Introducing peripherals

Peripherals are devices that are not the computer's core architecture involved in memory and processing. Peripherals include input hardware, output hardware and storage devices.

A typical desktop computer could include:

  • inputs - mouse, keyboard, webcam, games controller
  • outputs - screen, printer, speakers, headphones
  • storage - hard drive
Diagram of input, output, memory devices and the CPU

Connections

Peripherals connect to the processor hardware through the motherboard. External devices will connect to the motherboard via USB, FireWire or through a wireless connection such as Bluetooth.

Monitors normally connect through HDMI or VGA cables.

GPIO ports are generic input and output ports that can be controlled directly by software. They are used on the circuit boards of computers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. They provide low-level connections that can be connected to switches, LED lights or electric relays. They can be used in programs to control systems such as a DIY burglar alarm or central heating system. Smartphones, desktop and laptop computers do not have GPIOs.

It can be easy to create your own basic peripheral using a Raspberry Pi, Arduino or other simple computing device.