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Hardware Glossary

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Terms from the PC and Computer World

Some terms or jargon related to computer hardware. Even if it still means nothing to you, it may wipe the smirk off some one who thinks they know everything.

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SMEGABYTE - a 1000 kilobytes is a MB

MFM - A old dated hard drive standard, special controller card was required.

MIDI - stands for musical instrument digital interface, this is the standard for connecting musical instrument like a midi keyboard to your PC

MILLISECOND - This is the speed that hard drives access is timed, 1 millisecond is 1 thousandth of a second.

MODEM - stands for MOdulator - DEModulator this is the device that allows your computer to communicate with your phone line and then the Internet.

PARALLEL PORT - this is the 25 pin 'D' shaped port on your pc it is used mainly for connecting printers, it offers a fairly slow transfer rate by many standards but is used for printing and attaching scanners primarily.

PCI - peripheral component interconnect, this is the commonest interface for attaching internal components to your system these are the white slots for modems, graphic cards and such like.

POST - power on self test, this is the very first action the PC will run when it is switched on. It will check that all devices such as memory, graphics, drives etc are working before it attempts booting. If it finds any errors it will sound a series of beeps, the standard one beep at booting is a indication that it has found nothing amiss and will boot.

RAM - (Random Access Memory), this is the memory of the computer that will store data while it processes and performs task before patching and transferring chosen data to be written to the hard drive. Measured in nano seconds, the more ram in your system the quicker it will be able to run faster most noticeably when doing multitasking as the system wont need to request the hard rive so often. Data will be lost once the system is switched off.

RIMM - this stands for Rambus inline memory (RDRAM), this is latest incarnation of system memory and is capable of running at 800mhz compared to the 66/100/133 or so standards currently. At the moment it can be expensive when compared and is mainly suitable for high demanding applications. The Rambus technology is used in the Pentium 4 based systems.

ROM - Read Only Memory, this is data that can only be read and not written to such as cdr.

SCSI - small computer systems interface, this is another way to connect hard drives and cd writer/dvd drives to PC's. It is a more expensive option to IDE, you will need a SCSI adapter to connect the devices to. They are normally used in larger systems and servers and the devices can be daisy chained together, they are normally faster than IDE and can support higher transfer rates.

SDRAM - synchronous DRAM, this memory matches itself in synch with the speed of the cpu bus. At the moment 133mhz is the fastest cost effective standard. You will need to insure that your board and cpu are compatible to get the full speed out of your ram, most have backward compatibility.

SIMM - single inline memory module, this is an older type of memory board similar to dimms etc, it has 72 pins and has to be used in pairs used mainly in early Pentiums and some boards still carry some simms, you can not mix simms with dimms.

TERRABYTE - a Terrabyte (TB) is a term used to describe 1000 Gigabytes (GB)

TFT - thin film transistor, these are a high quality crystal display and are used in laptop screens and PDA's.

UDMA - ultra DMA is the latest EIDE controllers that support transfer rates of 33/66/100Mbps.

USB - Universal Serial Bus, this is the common plug & play and also hot plugging interface. USB supports up to 127 devices and speeds of around 12Mbps. USB 2.0 is due to ship with most newer motherboards shortly this will allow faster speeds of transfer, we are unsure if all devices will be supported, cables for direct cable connection form USB to 2.0 standard seem unlikely.