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Circuit board used in expansion slots. Also known as expansion cards. Address bus
Used by CPU to communicate memory and I/O address to memory controller and I/O devices. ATC
Type of L2 cache in Pentium processors that is embedded on the same core processor die as CPU. Asynchronous SRAM
Static RAM that doesn't work in step with CPU clock rate. AT
Type of PC form factor. Also called Full AT. ATX
Most widely used form factor for PCs.
Smaller version of AT form factor. Back side bus
Bus between the CPU and L2 cache. Backplane system
Form factor which has no true motherboard. Bank
Location on motherboard that contains slots for modules of memory. BNC connector
Used with thin coaxial cable for networking computers. Brouter
Functions as both a bridge and a router. Bus
Paths or lines on a motherboard that carries data, instructions and electrical power.
Placeholder for a RIMM module that provides continuity. Cable modem
Used with cable internet service. The cable modem connects to the NIC in a PC. CD-R
Drive that can write data to a CD. CD-RW
Drive that can write data to a CD. The data can then be erased and rewritten. CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The CPU receives data input by the user, processes information and executes commands. In a PC, the CPU is housed in a single chip called a microprocessor. Chip creep
Process in which chips loosen due to changes in temperature. Chip set
Group of chips on the motherboard that controls the timing and flow of data and instructions to and from the CPU. Circuit board
Device that contains electrical circuits and chips. Clock speed
Speed or frequency of a processor. CMOS configuration chip
Chip on the motherboard that contains setup information about a PC. Coaxial cable
Networking cable used with ThinNet or ThickNet. Compact case
Low-profile case used for low-end desktop PCs. Crossover Cable
A cable used to connect two PCs into a very simple network or connect two hubs.
Lines or paths on the system bus that the CPU uses to send and receive data. Data cartridge
Tape medium used for backups. Device driver
Program that tells the PC how to communicate with and I/O device. DIMM
Circuit board used to hold memory. Direct rambus DRAM
Memory technology that uses a narrow and fast system bus. Stored on a RIMM module DMA channel
Channel in which a device can pass data to memory without involving the CPU. DMA transfer mode
Used by devices, such as hard drives, to transfer data to memory without involving CPU. DDR SDRAM
Memory technology used on DIMMs that runs at twice the speed of the system clock. Dual-voltage CPU
CPU that requires two different voltages. DRAM
Memory that requires refreshing every few milliseconds.
Checks integtrity of data stored on DIMMs and RIMMs and corrects single-bit errors in a byte. ECP
Parallel port mode that uses a DMA channel for increased performance. EEPROM
Chip in which a high voltage can be applied to one of the pins to erase data before new data is written. EISA bus
A 32-bit bus that can transfer 4 byts at a time at a speed of about 20 MHz. EIDE
Interface for secondary storage devices (hard drives) in a PC. EPP
Parallel port that allows data to flow in both directions for improved performance. EPROM
Chip that allows data to be erased with a special ultraviolet light so the chip can be reprogrammed. Expansion bus
Bus that does not run in sync with the system clock. Expansion card
Circuit board that is added to the motherboard to increase capabilities. Expansion slot
Slot on the motherboard where an expansion card can be added.
FireWire (IEEE 1394)
Expansion bus that can work as a local bus. Flash memory
RAM that can hold data when powered off. Flash ROM
ROM that can be reprogrammed or changed without replacing chips. Flat panel monitor
Monitor that uses and LCD panel. FlexATX
Version of ATX that allows for maximum flexibility. Form factor
Set of standards on the size, shape abd configuration on devices such as power supplies, cases and motherboards.
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One billion cycles/second. Graphics Processor Unit (GPU)
Specialised microprocessor used for video cards. Graphics accelerator
Video card with a dedicated processor to improve video quality and increase speed.
Amount of time for a storage device to weaken to half its strength. Hard boot (Cold boot)
Turning of and restarting or pressing PC reset button.
