Epson OS/2 Warp 3.0 and TWAIN Specifications

9:24 AM
Page 1
This glossary contains computer and electronics terms that are applicable to the subject matter in
this book. The glossary is meant to be as comprehensive as possible on the subject of upgrading
and repairing PCs. Many terms correspond to the latest technology in disk interfaces, modems,
video and display equipment, and standards that govern the PC industry. Although a glossary is a
resource not designed to be read from beginning to end, you should find that scanning through
this one is interesting, if not enlightening, with respect to some of the newer PC technology.
For a more complete dictionary of computer terms, I recommend the Scott Mueller Library –
Computer Dictionary, ISBN 0-7897-1670-4 (
The following websites can also help you with terms not included in this glossary:
■ FOLDOC (Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing)—
■ Webopedia—
1–50X CD-ROM maximum speeds in relation to
the speed of a music CD (1X = 150KBps). At
speeds of 16X or above, most drives are CAV and
reach their rated speeds only on the outer edges of
the disc. See also CLV and CAV.
3GIO The original name for PCI Express, a
replacement for existing PCI connections. See also
PCI Express.
10BASE-2 IEEE standard for baseband Ethernet
at 10Mbps over RG-58 coaxial cable to a maximum distance of 185 meters. Also known as Thin
Ethernet (Thinnet) or IEEE 802.3.
10BASE-5 IEEE standard for baseband Ethernet
at 10Mbps over thick coaxial cable to a maximum
distance of 500 meters. Also known as Thick
Ethernet or Thicknet.
10BASE-T A 10Mbps CSMA/CD Ethernet LAN
that works on Category 3 or better twisted-pair
wiring, which is very similar to standard telephone cabling. 10BASE-T Ethernet LANs work on
a “star” configuration, in which the wire from
each workstation routes directly to a 10BASE-T
hub. Hubs can be joined together. 10BASE-T has a
maximum distance of 100 meters between each
workstation and the hub.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 2
24x7 Refers to continuous 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week computer or services operation.
802.11 The family name for various wireless
Ethernet standards. See also IEEE 802.11 family.
56K The generic term for modems that can
receive data at a maximum rate of 56Kbps. See also
V.90, V.92, X2, K56flex.
1000BASE-T A 1,000Mbps Ethernet local area
network (LAN) that runs over four pairs of Category
5 cable. Popularly known as Gigabit Ethernet,
1000BASE-T can be used as an upgrade to a properly wired 100BASE-T network because the same
cable and distance limitations (100 meters) apply.
64-bit processor A processor that has 64-bit registers. The Intel Itanium and Itanium 2 processors
for workstations and servers, which can also emulate 32-bit Intel processors; the AMD Athlon 64
desktop processor, which also emulates 32-bit x86
Intel and AMD processors; and the AMD Opteron,
designed for use in server and workstation tasks, are
some of the 64-bit processors now available.
100BASE-T A 100Mbps CSMA/CD Ethernet local
area network (LAN) that works on Category 5
twisted-pair wiring. 100BASE-T Ethernet LANs work
on a “star” configuration in which the wire from
each workstation routes directly to a central
100BASE-T hub. This is the current standard for
100Mbps Ethernet, replacing 100BASE-VG.
100BASE-VG The joint Hewlett-Packard–AT&T
proposal for Fast Ethernet running at 100Mbps. It
uses four pairs of Category 5 cable using the
10BASE-T twisted-pair wiring scheme to transmit or
receive. 100BASE-VG splits the signal across the
four wire pairs at 25MHz each. This standard has
not found favor with corporations and has been
almost totally replaced by 100BASE-T.
See 80286.
See 80386DX.
404 Website error code indicating the specified
page is not found. Some websites display a customized error message instead of the standard 404
See 80486DX.
586 A generic term used to refer to fifthgeneration processors similar to the Intel Pentium,
such as the AMD K6 series and the VIA Cyrix MII.
640KB barrier The limit imposed by the PCcompatible memory model using DOS mode. DOS
programs can address only 1MB total memory, and
PC compatibility generally requires the top 384KB
to be reserved for the system, leaving only the lower
640KB for DOS or other real-mode applications.
See FireWire.
8086 An Intel microprocessor with 16-bit registers, a 16-bit data bus, and a 20-bit address bus.
This processor can operate only in real mode.
8087 An Intel math coprocessor designed to perform floating-point math with much greater speed
and precision than the main CPU. The 8087 can be
installed in most 8086- and 8088-based systems
and adds more than 50 new instructions to those
available in the primary CPU alone.
8088 An Intel microprocessor with 16-bit registers, an 8-bit data bus, and a 20-bit address bus.
This processor can operate only in real mode and
was designed as a low-cost version of the 8086.
8514/A An analog video display adapter from
IBM for the PS/2 line of personal computers.
Compared to previous display adapters, such as
EGA and VGA, it provides a high resolution of
1,024×768 pixels with as many as 256 colors or 64
shades of gray. It provides a video coprocessor that
performs two-dimensional graphics functions internally, thus relieving the CPU of graphics tasks. It
uses an interlaced monitor and scans every other
line every time the screen is refreshed.
80286 An Intel microprocessor with 16-bit registers, a 16-bit data bus, and a 24-bit address bus. It
can operate in both real and protected virtual
80287 An Intel math coprocessor designed to
perform floating-point math with much greater
speed and precision than the main CPU. The 80287
can be installed in most 286- and some 386DXbased systems, and it adds more than 50 new
instructions to what is available in the primary
CPU alone.
See 80386DX.
9:24 AM
Page 3
Appendix A
80386DX An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 32-bit data bus, and a 32-bit address bus.
This processor can operate in real, protected virtual,
and virtual real modes.
lacks the built-in math coprocessor function and
was designed as a low-cost version of the 486DX.
The 486SX can operate in real, protected virtual,
and virtual real modes.
80386SX An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 16-bit data bus, and a 24-bit address bus.
This processor, designed as a low-cost version of the
386DX, can operate in real, protected virtual, and
virtual real modes.
80487SX An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 32-bit data bus, and a 32-bit address bus.
Although the name implies that the 80487SX adds
floating-point math capabilities, in reality the
487SX is the same as the 486DX, except that it uses
a modified pinout and must be installed in a special 80487SX socket. When installed, the 80487SX
replaces the 80486SX for all processing tasks. The
487SX can operate in real, protected virtual, and
virtual real modes.
80387DX An Intel math coprocessor designed to
perform floating-point math with much greater
speed and precision than the main CPU. The
80387DX can be installed in most 386DX-based
systems and adds more than 50 new instructions to
those available in the primary CPU alone.
80387SX An Intel math coprocessor designed to
perform floating-point math with much greater
speed and precision than the main CPU. The
80387SX can be installed in most 386SX-based
systems and adds more than 50 new instructions
to those available in the primary CPU alone.
See 80486DX.
80486DX An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 32-bit data bus, and a 32-bit address bus.
The 486DX has a built-in cache controller with
8KB of cache memory as well as a built-in math
coprocessor equivalent to a 387DX. The 486DX can
operate in real, protected virtual, and virtual real
80486DX2 A version of the 486DX with an
internal clock-doubling circuit that causes the chip
to run at twice the motherboard clock speed. If the
motherboard clock is 33MHz, the DX2 chip will
run at 66MHz. The DX2 designation applies to
chips sold through the OEM market, whereas a
retail version of the DX2 sold by Intel and designed
for use as an upgrade was sold as an Overdrive
80486DX4 A version of the 486DX with an
internal clock-tripling circuit that causes the chip
to run at three times the motherboard clock speed.
If the motherboard clock is 33.33MHz, the DX4
chip will run at 100MHz.
80486SX An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 32-bit data bus, and a 32-bit address bus.
The 486SX is the same as the 486DX, except that it
A+ Refers to the CompTIA A+ Certification, a
vendor-neutral certification for computer hardware
technicians. A+ Certification exams test knowledge
of basic hardware and software skills. The A+
Certification can be used as part of the exam
requirements for the Microsoft Certified System
Administrator (MCSA) credential.
abend Short for abnormal end. A condition that
occurs when the execution of a program or task is
terminated unexpectedly because of a bug or crash.
absolute address An explicit identification of a
memory location, device, or location within a
AC (alternating current) The frequency is
measured in cycles per seconds (cps) or hertz (Hz).
The standard value running through the wall outlet
is 120 volts at 60Hz through a fuse or circuit breaker
that usually can handle about 15 or 20 amps.
accelerated graphics port
See AGP.
Accelerated Hub Architecture (AHA) An
Intel technology used on its 800-series chipsets to
transfer data between the memory controller hub
(MCH), which is equivalent to the North Bridge,
and the input/output controller hub (ICH), which
is equivalent to the South Bridge. AHA transfers
data at 266MBps, twice the speed of the PCI bus
previously used.
accelerator board An add-in board replacing
the computer’s CPU with circuitry that enables
the system to run more quickly. See also graphics
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 4
access light The LED on the front of a drive or
other device (or on the front panel of the system)
that indicates the computer is reading or writing
data on the device.
access mechanism
See actuator.
access time The time that elapses from the
instant information is requested to the point that
delivery is completed. It’s usually described in
nanoseconds (ns) for memory chips and in milliseconds (ms) for disk drives. Most manufacturers
rate average access time on a hard disk as the time
required for a seek across one third of the total
number of cylinders plus one-half the time for a
single revolution of the disk platters (latency).
accumulator A register (temporary storage) in
which the result of an operation is formed.
acoustic coupler A device used to connect a
computer modem to a phone line by connecting to
the handset of a standard AT&T-style phone. The
audible sounds to and from the modem are transmitted to the handset through the coupler while
the handset is resting in the coupler. Although
often thought of as obsolete, an acoustic coupler
can be used to ensure the availability of a modem
connection when traveling and access to an RJ-11
jack is unavailable.
ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power
Interface) A standard developed by Intel,
Microsoft, and Toshiba that is designed to implement power management functions in the operating system. ACPI is a replacement for APM. See
also APM.
ACR Short for Advanced Communication Riser,
this is an alternative to CNR advocated by the ACR
Special Interest Group ( ACR, like
CNR, is designed to allow motherboard designers to
add low-cost network capabilities to motherboards
but uses the same PCI connector used by PCI
expansion cards.
Acrobat Refers to the Adobe Acrobat program
for creating and reading cross-platform documents
created in Adobe’s Portable Document Format
(PDF) file format. Many computer and component
manuals are available online in Acrobat format.
The Acrobat Reader can be downloaded free from
Adobe’s website.
active heatsink A heatsink that includes a fan.
It’s commonly used to cool processors and North
Bridge/Memory Controller Hub chips.
active high Designates a digital signal that must
go to a high value to be true. Synonymous with
active low Designates a digital signal that must
go to a low value to be true. Synonymous with
active matrix A type of LCD screen that contains at least one transistor for every pixel on the
screen. Color active matrix screens use three transistors for each pixel—one each for the red, green,
and blue dots. The transistors are arranged on a
grid of conductive material, with each connected to
a horizontal and a vertical member. See also TFT.
active partition Any partition marked as
bootable in the partition table. See also boot
actuator The device that moves a disk drive’s
read/write heads across the platter surfaces. Also
known as an access mechanism.
adapter The device that serves as an interface
between the system unit and the devices attached
to it. It’s often synonymous with a circuit board,
circuit card, or card, but it also can refer to a connector or cable adapter that changes one type of
connector to another.
adapter description files (ADF) Refers to the
setup and configuration files and drivers necessary
to install an adapter card, such as a network
adapter card. Primarily used with Micro Channel
Architecture (MCA) bus cards.
add-in board
See expansion card.
address Refers to where a particular piece of data
or other information is found in the computer. Also
can refer to the location of a set of instructions.
address bus One or more electrical conductors
used to carry the binary-coded address from the
microprocessor throughout the rest of the system.
ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line)
A high-speed transmission technology originally
developed by Bellcore and now standardized by
ANSI as T1.413. ADSL uses existing UTP copper
9:24 AM
Page 5
wires to communicate digitally at high speed
between the telephone company central office
(CO) and the subscriber. ADSL sends information
asymmetrically, meaning it is faster one way than
the other. The original ADSL speed was T-1
(1.536Mbps) downstream from the carrier to the
subscriber’s premises and 16Kbps upstream.
However, ADSL is available in a variety of configurations and speeds. See also DSL.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) A
128-bit block data encryption standard often used
to encrypt traffic in secure wireless networks.
AdvancedTCA Advanced Telecom Computing
Architecture is a new series of standards for telecom
processor blades and chassis. It is also known as the
PICMG 3.0 specification. See also PICMG.
AGP (accelerated graphics port) Developed
by Intel, AGP is a fast, dedicated interface between
the video adapter or chipset and the motherboard
chipset North Bridge. AGP is 32 bits wide; runs at
66MHz base speed; and can transfer 1, 2, 4, or 8
bits per cycle (1x, 2x, 4x, or 8x modes) for a
throughput of up to 2132MBps. AGP has been
replaced by PCI Express in newer systems.
aliasing Undesirable visual effects (sometimes
called artifacts) in computer-generated images
caused by inadequate sampling techniques. The
most common effect is jagged edges along diagonal
or curved object boundaries. See also antialiasing.
allocation unit
See cluster.
alphanumeric characters A character set that
contains only letters (A–Z) and digits (0–9). Other
characters, such as punctuation marks, also might
be allowed.
AMD Short for Advanced Micro Devices, the
number-two PC processor maker. AMD makes the
popular K6, Athlon, Opteron, and Duron series of
processors, as well as chipsets and flash memory
AMD64 AMD-developed 64-bit extensions to the
standard IA-32 system architecture (originally
known as x86-64). Supported by AMD Opteron,
Athlon 64, and other AMD 64-bit processors.
ampere The basic unit for measuring electrical
current. Also called amp.
Appendix A
ampere hour (Ah) A current of one ampere
flowing for one hour. Often used to indicate the
storage capacity of a rechargeable battery.
AMR Short for Audio/Modem Riser, AMR is an
Intel-developed specification for packaging modem
I/O ports and a codec chip into a small card that
can be installed into an AMR slot on a motherboard. Although many motherboards have AMR
slots, AMR risers have not been popular, and the
CNR specification has largely replaced AMR. See
also CNR.
analog The representation of numerical values
by physical variables such as voltage, current, and
so on; continuously variable quantities whose
values correspond to the quantitative magnitude of
the variables.
analog loopback A modem self-test in which
data from the keyboard is sent to the modem’s
transmitter, modulated into analog form, looped
back to the receiver, demodulated into digital form,
and returned to the screen for verification.
analog signals Continuously variable signals.
Analog circuits are more subject to distortion and
noise than are digital circuits but are capable of
handling complex signals with relatively simple
circuitry. See also digital signals.
analog-to-digital converter An electronic
device that converts analog signals to digital form.
AND A logic operator having the property that if
P is a statement, Q is a statement, and R is a statement, then the AND of P, Q, R is true if all statements are true and is false if any statement is false.
AND gate A logic gate in which the output is 1
only if all inputs are 1.
animation The process of displaying a sequential series of still images to achieve a motion effect.
ANSI (American National Standards
Institute) A nongovernmental organization
founded in 1918 to propose, modify, approve, and
publish data-processing standards for voluntary use
in the United States. It’s also the U.S. representative
to the International Standards Organization (ISO) in
Paris and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Contact ANSI at 1430 Broadway, New
York, NY 10018.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 6
answer mode A state in which the modem
transmits at the predefined high frequency of the
communications channel and receives at the low
frequency. The transmit/receive frequencies are the
reverse of the calling modem, which is in originate
mode. See also originate mode.
antialiasing Software adjustment to make diagonal or curved lines appear smooth and continuous
in computer-generated images. See also aliasing.
antistatic mat A pad that’s set next to a computer upon which components are placed while the
system is being serviced to prevent static damage.
Also can refer to a larger-sized mat below an entire
computer desk and chair to discharge static from a
user before he touches the computer.
antivirus Software that prevents files containing
viruses from running on a computer, or software
that detects, repairs, cleans, or removes virusinfected files.
APA (all points addressable) A mode in
which all points of a displayable image can be
controlled by the user or a program.
aperture grille A type of shadow mask used in
CRTs. The most common is used in Sony’s Trinitron
monitors, which use vertical phosphor stripes and
vertical slots in the mask, compared to the traditional shadow mask that uses phosphor dots and
round holes in the mask. See also shadow mask.
API (application programming interface)
A system call (routine) that gives programmers
access to the services provided by the operating system. In IBM-compatible systems, the ROM BIOS
and DOS together present an API that a programmer can use to control the system hardware.
APM (Advanced Power Management) A
specification sponsored by Intel and Microsoft originally proposed to extend the life of batteries in
battery-powered computers. It is now used in desktop computers as well. APM enables application
programs, the system BIOS, and the hardware to
work together to reduce power consumption. An
APM-compliant BIOS provides built-in powermanagement services to the operating system. The
application software communicates power-saving
data via predefined APM interfaces. Replaced in
newer systems by ACPI. See also ACPI.
application End-user-oriented software, such as
a word processor, spreadsheet, database, graphics
editor, game, or web browser.
Application Layer
See OSI.
arbitration A method by which multiple
devices attached to a single bus can bid or arbitrate
to get control of that bus.
archive bit The bit in a file’s attribute byte that
sets the archive attribute. Tells whether the file has
been changed since it last was backed up.
archive file A collection of files that has been
stored (often in a compressed format) within a single file. Zip and CAB files are the most common
types of archive file formats used with Windowsbased PCs. See also Zip file and CAB file.
archive medium A storage medium (floppy
disk, tape cartridge, or removable cartridge) to hold
files that need not be accessible instantly.
ARCnet (Attached Resource Computer
Network) A baseband, token-passing LAN technology offering a flexible bus/star topology for connecting personal computers. Operating at 2.5Mbps,
it is one of the oldest LAN systems and was popular
in low-cost networks. It was originally developed by
John Murphy of Datapoint Corporation. Although
ARCnet ( is no longer used for
office networking, it is still a popular choice for
networking embedded systems, such as heating and
air conditioning systems.
areal density A calculation of the bit density
(bits per inch, or BPI) multiplied by the track density (tracks per inch, or TPI), which results in a figure indicating how many bits per square inch are
present on the disk surface.
arithmetic logic unit (ALU) The portion of a
processor where arithmetic and logical operations
are performed.
ARQ (automatic repeat request) A general
term for error-control protocols that feature error
detection and automatic retransmission of defective
blocks of data.
ASCII (American Standard Code for
Information Interchange) A standard 7-bit
code created in 1965 by Robert W. Bemer to
achieve compatibility among various types of data
9:24 AM
Page 7
processing equipment. The standard ASCII character set consists of 128 decimal numbers ranging
from 0 to 127, which are assigned to letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and the most common
special characters. In 1981, IBM introduced the
extended ASCII character set with the IBM PC,
extending the code to 8 bits and adding characters
from 128 to 255 to represent additional special
mathematical, graphics, and foreign characters.
ASCII character A 1-byte character from the
ASCII character set, including alphabetic and
numeric characters, punctuation symbols, and
various graphics characters.
ASME (American Society of Mechanical
Engineers; ASME International has nearly 600 codes and standards in
print, and its many committees involve more than
3,000 individuals, mostly engineers but not necessarily members of the society. The standards are
used in more than 90 countries throughout the
aspect ratio The measurement of a film or television viewing area in terms of relative height and
width. The aspect ratio of most modern motion
pictures varies from 5:3 to as large as 16:9, which
creates a problem when a wide-format motion picture is transferred to the more square-shaped television screen or monitor, with its aspect ratio of 4:3.
See also letterbox.
assemble The act of translating a program
expressed in an assembler language into a computer machine language.
assembler language A computer-oriented language whose instructions are usually in one-to-one
correspondence with machine language instructions.
asymmetrical modulation A duplex transmission technique that splits the communications
channel into one high-speed channel and one
slower channel. During a call under asymmetrical
modulation, the modem with the greater amount
of data to transmit is allocated the high-speed
channel. The modem with less data is allocated the
slow, or back, channel. The modems dynamically
reverse the channels during a call if the volume of
data transfer changes.
Appendix A
asynchronous communication Data transmission in which the length of time between transmitted characters can vary. Timing depends on the
actual time for the transfer to take place, as
opposed to synchronous communication, which is
timed rigidly by an external clock signal. Because
the receiving modem must be signaled about when
the data bits of a character begin and end, start and
stop bits are added to each character. See also synchronous communication.
asynchronous memory Memory that runs
using a timing or clock rate different from (usually
slower than) the motherboard speed.
AT clock Refers to the Motorola 146818 realtime clock (RTC) and CMOS RAM chip, which first
debuted in the IBM AT and whose function has
been present in all PC-compatible systems since.
Keeps track of the time of day and makes this data
available to the operating system or other software.
ATA (AT Attachment Interface) An IDE disk
interface standard introduced in March 1989 that
defines a compatible register set, a 40-pin connector, and its associated signals. ATA standards are
developed and published by Technical Committee
T13 ( ATA has evolved over time,
resulting in a number of standards, the latest of
which is in development as ATA8. See also IDE,
ATAPI (AT Attachment Packet Interface) A
specification that defines device-side characteristics
for an IDE-connected peripheral, such as a CDROM or tape drive. ATAPI is essentially an adaptation of the SCSI command set to the IDE interface.
ATA-4 and newer ATA standards include ATAPI.
Athlon An AMD sixth-generation processor family roughly comparable to the Intel Pentium III and
Pentium 4. Later models (beginning with the
Thunderbird core) include on-die L2 cache running
at full core speed. It includes MMX and AMD
3DNow! instructions for multimedia performance.
Originally available in a Slot-A cartridge package,
all Athlons are now available only in the Socket-A
(462-pin) package. The Mobile Athlon XP, which
replaced the Athlon 4, is designed for mobile applications, the Athlon MP is designed for workstation/server multiprocessor configurations, and
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 8
the Athlon XP is designed mainly for single processor applications. All three use the improved
Thoroughbred core and 3DNow! Professional multimedia extensions. The Athlon XP processors
include AMD’s new QuantiSpeed design for faster
internal operation and are rated by their performances relative to the Intel Pentium 4, rather than
by their clock speeds. For example, the Athlon XP
2600+, which performs comparably to the Pentium
4 2.6GHz processor, runs at a clock speed of about
Athlon 64 An AMD processor (code-named
Clawhammer) that includes the standard 32-bit x86
instruction set as well as 64-bit extensions. It uses a
new ball grid array socket called Socket 754; an integrated DDR memory controller (instead of using the
North Bridge for memory connections); an
improved version of the AMD-developed
HyperTransport connection to AGP, PCI, and other
components; and an improved heatsink-mounting
solution. It supports MMX and AMD 3DNow!
