Generic computer hardware

computer block diagram

Image curtesy of Apple Inc.

This is a suggested exercise in understanding how the internals of a computer operate.  The purpose of the exercise is to learn what hardware is necessary to run an effective server, and to identify the possible bottlenecks in the performance of the server.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherboard

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer_hardware

Exercise 1

Make a block diagram of the most important components of the computer, and how they are connected. Suggested components are CPU, RAM module, North Bridge, South Bridge, NIC, Input/output controller, PCI express bus. Whatever you think is necessary.

Exercise 2

What it is the purpose of the North Bridge and the South Bridge, and can they be combined into one bridge? Is there a reason to have both at North and a south bridge, and why?

Exercise 3

A computer normally has two types of memory, some RAM, and a Hard disk. Explain the difference between these two types of memory.

Exercise 4

What are the most common bottlenecks in the hardware of a server computer,  e.g. the amount of RAM, the speed of the CPU, or the chipset. Explain your choice.

Exercise 5 choose one of the following

a.       With the help of the block diagram made in exercise 1, explain what happens when you copy a file from an internal hard drive to an external USB mounted hard drive.

b.      With the help of the block diagram made in exercise 1, and imagine it is a web server. Explain what happens when an external client request a  webpage from the server.

c.       With the help of the block diagram made in exercise 1, explain what happens when you play a graphics intensive game.

d.      With the help of the block diagram made in exercise 1. 1) Explain what happens when if you perform intensive mathematics operations, e.g. brute-force decryption.  2) What if the Graphics processor is capable of functioning as a co-processor to the CPU.

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