How Does a Computer Process Information?

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A computer processes information through a series of numbers, as numbers are fed into the computer through user commands and numbers are displayed from the computer in the form of colored pixels. Understand how a computer thinks with IT help from a software developer in this free video on computers.

Part of the Video Series: Computers & Laptops
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name's Dave Andrews. Today, I'm going to show you how a computer processes information. Let's go to our desktop, and the first thing that I want to relate to you is that a computer will only work on numbers period. That's all it does. When you move your mouse as I am here that's numbers that are goin' through your computer's processor, and it's processing them, and then shooting other numbers out to the display driver that's tellin' me that my mouse needs to be located here, moved over to here, etc. Every little dot that's on the screen, called a pixel, is made up of three numbers, a red, a green, and a blue, and they range from zero to two hundred and fifty five in number wise, and that's how your display driver knows how to draw blue here, for instance. That'll be all blue on the numbers that the processor gives it. So, let's pull up a diagram here of a motherboard. And this is the main board that's inside of your computer. It's called a motherboard, and over here on this side of it, as you can see, are where the inputs and outputs to the computer will go. These are USB ports here. This is a video input. There are slots where you can have different chips installed, different video cards, sound cards, etc. There's memory modules right here which is where your computer will store ram chips, let it store numbers temporarily to work on. And here are your what are called IDE connectors which allow you to connect hard drives to your computer for permanent storage. Now, most important for processing is this section right here which is the processor slot, and your basically processor chip will go into this little white area right here, and that's the main brains of your computer. I'm going to pull up a diagram of a processor. And this is basically how a processor works. Remember, it's all numbers. Numbers will come in through input into the control unit on the processor which is basically a chip that decides how to handle the data that's being given to it. Is it getting an add instruction, a set instruction, a store, and on, and on, and on. Now, that passes the data that's stored on, the the numbers that come into your processor are stored in what are called registers, and a register is a little section of memory on the processor that will only store a single number. For a 32 bit processor it can store a number that's 32 bits long, which basically goes from zero to 4 billion and and somethin'. Basically, a very large number that it can store in each one of these registers. Now, the arithmetic logic unit in your processor is what decides how to act on numbers. It actually executes the addition, and basically, addition, subtraction, and everything goes into output. So basically, your processor controls the flow of data to hardware. And that's how your computer processes information.


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