Types of Computer Buses (2023)

Patrick, a computer technician, is a dedicated writer who wishes to make the world better by informing individuals who seek more knowledge.

Inside computers, there are many internal components. In order for these components to communicate with each other, they make use of wires that are known as a ‘bus’.

A bus is a common pathway through which information flows from one computer component to another. This pathway is used for communication purposes and it is established between two or more computer components. We are going to check different computer bus architectures that are found in computers.

Different Types of Computer Buses

Types of Computer Buses (1)

Functions of Buses in Computers

Summary of functions of buses in computers

  1. Data sharing - All types of buses found in a computer transfer data between the computer peripherals connected to it. The buses transfer or send data either in the serial or parallel method of data transfer. This allows for the exchange of 1, 2, 4 or even 8 bytes of data at a time. (A byte is a group of 8 bits). Buses are classified depending on how many bits they can move at the same time, which means that we have 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit or even 64-bit buses.
  2. Addressing - A bus has address lines, which match those of the processor. This allows data to be sent to or from specific memory locations.
  3. Power - A bus supplies power to various peripherals connected to it.
  4. Timing - The bus provides a system clock signal to synchronize the peripherals attached to it with the rest of the system.

The expansion bus facilitates the easy connection of additional components and devices on a computer such as a TV card or sound card.

Bus Terminologies

Computers have two major types of buses:

  1. System bus:- This is the bus that connects the CPU to the main memory on the motherboard. The system bus is also called the front-side bus, memory bus, local bus, or host bus.
  2. A number of I/O Buses, (I/O is an acronym for input/output), connecting various peripheral devices to the CPU. These devices connect to the system bus via a ‘bridge’ implemented in the processors' chipset. Other names for the I/O bus include “expansion bus", "external bus” or “host bus”.

Expansion Bus Types

These are some of the common expansion bus types that have been used in computers:

  • ISA - Industry Standard Architecture
  • EISA - Extended Industry Standard Architecture
  • MCA - Micro Channel Architecture
  • VESA - Video Electronics Standards Association
  • PCI - Peripheral Component Interconnect
  • PCI Express (PCI-X)
  • PCMCIA - Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association (Also called PC bus)
  • AGP - Accelerated Graphics Port
  • SCSI - Small Computer Systems Interface

The 8 Bit and 16 Bit ISA Buses

Types of Computer Buses (2)


This is the most common type of early expansion bus, which was designed for use in the original IBM PC. The IBM PC-XT used an 8-bit bus design. This means that the data transfers take place in 8-bit chunks (i.e., one byte at a time) across the bus. The ISA bus ran at a clock speed of 4.77 MHz.

For the 80286-based IBM PC-AT, an improved bus design, which could transfer 16-bits of data at a time, was announced. The 16-bit version of the ISA bus is sometimes known as the AT bus (AT-Advanced Technology).

The improved AT bus also provided a total of 24 address lines, which allowed 16MB of memory to be addressed. The AT bus was backward compatible with its 8-bit predecessor and allowed 8-bit cards to be used in 16-bit expansion slots.

When it first appeared, the 8-bit ISA bus ran at a speed of 4.77MHZ – the same speed as the processor. Improvements done over the years eventually made the AT bus ran at a clock speed of 8MHz.

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Comparison Between 8 and 16 Bit ISA Bus

Comparison of 8-bit, & 16-bit ISA Bus as Used in Early Computers.

8-Bit ISA card (XT-Bus)16-Bit ISA (AT –Bus card)

8-bit data interface

16-bit data interface

4.77 MHZ bus

8-MHZ bus

62-pin connector

62-pin connector

36-pin AT extension connection

MCA (Micro Channel Architecture)

IBM developed this bus as a replacement for ISA when they designed the PS/2 PC in 1987.

The bus offered a number of technical improvements over the ISA bus. For instance, the MCA ran at a faster speed of 10MHz and supported either 16-bit or 32-bit data. It also supported bus mastering - a technology that placed a mini-processor on each expansion card. These mini-processors controlled much of the data transfer allowing the CPU to do other tasks.

One advantage of MCA was that the plug-in cards were software configurable; this means that they required minimal intervention by the user when configuring.

The MCA expansion bus did not support ISA cards and IBM decided to charge other manufacturers royalties for use of the technology. This made it unpopular and it is now obsolete technology.

The EISA Bus

Types of Computer Buses (6)

EISA (Extended Industry Standard Architecture)

This is a bus technology developed by a group of manufactures as an alternative to MCA. The bus architecture was designed to use a 32-bit data path and provided 32 address lines, giving access to 4GB of memory.

