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Principles of Information Systems, Eighth Edition 3-1

Chapter 3

Hardware: Input, Processing, and Output Devices


At a Glance

Instructors Manual Table of Contents

Overview

Principles and Objectives

Teaching Tips

Quick Quizzes

Class Discussion Topics

Additional Projects

Additional Resources

Key Terms
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Overview

In this chapter, we concentrate on the hardware component of a CBIS. Hardware consists of
any machinery (most of which uses digital circuits) that assists in the input, processing,
storage, and output activities of an information system. The overriding consideration in
making hardware decisions in a business should be how hardware can be used to support the
objectives of the information system and the goals of the organization.


Principles and Objectives

Principles Learning Objectives

Assembling an effective, efficient set of
computer hardware devices requires
understanding their role in supporting the
underlying information systems and the
needs of the organization. The computer
hardware objectives are subordinate to, but
supportive of, the information systems and
the needs of the organization.


Describe how to select and organize
computer hardware components to
support information system (IS)
objectives and business needs.



When selecting computer hardware, you
must consider the current and future needs
of the information systems and the
organization. Your choice of a hardware
device should always allow for later
improvements to meet evolving
organizational needs.


Describe the power, speed, and
capacity of central processing and
memory devices.
Describe the access methods, capacity,
and portability of secondary storage
devices.
Discuss the speed, functionality, and
importance of input and output devices.
Identify popular classes of computer
systems and discuss the role of each.

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Teaching Tips

Why Learn About Hardware?

Investing in computer hardware allows an organization to improve worker productivity,
increase revenue, reduce costs, and provide better customer service. Managers in an
organization, no matter what their career field and educational background, are expected to
know enough about hardware to help define the business needs that the hardware must
support. In addition, managers must be able to ask good questions and evaluate options
when considering hardware investments for their area of the business.


Computer Systems: Integrating the Power of Technology

A computer system is a special subsystem of an organization's overall information system. It
is an integrated assembly of devices that are used to input, process, store, and output data
and information. Putting together a complete computer system, however, is more involved
than just connecting computer devices. In an effective and efficient system, hardware
devices are selected and organized with an understanding of the inherent trade-offs between
overall system performance and cost, control, and complexity.

When selecting hardware devices, you must consider the current and future uses to which
the system will be put. Your choice of hardware should always allow for later improvements
in the overall information system. Reasoned forethought is the hallmark of a true IS
professional.

Hardware Components

The ability to process, organize, and manipulate data is a critical aspect of a computer
system. Processing in a computer system is accomplished by interplay between one or more
of the central processing units and primary storage. Each central processing unit (CPU)
consists of three associated elements: the arithmetic/logic unit, the control unit, and the
register areas. The arithmetic/logic unit (ALU) performs mathematical calculations and
makes logical comparisons. The control unit sequentially accesses program instructions,
decodes them, and coordinates the flow of data in and out of the ALU, the registers, primary
storage, and even secondary storage and various output devices. Registers are high-speed
storage areas used to temporarily hold small units of program instructions and data
immediately before, during, and after execution by the CPU. The relationship between the
different components is illustrated in Figure 3.1 on page 84, as shown below:

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Figure 3.1: Hardware Components

Primary storage, also called main memory or just memory, is closely associated with the
CPU. It holds program instructions and data immediately before or immediately after the
registers.



Teaching
Tip

When covering this chapters material, use hands-on demonstrations. For
example, bring a PC into the class and remove the components. Give the students
an opportunity to handle the various parts.

Hardware Components in Action

Executing any machine-level instruction involves two phases: instruction and execution. During
the instruction phase, a computer performs the following steps:

Step 1: Fetch instruction
Step 2: Decode instruction

During the execution phase, a computer performs the following steps:

Step 3: Execute instruction
Step 4: Store results


Quick Quiz 1

1. What part of the CPU performs logical comparisons?
ANSWER: arithmetic/logic unit (ALU)

2. What is a general term for machinery that assists with the input, processing, and
output activities of an information system?
ANSWER: Hardware
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3. ____________________ are high-speed storage areas used to temporarily hold
small units of program instructions and data immediately before, during, and after
execution by the CPU.
ANSWER: Registers

4. What are the three main components of the CPU?
ANSWER: arithmetic/logic unit (ALU), control unit, and registers


Processing and Memory Devices: Power, Speed, and Capacity

The components responsible for processing, the CPU and memory, are housed together in
the same box or cabinet, called the system unit. All other computer system devices, such as
the monitor and keyboard, are linked either directly or indirectly in the system unit housing.

