What is hardware: definition, acceleration, Cloth, Encoding, in the loop, virtualization.Introduction. The term ‘hardware’ in software development really refers to anything that is physical and tangible.
Computers traditionally have an operating system which runs on what’s called the ‘software‘. But nowadays, the creators of computers are also coming up with new ways for you to use your computer without a keyboard, mouse, and mousepad by creating screens made of soft materials or lights called ‘holograms’.
These holograms are interacting with the computer in such a way that they can physically interact with your fingers and you can see what your fingers are doing on the screen.
Given the current technological advancements, hardware has changed a lot. Therefore, this article will focus on several things you need to know about hardware such as definition, acceleration, Cloth, Encoding, in the loop, and virtualization.
What Do Computers Actually Do?What Do Computers Actually Do?Definition
In the simplest possible form, hardware is everything physical. Usually, this term is adapted to electronic devices such as computers and digital cameras where the physical components are tightly coupled with the software.
In other words, memory chips are also considered hardware, because they store data and processes which are equivalently stored on a computer. The term ‘hardware’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘electronics’.
There are many terms that mean or can mean anything from electronics to software, but are usually used to describe the physical devices that are part of a computer. Some of these would include: input, output and storage.
Without them a computer is nothing more than a processor running in an empty room with nothing to do. Input would be in the form of a keyboard or mouse, which allows us to transfer data into the computer. Output would be the screen and speakers, allowing us to transfer data out of the computer.
Hardware acceleration is a term which means that the computer has been made into an intelligent device by cashing in the physical properties of physical components.
Hardware acceleration means that there are certain physical things that have been woven into the data paths of a computer in order to process those physical things faster. In simple terms, the computer processors on your laptop or desktop computer do not understand physical concepts.
It is limited to just processing the electronic properties of things. In order to make a computer that understands physical information such as textures and positions in 3D space, specialised hardware must be woven into the computer such as ray-tracing algorithms and rasterization.
The type of hardware acceleration used often depends on what kind of information is being processed. For example, if you are processing a 3D world, your computer will need some kind of ray tracing acceleration in order to process the information that is coming in from the 3D cameras.
If you are processing texture and positions from your 2D cameras, then it’s highly recommended to use rasterization acceleration chipsets.
Cloth is a type of hardware which is used for physics simulation. In computer programming terms, clothes refer to the way that objects interact with each other through physical simulations. It is often used in games and movies in order to make the clothing move in a realistic manner.
When creating a cloth simulation, one must first set up a physics simulation that includes the items of clothing and the environment. The end result is that the clothes will interact with the environment in such a way that the user can feel like they are in a virtual reality. In order to establish this realistic quality, it is necessary to inject life into what could otherwise be simply an interactive object.
Using cloth simulations can increase game performance due to how computationally intensive dynamic cloth can be. It can also provide for more believable interaction with clothing. The process of creating cloth begins with the creation of an object, or an object’s clothing.
In the case of a shirt or pants, they should be created with extra physics to ensure that they buckle whenever the character performs an action such as running or jumping. This can also be applied to other garments such as skirts and jackets. For more complex clothing such as ties and gloves, a different injection method must be used in order for them to look natural when moved by a human being.
Encoding is defined as the process of translating information from one form to another. Encoding for the software industry can mean that data is modified so that it can be stored or transmitted from one device to another.
For example, a DVD-player reads encoded data by modifying it so that it can be played on your television set. But the computer industry doesn’t mean this when they use this term. “Encoding” means that the data is being coded so that it can be sent to your monitor.
In simple terms, encoding refers to resolution, aspect ratio, and colour depth. For example, a web page is encoded at 1440×900 dimensions with 32bit color depth.
In video encoding, the player reads information that tells it how to display the video. Only simple data (bit) is sent from your computer to the monitor; i.e., it is not compressed. In this case, your computer is known as a consumer device while the monitor is a professional device.
For example, a consumer DVD-player reads encoded data by modifying it so that it can be played on your television set. When you encode video on your PC, it is stored in the AVI format.
The process of encoding videos is done to reduce file size while improving video quality. Files encoded with low bit rate tend to be low-quality files that do not retain much detail.
They don’t have much information or high-resolution content and usually have a large file size. On the other hand, files encoded with higher bit rate tend to be high-quality files that define more details on the screen and appear clearer, crisp and accurate. They have more information or high-resolution content, yet the file size is small.
There are three main standards to measure encoding; i.e., Frames per Second (FPS), Kilobytes per second (Kbps) and Bitrate. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages; i.e., higher bitrate means that your video will look better but the file size will be larger while lower FPS means that your video won’t look as smooth but the file size will be smaller.
In the loop
In the loop is used in synchronisation lingo which means that two processes are synchronised in a predefined manner. In the hardware world, this would mean that one process or ‘loop’ is executing while some other process is waiting to read or write data.
For example, if you are writing a word document to your laptop and you have a conversation with someone via your cell phone, the phone will not be able to read the word document until it has finished writing it. The conversation process is in the loop; therefore the phone cannot proceed until the writing process is finished.
In the old days of command prompt, a loop was a command that wrote one line of text and would then wait for you to type another line and then another. The text could be thought of as being a loop and the command would be said to “go around” or “circularly”.
Virtualization which is defined as the process of creating an illusion of reality where software is run on hardware that “pretends’ ‘ to be real physical devices. In simple terms, virtualization is software that is written to interact with computers in a more physical manner.
The process is done by recreating the properties of a physical device into the software. For example, if you want to take an image from your camera and store it on your computer, you would use a virtualization program to “pretend” as if your computer was an external hard-drive storage device.
Another use for virtualization is if you want to simulate a 3D world on top of your laptop or cell phone. This is done by creating an illusion of 3D instead of creating a complete 3D world. It is also being used in the field of augmented reality, where you can use your smartphone as a camera and play computer games utilising the game engine.
Virtualization is one of the most recent technologies that has been introduced to the world of technology. It has opened a lot of doors for people to create their own virtual world and do whatever they want.
The main idea for virtualization was initially established in the 1950’s when Buehler came up with the concept called, “Buford’s Holographic Storage”. This is where you create a hologram through either laser or holographic technology. Since the invention of these technologies, they have been used a lot to simulate various environments and to create an illusion of reality.
Conclusion: What is hardware?
The world of technology has changed a lot and so has hardware. As technology continues to advance, it is expected that more efficient hardware than what we have will be developed. The above information is useful to an individual planning to buy certain hardware.
Read Also: What is software. This will offer you more insight on differentiating software from hardware: What is software as a service?; Algorithm Meaning; What is Information Technology? ; 1 Tb Hdd Meaning
External resource: Wikipedia