Network Devices

Network devices, including: workstations, server(s) and NICs. In a computer network, the workstation, or the computer systems that employees for example will interact with. And servers are the primary devices that connect and share information. They are usually connected via Network Interface Card (NIC), and Ethernet cables which run throughout the network connecting devices (explained in better detail below). NICs can be a separate device that connects via a PCIe slot on the motherboard. However, most motherboards have them built in, hence them having a built in Ethernet port.

Workstations and computer systems (with some variation) generally contain the following:

Motherboard

The motherboard acts as a central circuit board that controls and attaches all the other components in the system.

BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)

The BIOS is a small chip on the motherboard that boots before the operating system, connecting all the hardware and allowing them to communicate. It also loads settings about the system contained within the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor), such as system time/date and CPU clock speeds.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The CPU is the main brain of the computer, it does most of the work of the systems operations. The main two figures used in measuring a CPUs performance (without running test), are the clock speed e.g. 3.6GHz, and the number of cores, usually around 4-8. Clock speed is useful across the board and having a higher clock speed generally increases performance (unless the is a separate bottleneck). However, more processing cores can be very beneficial in some applications that are better optimised to make use of them.

Fan and heat sink

In order to cool most CPUs, it is necessary to use a fan and heatsink. The heatsink is placed onto the CPU and conducts heat away to be disappointed by its fins, the fan assists will the heat dissipation.

PSU (Power Supply Unit)

The PSU is the source of energy for the system. It converts the mains AC to DC current for use of the internal components of the system.

Ports

To connect any external device to a computer system, it will either require some form of wireless technology, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or NFC. or a form of port such as USB (Universal Serial Bus), Audio jack, Parallel or Serial.

USB is the most common form of port on a system, as it allows for a wide variety of devices to connect via this port. There is also another version of the USB, USB type-C, which is a newer improved port capable of higher transfer speeds, and it is also a reversible port, so you no longer need to worry about putting it in the wrong wide up. However, USB type-C is not backwards compatible with regular USB.

Parallel ports are generally used for connecting printers. It uses the type DB-25 connector. Serial ports only allow for 1-bit of information to be transferred at a time but allow for wide compatibility between devices.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM is used as an intermediary memory pool between the main storage and the CPU that allows for high speed data transfer.

ROM (Read Only Memory)

A ROM is a small memory pool that is, as the name suggests, only able to be read from, and not written to, therefore once written the information on a ROM cannot be altered. This type of memory can be useful for storing information such as calculator programs and fonts.

Cache memory

Cash memory allows programs to store information they are likely to need often, like a browser caching URLs for example. It is extremely useful to be able to cache information, as otherwise, every time an application requires a URL or any other bit of information it needs, it will have to request it be redownloaded every time it is used, which would be a waste of time and resources.

Specialised cards such as GPUs, NICs and some SSDs.

These can be installed in the motherboards PCIe slots. They allow for many different functions, such as adding graphical processing power for games, connecting to Wi-Fi, or high speed SSDs (Solid State Drive).