It is quite well known that the working of the computer is pulled by hardware and software. One can define computer hardware as the electronic, magnetic, and electric devices that carry out the computing functions. Hardware is the physical components of the computer like microprocessor, hard disks, RAM, and motherboard. The peripheral devices such as monitor, mouse, keyboard, printer, and speakers can also be included in the list of hardware parts. The programs that run on the computers like Windows, C++, and Photoshop are the software parts of the computer. A good example for an easy understanding of hardware-software definition is music CDs. The actual compact disk is the hardware, while the songs and music in the CD are the software parts.
There is another way to define computer hardware. Hardware devices are the executors of the commands provided by software applications. For example, let us see what happens when you click the print button of the web browsing software. The software application provides a command to the processor, which is the central part of all computer hardware. Processor in turn checks for an attached printer. If the printer is ready, the software will get a positive response from the processor. Then the software application provides instruction to the printer via the processor to print the web page. In that sense, hardware parts are the foot soldiers and software applications are the commanders in the digital operation that takes place within a computer.
The main player of computer hardware is undoubtedly the microprocessor. It is the sun in the solar system of computer hardware devices. It is the central component and all other components work around it. It is an integrated chip on which a number of functions are incorporated. Two specifications determine its efficiency. One is its processing speed, which is measured in gigahertz. The other is its bit rate. Commonly available processors are 32 bit and 64 bit. The bit rate is a measure of the efficiency of a processor to carry out multiple operations at the same time.
One cannot define computer hardware without mentioning the two types of memory used in computers. One is permanent memory. It refers to the magnetic storage capacity of hard disk. It is measured in gigabytes. The second is RAM or random access memory. This memory is able to store data only when the computer is switched on. The memory will lose all the data when the computer is switched off.
Another important product that one should mention when one defines computer hardware is motherboard. It is the electric and electronic circuit board on which all the other components are inserted. There are several other kinds of products such as sound card, video card, network card, and modem that complete the hardware spectrum.