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( May 2017)
This is a
glossary of terms relating to – physical computer hardware, architectural issues, and peripherals.
microprocessor, ASIC, or expansion card designed to offload a specific task from the CPU, often containing fixed function hardware; a common example is a graphics processing unit.
Accumulator A register in a
CPU in which intermediate arithmetic and logic results are stored.
Address The unique
integer number that specifies a memory location in an address space
Address space A mapping of logical
addresses into physical memory or other memory mapped devices. AI accelerator
accelerator aimed running artificial neural networks or other machine learning and machine vision algorithms (either training or deployment), e.g. Movidius Myriad 2, TrueNorth, tensor processing unit, etc. ATX; Advanced Technology eXtended
form factor specification developed by Intel in 1995 to improve on previous DE factor standards like the AT form factor. AT
The dimensions and layout (form factor) of the motherboard for the
IBM AT. AGP; Accelerated Graphics Port
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 An
optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format.
Cache A small, fast
local memory that transparently buffers access to a larger but slower or more distant/higher latency memory or storage device, organised into cache lines. Automatically translates accesses to the underlying resources address space to locations in the cache.
Cache coherency The process of keeping data in multiple
caches synchronised in a multi-processor shared memory system, also required when DMA modifies the underlying memory.
Cache eviction Freeing up data from within a
cache to make room for new cache entries to be allocated; controlled by a cache replacement policy. Caused by a cache miss whilst a cache is already full.
Cache hit Finding
data in a local cache, preventing the need to search for that resource in a more distant location (or to repeat a calculation).
Cache line A small block of
memory within a cache; the granularity of allocation,refills,eviction; typically 32-128 bytes in size.
Cache miss Not finding
data in a local cache, requiring use of the cache policy to allocate and fill this data, and possibly performing evicting other data to make room.
Cache thrashing A pathological situation where access in a
cache cause cyclical cache misses by evicting data that is needed in the near future.
cache ways The number of potential
cache lines in an associative cache that a specific physical addresses can be mapped to; higher values reduce potential collisions in allocation.
Card reader A data input device that reads data from a card-shaped
storage medium.    CD-R; Compact Disc-Recordable
A variation of the optical
compact disc which may be written to once. CD-RW; Compact Disc-ReWritable
A variation of the optical
compact disc which may be written to many times. CD-ROM; Compact Disc Read-Only Memory
compact disc which contains data or music playback.
Channel I/O 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.
Chip; integrated circuit
electronic circuit that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Chipset; chip set
A group of integrated circuits, or chips, that are designed to work together. They are usually marketed as a single product.
COMA; Cache-only memory architecture
multiprocessor memory architecture where an address space is dynamically shifted between processor nodes based on demand. Computer case; chassis; cabinet; box; tower; enclosure; housing; system unit; case
The enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer (usually excluding the display, keyboard, and mouse).
Computer fan An
active cooling system forcing airflow inside or around a computer case using a fan to cause air cooling.
Computer form factor The name used to denote the dimensions, power supply type, location of mounting holes, number of ports on the back panel, etc.
Computer monitor  An
electronic visual display for computers. A monitor usually comprises the display device, circuitry, casing, and power supply. The display device in modern monitors is typically a thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) or a flat panel LED display, while older monitors used a cathode ray tubes (CRT).
Control store The memory that stores the
microcode of a CPU. Conventional PCI; Conventional Peripheral Component Interconnect; PCI
A computer bus for attaching hardware devices in a computer.
Core The portion of a CPU which actually performs
arithmetic and logical operations. A CPU may have multiple cores (e.g. "a quad-core processor").
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.
cache in a CPU or GPU servicing data load and store requests, mirroring main memory (or VRAM for a GPU).
Computer data storage a technology consisting of computer components and
recording media used to retain digital data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers. 
local memory associated with a hardware device such as a graphics processing unit or OpenCL compute device, distinct from main memory.
DASD (Direct Access Storage Device) A mainframe terminology introduced by IBM denoting secondary storage with random access, typically (arrays of)
hard disk drives.
DIMM (dual in-line memory module);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.
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.
Direct mapped cache a
cache where each physical address may only be mapped to one cache line, indexed using the low bits of the address. Simple but highly prone to allocation conflicts.
Direct memory access - the ability of a hardware device such as a disk drive or network interface to access main memory without intervention from the CPU, provided by one or more DMA channels in a system.
DVD (Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) - an optical compact disc - of the same dimensions as compact discs (CDs), but store more than six times as much 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.
Drive bay a standard-sized area for adding
hardware (hard drives, CD drives, etc.) to a computer.
DRAM (Dynamic random-access memory) - a type of random-access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit and which must be periodically refreshed to retain the stored data.
Dual issue refers to a
superscalar pipeline capable of executing 2 instructions simultaneously.
