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The etymological origin of the term hardware that we are now going to analyze in depth is clearly found in English. And it is that that is conformed by the union of two words of the Anglo-Saxon language: hard which can be translated as "hard" and ware which is synonymous with "things."

The Royal Spanish Academy define the hardware As the component set that make up the material part (physical ) of a computer, unlike software which refers to logical components (intangibles ). However, the concept is usually understood more broadly and is used to name all the physical components of a technology.

In the case of computing and of personal computers, the hardware allows to define not only the internal physical components (hard drive, motherboard, microprocessor, circuits, cables, etc.), but also to peripherals (scanners, printers).

The hardware is usually distinguished between basic (the devices necessary to start the operation of a computer) and complementary (perform certain specific functions).

As for the hardware types , can be mentioned to input peripherals (allow you to enter information to the system, such as the keyboard and mouse), output peripherals (show the user the result of different operations performed on the computer. Example: monitor, printer), input / output peripherals (modems, network cards, USB sticks), the central processing unit or CPU (the components that interpret the instructions and process the data) and the random access memory or RAM (which is used for temporary storage of information).

In the case of what RAM is, we also have to underline that there is a classification of it in two broad categories. Thus, on the one hand, we have what is known as dynamics, the set of cards that in the computers are connected to the memory bus of the motherboard, and on the other hand there are the special ones. The latter, unlike the previous ones, are not used in computers as central memory.

Among the latter, VRAM (Video Random Access Memory), SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) and NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) should be highlighted.

The history of hardware development, on the other hand, marks various milestones and stages. There is talk of a first generation (with glass tubes that housed electrical circuits), a second generation (with transistors), a third generation (which allowed to pack hundreds of transistors in an integrated circuit of a silicon chip) and a Fourth generation (with the advent of the microprocessor). The progress in studies on nanotechnology allows to anticipate the appearance of more advanced hardware in the coming years.

In addition to all the information exposed so far we can not ignore what is known as free hardware. This is a concept of great importance in the sector because it refers to the set of devices that are characterized by the fact that any person, either free of charge or by paying a certain amount, can publicly access what They are your specifications.

Specifically, this type of hardware can be classified based on its nature, which will lead to two categories (static or reconfigurable), or according to its philosophy. In the latter case we will find, for example, the free hardware design or the open source hardware.

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