Instructions for multimedia and uses a performancerating system similar to that used by 32-bit Athlon
processors. See also Athlon. See also Socket 754.
Athlon 64 FX An AMD processor based on the
Athlon 64, but offering an integrated dual-channel
memory controller, faster clock speeds, and a 1MB
memory cache in all models. Initial versions used
Socket 940, but later models use Socket 939, AM2
and F. See also Socket 939, Socket AM2, Socket F and
Socket 940.
Athlon 64 X2 A dual-core version of the AMD
Athlon 64 processor that features separate L2 memory caches for each core and an integrated crossbar
memory switch for fast transfer of information
between each core. This processor uses Socket 939
and AM2. See also Socket 939.
ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) A highbandwidth, low-delay, packet-like switching and
multiplexing technique. Usable capacity is segmented into fixed-size cells consisting of header
and information fields, allocated to services on
attribute byte A byte of information, held in
the directory entry of any file or folder, that
describes various attributes of the file or folder,
such as whether it is read-only or has been backed
up since it last was changed. Attributes can be set
by the DOS ATTRIB command or with Windows
ATX A motherboard and power supply form factor standard designed by Intel in 1995. It is characterized by a double row of rear external I/O
connectors on the motherboard, a single keyed
power supply connector, memory and processor
locations that are designed not to interfere with the
installation of adapter cards, and an improved cooling flow. The current specification—ATX 2.0—was
introduced in December 1996.
audio A signal that can be heard, such as
through the speaker of the PC. Many PC diagnostic
tests use both visual (onscreen) codes and audio
audio frequencies Frequencies that can be
heard by the human ear (approximately
auto-answer A setting in modems enabling
them to answer incoming calls over the phone
lines automatically.
auto-dial A feature in modems enabling them to
dial phone numbers without human intervention.
auto-disconnect A modem feature that enables
a modem to hang up the telephone line when the
modem at the other end hangs up.
auto-redial A modem or software feature that
automatically redials the last number dialed if the
number is busy or does not answer.
A special batch file DOS and
Windows 9x execute at startup. Contains any number of DOS commands that are executed automatically, including the capability to start programs at
startup. See also batch file.
autoloader A tape or Iomega REV–based drive
that contains multiple media cartridges and a
mechanism for removing and inserting cartridges as
each cartridge is filled.
automatic head parking Disk drive head
parking performed whenever the drive is powered
off. Found in all modern hard disk drives with a
voice-coil actuator.
9:24 AM
Page 9
available memory Memory currently not in
use by the operating system, drivers, or applications, which can be used to load additional
average access time The average time it takes a
disk drive to begin reading any data placed anywhere on the drive. This includes the average seek
time, which is when the heads are moved, as well
as the latency, which is the average amount of time
required for any given data sector to pass underneath the heads. Together, these factors make up
the average access time. See also average seek time
and latency.
average latency The average time required for
any byte of data stored on a disk to rotate under
the disk drive’s read/write head. Equal to one-half
the time required for a single rotation of a platter.
average seek time The average amount of time
it takes to move the heads from one random cylinder location to another, usually including any head
settling time. In many cases, the average seek time
is defined as the seek time across one-third of the
total number of cylinders.
AVI (audio video interleave) A storage technique developed by Microsoft for its Video for
Windows product that combines audio and video
into a single frame or track, saving valuable disk
space and keeping audio in synchronization with
the corresponding video. AVI files are widely supported by media players and video production
AWG American Wire Gauge, a U.S. standard for
measuring the thickness of copper and aluminum
wire for electrical and data-transmission use.
Thinner wire is used to save space and for short
distances, but thicker wire has less resistance and
is better for long wire runs.
B Channel The bearer channel in an ISDN network. It’s used to carry data at a rate of 64KBps.
See also BRI.
backbone The portion of the Internet or wide
area network (WAN) transmission wiring that connects the main Internet/WAN servers and routers
and is responsible for carrying the bulk of the
Internet/WAN data.
Appendix A
backplane A rarely used motherboard design in
which the components typically found on a
motherboard are instead located on an expansion
adapter card plugged into a slot. In these systems,
the board with the slots is the backplane. The PCI
Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG)
single-board computer designs for rackmount systems are the primary users of backplane designs
backup The process of duplicating a file or
library onto a separate piece of media. It’s good
insurance against the loss of an original. Depending on how the backup was made, the data might
need to be restored with a special program before
backup disk Contains information copied from
another disk. Used to ensure that original information is not destroyed or altered.
backward compatibility The design of software and hardware to work with previous versions
of the same software or hardware.
bad sector A disk sector that can’t hold data
reliably because of a media flaw or damaged format
bad track table A label affixed to the casing of
an ST412/506 or ESDI hard disk drive that tells
which tracks are flawed and incapable of holding
data. The listing is entered into the low-level formatting program. Modern ATA (IDE) and SCSI
drives are low-level formatted during manufacture
and don’t have (or need) a bad track table.
balanced signal Refers to signals consisting of
equal currents moving in opposite directions.
When balanced or nearly balanced signals pass
through twisted-pair lines, the electromagnetic
interference effects—such as crosstalk caused by the
two opposite currents—largely cancel each other
out. Differential signaling (used by some types of
SCSI interfaces) is a method that uses balanced
balun Short for balanced/unbalanced. A type of
transformer that enables balanced cables to be
joined with unbalanced cables. Twisted-pair
(balanced) cables, for example, can be joined
with coaxial (unbalanced) cables if the proper
balun transformer is used.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 10
bandwidth 1) Generally, the measure of the
range of frequencies within a radiation band
required to transmit a particular signal. The difference between the lowest and highest signal frequencies. The bandwidth of a computer monitor is
a measure of the rate at which a monitor can handle information from the display adapter. The
wider the bandwidth, the more information the
monitor can carry and the greater the resolution.
2) to describe the data-carrying capacity of a given
communications circuit or pathway. The bandwidth of a circuit is a measure of the rate at which
information can be passed.
bank The collection of memory chips or modules that make up a block of memory readable or
writeable by the processor in a single cycle. This
block, therefore, must be as large as the data bus of
the particular microprocessor. In PC systems, the
processor data bus (and therefore the bank size) is
usually 8, 16, 32, or 64 bits wide. Optionally, some
systems also incorporate an additional parity or
ECC bit for each 8 data bits, resulting in a total of
9, 18, 36, or 72 bits (respectively) for each bank.
Memory in a PC always must be added or removed
in full-bank increments. The number of memory
chips or modules that make up a bank varies with
the width of the memory in bits and the size of the
processor’s data bus. For example, a K6-2 processor
has a data bus that is 64 bits wide. If the motherboard uses 72-pin SIMMs (which are 32 data bits
wide), a bank is two SIMMs. However, if the
motherboard uses DIMMs, which are 64 data bits
wide, a bank is one DIMM.
bar code The code used on consumer products
and inventory parts for identification purposes.
Consists of bars of varying thickness that represent
characters and numerals that are read with an optical reader. The most common version is called the
universal product code (UPC).
base-2 Refers to the computer numbering system
that consists of two numerals: 0 and 1. Also called
base address Starting location for a consecutive
string of memory or I/O addresses/ports.
base memory The amount of memory available
to the operating system or application programs
within the first megabyte, accessible in the processor’s real mode.
base pointer (BP/EBP/RPB) A 16/32/64-bit
Intel architecture processor register pointing to data
in a stack segment.
baseband transmission The transmission of
digital signals over a limited distance. ARCnet and
Ethernet local area networks use baseband signaling. Contrasts with broadband transmission, which
refers to the transmission of analog signals over a
greater distance.
BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic
Instruction Code) A popular computer programming language originally developed by John
Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz in the mid-1960s at
Dartmouth College. Normally, BASIC is an interpretive language, meaning that each statement is
translated and executed as it is encountered, but it
can be a compiled language, in which all the program statements are compiled before execution.
Microsoft Visual Basic, a popular development
environment for Windows, is not related to BASIC.
batch file A set of commands stored in a disk
file for execution by the operating system. A special
batch file called AUTOEXEC.BAT is executed by DOS
each time the system is started. All DOS and
Windows batch files have a .BAT file extension.
baud A unit of signaling speed denoting the
number of discrete signal elements that can be
transmitted per second. The word baud is derived
from the name of J.M.E. Baudot (1845–1903), a
French pioneer in the field of printing telegraphy
and the inventor of Baudot code. Although technically inaccurate, baud rate commonly is used to
mean bit rate. Because each signal element or baud
can translate into many individual bits, bits per second (bps) usually differs from baud rate. A rate of
2,400 baud means that 2,400 frequency or signal
changes per second are being sent, but each frequency change can signal several bits of information. For example, 33.6Kbps modems actually
transmit at only 2,400 baud.
Baudot code A 5-bit code used in many types of
data communications, including teletype (TTY),
radio teletype (RTTY), and telecommunications
devices for the deaf (TDD). Baudot code has been
revised and extended several times. See also baud.
bay An opening in a computer case or chassis
that holds disk drives.
9:24 AM
Page 11
Appendix A
BBS (bulletin board system) A computer that
operates with a program and a modem to enable
other computers with modems to communicate
with it, often on a round-the-clock basis. Although
BBSs were once the primary means of distributing
information and software, the Internet has almost
completely replaced BBSs.
bisynchronous (binary synchronous control)
An earlier protocol developed by IBM for software
applications and communicating devices operating
in synchronous environments. The protocol defines
operations at the link level of communications—for
example, the format of data frames exchanged
between modems over a phone line.
benchmark A test or set of tests designed to
compare the performance of hardware or software.
A popular set of benchmarks for PC hardware are
the SYSmark, MobileMark and WebMark series,
available from BAPCO (Business Applications
Performance Corporation—
bit binary digit Represented logically by 0 or 1
and electrically by 0 volts and (typically) 5 volts.
Other methods are used to represent binary digits
physically (tones, different voltages, lights, and so
on), but the logic is always the same.
bezel A cosmetic panel that covers the face of a
drive or some other device.
Bézier curve A mathematical method for
describing a curve, often used in illustration and
CAD programs to draw complex shapes.
BGA (ball grid array) A packaging technology
used by Socket 478 Pentium 4 and Celeron processors, as well as many recent motherboard chipsets
and video card memory chips. BGA uses small
solder balls instead of pin connectors to enable
more signaling paths to exist in a smaller space
and improve signal accuracy.
bidirectional 1) Refers to lines over which data
can move in two directions, such as a data bus or
telephone line. 2) Refers to the capability of a
printer to print from right to left and from left to
right alternately.
See base-2.
BIOS (basic input/output system) The part
of an operating system that handles the communications between the computer and its peripherals.
