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Refers to where a particular piece of data or other information is found in the computer. Can also refer to the location of a set of instructions. Accelerated Graphics Port. An addition to current Pentium II and higher Slot 1 motherboards, AGP moves the graphics card off the PCI bus and gives it a full-speed connection to system memory. American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Microcomputers use ASCII code. For example, the letter A is represented by the code 1000001. Advanced Technology. A model series of the IBM PC family that uses the 80286, 80386 or 80486 microprocessor chips. A set of memory chips divided into segments for easy access; most modern machine motherboards have two banks for memory. A base two numbering system used by computers; all numbers are made up of 0s and 1s. Basic Input Output System. The part of an operating system that handles the communications between the computer and its peripherals. Often burned into ROM. Short for binary digit. Represented logically by 0 or 1 and electrically by 0 volt and (typically) 5 volts. A digital computer such as todays PCs can only understand zeros and ones . A bit represents the smallest unit of data. A bit can represent a number or a state, such as ON or OFF, or TURE or FALSE. The process the computer goes through to set itself up and load the operating system.









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A block of memory used as a holding tank to store data temporarily. An electrical pathway ( a bundle of conductors on a circuit board) over which power, data, and other signals travel to and from the CPU. The wider the bus, the more information can be moved at a time and the more complex the information can be. E.g. a 32-bit data bus has a total of 32 conductors for transferring the data. The width of the address bus determines the maximum number of available address combinations and so determines the maximum amount of memory the computer can address. A collection of bits that make up a character or other designation. A byte is eight bits and is enough to store, for example a single character, such as the letter T or the number 3. An intelligent buffer which contains the data that is accessed most often between a slower peripheral device and the faster CPU. Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. A type of chip design that requires little power to operate and is normally used to store and maintain the clock setting and system configuration information. Compact Disc Read Only Memory. A computer peripheral device that employs compact disc technology to store large amount of data for later retrieval. Current CD-ROM discs hold approximately 650M of information. Compact Disc-Rewritable. A family of devices that can write a record to a special type of Cd; the information can later be erased of changed. Most CD_RW discs can only be read in another CD-RW device. The name for an integrated circuit. Chips are silicon wafers with circuits photo-etched into the silicons surface in layers. Also used to refer to ceramic or plastic packages in which chips come.








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An integrated set of chips that performs the functions of a larger number of discrete logical devices on a PC.

Clock speed The rate at which the computers clock oscillates, usually stated in MHz (one million cycles per second). The motherboard uses the ticks of the clock to synchronize the movement of information in the CPU and the rest of the system., The command processor program of DOS, a basic element of the operating system. CONFIG.SYS, The systems configuration file that is part of the boot disk. It is used to instruct the operating system about device drivers to loaded, and provides setting for system variables such as memory. Conventional memory, Memory located between 0 and 640K, separated by IBM PC convection from the addresses above 640 to 1 MB and intended for use by the OS and applications. Coprocessor, A chip that performs a function parallel with the processor. It has no responsibility for control of the machine. The usual example is the x87 (8087, 80287, and so forth) math coprocessor that handles floating-point calculations for the microprocessor at a faster speed than the general-purposes CPU. The 80486 DX and Pentium CPUs contain an integrated math coprocessor. CPU Central Processing Unit. The microprocessor chip which is the brain of the computer. Groups of facts processed into information. A graphic or textual representation of facts, concepts, numbers, letters, symbols, or instructions used for communication or processing.


Device driver, A set of instructions to the computer that explains the commands a particular device understands. An extension of the BIOS, a device driver enables DOS to access specific hardware in a hardware-blind fashion. DOS doesnt need to

