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I studied physics and computer science, so sadly im not too familiar with electronics. My question is kind of weird but hear me out:

After reading a bit about (simple) electronic circuits, I got the feeling that in every large electronic device that uses microcontrollers or computers, the endgoal of all the electronic components is always to just supply the computer with suitable power. Is this correct?

I guess you could rephrase the question like this: Is there ever a situation where a signal is taken out of a computer to process it with another circuit (in an analog way) and then fed back into the computer? (maybe differentiate, integrate or filter a signal?)

Or rephrase it like this: If we only had logic gates as fundamental building blocks (not resistors, capacitors, inductors...) and magic black boxes that could always supply our microcontrollers and computers with suitable power, is there anything that we could not do that we do with our circuits today?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Chris Stratton, Ale..chenski, Elliot Alderson, Finbarr, RoyC Apr 16 at 11:38

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure what you are asking... but a device without output is useless. \$\endgroup\$ – Eugene Sh. Apr 15 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The electronics aren't there just to supply power to the computer. The computer is electronics. Some things transform power to be used, some things use the power, other things compute with the power, other things use that power to permanently write your data to someplace where it can be kept safelly and recalled when needed. Other things send signals to the monitor to draw pretty pictures. Other parts use some of the power to transmit data by radio to your router, and from there into the world. \$\endgroup\$ – JRE Apr 15 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking about the difference between analog and digital circuits, maybe? \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Apr 15 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Logic gates consume power in operation. Resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, transistors, etc. all consume power, though they can all be used to change signals in some way. Active devices (transistors and friends) can switch power on and off. \$\endgroup\$ – JRE Apr 15 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I guess I was asking If we could make all of our circuits work in a world where we only have digital signal processing and digital logic. But I realized that even things like taking the temperature would be hard without thermistors. \$\endgroup\$ – blue Apr 15 at 20:38
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Is the ultimate purpose of electronic circuits always to supply power to other devices?

No, not always, but the question is mis-worded. "Power" in the electronics world usually means providing energy to drive something such as a heater, a motor, a light / LED, a loudspeaker. Power would be measured in watts (W) up to GW. For digital electronics or small-signal analog circuits we would usually use the term "signal" and generally be talking about mW.

Is there ever a situation where a signal is taken out of a computer to process it with another circuit (in an analog way) and then fed back into the computer? (maybe differentiate, integrate or filter a signal?)

Yes. A digital music synthesizer output (which will use a digital to analog conversion) can be fed through an analog mixer and back into a digital device through an analog to digital converter. Old-fashioned telephone modems also used analog to MOdulate-DEModulate the digital data over an analog line.

Or rephrase it like this: If we only had logic gates as fundamental building blocks (not resistors, capacitors, inductors...) and magic black boxes that could always supply our microcontrollers and computers with suitable power, is there anything that we could not do that we do with our circuits today?

Yes, plenty, but we'd work around it. All digital circuits are analog circuits really. They have slew-rate limits, etc., and some can be made to behave as analog amplifiers (unbuffered CMOS inverters, for example).

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A computer consuming 500 watts is almost as efficient as a 500 watt heater. A heater will convert most of the power to heat. A computer is a bit less efficient as some of the energy is converted to acoustic energy, photons emitted as light and mechanical vibrations. But seriously though, a computer must contain many complex blocks that convert energy into suitable forms that can be used in circuits. For example the power supply converts the mains voltage (90-240 volts) down to 12 volts (and several other voltages). And the motherboard must give power to a (say) 96 watt CPU, so 12 V at 8 A gets converted to about 1 V at 96 A.

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