Among the components of a computer system are hardware vs. software. In a computer, hardware refers to the physical features, such as the processor, keyboard, mouse, hard drive, etc. A software component is a collection of instructions stored and executed on our hardware. Computers are made up of these components.

Understanding hardware and software components are critical for newcomers to computer science. It is the foundation of any career in computer science. As we continue our journey into hardware and software, we will take a closer look at how they are related to memory, the CPU, and more.

What distinguishes a hardware system from a software system?

The term “hardware” describes the system’s actual, observable parts, including the display, CPU, keyboard, & mouse. On the contrary hand, the software is the collection of instructions that allow the hardware to carry out a particular set of activities.

Hardware vs. Software

A program or procedure refers to a set of instructions that performs a particular task on a computer. A computer’s hardware is changed by an ordered sequence of instructions called software. There are three main types of software:

  • Operating system software
  • Program software
  • Software for applications

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about computer science is software. Programmers write code using the software. After the program is installed on a computer, it runs.

Physically connected equipment is known as hardware. You most likely recognize these items as hardware components like your display monitor, printer, mouse, and hard drive. These components work in conjunction with one another. In the software, tasks are specified to be performed, and in the hardware, they are accomplished.


Hardware performs a task when software gives it a set of programmed instructions. Hardware plays a crucial role in the delivery of software solutions.


Software must be loaded into hardware before the hardware being able to function correctly.

A firewall

Software and hardware can both be protected by firewalls. Most users opt for a software firewall, which can be installed on their computers (just like any other piece of software) and customized to meet their particular security needs. Broadband routers are typically equipped with hardware firewalls.

The changes

Hardware is less frequently changed than software. It is more common to switch between different types of software or to use different kinds of software simultaneously. In contrast, replacing hardware is a more costly and challenging task, requiring more excellent skill and experience.

Components of hardware

Components of hardware

Now that we know how to distinguish between hardware and software let’s look at the computer hardware components. 

1. The CPU

An CPU (Central Processing Unit) is an object in a computer that works to process information. During this function, the main memory is accessed, processed, and modified data is returned. The procedure is divided into two sub-units:

  • This unit controls the flow of data from and into the main memory
  • The ALU processes data in arithmetic and logic fashion

2. The input and output units

As inputs, the input unit takes data from the outside world or devices and converts it to a stream of bytes. Keyboards, mice, microphones, cameras, and USB drives are all standard input devices.

Alternatively, the output unit converts the stored data into a form a human can understand from the CPU store. Among the most common output devices are monitor screens, printers, and headphones.

3. The Storage Units     

Data must be stored in the memory after it has been retrieved and converted. The physical memory is the storage unit or memory. Bite-sized storage areas make up the physical memory.

It is possible to store everything we need on our computer in storage, containing millions of bytes. A latch on a computer memorizes a bit of data and does not allow you to change it unless you reset it. For this project, we will use:

  • S-R latches
  • S-R latches with gates
  • D latches

4. The Memory

The hardware memory of a computer is made up of several components. A computer’s main memory, or random access memory (RAM), is physically stored in the data. The CPU can access data and instructions stored in RAM directly. Data is often stored in a computer’s main memory, which is usually limited.

When that happens, secondary storage is used. Data and programs not needed immediately are stored on secondary storage, which augments primary storage.

Additionally, there are hard drives, compact discs (CDs), USB flash drives, and other secondary storage devices. The CPU cannot directly access these storage devices.

Components of software

The next step is to examine the different software components that a computer needs to function. 

1. Computer language

Unlike humans, computers only understand binary, which consists of ones and zeroes. This is the language of computers. Ones and zeros also represent instructions for the computer that it must decode and execute.

2. The assembly language

In assembly language, binary opposed are converted into human-readable instructions. An encoder, which converts assembly language to machine language, is required as a CPU cannot process assembly instructions.

3. The assembler

Assembly language programs are translated into machine language by the assembler. 

4. The High-level languages

Low-level languages such as assembly language are referred to as low-level because machine language is similar to it. Hence, high-level languages have been developed to overcome these disadvantages.

We can construct powerful, complex, and human-readable programs using a programming language without writing many instructions at the lowest level.

Is it possible to run a computer without hardware?

Many computers cannot function properly without a keyboard, display, video card, processor, hard disk, motherboard, memory, and power supply. It is possible to set up a computer system that runs without using a hard drive, a display, or a keyboard.

Missing or malfunctioning devices prevent the computer from starting up, or an error occurs. It is not essential to include hardware devices such as sound cards, mice, printers, network cards, or speakers. However, these devices enhance the computer’s functionality.

Are computers capable of running without the software?

Computers can run without installing software under most conditions. Unless an operating system or interpreter is found, a computer will not provide any output or displays an error message. 

To enable communication between the hardware and software of a computer, a computer system needs an operating system. Installing software on a computer creates the capability of the computer to perform additional functions in addition to an operating system. A spreadsheet program such as MS-Excel does not need to be installed to run a laptop, but it is helpful.

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