Hardware & Software
Hardware & Hardware Types
Hardware refers to the physical aspects of a device. There are various types of hardware, including:
- components, which are the physical parts of a device.
- peripherals, which are accessories that are hooked up to a device.
- adapters, which are devices that turn one connection into another connection. Adapters are either:
- passive adapters, which require no electricity.
- active adapters, which do require electricity. Active adapters that require an additional connection for electricity are sometimes called converters or, in certain cases, bridges.
Certain hardware components that are removable may be considered both components and peripherals.
Software & Software Types
Broadly speaking, software refers to instructions for hardware. There are various types of software, including:
- system software, which is the set of instructions that are necessary for a device to operate. System software can be broken down into the following:
- firmware, which is used for certain components, peripherals, adapters, and conventional CE devices. Firmware is typically customized for a particular device, has limited functionality, and may or may not be updatable.
- an operating system (OS), which is used mostly for computers, smartphones, tablets, and advanced CE devices. An OS is typically able to run on multiple devices and/or is derived from something that is able to run on multiple devices, is more complex than firmware, and is updatable.
- customized system software for a particular device that's more complex than firmware but not quite as complicated as an OS. System software of this type may be referred to simply as "system software" or even just "software", although these terms may also be used to describe certain firmware and OS implementations.
- drivers, which are small pieces of software to allow hardware components and peripherals to work with an OS.
- programs, a.k.a. applications, a.k.a. apps, which are specialized pieces of software separate from the system software that perform various functions.
In addition to these types of software, software can be produced in a manner that's closed source (a.k.a. proprietary) or open source. Closed-source software is software in which the code for the software isn't shared, whereas open-source software does have its code shared. A more thorough definition of open source can be found here .
Common Hardware Components
Computers and most CE devices have, at the very least, the following hardware components:
- a printed circuit board (PCB), which is what everything else connects to. A computer's PCB is called a motherboard. The flattened wire-like entities on a PCB that carry a signal are called traces   .
- a central processing unit (CPU), which processes information.
- storage, which stores information on a permanent basis until the storage eventually dies. Some important storage types are floppy disks, hard disk drives (HDDs, often referred to simply as hard drives), optical discs, flash, solid state drives (SSDs), hybrid, and solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs)  .
- random-access memory (RAM), which stores information on a temporary basis from open programs until the programs gets closed.
The following is some important information regarding RAM:
- RAM is typically volatile, which means it needs to receive electricity to continue to store information .
- The two main types of RAM are static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM) .
- Cache refers to a relatively small amount of RAM in certain components and peripherals designed to improve performance.
(C) 2014 AVHelpZone.com
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