Like the MCA, EISA offered a disk-based setup for the cards, but it still ran at 8MHz in order for it to be compatible with ISA.

The EISA expansion slots are twice as deep as an ISA slot. If an ISA card is placed in an EISA slot, it will use only the top row of connectors. However, a full EISA card uses both rows. It offered bus mastering.

EISA cards were relatively expensive and were normally found on high-end workstations and network servers.


It was also known as the Local bus or the VESA-Local bus. VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) was invented to help standardize PCs video specifications, thus solving the problem of proprietary technology where different manufacturers were attempting to develop their own buses.

The VL Bus provided 32-bit data path and ran at 25 or 33 MHZ. It ran at the same clock frequency as the host CPU. But this became a problem as processor speeds increased because, the faster the peripherals are required to run, the more expensive they are to manufacture.

It was difficult to implement the VL-Bus on newer chips such as the 486s and the new Pentiums. Eventually, the VL-Bus was superseded by PCI.

VESA slots had an extra set of connectors; this made the cards larger. The VESA design was backward compatible with the older ISA cards.

Features of the VESA local bus card:-

  • 32-bit interface
  • 62/36-pin connector
  • 90+20 pin VESA local bus extension

Peripheral Component Interconnect

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) is one of the latest developments in bus architecture and is the current standard for PC expansion cards. Intel developed and launched it as the expansion bus for the Pentium processor in 1993. It is a local bus like VESA, that is, it connects the CPU, memory, and peripherals to a wider, faster data pathway.

PCI supports both 32-bit and 64-bit data width; it is compatible with 486s and Pentiums. The bus data width is equal to the processor, such as a 32-bit processor would have a 32 bit PCI bus, and operates at 33MHz.

PCI was used in developing Plug and Play (PnP) and all PCI cards support PnP. This means a user can plug a new card into the computer, power it on and it will “self-identify” and “self-specify” and start working without manual configuration using jumpers.

Unlike VESA, PCI supports bus mastering. That means the bus has some processing capability and thus the CPU spends less time processing data. Most PCI cards are designed for 5v, but there are also 3v and dual-voltage cards. Keying slots used help to differentiate 3v and 5v cards and also to make sure that a 3v card is not slotted into a 5v socket and vice versa.

The PCI Slots

Types of Computer Buses (7)

Accelerated Graphics Port

The need for high quality and very fast performance of video on computers led to the development of the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP). The AGP port connects to the CPU and operates at the speed of the processor bus. This means that video information is sent more quickly to the card for processing.

The AGP uses the main PC memory to hold 3D images. In effect, this gives the AGP video card an unlimited amount of video memory. To speed up the data transfer, Intel designed the port as a direct path to the PC’s main memory.

Data transfer rate ranges from 264 Mbps to 528mbps, 800 Mbps up to 1.5 Gbps. AGP connector is identified by its brown colour.

Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association (PC Card)

The Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association was founded to give a standard bus for laptop computers. So it is basically used in the small computers.

Small Computer System Interface

Short for Small Computer System Interface, a parallel interface standard used by Apple Macintosh computers, PCs and Unix systems for attaching peripheral devices to a computer.

The SCSI Port

Types of Computer Buses (8)

Universal Serial Bus (USB)

This is an external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 Mbps. A single USB port connects up to 127 peripheral devices, such as mice, modems, and keyboards. The USB also supports hot plugging or insertion (ability to connect a device without turning the PC off) and plug and play (You connect a device and start using it without configuration).

We have two versions of USB.

USB 1x

First released in 1996, the original USB 1.0 standard offered data rates of 1.5 Mbps. The USB 1.1 standard followed with two data rates: 12 Mbps for devices such as disk drives that need high-speed throughput and 1.5 Mbps for devices such as joysticks that need much less bandwidth.

USB 2x

In 2002, a newer specification USB 2.0, also called Hi-Speed USB 2.0, was introduced. It increased the data transfer rate for PC to a USB device to 480 Mbps, which is 40 times faster than the USB 1.1 specification. With the increased bandwidth, high throughput peripherals such as digital cameras, CD burners, and video equipment could now be connected with USB.

(Video) Computer Bus | What Is A Computer Bus ? | Computer Bus Types

IEEE 1394

The IEEE 1394 is a very fast external serial bus interface standard that supports data transfer rates of up to 400Mbps (in 1394a) and 800Mbps (in 1394b). This makes it ideal for devices that need to transfer high levels of data in real-time, such as video devices. It was developed by Apple with the name firewire.

A single 1394 port can connect up 63 external devices.

  • It supports plug and play.
  • Supports hot plugging.
  • Provides power to peripheral devices.

