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What is Processing in Computer?
With respect to a computer, processing refers to the actions performed by the processor after it receives an instruction or command from the user. It also refers to extracting data from a stored file and manipulating software.
Technically, data processing is a part of the Input, Processing, Output, and Storage or IPOS steps. Since a computer operates in binary language, processing involves arithmetic and logical operation such as adding, sorting, and comparing data.
- Computer processing is the handling of data which may involve updating a database, calculating based on the operands and even displaying it simply on the screen.
- The computer may process several things apart from data as soon as the system is booted and the software, apps, and operating system starts running.
- Processing in computers also involves testing different conditions via the ALU and logic components.
- Usually done by the Central Processing Unit of the computer, the speed of data processing will depend on the amount of RAM available in the system.
- There are different types of data processing that happen in different stages and involve different processing devices in a computer.
Understanding Processing in Computer
Processing in the computer signifies the work done in a program according to the input given to the system by the user.
However, interestingly, a computer is processing all the time after it is switched on, even if it is at rest.
For example, the operating system and other underlying hardware may continue doing things.
Apart from that, the computer time-clock is updated continuously, regardless of any other processing being done by the computer.
Such types of tasks are basically termed as operating system level processing.
Nevertheless, processing commonly refers to data processing and manipulation because the computer exclusively deals in digits. The steps included are;
- Converting raw data into machine-readable format
- Maintaining a flow of data from the memory and the Central Processing Unit to the output devices and
- Transforming or formatting the output.
Processing also involves the execution of any program by using one or more threads in the processor. Irrespective of the models, this type of processing is rooted in the operating system and includes the following:
- System resources assigned
- Program codes
- Initiating data structures
- Physical and logical access
- Control and coordination of execution activity.
All these processes can be executed simultaneously using multiple threads, depending on the operating system though.
Processing may also involve testing different conditions such as:
- Equal-to condition
- Less-than condition
- Greater-than condition and more.
In general, computer processing may own or consist of the following resources:
- An image of a machine code executable and related to a program
- Memory including the executable code, a call stack, input and output data, and intermediary computation data
- Operating system descriptors of the resources allocated to the process
- Security attributes and
- Processor state.
The operating system holds all necessary information about the process in data structures known as process control blocks.
It manages every resource separately and allocates them as and when needed so that there is no interference that may result in a system failure or thrashing.
It also provides all the necessary mechanisms for communication during processing in a predictable and safe manner.
Processing is very important because without it happening, the computer will not be able to:
- Interpret and respond to instructions
- Perform calculations
- Run any software
- Download any program and operate and
- Communicate with other devices connected to it.
Therefore, computer processing is a critical part that actually allows the computer to function, making it usable.
What is a Processing Device in a Computer?
Processing device inside the computer deduces and manipulates the input data during the processing stage and also helps in handling the storage device and retrieving information from it.
Though the CPU and the input and output devices are the main processing devices in a computer, some of the other most common ones found and used are:
- The Graphics Processing Unit or GPU
- The motherboard
- The RAM
- The network card
- The sound card
- The video card
- The clock
- The chipset
- The expansion slots
- The address and data bus and
- Bluetooth adapter.
The different functions performed by these processing devices determine the processing speed and output as follows:
- Central Processing Unit – This is the most critical processing device that executes all computer functions and program instructions.
- Motherboard – This is the circuit board where the CPU, memory, buses, and other components reside. It offers the necessary power and connectivity for these components to perform.
- Clock – This synchronizes all calculations and also ensures that all the circuits inside the computer work in tandem.
- Chipset – This is the set of Integrated Circuits that manages data flow within the system and controls the operation of the whole computer system.
- Data bus – This bidirectional bus is the collection of wires used to transfer data between the CPU and other components.
- Expansion slots – These sockets allow using expansion cards or circuit boards to add more features and enhance the performance.
- Network cards – This allows connecting to the network to share, process and transfer data.
- Address bus – This unidirectional bus is also a set of wires that allows data to flow from the processor to the memory and to I/O devices.
- RAM – It stores the data for a short period of time during the processing stage for faster access and speedier processing.
All these devices handle the coded data and are directly related to active data processing.
Examples of Processing in Computer
Using the different processing modes and devices mentioned above, some of the most common examples of processing in computers can be a software converting millions of data points into a simple graph, an industry searching customer history to find similar products, or demographic data used to strategize a marketing campaign.
Airline seat reservations systems:
With respect to real time processing, one of the most obvious examples is airline seat reservation systems.
Here, when an airline booking information request is made by a user via a remote terminal, the reservation system offers it in no time.
If the user makes a booking, that specific information is updated immediately by the system in the reservation file and sends the response back to the users immediately. This prevents double booking.
Then, considering the distributed data processing mode, a good example of it would be the banking industry. This form of data processing increases the speed and efficiency of processing.
Users can operate their accounts from anywhere which actually happens on servers in the branches. All these accounts are administered by the main server centrally as if they reside on it.