Output from printer to printed page. Hard drive
Main secondary storage device of a PC. Hardware interrupt
Caused by a device signalling that it requires service. HD-DVD
DVD standard that supports high def video encoding. Head
Top or bottom surface of a platter in a hard drive. Heat sink
Piece of metal that can be mounted to chips to dissipate heat. Hertz (Hz)
Unit of measurement for frequency. Hot swappable
Component that can be plugged into a PC while it is running. The PC registers the device and configures it without rebooting. Hub
Network component that provides a central location to connect cables. Hyper-threading
Technology trademarked by Intel that enables a processor to appear as two logical processor. Each logical processor can execute a thread of a multi-threaded program which can improve performance in certain conditions.
Hard drive with disk controller integrated ibto the drive. Intelligent UPS (Smart UPS)
UPS that can be managed with software. Interlaced
Display in which the monitor only draws every other line. Internal bus
Bus located in CPU used for communication between CPU and components. Internal cache
Memory cache contained inside the CPU. Faster than external cache. ISA
Older interface which can only support an 8 or 16-bit data path.
Two wired located on the motherboard that hold configuration data.
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Input device through which data can be input the PC.
LAN (Local area network)
Network that covers a small area. LCD (Liquid crystal display)
Flat panel display used in PC monitors and various other electronic devices. Line conditioner
Device that regulates electrical power. Line-interactive UPS
UPS with shorter swiching time. AC to DC converter is constantly running. Local bus
Bus that works ata s speed synched with the CPU frequency. Local I/O bus
Bus that provides I/O devices with access to the CPU. Logical drive (Volume)
Section of the hard drive the OS sees as a physical drive. Low-level format
Creates the tracks and sectors on a hard drive. LPX
Form factor that uses riser cards plugged into the motherboard to install expansion cards.
Hexadecimal address unique to each NIC. Master boot record
First sector on hard drive. Contains program for booting and the partition table. MDRAM
Type of RAM used on video cards. MHz (Megahertz)
One million cycles per second. Memory
Microchips that can hold data and programs. Mini ATX
Smaller ATX board. Can be used with ATX cases and PSUs. Mini-LPX
Smaller version of LPX. Modem
Modulates digital data to an analog format that can be trnsported over telephone lines and demodulated back to digital. MOdulate and DEModulate. Monitor
Used to display text and graphics output from PC. Motherboard
The main board of a PC. Also called system board. Mouse
Input device that allows a user to move a cursor on screen and select items. MP3
Compression method used on audio files. Multiplier
The bus speed multiplied by the multiplier gives the CPU clock speed.
NIC (Network interface card)
Expansion card used to give a PC networking capabilities. NLX
Form factor similar to LPX but with more support for current processor technology. Non-volatile
Type of RAM that can hold data as long as it is powered. North Bridge
Connects I/O buses to the system bus. Null modem cable
Cable that allows two devices to communicate. Transmit and receive wires are cross-connected and no modem is required.
Original Equipment Manufacturer. Overclocking
Increasing the clock rate or frequency at which a device runs. The CPU and video card can are two devices that can be overclocked, among others.
Power connector used by ATX motherboards. P8 connector
One of two power connectors used by AT motherboards. P9 connector
One of two power connectors used by AT motherboards. Parallel ATA
IDE cabling method in which a 40 or 80-pin cable is used with a 40-pin IDE connector. Parallel port
25-pin port on a PC. Patch cable
Network cable used to connect a PC to a hub. PC Card
Adapter card for notebooks used for connecting modems, networks, and CD-ROM drives. PCI bus
Bus that runs at speed up to 33 MHz or 66 MHz with a 32 or 64-bit data path. PCI Express
Implementation of the PCI bus based on a much faster serial physical-layer communications protocol. PDA (Personal digital assistant)
Handhel PC with its own OS and applications. Peripheral
A peripheral is a device that communicates with the CPU that is not located on the motherboard. PAC (Pin array cartridge)
Houses the Intel Itanium CPU. Pinout
How each pin on a bus, connector or socket is configured. Pits
Areas on the surface of DVDs or CDs used to represent data. Pixel
Small dot on a scan line. Images on the monitor are made up of pixels. PnP (Plug and Play)
Automatically configures devices during installation. Polling
When the CPU checks a device to determine if they are ready to send and receive data. Port
Physical connector, 2. Another name for an I/O address. Power Conditioner
Regulates power and provides continuous voltage. Power Supply (PSU)
Supplies power to all devices in a PC. Printer
Produces printed output to paper. Protocol
Set of rules and standards. PS/2 mouse
Mouse that plugs into the PS/2 port on the motherboard.