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know about the hardware details in a mouse, for example. Instead, the mouse device driver I located at interrupt hex 33, and DOS just interrupts at hex 33 to access this mouse-control subroutine. DIMM Dual In-Line Memory Module. A high-capacity, high speed memory carrier used in current modern machines. Direct Memory Access. A circuit by which a high speed transfer of information may be facilitated between a device and system memory. This transfer is managed by a specialized processor that relieves the burden of managing the transfer from the main CPU. Dynamic Random Access Memory. Memory chips that need to be refreshed regularly. While being refreshed, a DRAM chip cannot be read by the microprocessor, and therefore slow DRAM read and writes accesses often require CPU wait states. Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. A special type of integrated circuit that can be used to store BIOS and other programming; it can be erased and reprogrammed by a special device. Flash Memory is a form of EEPROM that can be updated in place within a PC using special programs. Extended Industry Standard Architecture, an improvement over the 16-bit AT (ISA) bus, adding a 32-bit path and bus mastering. It still runs at a slow 8 MHz, and has been surpassed by local bus and PCI designs. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. Data can be erased by ultraviolet light to allow new data which is recorded by a higher than normal voltage programming signal.






Extended memory, The memory in a modern machine with an address above 1 MB. It can be used under DOS by programs that throw the 286/386/486 CPU chip into protected mode,

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where it can take advantage of this memory. Can be used to provide expanded memory. FAT The File Allocation Table is a listing created by DOS that tracks the use of hard disk space, noting what cluster(s) a file occupies and in what order the cluster should be read. The FAT also notes what clusters are available (unused) and unavailable currently in use or bad). Floppy Disk Drive.


Flash memory, Special memory chips that can hold their contents without power and can be erased and reprogrammed. Used for updateable ROM BIOS and in flash disks. Gigabyte Informally, and for hard drives and other storage media, one billion bytes. For RAM, the size of a gigabyte is 1024 megabytes or 1,073,741,824 bytes. A situation in which the computer freezes up and refuses to proceed without rebooting. Also refer to as Crash. Usually caused by faulty software or configuration. Hard Disk Drive.



HIMEM.SYS, A device driver that manages extended memory; it is included with current versions of DOS and Windows. IDE Integrated Drive Electronics. Describes a hard disk with the disk controller circuitry integrated within it. For hardware, a call for the attention of the CPU. A PC is called an interrupt-driven system; every keystroke form the keyboard and every other event generates an interrupt to the processor. Unless two devices are designed to cooperate, they cannot share the same interrupt request line (IRQ). Current PCs have 16 IRQ channels. Hardware interrupts break in on the CPUs internal meditations and ask for attention for the CPU, Nonmaskable interrupts (NMIs) are hardware interrupts that demand immediate attention.


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Input Output. A circuit path that enables independent communications between CPU and external devices.

I/O port address, A number assigned to a particular device (such as a disk drive, port, mouse, or other component) that is used to tell the device that data about to be sent down the bus is meant for that device. No two devices can be assigned the same I/O port address. IRQ Interrupt Request. A set of hardware signals which can request prompt attention by the CPU when data must be transferred to or from devices and the CPU or memory. Industry Standard Architecture. The term given to computer systems that uses 8 bit or 16 bit PC bus systems.


Keyboard controller, A special-purpose microprocessor in the keyboard that interprets keyboard presses, relieving the PCs main processor from this task. The keyboard controller BIOS, located on the motherboard, manages the interface between the keyboard and the system. LBA Logical Block Addressing. A disk capacity allocation numbering system that is used to provide for disk storage devices and capacities exceeding the early BIOS and DOS limitations of 528 megabytes. A CPU to I/O device interface which is capable of providing extremely fast transfer of data and control signals. It uses 32-bit architecture and is commonly used for video cards and disk drive interfaces to enhanced system performance. Local Bus is a trade mark of VESA.

Local Bus

Low level format, The electronic markings placed on a hard drive that mark the start of each sector; the operating system further refines the indexing of the disk when it formats the drives sectors. Memory Any component in a computer system that stores information for future use. Think of memory as a big array

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of holes in which you can store information. Each one of these holes represent a byte. If your PC has 4M of RAM, it has 4,194,304 of those holes in which to store data. Modem Modulator-demodulator. An interface used to transfer information and operate computers distant from each other. It converts computer data into audible tone sounds that can be transmitted over telephone lines to other modems which converts the tone sounds back into data for the receiving computer. the Microsoft CD-ROM Extensions is a device driver that controls management of CD-ROM drives attached to DOS machines.