The BIOS is often burned into read-only memory
(ROM) chips or rewritable flash (EEPROM) memory
chips found on motherboards and expansion cards,
such as video cards and SCSI and ATA/IDE host
adapters. See also firmware.
bipolar A category of semiconductor circuit
design that was used to create the first transistor
and the first integrated circuit. Bipolar and CMOS
are the two major transistor technologies. Almost
all personal computers use CMOS technology
chips. CMOS uses far less energy than bipolar.
bit density Expressed as bits per inch (bpi).
Defines how many bits can be written onto one
linear inch of a track. Sometimes also called linear
bit depth The number of bits used to describe
the color of each pixel on a computer display. For
example, a bit depth of two (22) means the monitor
can display only black and white pixels; a bit depth
of four (24) means the monitor can display 16 different colors; a bit depth of eight (28) allows for 256
colors; and so on.
bitmap A method of storing graphics information in memory, in which a bit devoted to each
pixel (picture element) onscreen indicates whether
that pixel is on or off. A bitmap contains a bit for
each point or dot on a video display screen and
enables fine resolution because any point or pixel
onscreen can be addressed. A greater number of bits
can be used to describe each pixel’s color, intensity,
and other display characteristics.
blade server A thin circuit board that contains
processors, memory, and (often) storage and plugs
into a special rack-mounted chassis. Multiple-blade
servers can occupy a single chassis.
BladeCenter A blade server design developed by
IBM that might become the basis for a de facto
blade architecture standard.
blank or blanking interval A period in
which no video signal is received by a monitor
while the videodisc or digital video player searches
for the next video segment or frame to display.
block A string of records, words, or characters
formed for technical or logic reasons and to be
treated as an entity.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 12
block diagram The logical structure or layout
of a system in graphics form. Does not necessarily
match the physical layout and does not specify all
the components and their interconnections.
Blu-ray Disc (BD) One of the two competing
high-definition DVD format standards. Also see
High Density Digital Versatile Disc (HD-DVD).
Blue Book The standard for enhanced CDs
(CD-E). CD-E media contains both music (for play
on standard CD players) and computer content.
Developed by Philips and Sony in 1995.
blue screen of death A system crash in
Windows that replaces the normal desktop with a
blue screen with white text reporting the problem
and locks up the system. Also referred to as a
BSOD, this condition can be triggered by defective
memory, file system errors, and other system
Bluetooth An emerging short-range networking
standard, Bluetooth is designed to enable PCs,
mobile phones, input devices, and PDAs to
exchange data with each other. Bluetooth uses the
same 2.4GHz frequency range used by some types
of wireless phones and by the IEEE 802.11b Wi-Fi
wireless Ethernet network. Bluetooth has a speed of
1Mbps or 2Mbps, depending on the version.
BMP A Windows graphics format that can
be device dependent or independent. Deviceindependent BMP files (DIB) are coded for translation to a wide variety of displays and printers.
BNC (Bayonet-Neill-Concelman) Also known
as British-Naval-Connector, Baby-N-Connector, or
Bayonet-Nut-Coupler, this bayonet-locking connector is noted for its excellent shielding and
impedance-matching characteristics, resulting in
low noise and minimal signal loss at any frequency
up to 4GHz. It is used in Ethernet 10BASE-2 networks (also known as IEEE 802.3 or Thinnet) to terminate coaxial cables. It is also used for some
high-end video monitors. BNC is named for its
connection type (bayonet) and its co-developers.
bonding In ISDN, joining two 64Kbps B-channels
to achieve 128Kbps speed. Bonding can also be used
with analog modems that use the Multilink Pointto-Point protocol, which is supported by Windows
98 and newer versions but by only a few ISPs.
Boolean operation Any operation in which
each of the operands and the result take one of two
values. A Boolean search can be performed with
many search engines used on websites and help
files using operators such as AND, OR, and NOT.
boot To load a program into the computer. The
term comes from the phrase “pulling a boot on by
the bootstrap.”
boot manager A program that enables you to
select which active partition to boot from. Often
supplied with aftermarket disk-partitioning programs, such as PartitionMagic, or installed by
default when you install a Windows upgrade into a
separate disk partition instead of replacing your old
version. See also active partition.
boot record The first sector on a disk or partition that contains disk parameter information for
the BIOS and operating system as well as bootstrap
loader code that instructs the system how to load
the operating system files into memory, thus beginning the initial boot sequence to boot the machine.
boot sector
See boot record.
boot sector virus A virus designed to occupy
the boot sector of a disk. Any attempt to start or
boot a system from this disk transfers the virus to
the hard disk, after which it subsequently is loaded
every time the system is started. Many older PC
viruses, particularly those spread by infected floppy
disks, are boot sector viruses.
bootstrap A technique or device designed to
bring itself into a desired state by means of its own
action. The term is used to describe the process by
which a device such as a PC goes from its initial
power-on condition to a running condition without human intervention. See also boot.
boule Purified, cylindrical silicon crystals from
which semiconducting electronic chips, including
microprocessors, memory, and other chips, in a PC
are manufactured. Also called an ingot.
bps (bits per second) The number of binary
digits, or bits, transmitted per second. Sometimes
confused with baud.
branch prediction A feature of fifth-generation
(Pentium and higher) processors that attempts to
predict whether a program branch will be taken and
then fetches the appropriate following instructions.
9:24 AM
Page 13
BRI Short for basic rate interface, it’s a form of
ISDN used in home and small business applications. A 2B+1D BRI service has two B channels and
a single D channel for signaling and control uses.
bridge In local area networks, an interconnection between two similar networks. Also the hardware equipment used to establish such an
broadband transmission A term used to
describe analog transmission. Requires modems for
connecting terminals and computers to the network. Using frequency division multiplexing, many
signals or sets of data can be transmitted simultaneously. The alternative transmission scheme is baseband, or digital, transmission.
brownout An AC supply voltage drop in which
the power does not shut off entirely but continues
to be supplied at lower-than-normal levels.
See blue screen of death.
BTX Short for Balanced Technology Extended, this
is a PC and server architecture introduced by Intel
in September 2003. BTX is designed to improve
internal cooling by placing memory and processors
in line with cooling fans.
bubble memory A special type of nonvolatile
read/write memory introduced by Intel in which
magnetic regions are suspended in crystal film and
data is maintained when the power is off. A typical
bubble memory chip contains about 512KB, or
more than four million bubbles. Bubble memory
failed to catch on because of slow access times measured in several milliseconds. It has, however,
found a niche use as solid-state “disk” emulators in
environments in which conventional drives are
unacceptable, such as in military or factory use.
buffer A block of memory used as a holding
tank to store data temporarily. Often positioned
between a slower peripheral device and the faster
computer. All data moving between the peripheral
and the computer passes through the buffer. A
buffer enables the data to be read from or written
to the peripheral in larger chunks, which improves
performance. A buffer that is x bytes in size usually
holds the last x bytes of data that moved between
the peripheral and CPU. This method contrasts
with that of a cache, which adds intelligence to the
buffer so that the most often accessed data, rather
Appendix A
than the last accessed data, remains in the buffer
(cache). A cache can improve performance greatly
over a plain buffer.
bug An error or a defect in a program; it can be
corrected through program patches (for applications or operating systems) or firmware updates (for
BIOS chips).
burn-in The operation of a circuit or equipment
to establish that its components are stable and to
screen out defective parts or assemblies.
BURN-Proof Short for buffer underrun error-proof,
it’s a technology developed by Sanyo to prevent
buffer underruns during the creation of CD-Rs.
BURN-Proof, which has been licensed to many
CD-RW drive makers, enables a drive to pause the
burning process and continue after sufficient data
is available in the drive’s buffer. The drive and
CD-mastering software must both support BURNProof for this feature to work. Ricoh’s JustLink
works in a similar fashion. See also lossless linking.
burst mode A memory-cycling technology that
takes advantage of the fact that most memory
accesses are consecutive in nature. After the row
and column addresses for a given access are set up,
burst mode can then access the next three adjacent
addresses with no additional latency.
Burst Static RAMs (BSRAMs) Short for
Pipeline Burst SRAM, BSRAMs are a common type of
static RAM chip used for memory caches where
access to subsequent memory locations after the
first byte is accessed takes fewer machine cycles.
bus A linear electrical signal pathway over which
power, data, and other signals travel. It is capable
of connecting to three or more attachments. A bus
is generally considered to be distinct from radial or
point-to-point signal connections. The term comes
from the Latin omnibus, meaning “for all.” When
used to describe a topology, bus always implies a
linear structure.
bus mouse An obsolete type of mouse used in
the 1980s that plugs into a special mouse expansion board (occasionally incorporated into a video
card) instead of a serial port or motherboard mouse
port. The bus mouse connector looks similar to a
motherboard mouse (sometimes called PS/2 mouse)
connector, but the pin configurations are different
and not compatible.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 14
busmaster An intelligent device that, when
attached to the Micro Channel, EISA, VLB, or PCI
bus, can bid for and gain control of the bus to perform its specific task without processor intervention. Most recent motherboards incorporate
busmastering ATA/IDE host adapters, but this feature must be enabled in both the BIOS and through
the installation of Windows drivers to be effective.
byte A collection of bits that makes up a character or other designation. Generally, a byte is 8 data
bits. When referring to system RAM, an additional
parity (error-checking) bit is also stored (see parity),
making the total 9 bits.
C A high-level computer programming language.
A programming language frequently used on mainframes, minis, and PC computer systems. C++ is a
popular variant.
C3 A Socket 370-compatible processor developed
by VIA Technology from the Cyrix “Joshua” after
VIA purchased Cyrix from National Semiconductor.
The C3 is noted for its very small die size and cool
operation, making it a suitable choice for portable
computers and embedded computers.
CAB file Short for cabinet file, this is the archive
file type used by Microsoft to distribute recent versions of Windows and applications. Newer versions
of WinZip and 7-Zip can be used to manually
extract files from a CAB file; you can also open CAB
files within Windows Explorer with Windows 98
after you install the Windows 98 Plus! package and
with Windows Explorer in Windows 2000 and later.
cable modem A broadband Internet device that
receives data through the cable TV system. The
cable modem can be a one-way device (using a
conventional analog modem for dialing and
uploading) or a two-way device.
CableLabs Certified Cable Modem A cable
modem that meets the Data or Cable Service
Interface Specifications (DOCSIS) standards for
modulation and protocols. Various brands and
models of modems meet this standard on cable networks that also meet this standard. DOCSIS/
CableLabs Certified Cable Modems can be purchased as well as leased.
cache An intelligent buffer. By using an intelligent algorithm, a cache contains the data accessed
most often between a slower peripheral device and
the faster CPU. See also L1 cache, L2 cache, and disk
cache coherency A method of managing
processor caches in multiprocessor systems to
ensure that data is not lost when it is moved from
cache to main memory.
caddy A cartridge designed to hold a CD or DVD
disc. Some CD drives use caddies, particularly in
harsh or industrial environments. DVD-RAM drives
also use a caddy to protect the disc.
CAM (Common Access Method) A committee
formed in 1988 that consists of several computer
peripheral suppliers and is dedicated to developing
standards for a common software interface between
SCSI peripherals and host adapters.
candela Abbreviated cd, a candela is the standard unit of measurement for luminosity. The
brightness of LCDs and other types of displays is
sometimes measured in cd units.
capacitor A device consisting of two plates separated by insulating material and designed to store
an electrical charge.
card A printed circuit board containing electronic components that form an entire circuit, usually designed to plug into a connector or slot.
