Connection of various hardware pieces as well as peripherals to the PC is carried out due to ports. Ports are physical docking points, slots on the motherboards or expansion cards (controllers) which ensure communication of the connected equipment with OS by means of a cable. Virtually, this interrelation is realized thanks to port devices drivers – special software tools.
First of all, it should be mentioned that nearly all existing ports are divided into two large groups: parallel and serial. Parallel ports (LPT – Line Printer) are basically used for printers, scanners, Ethernet adapters, external storages, etc. They employ 25-pin model and send data (transformed into bits) over several wires simultaneously. Historically, they were also used for the connection of old-fashioned ODDs and Zip drives.
In its turn, serial ports come in two modes: 9-pin and 25-pin. They send and receive info over a single wire pair, demonstrating compatibility with a wide range of devices, including digital equipment, external modems, serial mice, trackballs, serial printers, docking stations, and so on. Serial connection is oftentimes required for the creation of PC-to-PC connection or network configurations.
To continue, both abovementioned types of ports are thought to be hot-swappable, that is, they might be connected to the system while the equipment is running. However, this sophisticated process demands to download drivers for port devices, aiming to ensure instant response of the OS.
Further on, parallel and serial ports are divided into larger groups, pointing to a specific sphere of application. Thereby, one can come across:
USB port – the most comprehensive external interface, employed by many modern devices;
PS/2 – an outdated port for mice and keyboards found in older PC systems;
VGA – a port for the connection of videocards;
Video ports: these might be D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort for the connection of monitors;
FireWire (IEEE 1394) – a port for connecting video peripherals and camcorders to transfer large amounts of data, not independently but with the help of drivers for port devices;
Modem port connects Internet modem to the phone network;
Audio sockets/SPDIF digital audio – ports that enable the connection of audio peripherals and controllers;
SCSI – a port used for various devices, including optical and hard drives, image scanners, tape backups, etc.
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