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


interrupt
A temporary break in the CPU's normal execution of program instructions, to allow it to handle a request from a peripheral.

IRQ
Interrupt ReQuest, the signal that a peripheral or program uses to interrupt the CPU.

ISA
The original PC bus architecture, and still included in many systems. It stands for Industry Standard Architecture.

joystick
An input device used for video games and for some graphics applications.

keyboard
An input device similar to a typewriter, for the entry of text, numbers and punctuation.

keyboard controller
A small processor on the motherboard that manages the entry of data from the keyboard.

kilo
A prefix meaning 1000. When used to measure computer data, it means 210 or 1024, which is the power of 2 closest to 1000.

kilobyte
1024 bytes.

laser
A very pure and intense beam of light formed within a crystal, or the device that creates the light. LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

legacy
Containing obsolete technology.

logical block addressing
A translation done by the disk controller of large-capacity drive so that the Head/Sector/Cylinder addresses will appear to be in the range recognized by the BIOS. Abbreviated LBA.

low-level format
The initial factory process of putting on new sector marks to prepare the platter surface for data storage. A low-level format destroys any previous data on the disk.

LPT-1
or LPT-2,3. The standard names for the parallel ports. LPT stands for Line PrinTer.

main-frame
A large computer designed to be used by many people at the same time.

male connector
A connector with pins that fit into the sockets of a female connector.

master
One of two drives attached to an IDE controller, the other being Slave.

master boot loader
The program in a disk's master boot record that contains instructions for loading in the operating system.

master boot record
The first sector on a disk, containing the partition table and master boot loader. Abbreviated MBR.

master file table
The file-tracking system used instead of a FAT in the Windows NT file system.

math coprocessor
Circuitry to handle floating-point arithmetic for the CPU. It may be incorporated in the CPU or it may be a separate chip. Also called the NPU or Numerical Processing Unit.

MB
Abbreviation for megabyte.

MBR
See Master Boot Record.

MCA
Micro-Channel Architecture. A type of bus introduced by IBM in the late 1980s. It is no longer manufactured.

media
Methods of communication. In computers, it refers to the material or device used to store or transmit data.

medium
Singular of Media.

mega
A prefix meaning one million. For computer data, it means 220 or 1,048,576, which is the power of 2 closest to one million.

megabyte
1,048,576 bytes.

memory
The part of a computer that holds data. This usually refers to RAM.

memory bank
The number of memory modules needed to have the same number of data bits as the bus. In a 64-bit Pentium system, each DIMM is one bank, but two 72-pin SIMMs are required for each bank.

microprocessor
A master control circuit. See central processing unit.

MicroScope
Trade name for a hardware diagnostic program that uses its own operating system to manipulate hardware directly without interference from the main operating system.

Microsoft
A software company, best known for the Windows operating system.

modem
A device that allows a computer to send and receive data over a voice phone line. Modem stands for Modulator / Demodulator.

modulate
To change a signal in a way that conveys information. For instance, a tone sent over a phone line can be changed in volume or frequency to represent Ones and Zeroes, thus sending digital data over an audio line.

module
A self-contained part of something that can function on its own.

monitor
A peripheral device with a screen for the visual display of information.

motherboard
The main circuit board, containing the CPU. All of the other functions and peripherals are connected in some way to the motherboard.

mouse
An input device that controls an on-screen pointer.

multimedia
Presenting data in more than one medium, such as combining text, graphics and sound.

NPU
Numeric Processing Unit. See math co-processor.

NTFS
The disk file structure used by Window NT and Windows 2000, which has a Master File Table instead of a FAT.

operating system
The master control program that runs the computer and allows it to execute applications.

optical
Using light.

OS
Operating system.

output
Data sent by a device or the CPU. Especially, the end result of a processing task, sent to the printer or to the monitor screen.

over-clocking
Setting the clock multiplier so that the CPU will run faster than its rated speed. Not a recommended practice.

parallel
Components or circuits connected to the same end points, so that each circuit provides an alternate path for electrical current from the same source. Compare to series.

parallel port
A connection for high-speed transfer of information, using multiple data lines.

parameters
See drive parameters.

parity
An extra bit added to data for error checking purposes, to make the quantity of Ones consistently either odd or even.

partition
A division of the hard drive, or the process of setting up divisions on the hard drive.

PC
Personal Computer. An IBM or IBM-compatible self-contained computer system, designed to be used by one person at a time.

PCB
See printed circuit board.

PCI
A high-speed bus for 486, Pentium and compatible systems. PCI stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect.

