Definition

computer hardware

Computer hardware is a collective term used to describe any of the physical components of an analog or digital computer. The term hardware distinguishes the tangible aspects of a computing device from software, which consists of written instructions that tell physical components what to do. 

Computer hardware can be categorized as having either internal or external components. Internal components include items such as the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), hard drive, optical drive, heat sink, power supply, transistors, chips, graphics processing unit (GPU), and network interface card (NIC).  Theses components collectively process or store the instructions delivered by the program or operating system (OS). 

External components, also called peripheral components, are those items that are often connected to the computer in order to control either its input or output. Common input components include a mouse, keyboard, microphone, camera, touch pad , stylus, joystick, scanner, USB flash drive or memory card.  Monitors, printers, speakers, headphones and earphones/earbuds are all examples of output computer hardware components. All of these hardware devices are designed to either provide instructions to the software or render results from its execution.

Internal hardware components

This computer hardware chart illustrates what typical internal computer hardware components look like.

Click the image to enlarge.

hardware cheatsheet

External hardware components

External hardware components are called peripherals. Peripherals include input devices, such as a mouse or keyboard, output devices such as a monitor or printer and external storage devices, such as a hard drive or USB flash drive.

Other common external hardware components include microphones, monitors, speakers, headphones, digital cameras, touch pads, stylus pens, joysticks, scanners and memory cards.  All of these hardware devices are designed to either provide instructions to the software or render the results from its execution.

Hardware virtualization

Hardware virtualization is the abstraction of physical computing resources from the software that uses the resources. This is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called a hypervisor. Essentially, the hypervisor creates virtual versions of internal hardware so that resources can be shared and used more efficiently. In cloud computing, hardware virtualization is often associated with infrastructure as a service (IaaS). 

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a delivery model for providing hardware resources over the internet. In the IaaS model, a cloud provider hosts hardware components that are traditionally present in an on-premises data center, including servers, storage and networking hardware -- but unlike a hardware as a service (Haas) provider, an IaaS provider will also host the software that makes virtualization possible. Typically, an IaaS provider also supplies a range of services to accompany infrastructure components. These can include detailed billing, monitoring, log access, security, load balancing and clustering, as well as storage resiliency, such as backup, replication and recovery.

Hardware as a Service ( HaaS )

While it's common for individuals or businesses to purchase computer hardware and then periodically replace or upgrade it, there's also the possibility to lease physical and virtual hardware from a service provider. The provider then becomes responsible for keeping hardware up-to-date, both in terms of its various components and the software running on it.

In the hardware-as-a-service model, physical components that belongs to a managed service provider (MSP) is installed at a customer's site and a service level agreement (SLA) defines the responsibilities of both parties. Sometimes the client pays a monthly fee for using the hardware; sometimes its use is incorporated into the MSP's fee structure for installing, monitoring and maintaining the hardware. Either way, if the hardware breaks down or becomes outdated, the MSP is responsible for decommissioning it and replacing it. Depending upon the terms of the SLA, decommissioning may include wiping proprietary data, physically destroying hard drives and certifying that old equipment has been recycled legally.

This was last updated in February 2019

Continue Reading About computer hardware

Dig Deeper on Network Infrastructure

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Does your organization use hardware-as-a-service?
Cancel
hardware is the information that or telecommunication and devices
Cancel
Hardware refers to the physical parts of a machine
Cancel

The post you shared here is very informative and explaining the knowledge about high-quality network pieces of equipment. Also, I would like to share some of the services such as production transmission solutions, fiber solutions, and data center components.


Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchUnifiedCommunications

SearchMobileComputing

SearchDataCenter

SearchITChannel

Close