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\ HTML by: I PC Hardware I Written by: /
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/ Martin L. I_____________________________I Njan \
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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
- The Bios
(II) Static + Passwords
(II) Clock Ticks
(III) Funky Athlon fridge chip.
- The Clock
(I) What does it look like?
(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?
(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
(II) How they work
(III) FIrst computer
(III) Keyboard crud
- Gfx Cards
(I) Built in v. NOT
(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.
Processors work on a fetch-execute cycle. each tick of the clock, in theory, they
get a bit of data... and by tick of the clock here, we don't mean a second, we
mean the tick of a computer clock. Depending on the speed of your processor, this
is anywhere from 233 million ticks per second for a 233, to 800 for an overclocked
600MHz Athlon chip.
So, you can get, on your average computer, 400 - 500 bits of data per second.
Well, wrong actually... because not every clock tick is taken up by getting the
data. Every _fourth_ is. Well, what about every other 3? you ask.. they are taken
up with _finding_ the data, _getting_ it, and putting it back. So, you say, your
processor runs at a quarter of the speed that in theory it should be able to do?
Well, yes. And there's no way around this, unfortunately. But, we can make the
clock speed a little faster, and it is the clock speed that dictates the speed
of the processor... (within reason).
Therefore, you can set the clock ticks on your 233 to 266, and it'll run at 166
MHz. Yes. Unfortunately, the more clock ticks there are in relation to what your
chip is _supposed_ to run at, the hotter it Gets. Therefore, you need to install
heatsyncs/fans. In fact, the AMD Athlon 600MHz overclocked to 800MHz, the fastest
PC at the time of writing has a minature fridge that cools the chip, which is
its own special metal box. The tower-sized case also has a box the size of a mini-tower
underneath for the cooling system. ;)
For this increase in temperature of 200MHz, the chip is cooled to -37 degrees
centigrade. that's cold. ;) (Note: AMD chips generally run a lot hotter than Intel
ones). ((Not a problem unless u have no heatsync)) - see the micron section, below...
Now, this fabled clock looks like, in most cases, a small black box on your motherboard.
The clock ticks it emitts are in the form of a wave , but a different wave: one that is sqare, and it looks like a castle
ramparts. the speed of this is dictated by the MHx setting you set with the Jumpers
on your motherboard. The waves look like so: (except slightly more square)
__ _ ____ _ _ ___
_¦ ¦___¦ ¦__¦ ¦_¦ ¦_¦ ¦__¦ ¦__ and etc.
The wave, which never changes, and is always the same, is broadcast throughout
your motherboard, and it synchronises all of the things that go on there. For
example, when you press the left button in your game of quake, the processor assigns
different bits of your computer to do whatever is neccacery to redraw what's on the screen, and tells
it to have it done in 3 ticks' time. The same process occurs on the gfx card itself,
where the main processor assigns a polygon to each other chip, or whatever. Infact,
if you have an old enough computer, you can see it being redrawn on the screen...
try it... run a gfx-intensive game on a 486... If the task isn't done in time,
then it all falls apart, and the computer crashes. This is why you don't want
to buy a dodgy CPU. :) (Get an AMD Athlon!).
The signals sent run around your motherboard, through all of those copper bits,
and into the chips, ISA slots, or whatever, and the task gets accomplished.
This signal is sent around the motherboard in that most wonderful of things we
all love, Binary. Now, Binary is what Computers communicate with, and it is a
DIGITAL thing. Digital. A Much used term.
COmputers are electronic, and therefore, all the signals in them are tiny pulses
of electricity. Now, electricity can be one of two things. On... or off. And this
is what makes it digital. If it could be half on as well, it would be analogue...
But no. It's digital. However, the representation of it in the form of signals
down wires is analogue, as a sound in a modem wire can be any of a hundred million
different pitches, can't it. Yes. This digital signal is, then, a series of 0's
and 1's. Binary. The counting system that we use (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11... etc... ) is Denary. It's Base ten... Binary is Base 2 (and Hexadecimal,
which is used, amongst other things, is base 16). Therefore it is perfect for
being what these signals are coded in. so each charactor on your screen is represented
in your computers RAM by a series of Binary digits. Probably 8. if you go into
Windows Calculator, and switch to scientific mode (View>Scientific) you can
decode this. For example, 1 in Binary is 00000001. 2 is 00000010. The way this
can be decoded is thus:
Each digit in binary represents a quantity of a certain number, just as denary
does. In denary, there is a column for 1's, a column for 10's, and a column for
100's. And in Binary, there is a column for 1's, 2's, 4's, 8's, etc. Let
me show you:
Here, there is a one in the hundreds column, and therefore, 100 + 0 + 0 (0 and
0 are the other 2 columns) makes 100. SO 1 0 0 in Denary represents 100. (of course,
translating 100 --> 100 doesn't work, as denary is used in both cases). In
Binary, this works this:
Binary (8-bit -- 8 digits)
SO... 128 + 64 + 32 + 16 + 8 + 2 + 1 = 250.
So the Binary number 11111010 = 250. Simple, eh?
It is possible to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, in fact, EVEYTHING
that is possible with denary (1--> 10)... I'm not going to explain it because
it is simply too complicated. ;) Use Windows Calculator... the radio buttons at
the top left switch between number systems.
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
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.
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. ;)
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
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.