Pentium
A high-speed microprocessor chip made by Intel.

peripheral
Any of the devices which connect to the CPU and exchange information under the CPU's control. Peripherals include all of the computer's input and output devices.

pixel
Picture Element. A dot of light that is the smallest part of the visual image on a monitor. The number of pixels depends on the resolution setting of the monitor.

platter
The actual disk inside of a disk drive. Its surface is coated with a magnetic material that records data. Both sides of the platter are used, and a typical disk drive has several platters, stacked like pancakes.

plug-and-play
A standard that allows the system to automatically configure adapter-card resources.

port
A connection for moving data to and from the motherboard.

POST
An acronym for Power-On Self Test, a series of instructions executed by the BIOS during boot-up to confirm system functions before turning control over to the operating system. The codes put on the bus during POST can be used by POST reader cards to diagnose systems that fail to boot.

POST reader
A diagnostic card that is inserted into a bus slot to display the POST codes during boot-up. This is used to diagnose a system that won't boot up. The most comprehensive POST reader is Micro 2000's Universal Post-Probe.

printed circuit board
A thin board, usually fiberglass, on which components are mounted. So called because the connections between the components are printed onto the board. Abbreviated PCB.

printer
A device that puts computer data onto paper.

processing
Using a computer program to manage data, either sorting it, storing it or changing it in some way.

processor
The part of the computer that controls the execution of program instructions. See CPU.

program
A series of instructions for completion of a specific task or for performance of an activity.

RAM
Random Access Memory, the standard operating memory of the computer.

random access
Able to directly access any portion of data, without having to accept data in sequence.

read head
A head in a disk drive used to retrieve data from the platter.

read-only memory
Information hard-wired into chips. Used for the BIOS and in many I/O devices. Abbreviated as ROM.

real-time clock
The CMOS circuitry that keeps track of the year, day and time of day for the system. Abbreviated RTC.

refresh
A signal fed to RAM chips periodically, to keep them charged up so that data is not lost.

removable media
A cartridge or cassette that can be removed from the drive.

resolution
The sharpness of an image. Measured in a printer by Dots Per Inch, and in a monitor by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels.

resource conflict
The situation when two or more devices are trying to use the same system resources.

resources
See system resources.

riser card
A card that plugs into the motherboard to provide a perpendicular extension of the bus. Adapter cards are then plugged into the riser instead of the motherboard, allowing a lower profile to the case. Most often used for desktop systems that sit under the monitor.

ROM
See read only memory.

RTC
See real-time clock.

SCSI
A high-speed interface for hard drives, CD-ROM drives, scanners and other devices. SCSI comes from Small Computer System Interface.

sector
A division of a disk platter, shaped like a piece of pie.

seek
In a disk drive, the process of finding a specific location, by moving the actuator arm over the desired track and waiting until the correct sector comes under the heads.

sequential access
Data must be read in the order it appears. This method applies to tape, and to a lesser degree to disks.

serial port
A connection for data transfer, using a single data line.

silicon
The element used to make transistors and integrated circuits.

SIMM
Single In-line Memory Module, a small plug-in circuit board with one row of input signals.

software
Instructions for a computer, organized into sets called programs.

sound card
An expansion card with connections for speakers.

start bit
A zero bit marking the start of a serial port data byte.

stepping switch
A push-button switch on the Post-Probe that when pressed shows the code in the POST sequence immediately previous to the one currently displayed.

stop bits
One or more bits marking the end of a serial port data byte.

storage
Holding of program instructions and data for use by the computer. Temporary storage while the computer is running is provided by the RAM, and permanent storage is available on disk and tape.

SVGA
Super Video Graphics Array, the enhanced version of VGA used in most new PCs. Standard resolution is 800 x 600.

SXGA
A high-end video standard, with 1280 x 1024 resolution. It stands for Super Extended Graphics Array.

system
All of the parts that work together for a particular purpose. A computer system consists of the monitor, keyboard, all of the components in the CPU cabinet and any peripherals connected to it. An operating system is all of the routines and utilities needed for control of the computer, organized into one program.

system board
Same as motherboard.

system resources
Motherboard features which must be allocated among devices. These include IRQs, DMA channels, I/O ports and ROM addresses.

tape drive
A storage device that uses a long strip of magnetic tape.

track
The path in a magnetic surface that actually holds the recorded data. On a disk platter, the tracks are circles, one inside of the other. On a tape, the tracks are parallel stripes that run the length of the tape.