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What Are The Three Principal Constituents Of A Computer System, At The Integrated Circuit Level?

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Samuel Chiltern answered
At the Integrated Circuit (IC) level, the three principle constituents of a computer system are:

  • Resistors
  • Capacitors
  • Transistors
Whether the IC forms part of what is formally recognised as a computer system doesn't matter, as the components and concepts are the same. These are explained below:

Resistors

A resistor can be thought of in terms of a water pipe.

As a pipe becomes narrower or longer, more pressure (or voltage, in an IC) is required, in order to achieve the same rate of flow. The resistance of a resistor is measured in Ohms.
Capacitors

Capacitors are responsible for storing charge, and can be likened to a water storage tank.

The more water that is pumped into the tank, the more force is required in order to add additional water (or charge, in an IC). The amount of charge that can be stored by a capacitor is known as capacitance.
Transistors

Transistors produce resistance in a circuit, like resistors, but the amount of resistance they produce can be varied.

Imagine a transistor as the tap at the end of the pipe - one that you can't turn off completely, but which allows you to vary the amount of water coming out. The only difference is that a transistor can actually amplify the output, in addition to attenuating it. The volume control knob on a sound system is a great example of a transistor.

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