Glossary of computer terms
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This is a glossary of terms relating to computer hardware.
- accumulator - a register in a CPU in which intermediate arithmetic and logic results are stored
- address - several bits in a computer program instruction that specifies a memory location
- 'ATX' - ATX (Advanced Technology extended) is a motherboard form factor specification developed by Intel in 1995 to improve on previous DE factor standards like the AT form factor.
- 'AT (form factor)' - The AT form factor referred to the dimensions and layout (form factor) of the motherboard for the IBM AT.
- 'automatic data processing (ADP) system - an organized assembly of resources and methods used to collect, process, and distribute messages largely by automatic means.'
- 'AGP' - The Accelerated Graphics Port (often shortened to AGP) is a high-speed point-to-point channel for attaching a video card to a computer's motherboard, primarily to assist in the acceleration of 3D computer graphics.
- bus - a subsystem that transfers data between computer components inside a computer or between computers
- 'Blu-ray Disc' - a optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format
- 'BASIC' - BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use - the name is an acronym from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
- cache - a big, but fast memory that transparently improves the performance of a larger, but slower memory or storage device
- 'CD-ROM' (compact disc read-only memory) - a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to a computer for data storage and music playback. It is read in an optical disc drive
- chip (integrated circuit) - a miniaturized electronic circuit (consisting mainly of semiconductor devices, as well as passive components) that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material
- 'control store' - the memory that stores the microcode of a CPU; originally read-only memory was employed
- 'core memory' - in modern usage, a synonym for main memory, dating back from the pre-semiconductor-chip times when the dominant main memory technology was magnetic core memory
- 'CPU' (Central processing unit) - the portion of a computer system that executes the instructions of a computer program, and is the primary device for performing the computer's functions.
- 'Conventional PCI' - Conventional PCI (PCI is an initialism formed from Peripheral Component Interconnect, part of the PCI Local Bus standard and often shortened to PCI) is a computer bus for attaching hardware devices in a computer.
- 'Computer case' - A computer case (also known as a computer chassis, cabinet, box, tower, enclosure, housing, system unit or simply case) is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer (usually excluding the display, keyboard and mouse).
- 'Computer form factor' - In computing, the form factor is the name used to denote the dimensions, power supply type, location of mounting holes, number of ports on the back panel, etc.
- 'Chipset' - A chipset, PC chipset, or chip set refers to a group of integrated circuits, or chips, that are designed to work together. They are usually marketed as a single product.
- 'Channel I/O' - In computer science, channel I/O is a generic term that refers to a high-performance input/output (I/O) architecture that is implemented in various forms on a number of computer architectures, especially on mainframe computers.
- 'DVD' (Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) - an optical disc storage media format, and was invented and developed by Philips, Sony, TOSHIBA, and Time Warner in 1995. Its main uses are video and data storage. DVDs are of the same dimensions as compact discs (CDs), but store more than six times as much data
- DASD (Direct Access Storage Device) - mainframe terminology introduced by IBM denoting secondary storage with random access, typically (arrays of) hard disk drives
- 'DIMM' - DIMM which means (dual in-line memory module) comprises a series of dynamic random-access memory integrated circuits. These modules are mounted on a printed circuit board and designed for use in personal computers, workstations and servers. DIMM replaced SIMM which is the single in-line memory module.
- 'DisplayPort' - DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). The interface is primarily used to connect a video source to a display device such as a computer monitor, though it can also be used to transmit audio, USB, and other forms of data.
- 'DVI' - Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a video display interface developed by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). The digital interface is used to connect a video source to a display device, such as a computer monitor.
- 'DRAM' - Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) is a type of random-access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit.
- 'expansion card' (expansion board, adapter card or accessory card) - a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard to add functionality to a computer system
- 'ExpressxCard' - ExpressCard is an interface to allow peripheral devices to be connected to a computer, usually a laptop computer. Peripherals include Firewire 800,USB 2.0/3.0,soundcards, TV Tuner cards, PCIe graphics cards and CAC cards.
- 'EEPROM' - EEPROM (also written E2PROM and pronounced "e-e-prom," "double-e prom," "e-squared," or simply "e-prom") stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory and is a type of non-volatile memory used in computers and other electronic devices to store small amounts of data that must be saved when power is removed.
- 'EPROM' - An EPROM (rarely EROM), or erasable programmable read only memory, is a type of memory chip that retains its data when its power supply is switched off.
- 'execute' - When a CPU interprets the operation code of a program instruction and performs the specified operation.
- Firewall - A hardware device or software to protect a computer from viruses, malware, trojans etc.
- 'firmware' - fixed, usually rather small, programs and data structures that internally control various electronic devices
- 'floppy disk' - a data storage medium that is composed of a disk of thin, flexible ("floppy") magnetic storage medium encased in a square or rectangular plastic shell
- 'floppy disk drive' (FDD) - a device for reading floppy disks
- 'Flash Memory' - Flash Memory in a type of non volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It was developed from EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) and must be erased in fairly large blocks before these can be rewritten with new data. The high density NAND type must also be programmed and read in (smaller) blocks, or pages, while the NOR type allows a single machine word (byte) to be written or read independently.
- 'hard drive' (HDD) - a non-volatile storage device that stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating rigid (i.e. hard) platters with magnetic surfaces
- hardware - multiple physical components of a computer, upon which can be installed an operating system and a multitude of software to perform the operator's desired functions
- 'HDMI' - HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transferring encrypted uncompressed digital audio/video data from a HDMI-compliant device ("the source" or "input") to a compatible digital audio device, computer monitor, video projector, and digital television.