Sometimes also called an adapter.
card edge connector
See edge connector.
CardBus A PC Card (PCMCIA) specification for a
32-bit interface that runs at 33MHz and provides
32-bit data paths to the computer’s I/O and memory systems, as well as a new shielded connector
that prevents CardBus devices from being inserted
into slots that do not support the latest version of
the PC Card (PCMCIA) standard. CardBus slots can
also be used with normal 16-bit PC Card (PCMCIA)
carpal tunnel syndrome A painful hand
injury that gets its name from the narrow tunnel in
the wrist that connects ligament and bone. When
undue pressure is put on the tendons, they can
9:24 AM
Page 15
swell and compress the median nerve, which carries impulses from the brain to the hand, causing
numbness, weakness, tingling, and burning in the
fingers and hands. Computer users get carpal tunnel syndrome primarily from improper keyboard
ergonomics that result in undue strain on the wrist
and hand.
carrier A continuous frequency signal capable of
being either modulated or impressed with another
information-carrying signal. The reference signal
used for the transmission or reception of data. The
most common use of this signal with computers
involves modem communications over phone
lines. The carrier is used as a signal on which the
information is superimposed.
carrier detect signal A modem interface signal
that indicates to the attached data terminal equipment (DTE) that it is receiving a signal from the
distant modem. Defined in the RS-232 specification. Same as the received line-signal detector.
CAT Short for category, CAT describes the
ANSI/EIA 568 wiring standards used for data transmission. The most common CAT standards include
CAT 3 (16Mbps maximum data rate, suitable for
10BASE-T Ethernet) and CAT 5 (used for 100BASE-T
Fast Ethernet or 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet).
cathode ray tube (CRT) A device that contains
electrodes surrounded by a glass sphere or cylinder
and displays information by creating a beam of
electrons that strike a phosphor coating inside the
display unit. This device is most commonly used in
computer monitors and terminals.
CAV (constant angular velocity) An optical
disk recording format in which the data is recorded
on the disk in concentric circles. CAV disks are
rotated at a constant speed. This is similar to the
recording technique used on floppy disk drives.
CAV limits the total recorded capacity compared to
CLV (constant linear velocity), which also is used in
optical recording. See also CLV.
CCITT An acronym for the Comité Consultatif
International de Télégraphique et Téléphonique (in
English, the International Telegraph and Telephone
Consultative Committee or the Consultative
Committee for International Telegraph and
Telephone). Renamed ITU (International
Telecommunications Union). See also ITU.
Appendix A
CCS (common command set) A set of SCSI
commands specified in the ANSI SCSI-1 Standard
X3.131-1986 Addendum 4.B. All SCSI devices must
be capable of using the CCS to be fully compatible
with the ANSI SCSI-1 standard.
CD (compact disc or compact audio disc) A
4.75" (12cm) optical disc that contains information
encoded digitally in the constant linear velocity
(CLV) format. This popular format for high-fidelity
music offers 90 decibels signal/noise ratio, 74 minutes of digital sound, and no degradation of quality
from playback. The standards for this format
(developed by NV Philips and Sony Corporation)
are known as the Red Book. The official (and rarely
used) designation for the audio-only format is CDDA (compact disc-digital audio). The simple audio
format is also known as CD-A (compact disc-audio).
A smaller (3") version of the CD is known as CD-3.
CD burner Refers to either a CD-R or CD-RW
drive. See also DVD burner.
CD+G (Compact Disc+Graphics) A CD format
that includes extended graphics capabilities as written into the original CD-ROM specifications.
Includes limited video graphics encoded into the
CD subcode area. Originally developed and marketed by Warner New Media (later Time Warner
Interactive), it’s a popular choice for self-contained
karaoke systems.
CD-I (Compact Disc-Interactive) A compact
disc format released in October 1991 that provides
audio, digital data, still graphics, and motion video.
The standards for this format (developed by NV
Philips and Sony Corporation) are known as the
Green Book. CD-I did not catch on with consumers
and is now considered obsolete.
CD+MIDI (Compact Disc+Musical
Instrument Digital Interface) A CD format
that adds to the CD+G format digital audio, graphics information, and musical instrument digital
interface (MIDI) specifications and capabilities.
Originally developed and marketed by Warner New
Media (later Time Warner Interactive).
CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable, sometimes
called CD-writable) CD-R discs are compact
discs that can be recorded and read as many times
as desired. CD-R is part of the Orange Book standard defined by ISO. CD-R technology is used for
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 16
mass production of multimedia applications. CD-R
discs can be compatible with CD-ROM, CD-ROM
XA, and CD audio. Orange Book specifies multisession capabilities, which enable data recording on
the disc at various times in several recording sessions. Multisession capability enables data such as
digital photos, digital music, or other types of data
files to be added to a single disc on different occasions. The original capacity of CD-R media was
650MB (74 minutes), but most recent CD-ROM and
compatible optical drives support the larger 700MB
(80-minute) media.
CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory)
A 4.75" laser-encoded optical memory storage
medium with the same constant linear velocity
(CLV) spiral format as audio CDs and some
videodiscs. CD-ROMs can hold about 650MB of
data and require more error-correction information
than the standard prerecorded compact audio discs.
The standards for this format (developed by NV
Philips and Sony Corporation) are known as the
Yellow Book. See also CD-ROM XA.
CD-ROM drive A device that retrieves data from
a CD-ROM disc; it differs from a standard audio CD
player by the incorporation of additional errorcorrection circuitry. CD-ROM drives usually can
also play music from audio CDs.
CD-ROM XA (compact disc-read-only memory extended architecture) The XA standard
was developed jointly by Sony, Philips, and
Microsoft in 1988 and is now part of the Yellow
Book standard. XA is a built-in feature of newer
CD-ROM drives and supports simultaneous sound
playback with data transfer. Non-XA drives support
either sound playback or data transfer, but not both
simultaneously. XA also enables data compression
right on the disk, which also can increase data
transfer rates.
CD-RW (compact disc-rewritable) A type of
rewritable CD-ROM technology defined in Part III
of the Orange Book standard that uses a different
type of disc, which the drive can rewrite at least
1,000 times. CD-RW drives also can be used to
write CD-R discs, and they can read CD-ROMs.
CD-RWs have a lower reflectivity than standard
CD-ROMs, and CD-ROM drives must be of the
newer multiread variety to read them. CD-RW was
initially known as CD-E (for CD-erasable).
CD Video A CD format introduced in 1987 that
combines 20 minutes of digital audio and 6 minutes of analog video on a standard 4.75" CD. Upon
introduction, many firms renamed 8" and 12"
videodiscs CDV in an attempt to capitalize on the
consumer popularity of the audio CD. The term fell
out of use in 1990 and was replaced in some part
by “laser disc” and, more recently, “DVD.” See also
video-on-CD or video CD.
CD-WO (compact disc-write once) A variant
on CD-ROM that can be written to once and read
many times; developed by NV Philips and Sony
Corporation. Also known as CD-WORM (CD-write
once/read many), CD-recordable, or CD-writable.
Standards for this format are known as the Orange
See CD-WO.
CDMA Short for code division multiple access, a
popular family of wireless protocols used in cellular
phones for Internet and email access.
CEB Short for Compact Electronics Bay, this is an
SSI form factor for rack-mounted servers. See also
Server System Infrastructure (SSI).
Celeron A family of processors that are low-cost
versions of the Pentium II, Pentium III, and
Pentium 4 processors. The major differences
include a smaller amount of L2 cache and lower
clock speeds.
Centronics connector Refers to one of two
types of cable connectors used with either parallel
(36-pin edge connector) or SCSI (50-pin edge connector) devices.
ceramic substrate A thin, flat, fired-ceramic
part used to hold an IC chip (usually made of
beryllium oxide or aluminum oxide).
CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche
Nucléaire; The European Laboratory for
Particle Physics) The site in Geneva where the
World Wide Web was created in 1989.
CGA (color graphics adapter) A type of PC
video display adapter introduced by IBM on August
12, 1981, which supports text and graphics. Text is
supported at a maximum resolution of 80×25 characters in 16 colors with a character box of 8×8
pixels. Graphics are supported at a maximum
9:24 AM
Page 17
resolution of 320×200 pixels in 16 colors or
640×200 pixels in two colors. The CGA outputs a
TTL (digital) signal with a horizontal scanning frequency of 15.75KHz and supports TTL color or
NTSC composite displays.
channel 1) Any path along which signals can be
sent. 2) In ISDN, data bandwidth is divided into
two B-channels that bear data and one D-channel
that carries information about the call.
character A representation—coded in binary
digits—of a letter, number, or other symbol.
character set All the letters, numbers, and characters a computer can use to represent data. The
ASCII standard has 256 characters, each represented
by a binary number from 1 to 256. The ASCII set
includes all the letters in the alphabet, numbers,
most punctuation marks, some mathematical symbols, and other characters.
charge coupled device A light-sensing and
storage device used in scanners and digital cameras
to capture the pixels.
chassis The case used by a desktop PC or server.
A server platform includes a chassis, a motherboard, processor(s), and other components.
check bit
See parity.
checksum Short for summation check, a technique for determining whether a package of data is
valid. The package, a string of binary digits, is
added up and compared with the expected number.
chip Another name for an IC, or integrated circuit. Housed in a plastic or ceramic carrier device
with pins for making electrical connections.
chip carrier A ceramic or plastic package that
carries an integrated circuit.
chipkill An advanced form of ECC memory correction that can correct multiple-bit failures in a
single memory module. Also known as Advanced
ECC. See also ECC.
chipset A single chip or pair of chips that integrates into the clock generator, bus controller, system timer, interrupt controller, DMA controller,
CMOS RAM/clock, and keyboard controller. See
also North Bridge and South Bridge.
Appendix A
CHS (cylinder head sector) The term used to
describe the nontranslating scheme used by the
BIOS to access IDE drives that are less than or equal
to 528MB in capacity. See also LBA.
CIF (common image format) The standard
sample structure that represents the picture information of a single frame in digital HDTV, independent of frame rate and sync/blank structure. The
uncompressed bit rate for transmitting CIF at 29.97
frames/sec is 36.45Mbps.
CIOB One of a series of I/O bridge chips used by
the Broadcom ServerWorks series of server chipsets.
A complete electronic path.
circuit board The collection of circuits gathered
on a sheet of plastic, usually with all contacts made
through a strip of pins. The circuit board usually is
made by chemically etching metal-coated plastic.
