The central processing unit, also called the microprocessor performs all the calculations that take place inside a pc. CPUs come in Variety of shapes and sizes. Modern CPUs generate a lot of heat and thus require a cooling fan or heat sink. The cooling device (such as a cooling fan) is removable, although some CPU manufactures sell the CPU with a fan permanently attached.
The central processing unit (CPU) is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, and is the primary element carrying out the computer's functions. Pronounced as separate letters it is the abbreviation for central processing unit. The CPU is the brains of the computer. Sometimes referred to simply as the central processor, but more commonly called processor, the CPU is where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system.
The four pin peripheral power cable dates back to the original PC. It was used for floppy drives and hard disks. It's still around and is now also used for all kinds of things including add-on fans, extra video card power, supplemental motherboard power, and case lighting. It's as old as the hills but is still very widely used. The connector is shaped so that it only fits in one way. You don't have to worry about inserting it the wrong way. People often use the term "4 pin Molex power cable" or "4 pin Molex" to refer to a four pin peripheral power cable. It's not a technically useful term because the 4 pin 12 volt cable is also a 4 pin Molex cable (Molex makes lots of connectors) but "4 pin Molex" is commonly used to refer to peripheral cables anyway.
The four pin floppy drive cable showed up when PCs started including 3.5 inch floppy drives. This kind of cable is also sometimes used as an auxiliary power cable for AGP video cards which use more power than can be drawn from the motherboard slot. The connector is shaped so that it only fits in one way so you don't have to worry about inserting it the wrong way. Floppy cables are built with small connectors and 20 awg (American Wire Gauge) wire so they are limited to relatively low current uses.
SATA was introduced to upgrade the ATA interface (also called IDE) to a more advanced design. SATA includes both a data cable and a power cable. The power cable replaces the old 4 pin peripheral cable and adds support for 3.3 volts (if fully implemented). The connector is shaped so it can only be plugged in the correct way.
Motherboards can come with either a 20 pin main power connector or a 24 pin main power connector. Many power supplies come with a 20+4 cable which is compatible with both 20 and 24 pin motherboards. A 20+4 power cable has two pieces: a 20 pin piece, and a 4 pin piece. If you leave the two pieces separate then you can plug the 20 pin piece into a 20 pin motherboard and leave the 4 pin piece unplugged. Be sure to leave the 4 pin piece unplugged even if it fits into another connector. The 4 pin piece is not compatible with any other connectors. If you plug the two pieces of a 20+4 power cable together then you have a 24 pin power cable which can be plugged into a 24 pin motherboard.
The 4 pin 12 volt cable is polarized so it can only be plugged into the 4 pin motherboard connector correctly. If you look carefully at the picture above you can see that two of the pins are square and the other two have rounded corners. The motherboard connectors also have the same square and rounded arrangement so the power cable only fits in one way. At least that's true unless you try really hard to force it into the connector. With enough force you can sometimes get a cable with a small number of pins into a connector which doesn't match. If you look carefully you can also see that the square and rounded pattern matches various positions on other motherboard connectors like the 20 pin main power connector and 24 pin main power connector. Do yourself a favor and only plug the 4 pin 12 volt cable into the motherboard connector where it belongs (unless you enjoy smoke and fried components).
The 8 pin 12 volt cable is polarized so it can only be plugged into the 8 pin motherboard connector correctly. If you look carefully at the picture above you can see that four of the pins are square and the other four have rounded corners. The motherboard connectors also have the same square and rounded arrangement so the power cable only fits in one way. At least that's true unless you try really hard to force it into the connector. With enough force you can sometimes get a cable with a small number of pins into a connector which doesn't match. The 8 pin cable has enough pins that it's pretty hard to insert it in the wrong direction but determined people might be able to do it. If you look carefully you can also see that the square and rounded pattern matches various positions on other motherboard connectors like the 20 pin main power connector and 24 pin main power connector. You should only plug the 8 pin 12 volt cable into the motherboard connector where it belongs unless you enjoy the smell of fried electronics.
You can also plug an 8 pin 12 volt cable into a 4 pin 12 volt motherboard connector. Four of the pins on the 8 pin cable fit into the motherboard connector and the other four pins hang off the end. The 8 pin cable only fits into one end of the 4 pin motherboard connector unless you try hard to force it into the wrong position. The 8 pin cable is electrically compatible but it may not fit into a 4 pin motherboard. There is often a component which blocks the area where the 4 pins would hang off the end. And sometimes the plastic end of the 4 pin connector is too thick to fit between the pins of the 8 pin cable.
Make sure that you don't try to plug an 8 pin 12 volt cable into the 8 Pin PCI Express power connector on a video card. The two cables look very similar so it's easy to get the two confused. 8 Pin PCI Express power cables are usually labeled to distinguish them from 8 pin 12 volt cables. The PCI Express cable usually has "PCI-E" printed on the connector. If there are no labels then you can usually use wire colors to tell the two kinds of cables apart. An 8 pin 12 volt cable has yellow wires on the same side as the connector clip. An 8 Pin PCI Express cable has black wires on the clip side. The two power cables are also keyed differently so you can't plug one kind of power cable into the other kind of connector. But as with this kind of connector, you can sometimes force the wrong kind of cable into a connector if you push hard enough. Make sure you have the right kind of cable before plugging it in. The two are definitely not compatible with each other.
On large machines, CPUs require one or more printed circuit boards. On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor. Since the 1970's the microprocessor class of CPUs has almost completely overtaken all other CPU implementations.
The CPU itself is an internal component of the computer. Modern CPUs are small and square and contain multiple metallic connectors or pins on the underside. The CPU is inserted directly into a CPU socket, pin side down, on the motherboard. Each motherboard will support only a specific type or range of CPU so you must check the motherboard manufacturer's specifications before attempting to replace or upgrade a CPU. Modern CPUs also have an attached heat sink and small fan that go directly on top of the CPU to help dissipate heat.
Two typical components of a CPU are the following:
- The arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and logical operations.
- The control unit (CU), which extracts instructions from memory and decodes and executes them, calling on the ALU when necessary.
Random-Access Memory (RAM) stores programs and data currently being used by the CPU. RAM is measured in units called bytes. RAM has been packaged in many different ways. The most current package is called a 168-pin DIMM (Dual Inline Memory module).
Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (i.e., at random). "Random" refers to the idea that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether it is related to the previous piece of data.
The word "RAM" is often associated with volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where the information is lost after the power is switched off. Many other types of memory are RAM as well, including most types of ROM and a type of flash memory called NOR-Flash. Pronounced "ramm", acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers.
There are two different types of RAM: DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory). The two types differ in the technology they use to hold data, with DRAM being the more common type. In terms of speed, SRAM is faster. DRAM needs to be refreshed thousands of times per second while SRAM does not need to be refreshed, which is what makes it faster than DRAM. DRAM supports access times of about 60 nanoseconds, SRAM can give access times as low as 10 nanoseconds. Despite SRAM being faster, it's not as commonly used as DRAM because it's so much more expensive. Both types of RAM are volatile, meaning that they lose their contents when the power is turned off.