When you talk about modern computers, there are just 3 things that you have to know

  • Compute
  • Storage
  • Network

Compute

This is referring to the processor you are using to do your computing operations. For example, you may be using an Intel Core i7 or a Snapdragon processor. These processors fall into 2 categories viz. CISC and RISC.

CISC (Complex Instruction Set Chip) is a design where there are a lot of instructions in the chip. For example, there is an ADD and a MUL (multiply) instruction, although there is no need for a MUL instruction as multiplication is nothing but repeated addition.

RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Chip) has a smaller number of instructions in the chip. It’s minimalist in design. Thus, there are no MUL (multiply) or DIV (division) as multiplication is repetitive addition and division is nothing but repetitive subtraction.

All your CPU’s that you refer to, like AMD / Intel chips, they are mostly CISC in design.

GPU’s (Graphic Processing Units) like NVIDIA chips are RISC based.

Hence intensive compute workload which is repetitive in nature is best tackled by GPU’s, for instance AI applications.

AI applications also use FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) and TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). FPGA chips are programmable. Their instruction sets can be changed using software. TPU’s are specialized chips (from Google) which operate on a Tensor (Matrix). Hence all matrix operations like matrix multiplication, transposition etc. can be easily done with the help of a TPU.

Storage

Primary storage or RAM is available as DDR (Dynamic Data Refresh) where the access times are in nano seconds (ns). 8 GB RAM is common in todays laptops. For memory intensive applications like say SAP-HANA or SPARK, you require a lot of RAM. The more the better. Some people refer to ROM (which is generally a once programmed, let be) in the mobile phones or gadgets as the storage space available. This is a misnomer. We should be calling it storage.

From the days of the tapes to floppy disks, we have moved to hard disks (HDD) and solid-state disks (SSD). These are called secondary storage. HDD’s are common and found in most of the desktops and laptops. But they have moving parts (head / platter) and their access times are also slow as compared to SSD’s which are almost like the RAM and have no moving parts. At present SSD’s are expensive but as time goes by, the prices will fall. So hard disks are also on their way to extinction.

Network

This perhaps has emerged as the most crucial aspect of connectivity. Without a connection to the outside world, there is not much that you can do. When people talk about network, they are generally referring to the internet. There are three kinds of internet connections.

  • Broadband
  • 3G/4G/5G
  • Satellite

Broadband is provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and is available in speeds of Mbps and Gbps. Typically, you have a Wi-Fi connection by means of which multiple people can be connected to the network.

3G/4G/5G networks are mobile networks with speeds ranging from Kbps to Gbps. For example, 5G speeds are expected to touch 10-100 Gbps, almost 100-1000 times more than your 4G networks.

Satellite connections are not used as much as they used to be. Applications like GPS / GIS depend on a good satellite connection.

Besides these there are networks like Bluetooth, Zigbee etc. They make up for the absence of the networks stated above.

So, folks, that is all there is to Computing. – Compute, Storage and Network.

God Bless !