Memory (DRAM) is memory that stores bits of data

Memory

RAM (random access memory) is the memory that the computer
can use ‘randomly’, this is the memory that is kept available for programs to
use – the memory available is measured in gigabytes (GB) and speed is measured
in megahertz. This means the more RAM a computer has, the faster it will
operate and will be able to operate more software at the same time, this memory
is known as volatile memory as it is lost when the system is powered off, which
is why we save our games/work and they go to storage – the hard drive. Unlike
ROM (read only memory), which cannot be lost or altered. ROM does basic,
necessary functions such as booting up a computer system as it contains the
BIOS. The BIOS on the ROM chip is a collection of software utilities that boots
up the system every time it is turned on while checking the hardware
configuration against the configuration data called the POST process (power on
self-test).

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There are a number of different types of RAM; dynamic RAM
(DRAM) is memory that stores bits of data in cells consisting of capacitors and
transistors, which millions of the cells make up the RAM – the memory must be
repeatedly refreshed, or it will forget the data it was holding, this process
takes more time and slows down the memory. On the other hand, static RAM (SRAM)
is made up of 4/6 transistors plus wiring and retains its data in its memory as
long as the computer has power, so it does not need to be refreshed, which
makes it faster than DRAM but also more expensive.

Rambus
dynamic RAM uses a RAM controller and bus connected directly to the processor
and other devices that require it and provides a consistent 1.6 GB per second
of memory bandwidth that runs at 800 MHz; this type of memory was useful in
earlier gaming platforms like the N64. However, modern memory has used
variations of these types to create faster, more efficient forms of RAM.
Synchronous dynamic RAM SDRAM was a variation in the 1990s that allowed the
memory’s responses to be synchronised to controls inputs in the data buses –
this meant it could queue processes up whilst a process is being completed.

 

 

 

 

Double date rate (DDR) was introduced in 2000 which allowed
the memory to transfer data on the falling as well as the rising edges of the
clock signal so that it was continuous and doubled the transfer rate and
allowed RAM to run at a lower clock rates to use fewer volts but still keep up
higher transfer speeds. The DDR versions of RAM have been upgraded into their
fourth version today by expanding on the existing idea, the DDR4 RAM allows up
to twice as much GB (4-16 GB), doubled data rates, and a lower voltage required
to run. For examples of different RAM usage, the Samsung Galaxy S7 uses 4 GB of
DDR4 RAM, and Nintendo 3DS XL uses 128 MB of FCRAM (a type of SDRAM developed
by Fujitsu and Toshiba). While the PS4 Pro uses GDDR5 8 GB RAM which is a type
of RAM that only works for graphics cards and desktop PCs can have as much RAM
as the motherboard and OS can support but adding more than necessary does not
make a computer faster.

 

Display

Every
gaming platform must have a display for the player to view the game and receive
feedback through this necessary output device, displays can be built-in like on
a phone or handheld platforms, or external like for desktop computers and game
consoles. Modern screens are LCD (liquid crystal display) which are a lot
thinner, lighter, and energy efficient than the older CRT (cathode ray tubes)
screens. The quality of the image that a screen displays is referred to as the
resolution which is the number of pixels on a screen at one-time, horizontal
axis by vertical axis such as 1900 x 1200. The resolution is dependent on the
size of the screen which is measured from one corner to the opposite corner in
inches, the same resolution on a larger screen as a smaller sized screen would
mean a lower quality display as pixels are spread out over a larger distance.

LCDs use a DVI (digital video interface) connection which
transfer video data from the processors without the need to convert digital to
analogue, which CRT displays required with a VGA (video graphics array)
connection. The DVI connections comes in two main types: DVI-D is digital only
and requires a video adaptor and monitor with DVI-D inputs. The other type is
DVI-I (DVI-integrated), this supports digital and analogue signals so a monitor
with either connection would work. Monitors have different modes which describe
how many colours it can display and the bit depth, SVGA (Super VGA) processes a
24-bit depth of a pixel – this means it can show up to 16,777,216 colours
(rounded to 16.8 million). The human eye can only see around 10 million colours
so 24-bit depth is the highest and is known as ‘True Colour’, while 16-bit
depth can only display 65,535 colours. However, 32-bit exist and is used in
games, animation, and digital video to show translucency in objects/images. The
first ever displays that were used in TVs were monochrome; monochrome is just
two colours, today all screens will have 24-bit or 32-bit display.