The IEEE 1394 Expansion Card

Types of Computer Buses (9)

Bus Architectures

Your opinion here

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What are the characteristics of a bus?

Answer: In computers, a bus is defined as a set of physical connections that is wires or cables that are used to transmit data. They can be shared by multiple hardware components in order to communicate with one another. A computer bus is thus characterized by the amount of data or information that it can transmit at once. This amount is expressed in bits and it corresponds to the number of physical lines over which data is sent simultaneously. For instance, a 32-bit bus can transmit 32 bits in parallel.

Question: What is the address bus?

Answer: The address bus is the series of wires used to transfer data between devices that are identified by the hardware address of the physical memory (the physical address), which is stored in the form of binary numbers to enable the data bus to access memory storage.

Question: How can a single USB Port Support 127 device?

Answer: A single USB port connects up to 127 peripheral devices. This can be achieved by making use of a USB hub. The hub connects to a single USB port on your computer, but it provides multiple USB connections for your other devices. If you link a number of these USB ports, you will be able to connect the number of USB devices you want. That is how you end up with as many as 127 devices.

© 2011 Patrick Kamau

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Himashree barman on April 25, 2020:

Name four I/o buses in modern pc

hatoko on March 13, 2020:

what is classification of bus lines?

jackson on July 24, 2019:

thanks it was helpful but then what about the address, data and control bus. are those also types of buses. am kinda confused

Mudassir Sani on April 18, 2019:

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Peter Gunga on December 19, 2018:

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josh on June 13, 2018:

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Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 01, 2018:

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(Video) Computer Buses

good work. but i wish you could describe the three types of computer buses.

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(Video) COMPUTER ORGANIZATION | Part-10 | Types of Buses

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INTEGRITY HORPEYEMI on February 05, 2014:


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kudzai Muza, it is great that you have learnt something out of the tutorials that I have provided. Thanks for the comment and keep visiting. Remember to inform your friends too.

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Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on November 22, 2012:

Thanks mugrewa julius for reading and commenting. If you look at the other contents I have, you can be able to get lot of other useful computer related materials. And I will keep on adding more.

mugrewa julius on November 21, 2012:

i wish you hard other subjects on computer

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on November 21, 2012:

guitarfam, thank you for reading and commenting. I am glad you found much help from this hub. Now concerning your question, the processor relies on the timing signal which syncronizes the activities taking place in the computer.

guitarfam on November 21, 2012:

i am very impressed with this hub.this is like a textbook for me.but i have a question how does the CPU prevent two or more components from using the bus at the same time

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on October 17, 2012:

(Video) The Bus | How the computer works?

rakesh kumar nanda, thank you too for visiting and commenting. I am glad you liked it. Wishing you all the best.

rakesh kumar nanda on October 17, 2012:

I am very pleased to learn about computer buses.It is been a great help.

I thank you again and again.

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Thank you too muwonge Raphael for visiting and commenting. I am glad you like it.

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Azirap, I am glad you learnt something from this tutorial. Keep checking the others for more useful information. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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It helped me in understanding the bus architecture.Not only this but it also helped me in preparing notes :)

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compufram on May 21, 2012:

Very interesting. I appreciate you taking the time to write such an extensive article, but I'd the new version of PCI Express, like 3.0, or USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed)made possible with the latest advances in computer processing.

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Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 09, 2012:

cablemanagements, thanks a lot for reading and commenting. Glad you found it useful.

S K Sinha from India on May 09, 2012:

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Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on April 26, 2012:

@ jeromy, thanks for reading and commenting. I will work on your request, keep checking my hubs.

jeromy on April 26, 2012:

thanks for the great work,so helpful.but i need something on logic bus.

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on March 12, 2012:

Thanks a lot Juzzman, for reading and commenting on my work. Your compliments are accepted. All the best.

Juzzman on March 11, 2012:

ua article sooo much helpful to me.hats off for such a splendid coverage!keep it up

Favour on February 22, 2012:

I mean the typical types of board in cpu and their functions.

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on February 11, 2012:

Thanks Ankit for reading and approving my work. If I find other relevant materials/references, I provide them inform of a link.

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on February 11, 2012:

You are welcome ferny to read more of my work.

Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on February 11, 2012:

Thanks sachin for reading and commenting.

Ankit on February 10, 2012:

very helpful article Patkay ! thanks for posting.

do you suggest references to any other reading material which has similar info ?

ferny on February 10, 2012:

good article

sachin on February 10, 2012:


Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on February 07, 2012:

Thanks danny for reading and commenting. I am glad that my work is of great help to you.

danny on February 07, 2012:

Very Useful. I needed this lot one one page.