Processing Characteristics and Functions

Because efficient processing and timely output is very important to most organizations, a
variety of measures are used to gauge processing speed. These measures include the time it
takes to complete a machine cycle and clock speed.

Memory Characteristics and Functions

Located physically close to the CPU (to decrease access time), memory provides the CPU
with a working storage area for program instructions and data. Its main feature is that it
rapidly provides data and instructions to the CPU.

Instructions or data can be temporarily stored in and read from random access memory
(RAM), which is temporary and volatile as RAM chips lose their contents if the current is
turned off or disrupted. Another type of memory, ROM, an acronym for read-only memory,
is usually nonvolatile. In ROM, the combination of circuit states is fixed, and therefore its
contents are not lost if the power is removed. It provides permanent storage for data and
instructions that do not change, such as programs and data from the computer manufacturer.

Cache memory is a type of high-speed memory that a processor can access more rapidly
than main memory. Because it contains less data, the CPU can access the desired data and
instructions more quickly than if it were selecting from the larger set in main memory. The
CPU can thus execute instructions faster, and the overall performance of the computer
system is raised.

Multiprocessing

One form of multiprocessing involves coprocessors. A coprocessor speeds processing by
executing specific types of instructions while the CPU works on another processing activity.
It can be internal or external to the CPU and may have a different clock speed from that of
the CPU.

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Another form of multiprocessing involves a multicore microprocessor, which combines two
or more independent processors into a single computer so that they can share the workload
and boost processing capacity. A dual-core processor enables the user to perform multiple
tasks simultaneously. Some processes, such as a medical CAT scan, require a multicore
microprocessor.

Parallel Computing

Parallel computing is the simultaneous execution of the same task on multiple processors to
obtain results faster. In massively parallel processing, hundreds and even thousands of
processors are linked together to operate at the same time, or in parallel. Each processor
includes its own bus, memory, disks, copy of the operating system, and application software.


Quick Quiz 2

1. The simultaneous execution of two or more instructions is referred to as
____________________.
ANSWER: multiprocessing

2. Memory that can be accessed more quickly than main memory is referred to as
____________________.
ANSWER: cache memory

3. What type of memory is volatile?
ANSWER: Random access memory or RAM

4. Eight bits form a(n) ____________________.
ANSWER: byte


Secondary Storage

Organizations need to store large amounts of data, instructions, and information more
permanently than allowed by main memory. As a result, secondary storage is used.
Compared with memory, secondary storage offers the advantages of nonvolatility, greater
capacity, and greater economy.

Access Methods

Data and information access can be either sequential or direct. Sequential access implies that
data must be accessed in the order in which it is stored, while direct access means that data
can be retrieved directly, without the need to pass by other data in sequence. The devices
used to sequentially access secondary storage data are simply called sequential access
storage devices (SASDs), and those used for direct access are called direct access storage
devices (DASDs).

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Devices

The most common forms of secondary storage include the following: magnetic tapes,
magnetic disks, virtual tapes, and optical disks. Magnetic tape is inexpensive but slower in
terms of finding and accessing data, while magnetic disks are somewhat faster and more
expensive. Another storage choice, redundant array of independent/inexpensive disks
(RAID), allows for the recovery of data in the event of failure.

Optical technology includes compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM), as well as CD-
recordable (CD-R) and CD-rewritable (CD-RW) technologies. Other storage alternatives
include digital video disc (DVD), memory cards, flash memory, and holographic discs.


Enterprise Storage Options

Businesses today need to store large amounts of data created throughout the organization.
Such large secondary storage is called enterprise storage. Three forms of enterprise storage
options that are commonly used are attached storage, network-attached storage (NAS), and
storage area networks (SANs).

In attached storage methods, tape, hard disks, and optical secondary storage devices are
connected directly to a single computer. Attached storage methods are simple and cost
effective for single users and small groups, but do not allow systems to share storage. Also,
they make it difficult to back up data.

