View Full Version : Computer questions: Hardware Terminology

10-02-2003, 07:58 PM
May aswell do a quick hardware lesson, eh? Feel free to add hardware acronyms. I'll do a seperate thread for software termanology.

AGP = Accelerated Graphics Port. Reserved port created independant of the PCI bus, meant specifically for graphics cards, which allows for greater throughput and data transfer to the system bus. Can have a clock multiplier, allowing for multiple parallel datastreams. Common multipliers are 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x. Runs at 33mhz * clock multiplier.

ALU = Arithmetic Logic Unit. It's part of the CPU that does the Math and Logic

ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Pronounced "askee"; code for information exchange between computers using a binary number system. Allows for translation between numbers and characters (letters).

ATA = Advanced Technology Atachment. Interface used by system bus to access secondary storage. Comes in Parallel (PATA) versions that use an IDE controller, allowing 2 drives per IDE bus (master and slave), and Serial (SATA) versions, allowing 1 drive per connector, requiring a seperate SATA controller. PATA is currently being replaced by SATA for various reasons, all of which have to do with the advancement of computer technologies.

BIOS = Basic Input/Output System. Firmware implanted on a CMOS chip that includes all instructions required to power, POST and boot a PC system. Also includes multiple user-customizable options for system setups.

Bit = a digital signal represented numerically by either a 1 or 0. Digital foundation for the "binary" number system.

Byte = a sequence of 8 bits, in order. Used to represent binary numbers 0 through 255. Bytes can be chained together to form larger numbers/groups of numbers.

CD = Compact Disk. Similar to Hard Disk Drive, but uses lasers and and a special synthetic compound to store the data.

CD-ROM = CD Read Only Memory. Read only because of the nature of the compact disk. Cannot write to it.

CD-R = CD Recordable. One-time use CD with a virgin polymer that can be molded once. Requires a CD-R drive.

CD-RW = CD ReWritable. Multi-use CD with special phase-changing layer that can be molded by special lasers.

CMOS = Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. Low power microchip with stable state transistors that allow for permanent data storage. Often used to hold BIOSes in PCs.

CPU = Central Processing Unit. It's the part that does all the thinking

DDR = Double Data Rate. SDRAM form factor that allows for double the amount of data per clock cycle, eseentially doubling the efficiency of the RAM.

DIMM = Dual Inline Memory Moddule. Form factor of 168 pin memory modules; standard produced to replace SIMM. Allows for double sided modules without parity checks.

DRAM = Dynamic Random Access Memory. Current form factor of PC RAM. Registers and stored on chips, mounted on PCB in a linear grid arrangement.

Dual Channel DDR = Furthern enhancement of DDR technology, allowing identical sticks of DDR to perform instructions in parallel, essentially doubling again the performance of the RAM.

DVD = Digital Video Disk / Digital Versatility Disk. High density CD with multi-layered polymer. Requires a DVD drive or optical drive with multi-wavelength lasers. Also comes in DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM varieties, all of which have similar CD counterparts. The current standard is still being debated.

EDO = Extended Data Out. Memory subsystem implemented in SIMM form factor ram to allow for higher data throughput to the system chipset.

FAT = File Allocation Table. See HDD.

FDD = Floppy Disk Drive. Similar to Hard Disk Drive.

FPU = Floating Point Unit. It's a part of the CPU that takes care of fractions and long numbers with no end.

FSB = Front Side Bus. It's the speed at which your System Bus transfers data

Ghz = Gigahertz. 1,000,000,000 hertz. See Mhz.

HDD = Hard Disk Drive. This is also refered to as Secondary Storage. Almost all types of disks store data as magnetic charges on said disk. The charges are set and read by a magnetic arm. The data on a hard drive is organized in Cylinders/Tracks, Sectors and Offsets. This File Allocation System is stored at the beginning of the drive in something called a File Allocation Table (FAT). Data on a disk is NOT lost during a shutdown.

IDE = Internal Drive Electronics. System most commonly used to transfer data between the system bus and secondary storage.

ISA = International Standards Architecture. Legacy interface used to connect peripherals to the system bus. Unbuffered data-streams, requiring system resources; outcome - slow, inefficient, dead.

Mhz = Megahertz. 1,000,000 hertz. A hertz is a second to the power of -1, ie 1/s. It's a unit that is used to measure how many times something happens PER SECOND. A CPU running at 500 mhz basically has 500,000,000 cycles per second.

Nibble = 1/2 a byte; 4 bits.

PCB = Printed Circuit Board. Silicon based board used to create computer components. Solder friendly, non-conductive.

PCI = Peripheral Component Interconnect. Standard interface for connecting peripheral devices to the system bus. Comes in 16 and 32 bit varieties, as well as PCI Express, a modernization of the standard. Runs at 33mhz.

PGA = Pin Grid Array. Setup of pins on a CPU or other chip.

POST = Power-On Selft Test. Self diagnosing system, often executed by BIOS, to check the integrity of a given PC. Occurs after initial bootup phase. A unsuccessful POST is a sign that there is physical damage to the system, albeit potentially in the micro/electroscopic level.

PSU = Power Supply Unit. PC item that powers disk drives, motherboard and other devices requiring external power. Inclues voltage converter; plugs into a standard electrical outlet.

RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. Setup using multiple Hard Disk Drives in parallel to increase data storage efficiency. Can have multiple modes to either increase transfer rates or data integrity.

