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How do computers and electronics actually work?

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How do computers and electronics actually work? [message #38362] Fri, 11 November 2011 12:54 UTC Go to next message
avatar Stevemartin  is currently offline Stevemartin
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Registered: July 2011
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Hey friends,

I know the mechanics of computers and the other parts to them and how they function, but how did they get the function to function? No matter how hard I think, I can't think of how computers and other things got the function to function? Like, how did the people develop an artificial code and put it into the chips and things to allow them to function?


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Re: How do computers and electronics actually work? [message #38363 is a reply to message #38362 ] Fri, 11 November 2011 13:47 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar mctrivia  is currently offline mctrivia
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Registered: September 2010
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do you want to know how a cpu works? or how to make your own?

My guess is the latter.

Modern chips are written in VHDL and tested on FPGA or CPLDs first. These chips have hardware that can be reprogrammed allowing you to test different designs emedietly. If you have a small number of devices to make or you need the ability to make changes in the field you would just use these devices in your end product. However they are fairly expensive on a chip by chip bases so if you have a large number of products to make you would take your VHDL file to a manufacturer who for about $100,000+pennys a chip would make a dedicated custom silicon crystal and package it in the packaging of your choosing.

Hope that helps.

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Re: How do computers and electronics actually work? [message #38511 is a reply to message #38363 ] Mon, 14 November 2011 02:21 UTC Go to previous message
avatar B1lancer  is currently offline B1lancer
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Registered: May 2009
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If I understand your question right you want to know the cognitive priciples behind computing, so why people decided there was a need for a computer and how they went about creating the code and hardware to do it?

Computers were developed like most things in a series of steps, each becoming more and more complex and smaller. Basic computers have been around for thousands of years, see Abaci and the Antikythera mechanism.

A computer at its simplest is a device into which you place input data, the computer processes this data and provides you with output data.

This can be as simple as two gears with a ratio of 1:20, you can calculate 20 x Any Number, if you want to calculate 20x5 rotate the larger gear 5 times and count the number of times the smaller cog rotates. The number of times the small cog rotates will be the answer.

Over time people have used the contemporary technology to produce devices which when provided with an input, process that input and provide you with an output.

Modern computers are actually very simple, they do nothing different (in principle) than those gears I mentioned earlier, they just do it much quicker and more complete more calculations simultaneously. The fundemental idea is the same as it has been for thousands of years, it's just the technology used has

I guess you can think of a computer code as a gear ratio, you have a couple of wheels with no teeth, the programmer figures out what calculation he needs to do and then places the correct teeth (the code) on the wheels so they become gears with the desired ratio. These gears are of course metaphoric and in modern technology the calculations are done using a series of transistors, tiny switches which have an ON and OFF position, represented by 1 and 0, which is where binary code comes from, 1011010101011100110.

Binary code is the basis of all computer codes, other codes such as C++ have been developed to make programming simpler, but all a code such as C++ is, is a tool to make manipulating binary easier, it would be a bitch typing 1s and 0s all day!

To give you some idea of the number of ON/OFF switches required to play Call of Duty a microprocessor has around 3 billion transistors.

Kindest Regards,


[Updated on: Mon, 14 November 2011 02:28 UTC]

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