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Hardware - Introduction

Mostly focused on CPU and ChipSets.


Consider using a USB to Sata3 cable.

Look into migration software. For instance, Samsung has data migration software for their hard drives. It should allow you to copy an old hard drive on to your SSD drive so you can boot up immediately into the system you had before.


When I first started using mobile devices, I did not understand SD cards and SIM cards. Here is a primer:

SD Cards

SIM is an acronym for Subscriber Identity Manager. It manages your identity so that your phone knows that it belongs to you. It knows what phone number to use, who to charge things to, what kind of data plan you have, etc.

On phones you usually need to open up the back to access both the SIM card and any SD card slots that might be available. On a tablet, these items are usually found around the edges of your device. Not all phones or tablets support SD cards. Since they allow you to expand the available memory on your device, they can be very useful.

You have probably heard the expression "locked phone." Here is the deal. In theory, you can take your SIM card and put it in any phone you want, and start making calls that will be charged to your account. So, for instance, if you battery runs out, you can just take your friends phone, pop in your SIM card, and start making calls. Unfortunately, there are two problems:

In theory, if you buy a phone a full price and not through a vendor plan, then it should not be locked. However, that is not always the case.

Don't confuse unlocking a phone with jailbreaking or rooting a phone. You unlock a phone because you want to use SIM cards from another carrier. You root or jailbreak your phone because you want to be administrator, because you want to have root access, to your phone. As a rule, Apple folks call this jailbreaking, while Android folks call it rooting.

It happens, however, that if you root or jailbreak your phone, then often you can also unlock it. This is one reason why the terms are sometimes confused.

###SD Card Facts

SD Cards first appeared in 1999, and the Mini and Micro size cards emerged over the following ten years. There are adapters that you can buy to make Mini and Micro cards fit into regular SD slots.

There are three types of SD cards

There are various classes of SD cards

The basic idea is that higher numbers represent higher speeds. However, I have heard of cases where SD 10 card from one brand is slower than an SD 6 card from another brand. SANDISK and Kingston are usually considered to be good brands.


Intel has several major lines of processors, including:

Intel Naming Conventions

Consider this name:

Intel Core i7-4600-M-Q

In this example:

These are the generations

Tick and Tock

Intel alternates it's releases between ticks and tocks.


The transistor was first patented in 1925, but was made more practical in 1947 by Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley, who worked at Bell Labs. They won the Nobel Prize for this in 1956. Chrysler and Philco put this to use in a car radio, shortly afterward they began to appear in computers.

A transistor can use a small signal at one of its terminals to control a much larger signal at another terminal. In particular, we are interested in its ability to turn the larger signal on and off. It can also modulate the signal, allowing more or less current to get through, like adjusting the faucet at a sink. But turning the current entirely on and off gives us the 0 and 1s that we need to for the boolean operations that lie at the heart of computing.

There are many different kinds of transitors, but we are not going to discuss them here. The key point is that transistors can be used to simulate boolean transactions.

Details on wikipedia.

Integrated Circuit

When you put multiple transistors in a single place, you have an integrated circuit. For instance, a modern processor might have 3 billion or more transitors.

The words chip, die, processor and integrated circuit are all more or less synonmous.

If you put a bunch of electronic circuits on a single piece of silicon, then you have an integrated circuit. There are several kinds of electronic circuits. However, we are interested in digital circuits. We use digital electronic circuits to perform boolean operations. Typically, one voltage is used to represent a 1, and another voltage is used to represent 0. This forms the basis for the binary transactions that make computers possible.

In a modern Intel Haswell processor, there are

Moore's Law

The number of transistors on a chip doubles once every two years. This is an approximation, but it gives you a general sense of what is happening.


A CPU on a single integrated circuit. These binary, programmable devices process instructions and produce output based on these instructions. For instance, you might pass a microprocessor the data 2 and 3, and an instruction to add these numbers together. The processor will perform the operation and return 5 as a result.


A a typical microcontroller combines both a processor and memory. The point is that it contains both a microprocessor, and some peripherals such as RAM. One of the first microcontrollers, produced in 1974, contained a microprocessor, RAM and a clock.

These days, 8 bit microcontrollers go for about a nickle, and 32 bit microcontrollers for about a dollar. It is said that about 55% of all CPUs sold are 8 bit microcontrollers. For instance, 4 billion 8 bit CPUs were sold in 2006. A car is likely to have some 30 microcontrollers in it.


System on a Chip refers to the idea of building an entire computer on a single chip. A typical SOC will contain:

For a good example, look at the features in the SnapDragon 800.

Northbridge vs Southbridge

Northbridge handles communications between the CPU, RAM and Video cards. These generally require high speed transactions.

Southbridge handles slower things like PCI, USB, IDE, and BIOS.

These used to be two completely different chips, but recently the northbridge has been integrated into the CPU itself and the Southbridge has been replaced by something called a Platform Controller Hub.

The modern Intel Core Processors are as follows, from oldest to newest:

And here are the Nehalen processors from least to most powerful:

So a Core i5-4XXX or Core i7-4XXX processor is Haswell based

Some processors have letters in their names, for instance i7-4770K

The Intel Core Processors have two generations:

Mobile CPUs

We are entering the age of ARM v8 64 bit computing. The iPhone 5S will probably be the first to use it.

###Intel Atom Bay Trail SoC

SoC stands for System on a Chip


There are Bay Trail mobile processors clocked at 2.3 GHz.

###nvidia Tegra

There are several Tegra processors:

The Tegra 4 Family includes:

###Qualcomm SnapDragon

The Snapdragon 800 is popular at the time of this writing.



My Machines

Desktop - AMD Phenom 2 X6 1090T 5720 Laptop - i7-2630QM 5583