RAM = Random Access Memory. This also refered to as Primary Storage. RAM stores data electronically, using "registers" and "transistors" to setup a virtual organization system called a "stack". Each point on the stack has an "address" which can be refered to to access the data at said address. RAM looses all its data when it looses its charge (the system is shut down).

SCSI = Small Computer System Interface. Often pronounced "scuzzy", alternative data exchange system used for electronics. Often used in high-end computer servers/workstations for its fast and efficient transfer rates, greater than IDE. Expensive.

SDR = Single Data Rate. Acronym given to all RAM created prior to DDR.

SDRAM = Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. Modification of DRAM adding a "clock" signal to synchronize memory operations to the system bus.

SIMM = Single Inline Memory Module. Legacy 72 pin memory form factor, limited by bandwidth and parity checks. Multiple forms, causing confusion, lead to its demise.

System Bus = Name given to the data pathway that connects all components of the PC. Controlled by the system chipset; a grouping of chips that, when connected, operate the communication of all devices.

10-03-2003, 03:02 AM
This is a REALLY good idea tass ... although it can be bad too ... cuz sometimes telecommunications ppl use the same acronyms for different things ... i dont have any examples cuz i dont got my tele book here w/ me at college
snmp =simple network management protocol

smp = symetric multi processing

SMART (for hdds) = Self Monitoring and Reporting Technology

IEEE = Industry of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

UART = Universal Asynchronus Reciever/Transmitter

USB = Universal Serial Bus ... u guys probably know this one .. but ya never know

ARPA = Advanced Research Projects Agengy ... division of government partly responsible for the internet ... despite what Dan Quale says hahah

ANSI = American National Standards Institute

AUP = Acceptable Use Policy

EULA = End User License Agreement

IANA Internet Assigned Numbers Authority - responsible for giving out IP addresses to ISP's who in turn give them out to you.

ISO International Standards Organization -- u guys may think of it as when u burn a cd image ... but thats actually iso 9660 i believe .. which is the particular standard for cd images usually just referred to as "ISO's"

ISP Internet Service Provider ... sry guys ... just had to hahahah

RTFM - Read the F**king Manual

JPEG Joint Photographics Expert Group

MODEM - not really an acronym .. but i thought u guys would like to know what it means ... modulate/demodulate ... modulating is the process of taking digital signals from the computer and putting it into analog .. demodulate is the opposite

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol ... OVERALL .. tcp/ip is considered a connection based protocol .. but i think only one of them is connection based .. tcp

UDP - uniform datagram protocol - a connectionless protocol .. meaning that the info is sent w/o confirmation from the recieving host

OSI Open Systems Interconnection - ISO standard for networking based on seven layers .. application, presentation , session, transport, network, data link, physical

*nix - any of the various versions of linux / unix

wysiwyg (wizziwig) - What You See Is What You Get .. weird term sometimes used to describe intuitive interfaces but also used to say that what you see on screen will be printed

BASIC - Beginner all-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code ... hmm i just thought it was b/c its just .. BASIC hhehehe

BIT - as tass said .. a 1/0 switch ... but more simply "Binary digIT"

CHS cylinder/head/sector .. for hard drives ... perhaps tass would like to get into hd geometry ... not me

CRT Cathode Ray Tube

crc cyclic redundancy check

LUG - Linux User Group ... look one up if you want to find other enthusiasts in ur area ... or start your own!

Sry for the lack of order .. they just come to mind ... im too lazy to alphabetize them ... damn i need to learn perl :-\

10-08-2003, 06:21 PM
You need to add spaces rainman!!!

NIC - Network Interface Card
A nic card would be a network interface card card. So many people say NIC card.

tcp/ip is actually a suite of hundreds of protocols.

I'll do a seperate thread for software termanology.

I don't know if this goes here or not, but another common mistake I hear a lot is the differenc between bit and byte. Storage is in byte and bandwidth/throughput/connection speed is in bit. You have 64 megabytes of ram and you download at 1.5 megabits/sec(I wish) are examples of each. The B is for byte and the b is for bit.

10-08-2003, 08:01 PM
Storage is in byte and bandwidth/throughput/connection speed is in bit

SERIOUSLY KRIONI .. dang man i cant count the number of times i've had to correct ppl on it ... then they act like ur all anal about it ... so im like "yea its only a factor of 8 ... no BIGGIE .. psssh"
i'll fix spaces right now :)

10-08-2003, 10:41 PM
I tell people all the time, "Damn how did you get a modem that goes that fast? Didn't know they existed!!" People just stare at you for like 10 seconds after saying that.

It might only be a 2 letter differance or a factor of 8 differance, but its like someone that says or pronounces the wrong word all the time.

Thanks for the spaces, now I'm going to go reread it.

10-20-2003, 07:19 PM

LAN = local area network

CO = i cant think of it but there is something

11-04-2003, 09:32 PM
LAN does indeed stand for Local Area Network

CO really doesn't mean much, however.

11-20-2003, 07:13 PM
my 3 cent cds went bad, now half of them have "crc cyclic redundancy check" errors :P

11-21-2003, 06:02 AM
The $0.03 part should have tipped you off.

02-16-2004, 11:39 PM
I've read thru all the listings but I can't seem to find what this one means.
Whats a mobo? :?:

02-17-2004, 08:10 AM
mobo = slang for Motherboard.

11-27-2005, 07:37 PM
Frontside Bus: Speed frequency a CPU communicates with motherboard and memory.

11-27-2005, 08:54 PM
here is a really useful site as well:

www.whatis.com (http://www.whatis.com)

03-17-2009, 11:01 AM
HDCP high-bandwidth digital-content protection