I often get asked by customer who are trying to understand what they need to know when buying a PC or Laptop, I normally talk them through a simple analagy relating to cars (which most people understand):
The PC Car analogy
The CPU within a computer is like a cars engine, the faster it runs, the more you can do with it. The CPU is normally measured in Gigahertz/Ghz (although when I first started this was Megahertz/Mhz)
The RAM or memory inside is used to run the applications is like the number of seats in the car. The more RAM you have ie 2Gb could relate to 2 or 4 seats allowing you to run more applications or seat more people in comfort.
The Disk is used to store applications and data, which is like the space available in the cars boot. This is measured in Gigabytes/Gb. The disk space allows you to store more.
Now a CPU can come with multiple cores I was looking for another analogy, which someone suggested that its like the number of cylinders in the engine. A single CPU can have 1, 2, 4 or more cores and threads and just to complicate it further a server can often have more than one CPU (with a number of cores inside) Each of these cores can be doing separate tasks so unlike an engine which would be doing the same task to add power to the engine.
Update – Hard Disk Drive (HDD) & Solid State Disk (SSD) – The disks within PCs known as Hard Disks Drives have been replaced with newer technology without moving a moving disk. Solid State disks can be accessed much faster. To compare this to a car, where the disk is your boot, with a HDD, the car would have to stop and you get out to retrieve something from the boot. With a SSD, its like having a back seat you can open while the car is moving. You can get what you need and keep moving without stopping. This makes the car journey faster.
If anyone has a suggestion of how we can improve on this analagy I’d be happy to hear.