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This section takes a detailed look at the PC's system resources. In some ways, everything in a PC is a resource--system RAM, processor speed, hard disk space, etc. However, there are in particular several special resources in the system that are shared by the various devices that use it. These are not physical "parts" of the system for the most part, though they have hardware that implement them of course. Rather they are logical parts of the system that control how it works, and are referred to as the PC's system resources.
System resources are important because they must be shared by the various devices in your PC. This includes not only the motherboard and other main components, but also expansion devices, plug-in cards and peripherals. The resources are primarily used for communication and information transfer between these devices. For historical reasons, the amount of some of these resources is very limited, and as you add more peripherals to your system it can be difficult to find enough resources to satisfy all the requirements. This can lead to resource conflicts, which are one of the most common problems with configuring new PCs--and often one of the most difficult to diagnose and correct.
This section looks at each of the types of system resources found in your PC, along with the main hardware devices that control them or access to them. For each one, listings and tables are provided to show how the resources are usually allocated in a typical PC, as well as what resources are sometimes used by various peripherals. Note that I consider a (SoundBlaster or compatible) sound card as part of a basic PC today; they are in most machines now--and are notorious resource hogs as well. In addition, the important matter of resource conflicts is discussed, along with conflict resolution. Finally, Plug and Play is examined, the relatively new system designed to help make resource allocation easier and reduce conflicts automatically.
Note: The term "system
resources" is also sometimes used to refer to special memory areas in various Windows
operating systems. This is a different concept altogether, that just happens to use the
Next: Interrupts (IRQs)