The other two options for enterprise storage NAS and SANs offer a number of
advantages over attached storage methods. They enable an organization to share data-
storage resources among a much larger number of computers and users, resulting in
improved storage efficiency and greater cost-effectiveness. In addition, they simplify data
backup and reduce the risk of downtime. NAS employs storage devices that attach to a
network instead of to a single computer. A SAN is a special-purpose, high-speed network
that provides direct connections between data-storage devices and computers across the
enterprise.


Quick Quiz 3

1. True or False: A DVD holds more data than a CD-ROM.
ANSWER: True

2. What storage device is designed to make data recovery easier?
ANSWER: Redundant array of independent/inexpensive disks (RAID)

Teaching

Invite students to bring various secondary storage devices to show in class.
Examples might be CD-ROMs, DVDs, memory cards, and flash memory. Tip

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3. Are CD-ROMs magnetic or optical devices?
ANSWER: Optical

4. True or False: Flash memory is nonvolatile.
ANSWER: True


Input and Output Devices: The Gateway to Computer Systems

Characteristics and Functionality

Getting data into the computer system is a two-stage process. First, human-readable data is
converted into machine-readable form through a process called data entry. Secondly, the
machine-readable data must be transferred into the system, a process known as data input.
Regardless of how data gets into the computer however, it should be captured and edited at
its source, a concept known as source data automation.

Input Devices

A keyboard and a computer mouse are the most common devices used for entry and input of
data such as characters, text, and basic commands. Some companies are developing newer
keyboards that are more comfortable, adjustable, and faster to use. Another type of input
device can recognize human speech. Called voice-recognition devices, these tools use
microphones and special software to record and convert the sound of the human voice into
digital signals. Inexpensive and easy to use, terminals are input devices that perform data
entry and data input at the same time. They allow general commands, text, and other data to
be entered via a keyboard or mouse, converted into machine-readable form, and transferred
to the processing portion of the computer system.

Output Devices

Computer systems provide output to decision makers at all levels of an organization to solve
a business problem or capitalize on a competitive opportunity. In addition, output from one
computer system can be used as input into another, within the same information system.

Some monitors use a cathode-ray tube to display images; these are known as CRTs. Such a
monitor works much the same way a traditional TV screen does. Liquid crystal display
(LCD) monitors are flat displays that use liquid crystals to form characters and graphic
images on a backlit screen. These displays have many advantages over CRTs because they
are flicker-free, far lighter, less bulky, and do not emit the type of radiation that makes some
CRT users worry.

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Special-Purpose Input and Output Devices

There are many other input and output devices that are used for specialized or unique
applications. One example is computer-based navigation systems, which are satellite-based
radio navigation systems that can guide you to specified destinations. Another example is
multiple-function printers that can copy, print (in color or black and white), fax, and scan.
Yet another example is eyebud screens, which are portable media devices that display video
in front of one eye.


Quick Quiz 4

1. A monitor is an example of what type of device?
ANSWER: Output device

2. What hard-copy output device is used for general design work?
ANSWER: A plotter

3. What is the name used to describe flat-screen, liquid display monitors?
ANSWER: LCDs or Liquid Crystal Displays


Computer System Types, Selection, and Upgrading

In general, computers can be classified as either special purpose or general purpose. Special-
purpose computers represent those used by military and scientific research groups, such as
the CIA and NASA, for limited applications. General-purpose computers are used for a
variety of applications and are the most common.

Computer System Types

Handheld computers are small (some as small as a credit card), portable, single-user
computers. Handheld computers are sometimes referred to as personal digital assistants
(PDAs).

There are several types of portable computers computers that can be carried easily. These
include laptops, notebooks, subnotebooks, and tablet computers.

Thin clients are low-cost, stripped-down versions of desktop computers. They do not have
the storage capacity or computing power of typical desktop computers, nor do they need it
for the role they play. They are used primarily in small businesses and educational
institutions.

Desktop computers are relatively small, inexpensive single-user computer systems that are
highly versatile. They are small enough to fit on an office desk, and can provide sufficient
memory and storage for most business computing tasks.

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Workstations are computers that are more powerful than personal computers but still small
enough to fit on a desktop. They are used to support engineering and technical users who run
applications requiring a high-end processor.

A computer server is a computer designed for a specific task, such as network or Internet
applications. Servers typically have large memory and storage capacities, along with fast
and efficient communications abilities.

