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Micro2000 - Computer Hardware and Micro-Scope Glossary
Category: Technical and IT > Computers
Date & country: 23/11/2007, UK
Words: 218


adapter card
A circuit board plugged into a slot in the motherboard to add features or peripherals to a system. Also called an expansion card.

address
A hexadecimal number designating the location of a device or of a piece of data.

address lines
The lines in a bus or cable that carry address information rather than data.

AGP
Accelerated Graphics Port, a high-speed bus just for video.

alphanumeric
Consisting of letters and numbers.

analog
Continuously changing, rather than jumping from one numerical value to the next. See digital.

application
A computer program to perform a specific task, as opposed to the operating system program that runs the computer itself.

ASCII
A digital code for print characters, including those on a standard keyboard. It stands for the American Standard Code for Information Inter-change,

ASPI
Advanced SCSI Programming Interface. The standard protocol used by most programs to access a SCSI device.

ATAPI
ATA Packet Interface, the ATA/IDE standard for CD-ROM, tape and removable drives.

Athlon
A high-speed CPU made by AMD.

average seek time
The average amount of time it takes a disk drive to locate a specific track and sector.

backup
A copy of a disk or selected files made for safekeeping, usually to removable media.

base memory
The first 1 MB of system RAM.

Basic Input - Output System
The hard-wired instructions that the CPU uses to boot up and to control I/O devices. Usually abbreviated as BIOS.

batch file
A file with an extension of .BAT, containing a list of commands or program routines that the computer will execute in sequence.

BAUD rate
A rate of data transfer, usually used to measure data rates over a phone line.

benchmark
A standard test or measurement used to compare the performance of similar components or systems.

binary
A number system using just two digits.

BIOS
Basic Input / Output System. The hard-wired instructions that the CPU uses to boot up and to control I/O devices.

bit
A single digit in the binary system, the smallest unit of computer information.

boot up
To start or restart a computer. From the phrase 'picking yourself up by the bootstraps.'

bus
A signal path that serves multiple devices or multiple points on a circuit board.

byte
A unit of digital information consisting of eight bits.

cache
A block of memory for temporary storage of data likely to be used again. The CPU and hard drive frequently use a cache.

CD
Compact Disc. A thin platter that has computer data or music recorded on it in optical form. See CD-ROM.

CD-R
A CD which can be written on by the user. A CD-RW can be written, erased and re-written.

CD-ROM
Compact Disc Read-only Memory. The term is often used for the CD platters as well as for the drive which reads them.

Celeron
A low-cost Pentium without cache.

central processing unit
The master chip in a computer that controls the execution of program instructions, arithmetic functions, and access to memory and peripherals. Abbreviated CPU, and also called the microprocessor.

CGA
Color Graphics Array. The first video standard for color monitors and video adapters.

chip
A slang term for an integrated circuit.

chipset
The chip or chips on a motherboard containing various functions supporting the CPU.

circuit
Any combination of wiring and components that provides a path for the flow of electricity.

circuit board
A thin board, usually fiberglass, on which components are mounted. Also called a printed circuit board (or PCB) because the connections between the components are printed onto the board.

CMOS
A type of chip able to operate with a tiny trickle of electricity from a battery. The term also refers to the contents of a CMOS chip on the motherboard, which holds information about the system and its peripherals even while the system is turned off. CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Substrate.

co-processor
See math co-processor.

COM1
The name of the first serial port in a system. Additional ports are labeled COM2, COM3 and COM4.

communication
The exchange of information between two points.

computer
An electronic device for the storage and processing of information.

configuration
The way the parts of a system or network are arranged or connected, or the act of arranging them.

conflict
See resource conflict.

controller
A circuit that manages the operation of some part of a computer and its communication with the rest of the computer.

CPU
See central processing unit.

cylinder
The same-numbered tracks of all the platters in a drive make up a cylinder. Cylinder 1 is all Track 1s, cylinder 2 is all Track 2s, etc.

data
Information, especially information in a form that can be used by a computer. It can include text, numbers, sounds and pictures. A single piece of information is called a Datum.

data processing
Using a computer to manage or store information.

decimal
Based on ten parts.

device
Any peripheral or part of a computer system that can send or receive data.

digit
A single unit or numeral in a counting system.

digital
Made of or using distinct digits or numerical values, rather than continuously variable values. Most often used to refer to information existing in electronic form as Ones and Zeroes.

digital camera
A camera that records pictures electronically rather than on film.

DIMM
Dual Inline Memory Module. Called Dual because it has separate signals to each side of the circuit board.

