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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Computer Hardware Familiarization Part-4

The Network Interface Card or NIC also Known as LAN Card is a computer hardware component that connects a computer to a computer network. Whereas network interface controllers were commonly implemented on expansion cards that plug into a computer bus, the low cost and ubiquity of the Ethernet standard means that most newer computers have a network interface built into the motherboard.

An Ethernet network controller typically has an 8P8C socket where the network cable is connected. Older NICs also supplied BNC, or AUI connections. A few LEDs inform the user of whether the network is active, and whether or not data transmission occurs. Ethernet network controllers typically support 10 Mbit/s Ethernet, 100 Mbit/s Ethernet, and 1000 Mbit/s Ethernet varieties. Such controllers are designated 10/100/1000 - this means they can support a notional maximum transfer rate of 10, 100 or 1000 Megabits per second.

The Network Interface Card

A 1990s network interface card supporting both...Image via Wikipedia
Ethernet Controller ENC28J60 #1Image by arduinolabs via Flickr

English: 100MBit Ethernet NIC PCI card Deutsch...Image via Wikipedia

Deutsch: Netzwerkkarte IBM 83X9648 (Micro Chan...Image via Wikipedia

100 Mbit Ethernet card, chip Realtek RTL8139DImage via Wikipedia

English: FORE Systems ForeRunnerLE 25 Mbps UTP...Image via Wikipedia

Next is the  sound card is an internal computer expansion card that facilitates the input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs. The term sound card is also applied to external audio interfaces that use software to generate sound, as opposed to using hardware inside the PC. Typical uses of sound cards include providing the audio component for multimedia applications such as music composition, editing video or audio, presentation, education and entertainment (games) and video projection. Many computers have sound capabilities built in, while others require additional expansion cards to provide for audio capability.

 The Sound Card
English: Photo of a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS (...Image via Wikipedia

English: a front view of a PCI based sound car...Image via Wikipedia
The I/O ports of the Creative Technology Sound...Image via Wikipedia
The I/O ports of the Creative Technology Sound...Image via Wikipedia
The I/O ports of the Creative Technology Sound...Image via Wikipedia
English: Creative Sound Blaster series sound c...Image via Wikipedia
Deutsch: Mehrkanal-Soundkarte M-Audio mit Adap...Image via Wikipedia
English: USB soundcard Soundblaster Live! 24-b...Image via Wikipedia
 Early ISA bus sound-cards were half-duplex, meaning they couldn't record and play digitized sound simultaneously, mostly due to inferior card hardware. Later, ISA cards like the Sound Blaster AWE series and Plug-and-play Sound-blaster clones eventually became full-duplex and supported simultaneous recording and playback, but at the expense of using up two IRQ and DMA channels instead of one, making them no different from having two half-duplex sound cards in terms of configuration. Towards the end of the ISA bus' life, ISA sound cards started taking advantage of IRQ sharing, thus reducing the IRQs needed to one, but still needed two DMA channels. Many PCI bus cards do not have these limitations and are mostly full-duplex. It should also be noted that many modern PCI bus cards also do not require free DMA channels to operate.

Also, throughout the years, sound-cards have evolved in terms of digital audio sampling rate. Along the way, some cards started offering wave-table synthesis, which provides superior MIDI synthesis quality relative to the earlier OPL-based solutions, which uses FM-synthesis. Also, some higher end cards started having their own RAM and processor for user-definable sound samples and MIDI instruments as well as to offload audio processing from the CPU.
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