Users of the distributed database will be unaware of the distribution and will think that they are interacting with a database as if it were only on their computer.
Payroll processing systems:
As for batch processing, the payroll processing system is a common example. In it, all the details of the employee, including the number of hours worked and rate of pay are used to process the payment for a specific period of time. Documents are also printed following this specific process.
Mainframes and network servers:
An example of multiprocessing mode in data processing is the network servers and mainframes. Here more than one task of different programs or the same program is performed on different processors at the same time.
It works in a coordinated way but on the same computer. The coordination is handled by the multi-processing operating system that allows working together by sharing the same memory.
Types of Computer Processing
Different types of computer processing can be real time processing, online processing and distributed processing, time sharing and batch processing modes.
Online data processing:
In online data processing, a communication link is used to directly connect a computer to the data input to receive data and process it immediately.
The data input can be an online input device connected to the computer or a network terminal.
Real-time data processing:
Real-time processing also involves processing the data as soon as it is received. At the same time, it also involves updating the transaction file and giving an immediate response that may have an immediate effect on the events as they occur.
However, real time processing is quite different from online data processing because the latter may not need an immediate response.
The most significant purpose of this type of data processing is to get accurate and updated information. This will eventually help in providing better services according to the real conditions.
Distributed data processing:
Distributed data processing means distributing or dividing the task among more than one computer system that may be situated on physically separate sites but linked by data transmission media.
Also called multiprogramming or multitasking, in this mode a number of programs are executed at the same time apparently by the CPU.
The database distributes different tables related to the same database on all the computer systems and will be processed when needed.
Time sharing processing:
Time sharing processing is another mode where several terminals are connected to the main computer. The CPU can access them seemingly at the same time but actually a specific time slice of the CPU is allocated to every user.
This time is managed by the multi-user operating system. If the action is not completed within the given time slice by the users, he or she is given another later on in a round robin.
Batch processing mode:
In the batch processing mode, data is collected in batches or as a group for a specific period of time such as daily, weekly or monthly, and is processed in batches as well at once.
What are the Stages of Processing?
There are basically six stages of processing namely, data collection, data preparation, data input, processing, data output or interpretation, and data storage.
This is the first stage of the processing cycle, which, as is obvious, refers to gathering data.
It is very crucial to collect accurate, well-defined and high quality data as that will have a heavy and direct impact on the output.
This is because the subsequent decisions are to be made on the basis of this data which will form a baseline to measure and target improvements. It is usually collected by the CPU from the memory.
This stage involves manipulation of collected data for further analysis, exploration, and processing.
The machine cycle happens first and then the instruction time, also known as I-time, happens.
This stage involves coding and converting the verified data into a format understandable by the CPU. Data is input through input devices.
In the processing stage several means and methods are used for further technical manipulations such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms.
Multiple threads may be used for executing instructions simultaneously depending on the data type. Calculations in this stage are done in the ALU. This is known as the execution time or E-time.
Output and interpretation stage:
This specific stage refers to displaying the result to the user over the monitor or any other output device.
It can be in different forms such as audio, video, graphical reports, or documents.
Storage is the last stage of processing where the output result and the metadata are stored in the RAM for future use and quick access and retrieval when they are needed to be passed on to the next stage.
When the process is complete, the control unit instructs the memory to let it go so that it can be stored in a storage device.
The entire data process follows the traditional concept of ETL or Extract, Transform, and Load, wherein data is collected from the sources, passed on for processing via the transformation layer, and finally deposited or loaded in the ultimate destination.
Questions & Answers:
What is the Scope of Processing?
The scope of data processing typically involves the type of datasets received and the variables contained in them, along with their source. It also involves how exactly it should be processed and for how long it should be retained.
Which Memory is Used for Processing?
The computer processor uses the Random Access Memory or RAM as the primary memory for processing data.
Why is RAM Important in Processing?
The RAM stores all data of the active processes temporarily in it and allows faster access to it. The speed of processing will however depend on the amount of RAM the computer has.
What is the Processing Speed of a Computer?
The processing speed of a computer refers to the number of instructions the CPU can process in a second. It is usually denoted in Megahertz (MHz) or Gigahertz (GHz). The higher the speed of the processor, the faster the data will be processed by it.
Where is Processing Done in Computers?
Processing in a computer is typically done in the processor or the Central Processing Unit. The different components of the CPU along with different buses help in the process. Data is fed automatically to the CPU when available.
What are the Three Main Components of Processing?
The three main components of processing are by default the components of the CPU itself which is responsible for data processing.
These are the Arithmetic and Logic Unit that does the main calculations, the Control Unit that oversees data flow and the entire process and the main storage to store active data and allows easier and faster access.
Processing in a computer is very important because it converts raw data into meaningful information. This is what makes a computer really worthwhile.
It is done in different steps but in a cyclic order by the CPU and the data processing speed depends on the amount of RAM available in the computer system.