of Complexity
System Models, System Design
- Hints for Computer System Design
- An Investigation of the Therac-25 Accident
- The X Window System
Basics of Operating Systems, Storage, Virtual Memory
- The UNIX time-sharing system
- Disk System Architectures for High Performance Computing
- Virtual Memory for an Object Oriented Language
Other topics covering in this ebook are Distributed Systems, Virtual memory discussion, Networking, Distributed Storage, Security, Name Services, Time and Coordination, Distributed Transactions, Replication and Distributed Multimedia.
- Philosophy and Roadmap, Simple Programs, Beta ISA
- Storage Allocation, Stack Discipline, Calling Conventions
- Unpipelined Beta, Exceptions
- Implementing the ALU
- Implementation of Beta Memories
- Synchronous Finite State Machines (FSMs)
- Flip flops, Asynchronous FSMs, Dynamic Discipline, Timing
- Arbitration and Metastability
- Static Discipline, Transistor-level design
- Physics of Communication and Computation
- Latency vs. Throughput, Explicit Parallelism
- Pipelining the Beta, Hazards, Stalling, Anullment
- Virtual Memory, Cache Coherence, Integration of Caches
- Communications Networks
- Explicitly Parallel Machines, Future Machines
Did you ever wonder what a bit, a pixel, a latch, a word (of memory), a data bus, an address bus, a memory, a register, a processor, a timing diagram, a clock (of a processor), an instruction, or machine code is? Though most explanations of how computers work are a lot of analogies or require a background in electrical engineering, this book will tell you precisely what each of them is and how each of them works without requiring any previous knowledge of computers or electronics. However, this book starts out very easy and gets harder as it goes along. You must read the book starting at the first page and not skip around because later topics depend on understanding earlier topics. How far you can get may depend on your background. A junior high school science background should be enough. There is no mathematics required other than simple addition and multiplication. This is a short book, but it must be studied carefully. This means that you will have to read some parts more than once to understand them. Get as far as you can. You will be much more knowledgeable about how computers work when you are done than when you started, even if you are not able to get through the whole text. This is a technical book though it is aimed at a non-technical audience. Though this book takes considerable effort to understand, it is very easy for what it explains. After you have studied this book, if you go back and read it, it will seem simple. Good Luck!
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