Hardware is the less glamorous side of computer revolution. Both in terms of function-wise and job-wise, software gets all the credit. Everybody says, rightly, a million things about Windows, Google, Photoshop, and a number of other software programs like Adobe Acrobat, MS Office, and various kinds of programming languages. But comparing to that, the praise hardware parts get is lukewarm.
Comparing to the garlands and bouquet of praise that software receives, what hardware gets is a pat on the back, which is almost an afterthought. So, what is the difference between hardware and software? Hardware is the physical electronic, electrical, magnetic components and peripherals that constitute a computer. Software is the programs needed for effectively running the computer. For effectively running software applications, one needs proper hardware components. Examples of computer hardware include components that make up the central processing unit (CPU) of the computer like motherboard, processor, hard disk, and random access memory (RAM) and peripheral devices like keyboard, mouse, monitor, and modem.
The prominent among the hardware components is processor. It is an integrated chip designed for doing an unbelievably large number of functions. The processor field has been witnessing an exciting competition between two processor-manufacturing companies: Intel and AMD. The competition has served well for the customers as the two organizations always try to go one step higher than the other and succeed on most of the occasions also. When AMD launches a processor with a special feature, Intel will invariably follow it with another feature that makes the AMDs feature bleak and vice versa. The cycle goes on as the processing speed and bit rate of the processor, two features that determine the overall efficiency, move up fast.
Another example of computer hardware is motherboard. It is a custom designed electrical and electronic circuit that act as a platform for slotting in other components of the computer. It has specific slots for specific components such as processor, hard disk, RAM, network card, graphics and video card, sound card, and internal modem. The important thing is that the components should be compatible with the motherboard.
Computer has two kinds of memory: magnetically controlled permanent memory and electrically controlled temporary memory. These memory components are our next examples of computer hardware. Hard disk is the permanent memory where all the files we save on a computer are stored. RAM is the non-permanent memory, which is used for the functional memory while running the computer.
Computer peripherals are the other set of examples of computer hardware. Mouse and keyboard are the most popular among these. CD and DVD drives also are good examples. Monitor, modem, speaker, printer, and scanner all make up the world of computer hardware. Although these are less glamorous, a minor fault in these components, for example s bit of dust on RAM, can stop the functioning of all the software applications.