 

 

 

Sound Cards

All
computers include a sound card, it may be integrated on the motherboard or a
sound card in an expansion slot, before their creation PCs could only make a
beep sound. The minimum that a sound card will have is four components which
are the analogue-to-digital converters (ADC), digital-to-analogue converters
(DAC), ISA or PCI interface to connect the sound to the motherboard, and input
and output connections for speakers and microphone. While some sound cards use
a coder/decoder chip known as CODEC that performs as an ADC and DAC in one.

When a user speaks or plays sound into a microphone, an ADC
works by translating the analogue waves into digital data by taking
measurements of the sounds waves at recurrent intervals. The speed and
frequency of these measurements are called the sampling rate which is measured
in kHz and the more kHz, the more accurate reconstructed sounds will be. The
DAC works the opposite way by reconstructing the original sound, with a high
sampling rate the playback can be almost identical to the original. To
transport sound waves through wires causes distortion, which reduces the sound
quality – this reduction is measured by two factors, the total harmonic
distortion (THD) as a percentage, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) measured in
decibels – the measurement of the magnitude of a sound on a scale. The smaller
the values of THD and SNR, the better the sound quality.

More advanced sound cards have more features and a few
similarities to GPUs as it is PCB expansion card that can also have its own
specialised microprocessor – digital signal processor (DSP), which performs
calculations for ADC instead of using the CPU to process the data. They may
also have their own memory to process data faster, the same way a Graphics card
does. Sound cards may also have additional connections that are housed within a
breakout box, including: speaker connections for 3D/surround sound,
Sony/Philips digital interface (S/PDIF) which is an FTP (file transfer
protocol) used to transfer audio data through an optical or coaxial connection
for input and output, musical instrument digital interface which is used to
connect synthesizers or electronic instruments to computers, and finally –
FireWire or USB which connects digital audio or video recorders to a sound
card.

Video games (and movies) use surround sound and 3D sound to
reflect the dynamic sound of where the player is located in a game with
directional sounds that create an immersive, realistic audio experience with
the use of surround sound headsets or home theatre systems. Some computer’s
motherboards, especially in laptops, have an integrated a DPS which may support
3D sound or users can purchase external sound controllers which improve the
sound quality. There is usually an option within games, movie players, music
players, etcetera, that provides the option of mono or stereo. In mono
(monaural) sound, only one channel is used, this means the sound that comes out
from more than one speaker is all the same. Meanwhile, stereo uses two or more
channels so that the sound coming out of varying speakers is not the same, this
creates surround sound and makes sound directional.

 

Human-computer
interface

The human-computer interfaces are how we as users and gamers
interact with computers through different methods of controls, the previously
explained interface devices are the controllers and input devices that we use
to play games and control software. These interface devices are designed to be
ergonomic, this means they must be comfortable for players to use. To define
how ergonomic a controller is depending on how easy it is to hold and interact
with, and should not make the player feel uncomfortable or strained at any
time; the controllers for PlayStation and Xbox have been developed over time
with the release of new consoles in their series to become more advanced and
ergonomic. They have been created to be able to be used for hours of gameplay
by adapting the controller to the average person’s hand by having the
controller fit into the palm of the hand while having analogue sticks and
buttons dedicated to the right or left hand, which is clear as both controllers
have a similar appearance. The keyboard has been adapted to fit the main
purpose of a computer which is normally browsing the internet and typing
documents, whereas controllers have been adapted for gameplay. The button
configuration of interface devices is key to comfortability and familiarity,
the buttons used on controls often have the same functions such as in first
person shooters, the same buttons are used for jumping, reloading, shooting, and
switch weapons. Previously mentioned, the keyboard uses the same button
configuration as the typewriter and is arguably designed to be comforted to
type words with both hands, but either way, it has become the norm for all
users and active computer users type without thinking about where letters are
located on the keyboard. The user-centered design is the development of testing
how ergonomic an interface device is through user feedback and market research.
The lack of UCD will make the controller and its platform unpopular and the
controller will have to be redesigned – causing a company to lose a lot of
money. The design also revolves around the portability of handheld consoles, as
controls must not make portable devices any bulkier than they need to be and
allows fast access to devices by simple movements such as a touchscreen on a
phone. Gaming consoles and PCs are not limited by portability, so the controls
can be complex and have not got to be flat, but instead focus on creating the
best, most immersive gaming experience.

 

Game
storage medium

A game storage medium is a technology that is used to keep
and place data in and transfer it to a compatible games platform, storage is
the secondary storage such as a disk or hard-drive, and not the primary storage
– otherwise known as the memory. Storage mediums, as well as many other
technologies and software, are proprietary which means they are owned and
exclusive to the company that manufactures the hardware or software. To have
proprietary products usually means outside sources cannot know exactly how they
are created or function so that a product cannot be copied by another company
and form competition in the market, they also cannot modify the
hardware/software, or makes copies to sell as it will be against the product’s
proprietary licence. Exclusive storage mediums can also mean buyers have to
purchase other products such as the console it is compatible with which is
created by the same company and they make more profit while becoming
increasingly popular. On the other hand, open source material allows users to
create mods for games and software by making the source code available to
anyone, this sort of practice is common in PC games and extends the lifeline
and features of games.