- 'input device' - any peripheral piece of computer hardware equipment) used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system
- 'input/output' - the communication between an information processing system (such as a computer), and the outside world possibly a human, or another information processing system
- 'IOPS' - IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second, pronounced eye-ops) is a common performance measurement used to benchmark computer storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD), and storage area networks (SAN). As with any benchmark, IOPS numbers published by storage device manufacturers do not guarantee real-world application performance
- 'instruction' - a group of several bits in a computer program that contains an operation code and usually one or more memory addresses
- keyboard - an input device, partially modeled after the typewriter keyboard, which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys, to act as mechanical levers or electronic switches
- mainframe - powerful computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing
- 'motherboard' - the central printed circuit board (PCB) in many modern computers and holds many of the crucial components of the system, while providing connectors for other peripherals
- memory - devices that are used to store data or programs (sequences of instructions) on a temporary or permanent basis for use in an electronic digital computer
- monitor - an electronic visual display for computers. The monitor comprises the display device, circuitry, and an enclosure
- mouse - a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface
- 'Mini-VGA' - Mini-VGA connectors are used on some laptops and other systems in place of the standard VGA connector.
- 'Microcode' - Microcode is a layer of hardware-level instructions or data structures involved in the implementation of higher level machine code instructions in many computers and other processors; it resides in special high-speed memory and translates machine instructions into sequences of detailed circuit-level operations.
- 'Mask ROM' - Mask ROM (MROM) is a type of read-only memory (ROM) whose contents are programmed by the integrated circuit manufacturer
- network - a collection of computers and devices connected by communications channels that facilitates communications among users and allows users to share resources with other users
- 'Non-volatile memory' - nonvolatile memory, NVM or non-volatile storage is computer memory that can retain the stored information even when not powered.
- 'non-volatile random-access memory' - Non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) is random-access memory that retains its information when power is turned off (non-volatile). This is in contrast to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and static random-access memory (SRAM), which both maintain data only for as long as power is applied
- 'optical disc drive' (ODD) - is a disk drive that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves near the light spectrum as part of the process of reading or writing data to or from optical discs
- 'Operating system' - An operating system (OS) is a set of software that manages computer hardware resources and provide common services for computer programs.
- 'Operation code' - Several bits in a computer program instruction that specify which operation to perform.
- 'pen drive' - another name for a USB flash drive
- 'peripheral' - a device attached to a host computer but not part of it, and is more or less dependent on the host. It expands the host's capabilities, but does not form part of the core computer architecture. Examples of computer peripherals: express card, USB drive, SD card, memory stick, router, external SSD or HDD drive.
- 'personal computer' (PC) - any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user, with no intervening computer operator
- printer - a peripheral which produces a text or graphics of documents stored in electronic form, usually on physical print media such as paper or transparencies
- 'PSU' (power supply unit) - A unit of the computer that converts mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC for the power of all the computer components
- 'PROM' - programmable read-only memory (PROM) or field programmable read-only memory (FPROM) or one-time programmable non-volatile memory (OTP NVM) is a form of digital memory where the setting of each bit is locked by a fuse or antifuse. Such PROMs are used to store programs permanently. The key difference from a strict ROM is that the programming is applied after the device is constructed.
- 'PCI Express' - PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), officially abbreviated as PCIe, is a computer expansion bus standard designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards.
- 'PCI-X' - PCI-X, short for PCI-eXtended, is a computer bus and expansion card standard that enhances the 32-bit PCI Local Bus for higher bandwidth demanded by servers.
- 'RAID' (redundant array of independent disks) - an umbrella term for computer data storage schemes that can divide and replicate data among multiple hard disk drives in order to increase reliability, allow faster access, or both
- 'RAM' (random-access memory) - a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (i.e., at random)
- ROM - (read-only memory) - a class of storage media used in computers and other electronic devices
- server - any combination of hardware or software designed to provide services to clients. When used alone, the term typically refers to a computer which may be running a server operating system, but is also used to refer to any software or dedicated hardware capable of providing services
- 'software' - a general term primarily used for digitally stored data such as computer programs and other kinds of information read and written by computers. Today, this includes data that has not traditionally been associated with computers, such as film, tapes and records
- 'SIMM' - A SIMM, or single in-line memory module, is a type of memory module containing random access memory used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.
- 'Solid-state drive' - A solid-state drive (SSD), sometimes called a solid-state disk or electronic disk, is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently.
- 'Static random-access memory' - Static random-access memory (SRAM) is a type of semiconductor memory where the word static indicates that, unlike dynamic RAM (DRAM), it does not need to be periodically refreshed.
- 'Synchronous dynamic random-access memory' - Synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) is dynamic random access memory (DRAM) that is synchronized with the system bus.
- 'tape drive' - a peripheral device that allows only sequential access, typically using magnetic tape
- terminal - an electronic or electromechanical hardware device that is used for entering data into, and displaying data from, a computer or a computing system
- 'touchpad or trackpad - a pointing device consisting of specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers to a relative position on screen'
- USB (Universal Serial Bus) - a specification to establish communication between devices and a host controller (usually a personal computers). USB is intended to replace many varieties of serial and parallel ports.
- 'USB flash drive' - a flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.1, 2.0, or 3.0 interface. USB flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, and much smaller than a floppy disc
- 'VGA' - A Video Graphics Array (VGA) connector is a three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector. The 15-pin VGA connector is found on many video cards, computer monitors, and some high definition television sets. On laptop computers or other small devices, a mini-VGA port is sometimes used in place of the full-sized VGA connector.
- 'Volatile memory' - also known as volatile storage, is computer memory that requires power to maintain the stored information.
- Virus - a computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. The term "virus" is also commonly, but erroneously, used to refer to other types of malware, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have a reproductive ability.
- 'Webcam' - A webcam is a video camera that feeds its images in real time to a computer or computer network, often via USB, Ethernet, or WI-Fi.
- DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Publication 1-02, 19 August 2009