CISC (complex instruction set computer)
Refers to traditional computers that operate with
large sets of processor instructions. Most modern
computers, including the Intel 80xxx processors,
are in this category. CISC processors have expanded
instruction sets that are complex in nature and
require several to many execution cycles to complete. This structure contrasts with RISC (reduced
instruction set computer) processors, which have
far fewer instructions that execute quickly.
clean room 1) A dust-free room in which certain electronic components (such as chips or hard
disk drives) must be manufactured and serviced to
prevent contamination. Rooms are rated by Class
numbers. A Class 100 clean room must have fewer
than 100 particles larger than 0.5 microns per cubic
foot of space. 2) A legal approach to copying software or hardware in which one team analyzes the
product and writes a detailed description, followed
by a second team that reads the description written
by the first and then develops a compatible version
of the product. When done correctly, such a design
methodology will survive a legal attack.
client/server A type of network in which every
computer is either a server with a defined role of
sharing resources with clients or a client that can
access the resources on the server.
clock (CLK) The source of a computer’s timing
signals. It synchronizes every operation of the CPU.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 18
clock multiplier A processor feature where the
internal core runs at a higher speed than the motherboard or processor bus. See also overclocking.
clock speed A measurement of the rate at which
the clock signal for a device oscillates, usually
expressed in millions of cycles per second (MHz).
clone Originally referred to an IBM-compatible
computer system that physically as well as electrically emulates the design of one of IBM’s personal
computer systems. More currently, it refers to any
PC system running an Intel or compatible processor
in the 80x86 family.
cluster Also called allocation unit. A group of one
or more sectors on a disk that forms a fundamental
unit of storage to the operating system. Cluster, or
allocation unit, size is determined by the operating
system when the disk is formatted. Larger clusters
generally offer faster system performance but waste
disk space.
CLV (constant linear velocity) An optical
recording format in which the spacing of data is
consistent throughout the disk and the rotational
speed of the disk varies depending on which track
is being read. Additionally, more sectors of data are
placed on the outer tracks compared to the inner
tracks of the disk, which is similar to zone recording on hard drives. CLV drives adjust the rotational
speed to maintain a constant track velocity as the
diameter of the track changes. CLV drives also
rotate more quickly near the center of the disk and
more slowly toward the edge. Rotational adjustment maximizes the amount of data that can be
stored on a disk. CD audio and CD-ROM use CLV
recording. See also CAV.
CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) A type of chip design that requires little
power to operate. In PCs, a battery-powered CMOS
memory and clock chip is used to store and maintain the clock setting and system configuration
CMYK (cyan magenta yellow black) The
standard four-color model used for printing.
CNR Short for Communications and Networking
Riser, CNR was developed by Intel as a replacement
for the AMR. It enables motherboard makers to
offer low-cost modem, networking, and audio
features through a special expansion slot. Unlike
AMR, a CNR slot can be built as a shared slot with
a PCI slot. See also AMR.
coated media Hard disk platters coated with a
reddish iron-oxide medium on which data is
coaxial cable Also called coax cable. A datatransmission medium noted for its wide bandwidth, immunity to interference, and high cost
compared to other types of cable. Signals are transmitted inside a fully shielded environment, in
which an inner conductor is surrounded by a solid
insulating material and then an outer conductor or
shield. Used in many local area network systems,
such as Ethernet and ARCnet.
COBOL (Common Business-Oriented
Language) A high-level computer programming
language used primarily by some larger companies.
It has never achieved popularity on personal and
small business computers.
code page A table used in DOS 3.3 and later that
sets up the keyboard and display characters for various foreign languages.
code page switching A DOS feature in versions
3.3 and later that changes the characters displayed
onscreen or printed on an output device. Primarily
used to support foreign-language characters.
Requires an EGA or better video system and an
IBM-compatible graphics printer.
CODEC (coder-decoder) A device that converts
voice signals from their analog form to digital signals acceptable to more modern digital PBXs and
digital transmission systems. It then converts those
digital signals back to analog so you can hear and
understand what the other party is saying. Also
refers to compression/decompression software used
in the creation of digital audio and video files, such
as MP3 and MPEG, and for videophone programs.
coercivity A measurement in units of oersteds of
the amount of magnetic energy to switch or
“coerce” the flux change in the magnetic recording
media. High-coercivity disk media require a
stronger write current.
cold boot The act of starting or restarting a computer from a powered-off state. If the system is on,
this requires cycling the power off and then back
on. A cold boot causes all RAM to be forcibly
cleared. See also warm boot.
9:24 AM
Page 19
collision In a LAN, if two computers transmit a
packet of data at the same time on the network,
the data can become garbled, which is known as a
collision detection/avoidance A process used
on a LAN to prevent data packets from interfering
with each other and to determine whether data
packets have encountered a collision and initiate a
resend of the affected packets.
color graphics adapter
See CGA.
color palette The colors available to a graphics
adapter for display.
COM port A serial port on a PC that conforms to
the RS-232 standard. See also RS-232.
COMDEX The largest international computer
trade show and conference in the world, managed
by MediaLive International, Inc. See for the latest information.
command An instruction that tells the computer to start, stop, or continue an operation.
An operating system file that is
loaded last when the computer is booted. This is
the command interpreter or user interface and
program-loader portion of DOS.
command interpreter The operating system
program that controls a computer’s shell or user
interface. The command interpreter for MS-DOS
(and the command-line sessions in Windows
9x/Me) is COMMAND.COM; the command interpreter
for the graphical shell in Windows versions
through 9x/Me is WIN.COM; the command interpreter for NT-based versions of Windows (including
Windows 2000 and later) is CMD.COM.
common The ground or return path for an electrical signal. If it’s a wire, it usually is colored black.
common mode noise Noise or electrical disturbances that can be measured between a current- or
signal-carrying line and its associated ground.
Common mode noise is frequently introduced to
signals between separate computer equipment components through the power distribution circuits. It
can be a problem when single-ended signals are
used to connect different equipment or components that are powered by different circuits.
Appendix A
CompactFlash An ATA flash memory card physical format approximately one third the size of a
standard PC Card. Often abbreviated CF or CF+,
CompactFlash cards are identical in function to
standard ATA Flash PC Cards (PCMCIA) but use
50 pin connectors instead of 68. ATA flash cards
contain built-in disk controller circuitry to enable
the card to function as a solid-state disk drive. CF
cards can plug into a CompactFlash socket or with
an adapter into a standard Type I or II PC Card
(PCMCIA) slot. CF cards are used by many types of
digital cameras.
CompactPCI The PICMG standard for PCI-based
industrial computers, CompactPCI boards plug into
a 220-pin IEC-1076 bus.
compatible 1) In the early days of the PC industry when IBM dominated the market, a term used
to refer to computers from other manufacturers
that had the same features as a given IBM model.
2) In general, software or hardware that conforms
to industry standards or other de facto standards so
that it can be used in conjunction with or in lieu of
other versions of software or hardware from other
vendors in a like manner.
compiler A program that translates a program
written in a high-level language into its equivalent
machine language. The output from a compiler is
called an object program.
complete backup A backup of all information
on a hard disk, including the directory tree
composite video Television picture information
and sync pulses combined. The complete wave
form of the color video signal composed of chrominance and luminance picture information; blanking pedestal; field, line, and color-sync pulses; and
field-equalizing pulses. Some video cards have an
RCA jack that outputs a composite video signal. See
also RGB.
compressed file A file that has been reduced in
size via one or more compression techniques. See
also archive file.
computer A device capable of accepting data,
applying prescribed processes to this data, and displaying the results or information produced.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 20
computer-based training (CBT) The use of a
computer to deliver instruction or training; also
known as computer-aided (or assisted) instruction
(CAI), computer-aided learning (CAL), computerbased instruction (CBI), and computer-based learning (CBL).
A file that can be created to tell DOS
how to configure itself when the machine starts up.
It can load device drivers, set the number of DOS
buffers, and so on.
configuration file A file kept by application
software to record various aspects of the software’s
configuration, such as the printer it uses. Windows
uses .INI files and the Windows Registry to control
its configuration.
console The unit, such as a terminal or a keyboard, in your system with which you communicate with the computer.
contiguous Touching or joined at the edge or
boundary, in one piece.
continuity In electronics, an unbroken pathway.
Testing for continuity usually means testing to
determine whether a wire or other conductor is
complete and unbroken (by measuring 0 ohms). A
broken wire shows infinite resistance (or infinite
Continuity Rambus Inline Memory Module
(CRIMM) A blank memory module used to fill
empty sockets in Rambus memory installations.
control cable The wider of the two cables that
connect an ST-506/412 or ESDI hard disk drive to a
controller card. A 34-pin cable that carries commands and acknowledgments between the drive
and controller.
controller The electronics that control a device,
such as a hard disk drive, and intermediate the passage of data between the device and computer.
controller card An adapter holding the control
electronics for one or more devices, such as hard
disks. Ordinarily occupies one of the computer’s
conventional memory The first megabyte or
first 640KB of system memory accessible by an Intel
processor in real mode. Sometimes called base
convergence Describes the capability of a color
monitor to focus the three colored electron beams
on a single point. Poor convergence causes the
characters onscreen to appear fuzzy and can cause
headaches and eyestrain.
coprocessor An additional computer processing
unit designed to handle specific tasks in conjunction with the main or central processing unit.
copy protection A hardware or software
scheme to prohibit making illegal copies of a
core An old-fashioned term for computer memory. Also the name given to the internal microarchitecture as well as the brand of a family of Intel
multi-core processors first introduced in July 2006.
core speed The internal speed of a processor.
With all modern processors, this speed is faster
than the system bus speed, and that speed relationship is regulated by the clock multiplier in the
CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers, originally Control Program/
Monitor) An operating system created by Gary
Kildall, the founder of Digital Research. Created for
the old 8-bit microcomputers that used the 8080,
8085, and Z-80 microprocessors. It was the dominant operating system in the late 1970s and early
1980s for small computers used in business
cps (characters per second) A data transfer
rate generally estimated from the bit rate and character length. At 2,400 bps, for example, 8-bit
characters with start and stop bits (for a total of
10 bits per character) are transmitted at a rate of
approximately 240 cps. Some protocols, such as
V.42 and MNP, employ advanced techniques such
as longer transmission frames and data compression to increase characters per second.
CPU (central processing unit) The computer’s
microprocessor chip—the brains of the outfit.
Typically, an integrated circuit using VLSI (verylarge-scale integration) technology to pack several
functions into a tiny area. The most common electronic device in the CPU is the transistor, of which
several thousand to several million or more are
9:24 AM
Page 21
crash A malfunction that brings work to a halt.
A system crash usually is caused by a software malfunction, and ordinarily you can restart the system
by rebooting the machine. A head crash, however,
entails physical damage to a disk and probable
data loss.
CRC (cyclic redundancy checking) An errordetection technique consisting of a cyclic algorithm
performed on each block or frame of data by both
sending and receiving modems. The sending
modem inserts the results of its computation in
each data block in the form of a CRC code. The
receiving modem compares its results with the
received CRC code and responds with either a positive or negative acknowledgment. In the ARQ protocol implemented in high-speed modems, the
receiving modem accepts no more data until a
defective block is received correctly.
crossbar A type of memory controller that interchanges data between different memory paths. It’s
used in some server chipsets and advanced graphics
crosstalk The electromagnetic coupling of a signal on one line with another nearby signal line.
Crosstalk is caused by electromagnetic induction,
where a signal traveling through a wire creates a
magnetic field that induces a current in other
nearby wires. Various methods, including twisting
wire pairs and placing ground wires between data
wires, are used to combat crosstalk and create more
reliable data communications.
