PC Architecture

By Michael Karbo
  • 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 historical PC
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.......

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