Mainframe computers are large, powerful computers often shared by hundreds of concurrent
users connected to the machine via terminals. The mainframe computer must reside in an
environment-controlled computer room or data center with special heating, venting, and air-
conditioning (HVAC) equipment to control the temperature, humidity, and dust levels
around the computer. In addition, most mainframes are kept in a secured data center with
limited access to the room through some kind of security system.

Supercomputers are the most powerful computer systems, with the fastest processing speeds.
Originally, they were primarily used by government agencies to perform the high-speed
number crunching needed in weather forecasting and military applications. With the recent
improvements in the cost and performance (lower cost and faster speeds) of these machines
however, they are now being used more broadly for commercial purposes.


Selecting and Upgrading Computer Systems

Computer systems are often upgraded by installing additional memory, faster processors,
more hard disk storage, or various input and output devices to support new or changing
business needs. When upgrading computer systems, companies must keep hardware, main
memory, and printer considerations in mind.


Quick Quiz 5

1. True or False: Servers typically have large memory and storage capacities.
Answer: True

2. ____________________ are large, powerful computers often shared by hundreds of
concurrent users connected to the machine via terminals.
ANSWER: Mainframe computers

3. True or False: Thin clients have large hard disks.
ANSWER: False


Teaching

Take the class on a field trip to visit a local business with a mainframe computer.
Surprisingly, many students have never seen a computer other than a PC. Tip

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Class Discussion Topics

1. What is the relationship between transistor densities and the improvement in computer
speed and miniaturization?

2. Discuss the trade-offs between cache and main memory.


Additional Projects

1. Using the Internet, research the latest advancements in parallel computing. For what
kinds of tasks is parallel computing currently being used? Which approach to parallel
computing is most popular right now, and why? Write a one page report summarizing
your findings.

2. People who are visually-impaired face many problems in interacting and using a
computer. Research which input and output devices are specifically created to help the
visually-impaired use a computer. Write a one page report describing these devices.