(Video) Types of Buses || Computer Organization and Architecture


What are the type of computer buses? ›

Three types of bus are used.
  • Address bus - carries memory addresses from the processor to other components such as primary storage and input/output devices. ...
  • Data bus - carries the data between the processor and other components. ...
  • Control bus - carries control signals from the processor to other components.

What is computer bus example? ›

A bus is a subsystem that is used to connect computer components and transfer data between them. For example, an internal bus connects computer internals to the motherboard. A “bus topology” or design can also be used in other ways to describe digital connections. A bus may be parallel or serial.

How many types of bus systems are there? ›

There are three types of bus lines: Data bus, Address bus, and Control bus.

What is system bus short answer? ›

A system bus is a single computer bus that connects the major components of a computer system, combining the functions of a data bus to carry information, an address bus to determine where it should be sent or read from, and a control bus to determine its operation.

What is computer system bus? ›

A system bus is a facet of computer architecture that transmits and shares data throughout the computer and between devices. It's the primary way for a computer to process information because it connects the main processor to all other internal hardware components of a computer.

Why is a bus computer used? ›

The Computer Bus is a communication link used in a computer system to send data , addresses , control signals, and power to various components in a computer system. The computer buses are used to connect the various hardware components that are part of the computer system.

What are the 3 parts of a system bus? ›

The term “bus” is used to represent a group of electrical signals or the wires that carry these signals. As shown in Figure 1.5, the system bus consists of three major components: an address bus, a data bus, and a control bus. memory. Furthermore, each data transfer can move 64 bits of data.

What is the most common type of bus? ›

The most common type is the single-deck rigid bus, with double-decker and articulated buses carrying larger loads, and midibuses and minibuses carrying smaller loads. Coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare.

Why is it called bus computer? ›

Early computer buses were bundles of wire that attached computer memory and peripherals. Anecdotally termed the "digit trunk", they were named after electrical power buses, or busbars. Almost always, there was one bus for memory, and one or more separate buses for peripherals.

What are the 2 examples of computer expansion bus? ›

PCI and PCI Express are common expansion buses in computers. See PCI, PCI Express, expansion card and PC data buses.

What is the full form of bus? ›

The word bus is short for omnibus, which means “for everyone.” Bus was first used in this sense in the 1830s, its "everyone" meaning referencing the fact that anyone could join the coach along its route, unlike with stagecoaches, which had to be pre-booked.

What is a data bus? ›

A databus is a data-centric software framework for distributing and managing real-time data in intelligent distributed systems. It allows applications and devices to work together as one, integrated system. The databus simplifies application and integration logic with a powerful data-centric paradigm.

Where is system bus in computer? ›

A system bus is a set of electrical wires that connects major components (CPU, memory and I/O devices) of a computer system. Data bus, Control bus and Address bus are the major components of a system bus. These components are discussed in detail here.

What are the 3 types of buses in transportation? ›

There are four main types of buses: city or transit, suburban, intercity or tour, and school.

How many bus systems are there in computer? ›

There are three types of buses in a computer, which all flow together. The data bus allows data to flow between devices; the address bus tells devices where the data should go or is coming from; and the control bus coordinates activity between various devices to prevent data collisions.

How big is a computer bus? ›

The size or width of a bus is how many bits it carries in parallel. Common bus sizes are: 4 bits, 8 bits, 12 bits, 16 bits, 24 bits, 32 bits, 64 bits, 80 bits, 96 bits, and 128 bits. Computers use such buses to link: CPU to on-board Memory.

How does bus help us? ›

Increased fuel efficiency:

Adjacent to narrowing down air pollution, public transport services are further fuel efficient per passenger kilometer, which grants an overall shrinkage in the amount of energy needed for transportation.

What is size of data bus? ›

The first standard for data bus was 32-bit, whereas newer 64-bit systems can handle much greater amounts of data. Other data bus widths include 1-bit, 4-bit, 8-bit, and 16-bit.

What is 3 bus power system? ›

A 3 bus power system network consists of 3 transmission lines. The bus admittance matrix of the uncompensated system is =[ j6 j3 j4; j3 j7 j5; j4 j5 j8 ]puif the shunt capacitance of all transmission lines is 50. JEE Main 2022 Question Paper Live Discussion.

How does a control bus work? ›

The control bus contains a control line for write instructions and a control line for read instructions. When the CPU writes data to the main memory, it transmits a signal to the write command line. The CPU also sends a signal to the read command line when it needs to read.

