Computer Hardware 44

Computer hardware (or simply hardware in computing contexts) is the collection of physical elements that constitutes a computer system. Computer hardware is the physical parts or components of a computer, such as the monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, hard disk drive (HDD), graphic cards, sound cards, memory (RAM), motherboard, and so on, all of which are tangible physical objects. By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware.

Software is any set of machine-readable instructions that directs a computer’s processor to perform specific operations. A combination of hardware and software forms a usable computing system.

The template for all modern computers is the Von Neumann architecture, detailed in a 1945 paper by Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann. This describes a design architecture for an electronic digital computer with subdivisions of a processing unit consisting of an arithmetic logic unit and processor registers, a control unit containing an instruction register and program counter, a memory to store both data and instructions, external mass storage, and input and output mechanisms.

The meaning of the term has evolved to mean a stored-program computer in which an instruction fetch and a data operation cannot occur at the same time because they share a common bus. This is referred to as the Von Neumann bottleneck and often limits the performance of the system.