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In Computing, what is Assembly?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Computer assembly refers to the building of a computer system, either to the specifications of a manufacturer or buyer. In the former case computers are assembled with pre-configured parts and sold en masse to a general market. In the latter case a customer can choose which hardware will be included, either building the computer system from the motherboard up, or simply choosing certain options.

Computer assembly is far easier today than it was in the past. Many features that are now built into motherboards were once separate components that required not only assembly into the system, but manual configuration of memory address and IRQ assignment. In the event this was not done correctly hardware and software conflicts would arise that could crash the system or disable the components.

Another feature that eases computer assembly today is color-coded motherboards and ports. This makes it quite simple to buy compatible components and assemble your own computer system with basic knowledge. That said, the hardware market is highly competitive and the time saved in assembly will likely be spent researching the best products to buy for the system.

To the uninitiated there is a dizzying array of options available when considering assembly of your own custom computer system. The computer-processing unit (CPU) will dictate which motherboards will be compatible. Among potential motherboards there will be other considerations, such as the type and amount of random access memory (RAM) the board supports, bus speed, BIOS chip type, graphics interfaces, hard drive interfaces, and so on. Choosing each component in the system will involve a unique set of decisions.

For those with time and interest, assembling your own computer can save you considerable money while providing an excellent computer system with top-notch parts. However, many are not in a position to invest such time and might prefer to simply tailor a reliable, ready-made system and have someone else do the assembly.

Companies like Gateway™ and Dell™ provide consumers with a base system from which the buyer can opt for hardware and software upgrades from a menu of choices. In this way each system is tailored to the customer who is not forced to buy more or less than he or she needs or wants. The customer is also spared assembly and potential headaches, as the system comes ready to boot with hardware tested and software pre-installed.

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Discussion Comments
By Faliarin — On Oct 25, 2007

This could also mean Assembly as in the language used to program a computer.

Assembly is a very processor dependent programming language that translates key words into signals the processor can understand. Words like "peek" and "poke" would be used to tell the processor that you needed to look at something or change something.

Assembly is then compiled into a binary or machine readable language based on the system.

x86 is an Intel Processor type. x86 could be 486 or 586(Pentium) but when intel made new processors they left code in there so future x86 processors would be compatible the old binary code.

x64 is the new 64bit chips and because there is more room for processor instructions the whole instruction set for 64bit had to change. So an Assembly designed for x86 -may- not be compatible with x64.

Assembly also is used to make the programming of microchips easier. There are other assembly codes like PowerPC which is based on a motorola chip.

Hope this helps your understanding of Assembly.

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