What is memory bus? ›

The memory bus is a type of computer bus, usually in the form of a set of wires or conductors which connects electrical components and allow transfers of data and addresses from the main memory to the central processing unit (CPU) or a memory controller.

What are the 3 types of expansion slots? ›

In this picture, there are three different types of expansion slots: PCI Express, PCI, and AGP. PCI Express: The best type of expansion slot to have in your PC is the PCI Express, also written as PCIe.

What are the 2 main types of expansion cards? ›

Examples of expansion cards

Sound cards: Adds the ability for a computer to output audio or receive audio from external devices. IO Expansion cards: They can add additional ports, connectors, or slots for various media storage, communication components, or devices.

Why is expansion bus important? ›

Expansion bus determines what exactly can be added to system – how many add-on cards, how much memory on expansion cards, what other system components and how easy it will be to setup system. It provide a common pathway for data, address and control signals that links various components of PC.

What is computer bus PDF? ›

In computer architecture, a bus (related to the Latin "omnibus", meaning "for all") is a communication system that transfers data between components inside a computer, or between computers. This expression covers all related hardware components (wire, optical fiber, etc.)

What is computer address bus? ›

noun. computers. : an element in a computer CPU that transmits the location of stored information. The address bus allows the CPU to send the address to RAM, and the data bus allows the actual data transfer to the CPU. The term bus itself refers to the connection between the two devices that allows them to communicate.

What is a bus Pro Tools? ›

A bus is an internal connection within Pro Tools and it can be used to send combinations (or “mixes”) of signals from place to place within the mixer. If you have never come across the word before it's worth noting that this isn't Pro Tools terminology and buses are used for all sorts of data, not just audio.

How do buses transfer data? ›

The bus contains multiple wires (signal lines) with addressing information describing the memory location of where the data is sent or retrieved. Each wire in the bus carries one or more bits of information, which means the more wires a bus has, the more information it can address.

What is the control unit? ›

A control unit, or CU, is circuitry within a computer's processor that directs operations. It instructs the memory, logic unit, and both output and input devices of the computer on how to respond to the program's instructions. CPUs and GPUs are examples of devices that use control units.

What is data bus speed? ›

The motherboard's bus transfers data between parts. The term "bus speed" refers to how quickly the system bus can move data from one computer component to the other. The faster the bus, the more data it can move within a given amount of time.

What is an internal bus? ›

An internal bus is a type of data bus that only operates internally in a computer or system. It carries data and operations as a standard bus; however, it is only used for connecting and interacting with internal computer components.

What are the 4 main types of transport? ›

Air, Road, Sea and Rail. These are the four major modes of transport (or types) in the logistics industry.

What are the 4 different types of transportation systems? ›

The four primary modes of transportation in logistics are shipments by truck, ship, train and plane — also known as road, maritime, rail and air shipments.
Comparing Logistics Transportation Methods
  • Truck Freight — Road Transportation. ...
  • Ship — Marine Transportation. ...
  • Train — Rail Transportation. ...
  • Plane — Air Transportation.
24 Apr 2020

How is computer bus speed measured? ›

Clock speed is usually measured in MHz (megahertz, or millions of pulses per second) or GHz (gigahertz, or billions of pulses per second). Today's personal computers run at a clock speed in the hundreds of megahertz and some exceed one gigahertz.

How many bytes is a bus? ›

A bus cycle occurs every time data travels from memory to the CPU. For example, a 100-MHz 32-bit bus is theoretically capable of sending 4 bytes (32 bits divided by 8 = 4 bytes) of data to the CPU 100 million times per second, while a 66-MHz 16-bit bus can send 2 bytes of data 66 million times per second.

What are buses made of? ›

The most important raw material used to manufacture school buses is steel, which is an alloy of iron and a small amount of carbon. Steel is used to make the chassis and the body, along with various other components.

Why school bus are used? ›

A school bus is a type of bus used for student transport: carrying students to and from school, home, and school events.

What is bus width in CPU? ›

Bus width, in computer architecture, the amount of data that can be accessed or transmitted at a time.

How many bits is data bus? ›

So, each bank contain 8 bit. That's why 8 bit is used in data bus.

What is a data bus cable? ›

Data bus cables streamline communication between various electronic components in aircraft and military vehicles.

What are three types of buses on a motherboard? ›

(A Byte is an 8-bit group). Buses are classified according to how many bits they can move simultaneously, meaning we have 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, or even 64-bit buses.

Which is the fastest bus in computer? ›

The system's "Front Side Bus" connects the CPU to the computer's "Northbridge," which handles communication between the computer's RAM and the processor. This is the fastest part of the bus and handles the computer's most vital workload.


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