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The advancement of the integrated circuit was the hallmark of the third generation of computers. Transistors were miniaturized and put on silicon chips, called semiconductors, which considerably increased the speed and performance of computer systems. A chip is a small piece of semi conducting material( normally silicon) on which an incorporated circuit is ingrained. A typical chip is less than 1/4- square inches and can include countless electronic elements( transistors). Computer systems consist of lots of chips positioned on electronic boards called printed circuit boards.
There are different types of chips. For instance, CPU chips (also called microprocessors) consist of an entire processing system, whereas memory chips contain blank memory. Computer chips, both for CPU and memory, are made up of semiconductor materials.
Semiconductors make it possible to miniaturize electronic parts, such as transistors. Not just does miniaturization indicate that the elements take up less area, it likewise implies that they are quicker and require less energy. Instead of punched cards and hard copies, users connected with third generation computers through keyboards and screens and interfaced with an operating system, which allowed the device to run various applications at one time with a central program that kept track of the memory.
Computers for the very first time became accessible to a mass audience because they were smaller and more affordable than their predecessors.
4th Generation – 1971-Present: Microprocessors
The microprocessor brought the fourth generation of computer systems, as countless integrated circuits we reconstruct onto a single silicon chip. A silicon chip which contains a CPU.
Worldwide of computers, the terms microprocessor and CPU are utilized interchangeably. At the heart of all individual computers and most workstations sits a microprocessor. Microprocessors also manage the logic of nearly all digital devices, from clock radios to fuel-injection systems for cars. Three basic attributes distinguish microprocessors:
* Instruction Set: The set of guidelines that the microprocessor can execute.
* Bandwidth: The variety of bits processed in a single direction.
* Clock Speed: Given in megahertz (MHz), the clock speed determines how many instructions per second the processor can execute. In both cases, the higher the value, the more powerful the CPU. For example, a 32-bit microprocessor that runs at 50MHz is more powerful than a 16-bitmicroprocessor that runs at 25MHz. The CPU is the brains of the computer. Sometimes referred to simply as the processor or central processor, the CPU is where most calculations take place. In terms of computing power, the CPU is the most important element of a computer system. On large machines, CPUs require one or more printed circuit boards. On personal computers and small workstations, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor. Two typical components of a CPU are:
* The arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs arithmetic and logical operations.
* The control unit, which extracts instructions from memory and decodes and executes them, calling on the ALU when necessary. In 1981 IBM introduced its first computer for the home user, and in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life as more and more everyday products began to use microprocessors. As these small computers became more powerful, they could be linked together to form networks, which eventually led to the development of the Internet. Fourth generation computers also saw the development of GUI’s, the mouse and handheld devices.
Fifth Generation – Present and Beyond: Artificial Intelligence Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. Artificial Intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans. The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Artificial intelligence includes: * Games Playing: programming computers to play games such as chess and checkers
* Expert Systems: programming computers to make decisions in real-life situations (for example, some expert systems help doctors diagnose diseases based on symptoms)
* Natural Language: programming computers to understand natural human languages
* Neural Networks: Systems that simulate intelligence by attempting to reproduce the types of physical connections that occur in animal brains
* Robotics: programming computers to see and hear and react to other sensory stimuli Currently, no computers exhibit full artificial intelligence (that is, are able to simulate human behavior). The greatest advances have occurred in the field of games playing. The best computer chess programs are now capable of beating humans. In May, 1997, an IBM super-computer called Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov in a chess match. In the area of robotics, computers are now widely used in assembly plants, but they are capable only of very limited tasks. Robots have great difficulty identifying objects based on appearance or feel, and they still move and handle objects clumsily.
Natural-language processing offers the greatest potential rewards because it would allow people to interact with computers without needing any specialized knowledge. You could simply walk up to a computer and talk to it. Unfortunately, programming computers to understand natural languages has proved to be more difficult than originally thought. Some rudimentary translation systems that translate from one human language to another are in existence, but they are not nearly as good as human translators.
There are also voice recognition systems that can convert spoken sounds into written words, but they do not understand what they are writing; they simply take dictation. Even these systems are quite limited — you must speak slowly and distinctly. Today, the hottest area of artificial intelligence is neural networks, which are proving successful in a number of disciplines such as voice recognition and artificial intelligence.
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