Expansion card a
printed circuit board that can be inserted into an electrical connector, or expansion slot on a computer motherboard, backplane or riser card to add functionality to a computer system via the expansion bus. An expansion bus is a computer bus which moves information between the internal hardware of a
computer system (including the CPU and RAM) and peripheral devices. It is a collection of wires and protocols that allows for the expansion of a computer.
Firewall A hardware device or software to protect a computer from viruses, malware, trojans etc.
Firmware fixed programs and data 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 a device for reading floppy disks.
Flash Memory a type of non volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.
Free and open-source graphics device driver
Graphics processing unit
Hard disk drive a non-volatile
storage device that stores data on rapidly rotating rigid (i.e. hard) platters with magnetic surfaces.
Hardware the physical components of a computer.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) - a compact interface for transferring encrypted uncompressed digital audio and video data to a device such as a computer monitor, video projector or digital television.
Harvard architecture a
memory architecture where program machine code and data are held in separate memories, more commonly seen in microcontrollers and digital signal processors.
Input device any peripheral 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.
IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second, pronounced eye-ops) - a common performance measurement used to benchmark
computer storage devices like hard disk drives.
instruction a group of several bits in a computer program that contains an
operation code and usually one or more memory addresses.
cache in a CPU or GPU servicing instruction fetch requests for program code (or shaders for a GPU), possibly implementing modified Harvard architecture if program machine code is stored in the same address space and physical memory as data.
Instruction fetch A stage in a
pipeline that load the next instruction referred to by the program counter.
input device, partially modeled after the typewriter keyboard, which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys, to act as mechanical levers or electronic switches.
instructions used to transfer data between memory and processor registers.
Load-store architecture An
instruction set architecture where arithmetic/logic instructions may only be performed between processor registers, relying on separate load/store instructions for all data transfers.
memory associated closely with a processing element, e.g. a cache, scratchpad, the memory connected to one processor node in a NUMA or COMA system, or device memory (such as VRAM) in an accelerator.
Mainframe powerful computer used mainly by large organizations for bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing.
Main memory the largest
random access memory in a memory hierarchy (before offline storage) in a computer system; i.e. distinct from caches or scratchpads; usually consists of DRAM.
Memory address the
address of a location in a memory or other address space.
Computer memory architecture a
memory architecture in a computer system, e.g. NUMA, uniform memory access, COMA, etc.
Memory access pattern The pattern with which
software or some other system (an accelerator , or DMA channel) accesses memory, affecting locality of reference and parallelism.
Modified Harvard architecture a variation of
Harvard architecture used for most CPUs with separate non-coherent instruction and data caches (assuming that code is immutable), but still mirroring the same main memory address space, and possibly sharing higher levels of the same cache hierarchy
Motherboard the central printed circuit board (PCB) in many modern computers which 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 on a temporary or permanent basis for use in an electronic digital computer.
Monitor an electronic visual display for computers.
pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface; motion is usually mapped to a cursor in screen space; typically used to control a graphical user interface on a desktop computer or for CAD etc.
Mini-VGA small connectors used on some laptops and other systems in place of the standard VGA connector.
Microcode a layer of hardware-level instructions involved in the implementation of higher level machine code instructions in many computers and other processors.
Mask ROM a type of read-only memory (ROM) whose contents are programmed by the integrated circuit manufacturer.
Network a collection of
computers and other devices connected by communications channels, e.g. by ethernet or wireless networking
Network interface controller also referred to as LAN card and network card.
Non-uniform memory access
Network on a chip
computer network on a single semiconductor chip, connecting processing elements, fixed function units or even memories and caches. Increasingly common in System on a chip designs.
memory that can retain the stored data even when not powered.
Non-volatile random-access memory
random-access memory that retains its data when power is turned off.
Optical disc drive 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 the set of software that manages computer
hardware resources and provide common services for computer programs, typically loaded by the BIOS on booting.
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 computer but not part of it.
Personal computer 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.
Power supply unit Converts
mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer. Modern personal computers universally use switched-mode power supplies. Some power supplies have a manual switch for selecting input voltage, while others automatically adapt to the mains voltage.
Prefetching The pre-loading of
instructions or data before needed either by dedicated cache control instructions or predictive hardware, to mitigate latency.
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.
Process node refers to a level of
semiconductor manufacturing technology, one of several successive transistor shrinks.
Processor node a
processor in a multiprocessor system or cluster, connected by dedicated communication channels or a network.
Processing element an
electronic circuit (either a microprocessor or an internal component of one) that may function autonomously or under external control, performing arithmetic and logic operations on data, possibly containing local memory, and possibly connected to other processing elements via a network, network on a chip, or cache hierarchy.
Prefetch the process of pre-loading
instructions or data into a cache ahead of time, either under manual control via prefetch instructions or automatically by a prefetch unit which may use runtime heuristics to predict the future memory access pattern.
