Input and Output devices

In Computers, input/output, or I/O, refers to the communication between an information processing system (such as a computer), and the outside world, possibly a human, or another information processing system. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it. The term can also be used as part of an action; to “perform I/O” is to perform an input or output operation. I/O devices are used by a person (or other system) to communicate with a computer. For instance, a keyboard or a mouse may be an input device for a computer, while monitors and printers are considered output devices for a computer. Devices for communication between computers, such as modems and network cards, typically serve for both input and output.

Note that the designation of a device as either input or output depends on the perspective. Mouse and keyboards take as input physical movement that the human user outputs and convert it into signals that a computer can understand. The output from these devices is input for the computer. Similarly, printers and monitors take as input signals that a computer outputs. They then convert these signals into representations that human users can see or read. For a human user the process of reading or seeing these representations is receiving input. These interactions between computers and humans is called human–computer interaction.

In computer architecture, the combination of the CPU and main memory (i.e. memory that the CPU can read and write to directly, with individual instructions) is considered the brain of a computer, and from that point of view any transfer of information from or to that combination, for example to or from a disk drive, is considered I/O. The CPU and its supporting circuitry provide memory-mapped I/O that is used in low-level computer programming in the implementation of device drivers. An I/O algorithm is one designed to exploit locality and perform efficiently when data reside on secondary storage, such as a disk drive.

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