In this group we find those components designed to fulfill an additional specific task on the basic operation of the computer .
Thus, computers dedicated to graphic design or gaming applications require extra hardware components to supply their processing units. Those leisure equipment must have input and output peripherals that enhance the multimedia capabilities of the computer system International team workers need to communicate via the internet and bring documents from the virtual environment to a physical format …
All components that enable these tasks are considered add-on hardware . Let’s see the most common cases.
Processing units in hardware components
Within this group we will talk about the GPUs, the NIC and the expansion cards, elements that allow expanding the capacities and computing power in certain uses, but dispensable for basic applications.
GPU or graphics processing unit
The GPU is a coprocessor specially developed to work with graphics and floating point operations . It works in parallel with the CPU dividing the work according to the information involved.
The most important parameters of a GPU (rarely referred to as VPU) are the triangles or vertices drawn per second (limits the complexity of the graphics it works with) and the pixel fill speed (which tells us how fast they are applied textures on drawn geometry). The GPU clock frequency, the size of its memory bus, and other CPU and chipset parameters define the number of frames per second that the GPU can generate. This value is the third determining specification when talking about graphics processing units.
Depending on the specific GPU model, it is also interesting to know the technology with which it can work and if it is possible to install several units in parallel (SLI).
NIC or network card
This hardware component goes by many different names: network interface card (TIR), network interface controller (NIC), network adapter, network card, physical network interface, LAN adapter, or simply network card, its name most common in Spanish.
It is an adapter that connects a computer equipment to a public or private computer network , so that the different connected systems can share information and resources with each other.
NICs can use different technologies to transfer information packets: polling , IRQ-controlled I / O, programmed I / O, DMA, third-party DMA, bus mastering …
When choosing a network card that suits the needs of the Internet user, you have to look at its transfer speed (limited by the equipped buses -PCI, PCI-X or PCIe-), the technology used, the types of network it supports and the connectors installed as standard (SC, FC, LC, RJ45 …).
These are devices with chips and controllers that increase the performance of the computer when connected. Both the network card and the GPU can be considered, in the most general sense of the term, expansion cards. Within this group are, in addition, the following hardware elements :
Sound or audio cards
Radio and television tuner cards