Flash memory is a type of medium for storing data, it is
very fast, light, silent, and small so it is efficient for quickly transferring
saved games to other devices by simply inserting it into its corresponding
port. Types of flash memory storages include Smart Media – a chip developed by
Toshiba which has a fast transfer rate but only has 2 to 64 MB of storage, it
works by an electrode carrying the data to the chip when the card is inserted
into a slot. Compact flash, commonly known as an SD card, by SanDisk is a
version of Smart Media with bigger storage space that ranges from 8 to 193 MB.
The USB (universal serial bus) is very common, with most laptops, computers and
modern consoles having at least one USB port – usually used to charge devices,
the flash memory version – the thumb drive allows data to be transferred to and
from consoles when more storage is required. A thumb drive can have a wide
range of storage capacities up to 1 TB but can be very expensive.

The DVD (digital versatile disk) is a plastic disk that is
used to store video games, movies and software as it has a lot more storage
than other mediums and allows high resolution and graphics to be stored on it.
DVDs are engraved with microscopic pits and bumps that are read by a laser to
transport the coordinates and arrangements of these pits/bumps as data. They
can store more data than the preceding CD, as DVDs have multi-layer storage as
the plastic is made out of different layers, less error correction data for
more area, and higher density data storage due to smaller pits and bumps. The
PS2 was the first console to start using DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs are still being
used in the latest consoles today because they are cheap and have enough
storage for AAA games.

An example of an exclusive storage medium is the universal
media disk (UMD) which is the storage used for PSP games. It functions the same
way a CD and DVD do by is a smaller version that is only capable of storing 1.8
GB, allowing a portable device not required to be the same size as a DVD but
having enough storage for the features and games of a handheld. The Nintendo
game card is also an exclusive, to the Nintendo DS, which is a flash memory ROM
cartridge that holds 8 to 512 MB for the DS/DSi or 128 MB to 8 GB on 3DS game
cards. They are very small at just 35 x 33 mm, allowing the device to not waste
space on external storage.

A mostly discontinued medium is the magnetic tape, a tape
that was used to record video or audio, rewind it, and be able to play it
again. It was used in video home system (VHS) tapes and cassette tapes before
DVDs were common and were inferior in every way to optical disks, they also had
many issues including the tape deteriorating that causes issues in the playback
and tape often breaking or getting tangled. They functioned by the tape being
winded from the first reel to the second and passing the tape heads to read,
write, or erase its data. The tape heads converted electrical signals to
magnetic fluctuations and the other way around – as they could only be winded
one way or the other, they could not be used to store video games, but
cartridges were used in older consoles and handhelds such as in the Nintendo
Entertainment System and Gameboy.

Storage
mediums for music, video, and games have always had the issue of illegal
copying for people to sell on as pirated versions of media, which meant the
creators of the games were losing out on income and people who purchased
illegal copies would often get faulty versions. Antipiracy counter measures
have evolved as chips installed in consoles prevent copied games from working
by detecting small differences as a perfect replica is impossible to be made.

 

 

 

 

Power Supply

 

The
power supply to a device is either an internal battery that will need to be
recharged/replaced or from an external power source. Internal batteries are
used for portable devices such as phones and handhelds, previous portable
platforms used batteries that had to be disposed of and replaced which was cost
effective at the time and allowed users to play continuously if they had
batteries at hand. New portable computers such as the Nintendo DS require
higher processing power due to their graphics, double screen, and additional
features so rechargeable batteries had to be installed. The quality of a
rechargeable battery is determined by the time it last before running out of
charge, the disadvantages of this is the battery deteriorates over time from
charging and overcharging – reducing its play time. Replaced batteries used
chemical reactions to create electricity which is irreversible, but
rechargeable batteries can have their electrons charge reversed and return it
to full charge.

The external power sources are the chargers that charge
rechargeable batteries in portable devices; desktop computers and gaming
consoles use these cables with power bricks to keep a constant flow of
electricity into the device, this makes it, so users do not have to plug
devices in and out to prevent overcharging. Some computers have UPS battery
backup which protects the computer’s data from being deleted or corrupted from
power cuts or surges. Home computers can have this counter measured installed
to protect their data against such events.

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