RAID (Redundant array of independent disks)
Method used to configure multiple hard drives for better performance and fault tolerance. RAMDAC
Short for Random Access Memory Digital-to-Analog Converter. The RAMDAC is a single chip located on a video card. The RAMDAC's role is to convert digitally encoded images into analog signals that can be displayed by a monitor. RAM drive
Memory that works as a hard drive. Much faster than a standard platter hard drive. RAM (Random Access Memory)
Memory modules installed in the motherboard used for temporary data storage. Read/write head
Device that reads or writes data to a disk. Rectifier
Converts AC current to DC current. Refresh rate
Number of times in a second an electronic beam can fill a monitor screen from top to bottom. Repeater
Device that amplifies a signal so it may be sent for longer distances. Resistor
Device that opposes the flow of electrical power. RIMM
Memory module developed by Rambus. RJ-11
Phone line connection found on devices such as modems. RJ-45
Connection type used with a twisted pair cable on a network. ROM (Read-only memory)
Chip that contains a program that can not be deleted. Router
Device used to connect networks.
SCSI (Small Computer System Interface)
Interface between a host adapter and the CPU that can contain as many as 15 devices on a single bus. SCSI ID
Number assigned to a SCSI device. Secondary storage
Device that permanently holds data such as hard drives. Sector
A segment of a track on a hard drive disk that has a capacity of 512 bytes. SATA (Serial ATA)
Cabling method that uses a smaller cable than a 80-pin PATA cable. Is more reliable and faster than PATA. Serial port
Used for transfering data one bit at a time. Shielded twisted-pair cable
Cable that has one or more twisted pairs of wires surrounded by a metal casing. Signal-regenerating repeater
Repeater that can detect the difference between noise and a clear signal and filters out the noise. Single-voltage CPU
Requires one voltage for all operations. Slack
Wasted space on a hard drive. SLI (Scalable Link Interface)
Technology developed by Nvidia that allows two PCI Express video cards in the same PC to be linked so they can share the processing load. SO-DIMM
Type of DIMM module used in notebook computers. SO-RIMM
Type of RIMM module used in notebook computers. South bridge
Part of the chip set that connects slower I/O buses to the system bus. SPGA (Staggered Pin Grid Array)
Method used on CPU socket to allow for more pins in a smaller space. Static RAM
RAM module that holds data with the need for refreshing as long as the PC is powered up. Surge protector
Device used to protect electrical components from power spikes and surges. Switch
A network hardware device used to segment a network. Synchrnous DRAM (SDRAM)
Type of RAM that runs in sync with the system clock. Synchrnous SRAM
Type of SRAM. Is faster than asynchrnous SRAM. System Bus
Bus between the memory and CPU. Also known as the memory bus, external bus, host bus or front side bus. System Clock
Provides a continuous pulse that PC devices used to time themselves.
Resistor used to dampen the voltage near the end of a SCSI chain. Thermal Printer
A line printer that uses a wax based ink. Trace
Wire on a printed circuit board that provides a connection. Tracks
Circles on a medium used to divide a disk. Transceiver
Located on a NIC. Responsible for signal conversion. Transformer
Used to change the ratio of current to voltage. Transistor
Device used to control the flow of electricity.
Chip that controls serial ports. UDF
File system used for optical mediums. UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
Provides a backup power source during power failures.
Expansion card installed in a PC to provide video capabilities. Volt
Measure of potential difference in an electrical circuit. Voltage
Electrical difference that causes current to flow. Voltmeter
Used for measuring AD or DC voltage.
Unit used to measure power. Wattage
Electrical power. Measured in watts.
ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) Socket
Smaller lever used to secure the processor into the socket.