A computer is composed of components in the same way that the body is composed of organs, working together to make the body or computer function. A basic computer has several key components which include a computer case or tower, motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), random access memory (RAM), hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), as well as a power supply unit (PSU). The computer case encloses and holds all the necessary hardware required to store and process data on the computer, whilst the motherboard ensures that hardware inside the computer can communicate with each other.
Personal computers (PCs) come in several varieties, including stationary products like workstations and desktops, as well as portable products like laptops, notebooks, netbooks and tablets. In 2022, it is forecast that 165 million units of notebooks and mobile workstations are to be shipped worldwide, whilst tablet shipments will exceed 134 million units in the same year. However, when looking solely at PC shipments in 2020, forecasts anticipate 248 million units to be shipped, a decline of seven percent. The reduction has been attributed in part to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which is expected to impact the production and shipment of such technology products. Global electronics manufacturers and suppliers believe the consumer electronics segment is likely to be heavily impacted, with disruption to supply chains forecast, including components used in computers.
Processors (CPU & GPU)
Of the key components, a CPU, also called a central or main processor, is responsible for processing and executing instructions that make up a computer program. The GPU, also called graphics card or video card, is a specialized electronic circuit that accelerates the creation and rendering of images, video, and animations. Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA are among the leading vendors in the market, producing GPUs that can perform fast math calculations while freeing the CPU to perform other tasks. While a CPU uses several cores that are focused on sequential processing, a GPU is created for multi-tasking; it has hundreds, even thousands of smaller cores, and is able to handle thousands of threads (or instructions) simultaneously.
Computer memory refers to the physical devices which are used to store data or programs for use in a computer. Primary storage allows for the short-term storage of data: information is retained for immediate use and is directly accessible by the CPU, usually until the main device is reset or turned off. The primary memory of a computer is called RAM, with the two most used forms of modern RAM being static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). The global DRAM market generates over 15 billion U.S. dollars each quarter, with Samsung being the largest manufacturer of DRAM in terms of revenues. Secondary storage, either in the form of HDDs, SSDs, flash drives, or other longer-term storage devices, record and hold data indefinitely, even when the main device is unpowered. NAND flash memory is a type of non-volatile storage that does not require power to retain data.
In addition to components within the computer, peripheral devices form an important part of the computer hardware market. A computer peripheral is any external device that provides input and/or output for the computer. For example, a keyboard and mouse are input peripherals, while a monitor and printer are output peripherals. The hardcopy peripherals market, which includes printers and copiers, is dominated by vendors such as Hewlett Packard (HP), Canon, and Epson.
In components and electronics associated with a computer, as well as many other commonly used devices including smartphones, semiconductors form a crucial element. Computer chips, both for CPU and memory, are composed of semiconductor materials, making it possible to miniaturize electronic components. The next development in the semiconductor industry are chips that support artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These “AI chips” are forecast to generate global revenues of 10.14 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. AI technologies and tasks require specialized AI chips that are more powerful, more efficient, and optimized for advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms. Image recognition, recommendation engines, natural language processing (NLP), and autonomous vehicles are just some of the use cases that these chips support.
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In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the 48 most important statistics relating to "Computer components".