MSDOS.SYS, A file that is the essential element of the Microsoft operating system. (In IBMs version of DOS, this same file ia called IBMDOS.COM). OEM Original Equipment Manufacturer. Any manufacturer that sells it product to a re-seller. Usually refers to the original manufacturer of a particular device or component. A method of transferring data characters in which the bits travel down parallel electrical paths simultaneously. For example, eight paths for eight-bit characters. Data is stored in parallel form but may be converted to serial form for certain operations. A method of error checking to obtain a reasonable judgment about the validity of the binary bits that has been transmitted. A disk can be divided into several partitions, each of which can act as if it were a separate disk. Using multiple partitions one way to deal with a hard drive that is larger than DOS will recognize, a problem more common with earlier version of the operating system. Some user prefer to divided their disks into separate partitions for organizational reasons.




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Peripheral Component Interconnect. An Intel developed standard interface between CPU and I/0 devices providing enhanced performance. Also commonly used for video cards and disk drive interfaces. Plug or socket that enables an external device such printer, mouse, modem and joy-stick to be attached to the adapter card in the computer. It also refers to a logical address used by a microprocessor for communications between itself and various devices. Power On Self Test. A series of hardware tests when the PC is powered on. It surveys installed memory and equipment, storing and using this information for boot-up and subsequent use by DOS and applications. POST also provides either speaker beep messages or video display messages, or both, if it encounters errors in the system during testing and boot-up. Programmable Read Only Memory. A type of memory chip that can be programmed to store information permanently. An acronym for Random-Access-Memory. RAM is dynamic (DRAM), meaning that its contents can change. Information can be stored in RAM, read, and erased, and new data can then be stored in it. One of several cells in a processor that are used to manipulate data. For example, a CPU can load a value from memory into a register, load another value into another register, add the two values together and put the result in a third register, and then copy the third registers to a location in memory. The width of the register is measured by the number to bits it can hold, which, in turn, determines the range of values it can hold. The larger the register width, the more powerful the computer, and thus register width is used to describe CPUs. An acronym for Read-Only-Memory. Information can be stored in ROM and read back; however, in a PC you usually cant write new information to ROM. ROM is usually used to







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permanently hold system programs (often called firmware) such as BIOS and BASIC interpreter. Serial The transfer of data characters one bit at a time, sequentially, using a single electrical path. Small Computer System Interface. A standard that uses a 50-pin connector and permits multiple high speed devices (up to 8 devices) to be connected in a daisy-chain fashion. The smallest unit of storage that can be allocated by a hard disk usually 512 bytes. Single In-line Memory Module. An array of memory chips on a small circuit board with a single row of I/O contacts. Static Random Access Memory chips that do not require refresh as long as they are powered. They are very quick, but very expensive and therefore are usually not made to hold as much information as a DRAM chip. SRAMs are often used as cache memory.





SYSTEM.INI, A Windows file that contains information about the hardware environment. See win.ini. TWAIN An industry interface that works between scanners and other capture devices and image-editing software. (acronym stands for Technology Without An Interesting Name)

Upper memory, Memory located between 640K and 1024K. Divided into blocks (Upper Memory Blocks); modern machines can use it for the system BIOS, video BIOS, video memory, shadowing, adapter ROM additional device drivers and TSRs. VESA Video Electronics Standards Association. Founded in the late 1980s by NEC Home Electronics and eight other leading video board manufacturers, with the main goal to standardize the electrical, timing, and programming issues surrounding video displays.

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Video Graphics Array. And advanced analog display standard capable of displaying as many as 256 colors at 640 x 480 resolution. The Super VGA standard has superseded it in the market. Video Random Access Memory. They are modified DRAM on video boards that enable simultaneous access by the hosts system processor and the processor on the video board. A large amount of information thus can be transferred quickly to form graphic or text display on the screen. A file containing configuration information about Windows applications and the user environment such as fonts, colors, and general appearance. Extended Technology. The second model of IBM PC series allowing the addition of hard disks and eight add-in card slots. The original XT models had between 64K and 256K of RAM on board, a single floppy drive, and a 10 Mb hard disk.




ZIF socket, Zero Insertion Force. Sockets that require no force for the insertion of a chip carrier.

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