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 - a type of
non-volatile memory chip that may be programmed after the device is constructed.
Programmer An electronic equipment that arrange written software to configure programmable
non-volatile integrated circuits (called programmable devices) such as EPROMs, EEPROMs, Flashes, eMMC, MRAM, FRAM, NV RAM, PALs, FPGAs or programmable logic circuits.
PCIe Peripheral Component Interconnect Express - a computer expansion bus standard designed to replace the older
PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards.
PCI-X PCI-eXtended - 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) - data storage schemes that can divide and replicate data across multiple hard disk drives in order to increase reliability, allow faster access, or both.
RAM Random-access memory - a form of computer data storage that allows data items to be accessed (
read or written) in almost the same amount of time irrespective of the physical location of data inside the memory. RAM contains multiplexing and demultiplexing circuitry to connect the data lines to the addressed storage for reading or writing the entry. Usually more than one bit of storage is accessed by the same address, and RAM devices often have multiple data lines and are said to be '8-bit' or '16-bit' etc. devices. In today's technology, random-access memory takes the form of integrated circuits.
ROM Read Only Memory - a type of memory chip that retains its data when its power supply is switched off.
Server a computer which may be used to provide services to clients.
computer programs and other kinds of information read and written by computers.
SIMM Single in-line memory module - a type of
memory module containing random access memory used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.
Solid-state drive (or solid-state disk or electronic disk) a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. It is also referred to as a solid-state disk, but it contains neither an actual disk nor a drive motor to spin a disk.
SRAM Static random-access memory - a type of
semiconductor memory that uses bistable latching circuitry to store each bit. The term static differentiates it from DRAM which must be periodically refreshed.
Sound card an internal expansion card that facilitates economical input and output of
audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs. It is also referred to as an audio card.
SDRAM Synchronous dynamic random access memory -
dynamic random access memory that is synchronized with the system bus.
SuperDisk a high-speed, high-capacity alternative to the 90 mm (3.5 in), 1.44
MB floppy disk. The SuperDisk hardware was created by 3M's storage products group Imation in 1997.
Tape drive A peripheral
storage device that allows only sequential access, typically using magnetic tape.
electronic or electromechanical hardware device that is used for entering data into, and displaying data from, a computer or a computing system.
Trackpad Also known as a
touchpad; a  pointing device consisting of specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers or a stylus to a relative position on a screen.
TV tuner card
uop cache a
cache of decoded micro-operations in a CISC processor (e.g x86).
USB Universal Serial Bus - a specification to establish communication between devices and a host controller (usually a
USB flash drive A
flash memory device integrated with a USB interface. USB flash drives are typically removable and rewritable.
Video card also referred to as a graphics card and several other names, a video card is an expansion card which generates a feed of output images to a display (such as a computer monitor).
VGA Video Graphics Array - the last graphical standard introduced by
IBM to which the majority of PC clone manufacturers conformed.
Volatile memory memory that requires power to maintain the stored information.
video camera that feeds its images in real time to a computer or computer network, often via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi.  
typically include a lens (shown at top), an image sensor (shown at bottom), and supporting circuitry.
Write back cache A
cache where store operations are buffered in cache lines, only reaching main memory when the entire cache line is evicted
Write through cache A
cache where store operations are immediately written to the underlying main memory.
Working set The set of
data used by a processor during a certain time interval, which should ideally fit into a CPU cache for optimum performance.
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
^ a b c d
Shelly, G.; Vermaat, M. (2008). . Available Titles Skills Assessment Manager (SAM) - Office 2010 Series. Cengage Learning. p. 6. Discovering Computers: Fundamentals ISBN 978-1-4239-2702-0 . Retrieved . May 25, 2016
"Punched Card System for a Wholesale Hardware". Volume 7. The Punched Card Machine Accounting and Data Processing Semi-annual. 1952. p. 123 . Retrieved . 18 May 2016
Kent, Allen; Lancour, Harold (2016-05-11). . Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science Google Books. p. 277. ISBN 9780824720025 . Retrieved . 2016-05-25
"Golden Oldies: 1993 mainboards" . Retrieved . 2007-06-27
Andrews, Jean (2009-12-29). . A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining and Troubleshooting ISBN . 1435487389
Andrews, Jean (May 11, 2016). . A+ Guide to Hardware Cengage Learning. p. 403. ISBN 978-1133135128 . Retrieved . May 19, 2016
Project, Ubuntu Documentation (May 11, 2016). . Fultus Corporation. Ubuntu 11.04 Unity Desktop Guide ISBN 9781596822580 . Retrieved . May 19, 2016
"micro op cache patent".
Hannon, John J. (May 11, 2016). . Transportation Research Board. Emerging Technologies for Construction Delivery ISBN 9780309097918 . Retrieved . May 19, 2016
External links [ edit ]