How does hardware interpret data?

This is a discussion on How does hardware interpret data? within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; I have been thinking about the nature of hardware and software, and I read that the lowest level 'programmers' were ...

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    How does hardware interpret data?

    I have been thinking about the nature of hardware and software, and I read that the lowest level 'programmers' were actually hardware designers, in the sense that they had to connect/disconnect wires in order to get the desired output (i.e a sequence of flashing lights or something). Nowadays we are kinda doing the same thing, except we can keep bits in memory and things run extremely fast. I was wondering how the hardware interprets the sequence of bits that it encounters. This is probably something I should be reading up on but I figured i'd try getting a lay men's explanation first.
    Thanks.

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    Depends on what you mean by interpreting the bits - the hardware either sees the voltage on the line as high (arbitrarily we can say 2.5-5V) or low (anything less than that). As for dealing with the logic, that can be done using transistors.

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    They way the hardware interprets the sequence of bits provided to it depends on how the hardware has been organised. From a high level view a piece of digital electronics is an organisation of ports, like AND-ports, OR-ports etc. and other (higher level) logical components, like flip-flops, counters, multiplexers, memories etc. Organising those hardware components can be seen as a kind of programming.

    Microprocessors are quite complex things, especially modern microprocessors, because they are equipped with a lot of stuff to do for example multi-media operations and that kind of things. A more easier piece of electronics to study is the PLC (programmable logic controller).

    Using Google to search for "introduction digital electronics", I found a lot of sites. Like:

    http://richardbowles.tripod.com/dig_...1/chapter1.htm

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    Thank you both very much. Shiro your explanation actually helped a lot in itself, and thank you for showing me what to search for, I'll post any questions if I get confused on anything.

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