Additional Resources

1. HardwareCentral:
www.hardwarecentral.com/hardwarecentral/

2. Aces Hardware:
www.aceshardware.com/

3. PC Mechanic:
www.pcmech.com/


Key Terms

Arithmetic/logic unit (ALU) - the part of the CPU that performs mathematical
calculations and makes logical comparisons.
Blade server - a server that houses many individual computer motherboards that
include one or more processors, computer memory, computer storage, and computer
network connections.
Byte (B) - eight bits that together represent a single character of data.
Cache memory - a type of high-speed memory that a processor can access more
rapidly than main memory.
Central processing unit (CPU) - the part of the computer that consists of three
associated elements: the arithmetic/logic unit, the control unit, and the register areas.
Clock speed - a series of electronic pulses produced at a predetermined rate that affects
machine cycle time.
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Compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM) - a common form of optical disc on
which data, once it has been recorded, cannot be modified.
Control unit - the part of the CPU that sequentially accesses program instructions,
decodes them, and coordinates the flow of data in and out of the ALU, registers,
primary storage, and even secondary storage and various output devices.
Coprocessor - the part of the computer that speeds processing by executing specific
types of instructions while the CPU works on another processing activity.
Data entry - process by which human-readable data is converted into a machine-
readable form.
Data input - process that involves transferring machine-readable data into the system.
Desktop computer - a relatively small, inexpensive, single-user computer that is highly
versatile.
Digital audio player - a device that can store, organize, and play digital music files.
Digital camera - an input device used with a PC to record and store images and video
in digital form.
Digital video disc (DVD) - a storage medium used to store digital video or computer
data.
Direct access - a retrieval method in which data can be retrieved without the need to
read and discard other data.
Direct access storage device (DASD) - a device used for direct access of secondary
storage data.
Disk mirroring - a process of storing data that provides an exact copy that protects
users fully in the event of data loss.
Execution time (E-time) - the time it takes to execute an instruction and store the
results.
Flash memory - a silicon computer chip that, unlike RAM, is nonvolatile and keeps its
memory when the power is shut off.
Gigahertz (GHz) - billions of cycles per second.
Grid computing - the use of a collection of computers, often owned by multiple
individuals or organizations, to work in a coordinated manner to solve a common
problem.
Handheld computer - a single-user computer that provides ease of portability because
of its small size.
Hardware - any machinery (most of which uses digital circuits) that assists in the
input, processing, storage, and output activities of an information system.
Instruction time (I-time) - the time it takes to perform the fetch-instruction and
decode-instruction steps of the instruction phase.
LCD displays - flat displays that use liquid crystalsorganic, oil-like material placed
between two polarizersto form characters and graphic images on a backlit screen.
Machine cycle - the instruction phase followed by the execution phase.
Magnetic disk - a common secondary storage medium, with bits represented by
magnetized areas.
Magnetic stripe card - a type of card that stores limited amounts of data by modifying
the magnetism of tiny iron-based particles contained in a band on the card.
Magnetic tape - a secondary storage medium; Mylar film coated with iron oxide with
portions of the tape magnetized to represent bits.
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Mainframe computer - a large, powerful computer often shared by hundreds of
concurrent users connected to the machine via terminals.
Massively parallel processing systems - a form of multiprocessing that speeds
processing by linking hundreds or thousands of processors to operate at the same time,
or in parallel, with each processor having its own bus, memory, disks, copy of the
operating system, and applications.
Megahertz (MHz) - millions of cycles per second.
Microcode - predefined, elementary circuits and logical operations that the processor
performs when it executes an instruction.
MIPS - millions of instructions per second.
Moores Law - a hypothesis that states that transistor densities on a single chip double
every 18 months.
MP3 - a standard format for compressing a sound sequence into a small file.
Multicore microprocessor - a microprocessor that combines two or more independent
processors into a single computer so they can share the workload and deliver a big
boost in processing capacity.
Multiple instruction/multiple data (MIMD) - a form of parallel computing in which
the processors all execute different instructions.
Multiprocessing - the simultaneous execution of two or more instructions at the same
time.
Network-attached storage (NAS) - storage devices that attach to a network instead of
to a single computer.
Optical disc - a rigid disc of plastic onto which data is recorded by special lasers that
physically burn pits in the disc.
Parallel computing - the simultaneous execution of the same task on multiple
processors to obtain results faster.
Pipelining - a form of CPU operation in which multiple execution phases are
performed in a single machine cycle.
Pixel - a dot of color on a photo image or a point of light on a display screen.
Point-of-sale (POS) device - a terminal used in retail operations to enter sales
information into the computer system.
Policy-based storage management - automation of storage using previously defined
policies.
Portable computer - a computer small enough to be carried easily.
Primary storage (main memory; memory) - the part of the computer that holds
program instructions and data.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) - a technology that employs a microchip with
an antenna that broadcasts its unique identifier and location to receivers.
Random access memory (RAM) - a form of memory in which instructions or data can
be temporarily stored.
Read-only memory (ROM) - a nonvolatile form of memory.
Redundant array of independent/inexpensive disks (RAID) - method of storing data
that generates extra bits of data from existing data, allowing the system to create a
reconstruction map so that if a hard drive fails, the system can rebuild lost data.
Register - a high-speed storage area in the CPU used to temporarily hold small units of
program instructions and data immediately before, during, and after execution by the
CPU.
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Scalability - the ability to increase the capability of a computer system to process more
transactions in a given period by adding more, or more powerful, processors.
Secondary storage (permanent storage) - devices that store larger amounts of data,
instructions, and information more permanently than allowed with main memory.
Sequential access - a retrieval method in which data must be accessed in the order in
which it is stored.
Sequential access storage device (SASD) - a device used to sequentially access
secondary storage data.
Server - a computer designed for a specific task, such as network or Internet
applications.
Single instruction/multiple data (SIMD) - a form of parallel computing in which the
processors all execute the same instruction on many data values simultaneously.
Smartphone - a phone that combines the functionality of a mobile phone, personal
digital assistant, camera, Web browser, e-mail tool, and other devices into a single
handheld device.
Source data automation - capturing and editing data where the data is initially created
and in a form that can be directly input to a computer, thus ensuring accuracy and
timeliness.
Speech-recognition technology - input devices that recognize human speech.
Storage area network (SAN) - the technology that provides high-speed connections
between data-storage devices and computers over a network.
Supercomputers - the most powerful computer systems with the fastest processing
speeds.
Thin client - a low-cost, centrally managed computer with essential but limited
capabilities and no extra drives, such as a CD or DVD drive, or expansion slots.
Virtual tape - a storage device that manages less frequently needed data so that it
appears to be stored entirely on tape cartridges, although some parts of it might actually
be located on faster hard disks.
Workstation - a more powerful personal computer that is used for technical
computing, such as engineering, but still fits on a desktop.