DIN
A type of connector for keyboards and mice, named for the German group originating the standard, Deutsche Industrie Norm.

DIP
Dual Inline Package. The configuration of two rows of pins used by many ICs. This configuration is also used to combine several switches into a single component.

disc
Same as Disk. This spelling is usually used with 'Compact Disc'.

disk
A thin platter coated with a magnetic material, and used in a disk drive to store information. Also can refer to the drive itself.

disk drive
A device used to store and retrieve information for a computer. It can be either a hard drive which has the platter permanently attached, or a floppy drive which has a removable platter.

diskette
The removable storage platter used in a floppy disk drive.

DMA
Channels for Direct Memory Access, which allow a device to move data to and from RAM without interrupting the CPU.

DOS
Disk Operating System. This is the operating system used by the original IBM PC and many since.

drive
A data storage device connected to a computer. Examples are a hard drive, floppy drive or tape drive.

drive parameters
The values for the number of cylinders, heads and sectors in a drive. driver: Also device driver. A file containing the information an operating system or application needs to interact with a particular hardware device. These files will have an extension of .DRV (or .SYS in DOS)..

DVD
Digital Versatile Disk. A compact-disc format with much higher capacity than traditional CD-ROM.

DVD-RW
A DVD technology that allows the user to write to the disk.

EGA
Extended Graphics Array. A video standard allowing up to 64 colors.

electro-magnet
A magnet consisting of a coil of wire around a metal core. It is magnetic only when a current flows through the wire coil.

expanded memory system
The combination of a memory manager program and plug-in Expanded Memory Cards. Abbreviated EMS, which also stands for Expanded Memory Standard.

expansion card
A circuit board that plugs into a motherboard, used to add new peripherals to a computer system. Also called an adapter card.

expansion slot
A socket on the motherboard that accepts an expansion card.

extended memory
System RAM above 1MB.

extended memory specification
The rules for using an extended memory manager to access RAM above 1MB. The specification is known as XMS and was developed jointly by several companies.

factory-type format
The same as a low-level format

FAT
File Allocation Table. A cluster map listing locations of the sequential parts of each file. There are two copies of the FAT for each partition, located just after the volume boot record.

FAT 16
The original FAT version allowing 1016 clusters per partition, with file names limited to 8 characters with a 3-character extension.

FAT 32
A later version allowing 255-character file names and 1028 clusters per partition.

firmware
Computer instructions which are permanently imbedded in the circuitry, usually in a ROM chip.

fixed disk
Another name for a hard drive.

fixed media
The platters of a hard drive which, unlike a floppy diskette, cannot be removed.

flash BIOS
A ROM BIOS chip whose content can be changed by the system without removing the chip. The same type of chip used in an adapter card or peripheral is called Flash ROM.

floppy diskette
The removable storage platter of a floppy disk drive.

floppy drive
A disk drive with a removable storage platter.

format
The size and shape of something, or the way it is arranged. In computers it refers to the way data is organized or presented, especially on the platters of a disk.

FORMAT
The DOS command that creates the VBR, FAT, root directory and data areas for each partition. Also, either of two processes preparing the platter surfaces for data storage. See high level format and low level format.

GB
Abbreviation for gigabyte.

giga
A prefix meaning one billion. When measuring computer data, it means 230 or 1,073,741,824, which is the power of 2 closest to one billion.

gigabyte
1024 megabytes, approximately 1.074 billion bytes.

hard drive
A disk drive with permanent storage platters.

hard-wired
Unable to change. Usually refers to instructions in a ROM (Read Only Memory) chip or to logic created with physical connections rather than software.

hardware
The physical parts of an electronic device, such as nuts, bolts and components.

head
A part mounted very close to the surface of a disk platter to read or write data.

hexadecimal
Made up of 16 parts. The hexadecimal numbering system uses the numbers 0 through 9 plus letters A through F to represent the 16 digits.

high-level format
The process of creating the FAT and other partition structures, done by the FORMAT command.

IC
Integrated Circuit. A part containing within itself many other circuits.

IDE
A common hard-drive interface, standing for Integrated Drive Electronics.

input
Data received by a device or by the CPU.

integrated circuit
See IC.

Intel
A manufacturer of CPUs, motherboards and other components.

interface
The meeting point between a computer and something or (someone) outside of it. Common interfaces for peripherals are the serial and parallel ports. Common interfaces for people are the monitor screen and keyboard.

interleave
An offset between comparable sectors of adjacent tracks of a disk platter, needed because of the time it takes the heads to move from one track to the next. On some older drives, the interleave can be set by the user.