CRT (cathode-ray tube) A term used to
describe a television or monitor screen tube.
current The flow of electrons, measured in
amperes, or amps.
cursor The small, flashing underline or I-beam
character that appears onscreen to indicate the
point at which any input from the keyboard will
be placed.
cycle The time for a signal to transition from one
leading edge to the next leading edge.
cyclic redundancy checking
See CRC.
cylinder The set of tracks on a disk that are on
each side of all the disk platters in a stack and are
the same distance from the center of the disk. A
given cylinder contains all of the tracks that can be
Appendix A
read without moving the heads. A floppy drive
with two heads usually has 160 tracks, which are
accessible as 80 cylinders. A typical 120GB hard
disk will physically have about 56,000 cylinders, six
heads (three platters), and an average of about 700
sectors per track, for a total of about 235,200,000
sectors (120.4GB).
Cyrix Originally a Texas-based maker of Intelcompatible math coprocessor chips, Cyrix later
developed low-cost, plug-compatible 6x86 and
6x86MX Pentium-class processors that were manufactured by IBM and other fabricators. Cyrix also
developed the first chipsets with integrated audio
and video (the MediaGX series). Cyrix was later
absorbed into National Semiconductor, which
retained the MediaGX technology when it sold
Cyrix to VIA Technologies. VIA formerly developed
and sold the VIA Cyrix MII, a low-cost Super Socket
7 processor, and currently sells and develops the
C3, developed from the Cyrix “Joshua” processor.
See also C3 and VIA Technologies.
D/A converter (DAC) A device that converts
digital signals to analog form. See also RAMDAC.
D-channel In ISDN, a 16Kbps channel used to
transmit control data about a connection.
daisy-chain Stringing up components in such a
manner that the signals move serially from one to
the other. Most microcomputer multiple disk drive
systems are daisy-chained. The SCSI bus system is a
daisy-chain arrangement, in which the signals
move from computer to disk drives to tape units,
and so on. USB and IEEE-1394 devices also use the
daisy-chain arrangement when hubs are used.
daisywheel printer An impact printer that
prints fully formed characters one at a time by
rotating a circular print element composed of a
series of individual spokes, each containing two
characters that radiate from a center hub. Produces
letter-quality output but has long been replaced by
laser and LED printers.
DAT (digital audio tape) A small cassette containing 4mm-wide tape used for storing large
amounts of digital information. DAT technology
emerged in Europe and Japan in 1986 as a way to
produce high-quality, digital audio recordings and
was modified in 1988 to conform to the digital data
storage (DDS) standard for storing computer data.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 22
Raw/2:1 compressed capacities for a single tape are
2/4GB for DDS, 4/8GB for DDS-2, 12/24GB for
DDS-3, 20/40GB for DDS-4, and 36/72GB for DAT
72 (the latest standard).
data 1) Groups of facts processed into information. A graphic or textural representation of facts,
concepts, numbers, letters, symbols, or instructions
used for communication or processing. 2) An
android from the twenty-fourth century with a processing speed of 60 trillion operations per second
and a storage capacity of 800 quadrillion bits, and
who serves on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D with
the rank of lieutenant commander.
data bus The connection that transmits data
between the processor and the rest of the system.
The width of the data bus defines the number of
data bits that can be moved into or out of the
processor in one cycle.
data cable Generically, a cable that carries data.
Specific to HD connections, the narrower (20-pin)
of two cables that connects an ST-506/412 or ESDI
hard disk drive to a controller card.
data communications A type of communication in which computers and terminals can
exchange data over an electronic medium.
data compression A technique in which mathematical algorithms are applied to the data in a file
to eliminate redundancies and thus reduce the size
of the file. See also lossless compression and lossy
Data Link Layer In networking, the layer of
the OSI reference model that controls how the electrical impulses enter or leave the network cable.
Ethernet and Token-Ring are the two most common examples of Data Link Layer protocols. See
also OSI.
data separator A device that separates data and
clock signals from a single encoded signal pattern.
Usually, the same device performs both data separation and combination and is sometimes called an
endec, or encoder/decoder.
data transfer rate The maximum rate at which
data can be transferred from one device to another.
daughterboard Add-on board to increase functionality and/or memory. Attaches to the existing
DB-9 A 9-pin D-shell connector, primarily used
for PC serial ports.
DB-25 A 25-pin D-shell connector, primarily used
for PC parallel ports.
DC Direct current, such as that provided by a
power supply or batteries.
DC-600 (Data Cartridge 600) A data-storage
medium invented by 3M in 1971 that uses a
1/4"-wide tape 600 feet in length.
DCE (data communications equipment)
The hardware that performs communication—usually a dialup modem that establishes and controls
the data link through the telephone network.
See also DTE.
DDE (dynamic data exchange) A form of
interprocess communications used by Microsoft
Windows to support the exchange of commands
and data between two applications running simultaneously. This capability has been enhanced further with object linking and embedding (OLE).
DDoS (distributed denial of service) Refers
to a type of denial-of-service attack that uses multiple computers that have been taken over by an
intruder to attack a targeted system. See also DoS.
DDR (double data rate) A type of SDRAM that
allows two accesses per clock cycle, doubling the
effective speed of the memory. The most common
types of DDR include PC2100 (also known as DDR
266MHz), PC2700 (also known as DDR 333MHz)
and PC3200 (also known as DDR 400MHz). See also
DDR2 (double data rate 2) A type of SDRAM
that enables two accesses per clock cycle, doubling
the effective speed of the memory. DDR2 has more
robust signaling allowing for higher speeds than
conventional DDR. See also DDR and SDRAM.
DDR3 (double data rate 3) A type of SDRAM
that enables two accesses per clock cycle, doubling
the effective speed of the memory. DDR3 has more
robust signaling allowing for higher speeds than
DDR2. See also DDR, DDR2 and SDRAM.
de facto standard A software or hardware technology not officially made a standard by any recognized standards organization but that is used as a
reference for consumers and vendors because of its
dominance in the marketplace.
9:24 AM
Page 23
DEBUG The name of a utility program included
with DOS and used for specialized purposes, such
as altering memory locations, tracing program execution, patching programs and disk sectors, and
performing other low-level tasks.
decibel (dB) A logarithmic measure of the ratio
between two powers, voltages, currents, sound
intensities, and so on. Signal-to-noise ratios are
expressed in decibels.
dedicated line A user-installed telephone line
that connects a specified number of computers or
terminals within a limited area, such as a single
building. The line is a cable rather than a publicaccess telephone line. The communications channel also can be referred to as nonswitched because
calls do not go through telephone company switching equipment.
dedicated servo surface In voice-coil-actuated
hard disk drives, this is one side of one platter
given over to servo data that is used to guide and
position the read/write heads.
default Any setting assumed at startup or reset
by the computer’s software and attached devices
that is operational until changed by the user. An
assumption the computer makes when no other
parameters are specified. When you type DIR without specifying the drive to search, for example, the
computer assumes you want it to search the default
drive. The term default is used in software to
describe any action the computer or program takes
on its own with embedded values.
defect map A list of unusable sectors and tracks
coded onto a drive during the low-level format
defragmentation The process of rearranging
disk sectors so files are stored on consecutive sectors in adjacent tracks.
degauss 1) To remove magnetic charges or to
erase magnetic images. Normal applications include
CRT monitors and disks or tapes. Most monitors
incorporate a degaussing coil, which surrounds the
CRT, and automatically energize this coil for a few
seconds when powered up to remove color or
image-distorting magnetic fields from the metal
mask inside the tube. Some monitors include a button or control that can be used for additional applications of this coil to remove more stubborn
Appendix A
magnetic traces. 2) The act of erasing or demagnetizing a magnetic disk or tape using a special tool
called a degaussing coil.
density The amount of data that can be packed
into a certain area on a specific storage media.
A personal computer that sits on a desk.
device driver Originally, a memory-resident
program loaded by CONFIG.SYS that controls an
unusual device, such as an expanded memory
board. Windows also uses device drivers, but they
are loaded through the Windows Registry or
.INI files.
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration
Protocol) A protocol for assigning dynamic IP
addresses to devices on a network. With dynamic
addressing, a device can have a different IP address
every time it connects to the network. Routers,
gateways, and broadband modems can function as
DHCP hosts to provide IP addresses to other computers and devices on the network.
Dhrystone A benchmark program used as a
standard figure of merit indicating aspects of a
computer system’s performance in areas other than
floating-point math performance. Because the program does not use any floating-point operations,
performs no I/O, and makes no operating system
calls, it is most useful for measuring the processor
performance of a system. The original Dhrystone
program was developed in 1984 and was written in
Ada, although the C and Pascal versions became
more popular by 1989.
DHTML (Dynamic HTML) A collective term
for cascading style sheets, layering, dynamic fonts,
and other features encompassed in standard HTML
4.0, Netscape Navigator 4.x and above, and
Internet Explorer 4.x and above. Because of differences in how browsers interpret particular DHTML
features, many developers incorporate browserchecking code into their web pages to enable or
disable certain features depending on the browser
being used to view the page.
diagnostics Programs used to check the operation of a computer system. These programs enable
the operator to check the entire system for any
problems and indicate in which area the
problems lie.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 24
dialup adapter In Windows, a software program that uses a modem to emulate a network
interface card for networking. Most commonly
used to connect to an Internet service provider or a
dialup server for remote access to a LAN.
die An individual chip (processor, RAM, or other
integrated circuit) cut from a finished silicon chip
wafer and built into the physical package that connects it to the rest of the PC or a circuit board.
differential An electrical signaling method in
which a pair of lines are used for each signal in
“push-pull” fashion. In most cases, differential signals are balanced so that the same current flows on
each line in opposite directions. This is unlike single-ended signals, which use only one line per signal referenced to a single ground. Differential
signals have a large tolerance for common-mode
noise and little crosstalk when used with twistedpair wires even in long cables. Differential signaling
is expensive because two pins are required for
each signal.
digital camera A type of camera that uses a
sensor and internal or removable flash memory in
place of film to record still images. Digital cameras’
picture quality is usually rated in megapixels. See
also megapixel.
digital loopback A test that checks the
modem’s RS-232 interface and the cable that connects the terminal or computer and the modem.
The modem receives data (in the form of digital signals) from the computer or terminal and immediately returns the data to the screen for verification.
digital noise reduction (DNR) Reduces audio
or video noise by the application of an algorithm
on digital audio or video data.
digital signals Discrete, uniform signals. In this
book, the term refers to the binary digits 0 and 1.
digital signature An electronic identifier used
to authenticate a message or the contents of a file.
Windows 98 and above are designed to prefer digitally signed device drivers (drivers approved by the
Windows Hardware Quality Labs) and will warn
you if you try to install an unsigned device driver.
digital-to-analog converter (DAC) A device
for converting digital signals to analog signals.
VGA-based displays are analog, so video cards that
connect to them include a DAC to convert the signals to analog to drive the display.
digital video recorder (DVR) A video recorder
(TiVo, for example) that stores the recording in a
digital format, often used for time-shifting digital
television programs.
digitize To transform an analog wave to a digital
signal a computer can store. Conversion to digital
data and back is performed by a D/A converter
(DAC), often a single-chip device. How closely a
digitized sample represents an analog wave depends
on the number of times the amplitude of a wave is
measured and recorded (the rate of digitization), as
well as the number of levels that can be specified at
each instance. The number of possible signal levels
is dictated by the resolution in bits.
