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Computer System Units

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Heat Sink

A component designed to lower the temperature of an electronic device by dissipating heat into the surrounding air. All modern CPUs require a heat sink. Some also require a fan. A heat sink without a fan is called a passive heat sink; a heat sink with a fan is called an active heat sink. Heat sinks are generally made of an aluminum alloy and often have fins.

Mother Board

A motherboard is the physical arrangement in a computer that contains the computer's basic circuitry and components. On the typical motherboard, the circuitry is imprinted or affixed to the surface of a firm planar surface and usually manufactured in a single step. The most common motherboard design in desktop computers today is the AT, based on the IBM AT motherboard. A more recent motherboard specification, ATX, improves on the AT design. In both the AT and ATX designs, the computer components included in the motherboard are:

 The microprocessor

 (Optionally) coprocessors

 Memory

 basic input/output system (BIOS)

 Expansion slot

 Interconnecting circuitry

Additional components can be added to a motherboard through its expansion slot. The electronic interface between the motherboard and the smaller boards or cards in the expansion slots is called the bus.

Power Supply

Also called a power supply unit or PSU, the component that supplies power to a computer. Most personal computers can be plugged into standard electrical outlets. The power supply then pulls the required amount of electricity and converts the AC current to DC current. It also regulates the voltage to eliminate spikes and surges common in most electrical systems. Not all power supplies, however, do an adequate voltage-regulation job, so a computer is always susceptible to large voltage fluctuations.


A battery inside the CPU that protects the system from data loss in the case of power failure. The operating life of lithium backup batteries is 3 to 5 years.

Floppy Drive

Short for floppy disk drive (FDD), a disk drive that can read and write to floppy disks.


A microprocessor, sometimes called a logic chip, is a computer processor on a microchip.




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