Saturday, March 08, 2008

Computers are Like a Kitchen

Whenever a non-technical person asks about the difference between RAM and hard drives, I could never find the right analogy, until now: Computers are like a kitchen:

Cupboards and drawers (hard drives) hold food (files), pots and pans and small appliances (applications). When you are ready to prepare a meal (use your computer), you pull everything out onto your counter top (RAM). The larger your counters, the more ingredients and tools you can have out at a given time, so the faster you can work. If you run out of counter space you can temporarily stick something back in the fridge (swap). If you're really clever, you can use a drawer as a counter (virtual memory), but it's messy and not nearly as efficient.

I haven't figured out how to extend the analogy to the CPU, network access or video cards. Thoughts?


  1. Anonymous2:54 PM

    The appliance modifying the food (including the human driving it by stirring, mixing, etc) is the chipset.

    Using the cooktop as an example, compare # of burners to number of CPUs. More CPUs = more ingredients prepared simultaneously, as long as the BIOS (the human) has enough cache and bandwidth to keep it all moving.


  2. I think Peapod could be a service provider. ooh -- or Water, gas and electricity are like the network.

    I think the person is the chipset, and the appliances are applications. The foods themselves are documents.

    We are such geeks.