DIMM (dual inline memory module) A
series of memory modules used in Pentium and
newer PCs. They are available in many different
versions, including those with SDRAM, DDR or
DDR2, 3.3V, 2.5V or 1.8V, buffered, unbuffered or
registered, and in 64-bit (non-ECC/parity) or 72-bit
(ECC/parity) form. See also DDR, DDR2, and
DIP (dual inline package) A family of rectangular, integrated-circuit flat packages that have
leads on the two longer sides. Package material is
plastic or ceramic.
DIP switch A tiny switch (or group of switches)
on a circuit board. Named for the form factor of
the carrier device in which the switch is housed.
Direct Media Interface (DMI) A 2GBps highspeed bus used by Intel in its E7xxx server and 9xx
desktop chipsets. Also known as Integrated Hub
Architecture (IHA) 2.0.
direct memory access (DMA) A process by
which data moves between a disk drive (or other
device) and system memory without direct control
of the central processing unit, thus freeing it up for
other tasks.
Direct Rambus DRAM
directory An area of a disk that stores the titles
given to the files saved on the disk and serves as a
table of contents for those files. Contains data that
identifies the name of a file, the size, the attributes
(system, hidden, read-only, and so on), the date
9:24 AM
Page 25
and time of creation, and a pointer to the location
of the file. Each entry in a directory is 32 bytes
long. Windows refers to subdirectories (directories
beneath the root directory) as folders.
DirectX A set of graphics-related drivers and
APIs that translates generic hardware commands
into specific commands for particular pieces of
hardware. Developed by Microsoft, DirectX lets
graphical or multimedia applications take advantage of specific features supported by various
graphics accelerators.
disc Flat, circular, rotating medium that can store
various types of information, both analog and digital. Disc is often used in reference to optical storage
media, whereas disk refers to magnetic storage
media. Disc also is often used as a short form for
videodisc or compact audio disc (CD).
Disk At Once (DAO) A method of burning CDs
and DVDs where the entire disc is burned in a
single session.
disk Alternative spelling for disc that generally
refers to magnetic storage medium on which information can be accessed at random. Floppy disks
and hard disks are examples.
disk access time
See access time.
disk cache A portion of memory on the PC
motherboard or on a drive interface card or controller used to store frequently accessed information from the drive (such as the file allocation table
[FAT] or directory structure) to speed up disk access.
With a larger disk cache, additional data from the
data portion of a drive can be cached as well. See
also cache, L1 cache, and L2 cache.
Appendix A
gray. Grayscale dithering is used to produce different shades of gray when the device can produce
only limited levels of black or white outputs. Color
screens or printers use dithering to create additional colors by mixing and varying the dot sizing
and spacing. For example, when converting from
24-bit color to 8-bit color (an 8-bit palette has only
256 colors compared to the 24-bit palette’s millions), dithering adds pixels of different colors to
simulate the original color. Error diffusion is a type
of dithering best suited for photographs.
DLC (Data Link Control) Refers to the Data
Link Layer in the OSI model. Every network interface card (NIC) has a unique DLC address or DLC
identifier (DLCI) that identifies the node on the
network. For Ethernet networks, the DLC address is
usually called the Media Access Control (MAC)
DLL (Dynamic Link Library) An executable
driver program module for Microsoft Windows that
can be loaded on demand, linked in at runtime,
and subsequently unloaded when the driver is no
longer needed.
DLT (digital linear tape) A tape drive technology that writes data in multiple linear tracks as tape
is wound forward and backward. Supports native/
2:1 compressed capacities of up to 80/160GB. See
also Super DLT (SDLT).
See direct memory access.
display A device used for viewing information
generated by a computer.
DMI (Desktop Management Interface) DMI
is an operating-system– and protocol-independent
standard developed by the Desktop Management
Task Force (DMTF) for managing desktop systems
and servers. DMI provides a bidirectional path to
interrogate all the hardware and software components within a PC, enabling hardware and software
configurations to be monitored from a central station in a network.
display adapter The interface between the
computer and the monitor that transmits the signals which appear as images on the display. This
can take the form of an expansion card or a chip
built into the motherboard.
DNS (domain name system or service) An
Internet service that translates domain names into
numeric IP addresses. Every time you use a domain
name, a DNS server must translate the name into
the corresponding IP address.
dithering The process of creating more colors
and shades from a given color palette. In monochrome displays or printers, dithering varies the
black-and-white dot patterns to simulate shades of
docking station Equipment that enables a laptop or notebook computer to use peripherals and
accessories normally associated with desktop
disk partition
See partition.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 26
See CableLabs Certified Cable Modem.
doping Adding chemical impurities to silicon
(which is naturally a nonconductor) to create a
material with semiconductor properties that is then
used in the manufacturing of electronic chips.
DoS (denial of service) An Internet attack on a
resource that prevents users from accessing email,
websites, or other services. It usually exploits security shortcomings in email or web servers. See also
DOS (Disk Operating System) A collection of
programs stored on the DOS disk that contain routines enabling the system and user to manage
information and the hardware resources of the
computer. DOS must be loaded into the computer
before other programs can be started.
dot pitch A measurement of the width of the
dots that make up a pixel. The smaller the dot
pitch, the sharper the image.
dot-matrix printer An impact printer that
prints characters composed of dots. Characters are
printed one at a time by pressing the ends of
selected wires against an inked ribbon and paper.
dots per inch (dpi) A measure of resolution
used primarily for printers and scanners.
double-conversion online UPS An advanced
UPS design that converts AC power to DC for UPS
battery charging and then back to AC. This type of
UPS provides excellent power conditioning and
supports long run times and multiple servers with a
single unit.
double density (DD) An indication of the storage capacity of a floppy drive or disk in which
eight or nine sectors per track are recorded using
MFM encoding. See also MFM encoding.
download The process of receiving files from
another computer.
downtime Operating time lost because of a
computer malfunction.
DPMI (DOS Protected Mode Interface) An
industry-standard interface that allows DOS applications to execute program code in the protected
mode of the 286 or later Intel processor. The DPMI
specification is available from Intel.
DPMS (Display Power Management
Signaling) A VESA standard for signaling a
monitor or display to switch into energy conservation mode. DPMS provides for two low-energy
modes: standby and suspend.
DRAM (dynamic random access memory)
The most common type of computer memory,
DRAM can be manufactured very inexpensively
compared to other types of memory. DRAM chips
are small and inexpensive because they normally
require only one transistor and a capacitor to represent each bit. The capacitors must be energized
every 15ms or so (hundreds of times per second) to
maintain their charges. DRAM is volatile, meaning
it loses data with no power or without regular
refresh cycles.
drive A mechanical device that manipulates data
storage media.
driver A program designed to interface a particular piece of hardware to an operating system or
other standard software.
drum The cylindrical photoreceptor in a laser
printer that receives the document image from the
laser and applies it to the page as it slowly rotates.
DSL (digital subscriber line) A high-speed
digital modem technology. DSL is either symmetric
or asymmetric. Asymmetric provides faster downstream speeds, which is suited for Internet usage
and video on demand. Symmetric provides the
same rate coming and going. See also ADSL.
DSM (digital storage media) A digital storage
or transmission device or system.
DSP (digital signal processor) Dedicated,
limited-function processor often found in modems,
sound cards, cellular phones, and so on.
DTE (data terminal [or terminating] equipment) The device, usually a computer or terminal, that generates or is the final destination of
data. See also DCE.
dual cavity pin grid array Chip packaging
designed by Intel for use with the Pentium Pro
processor that houses the processor die in one
cavity of the package and the L2 cache memory in
a second cavity within the same package.
9:24 AM
Page 27
dual-core processor A processor that contains
two distinct physical processor cores in a single
package. This type of processor provides most
of the benefits of dual processor designs at a
lower cost.
dual independent bus (DIB) architecture
A processor technology with the existence of two
independent buses on the processor—the L2 cache
bus and the processor-to-main memory system bus.
The processor can use both buses simultaneously,
thus getting as much as two times more data into
and out of the processor than a single bus architecture processor. The Intel Pentium Pro, Pentium II,
and newer processors from Intel and AMD (such as
the AMD Athlon and Duron) have DIB architecture.
dual scan display A lower-quality but economical type of LCD color display that has an array of
transistors running down the x and y axes of two
sides of the screen. The number of transistors determines the screen’s resolution.
dumb terminal A screen and keyboard device
with no inherent processing power connected to a
computer that is usually remotely located.
duplex Indicates a communications channel
capable of carrying signals in both directions.
Duron A low-cost version of the Athlon processor with less L2 cache. Available in the Socket A
(462-pin) chip package.
DVD (digital versatile disc) Originally called
digital video disc, DVD is a type of high-capacity
CD-ROM disc and drive format with up to 28 times
the capacity of a standard CD-ROM. The disc is the
same diameter as a CD-ROM but can be recorded
on both sides and on two layers for each side. Each
side holds 4.7GB on a single layer disc, whereas
dual-layer versions hold 8.5GB per side, for a maximum of 17GB total if both sides and both layers
are used, which is the equivalent of 28 CD-ROMs.
DVD drives can read standard audio CDs and
DVD burner Popular term for a rewritable DVD
drive, particularly one that uses DVD-R/RW or
DVD+R/RW media.
DVD-A A DVD format designed to support highquality music and audio. DVD-A uses 24-bit sampling at 96KHz, significantly better than CD audio
Appendix A
(16-bit at 44.1KHz). Unlike DVD, DVD-A discs can
be played on conventional CD players but produce
the highest quality only when played on DVD-A
DVD-R A writeable DVD format compatible with
standalone DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.
DVD-R was introduced by Pioneer and was released
to the DVD Forum ( in July
1997. It uses a wobbled-groove recording process to
store 4.7GB of data and is optimized for sequential
data access. See also DVD-RW.
DVD-R DL A dual-layer DVD format based on
DVD-R that supports up to 8.5GB of data. See also
DVD+R A writeable DVD format compatible with
standalone DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.
DVD+R was developed by the DVD+RW Alliance
(, whose members include
Microsoft, Sony, HP, and Dell. In addition, it is supported by second-generation DVD+RW drives and
holds 4.7GB of data. DVD+R/RW are the most compatible, fastest, most capable, and most popular of
all the recordable DVD formats. See also DVD+RW.
DVD+R DL A dual-layer DVD format based on
DVD+R that supports up to 8.5GB of data. See also
DVD-RAM A rewritable DVD format developed
by Panasonic, Toshiba, and Hitachi and supported
by the DVD Forum. DVD-RAM is the oldest DVD
rewritable format, but because the media uses a
caddy and has a lower reflectivity than normal
DVD media, DVD-RAM discs are not compatible
with other types of DVD drives or with standalone
DVD players. Older DVD-RAM drives use media in
caddies, but newer drives do not use caddies.
DVD-RW A rewritable DVD format developed by
Pioneer and released to the DVD Forum in
November 1999. It uses a phase-change technology
similar to CD-RW. As with most CD-RW media and
drives, the entire disc must be formatted before it
can be used. Its write speed is also lower than
DVD+RW, and the entire disc must be erased before
it can be used to store new data. See also DVD-R.
DVD+RW A rewritable DVD format developed
by the DVD+RW Alliance; the first DVD+RW drives
were released in 2001. DVD+RW uses a phasechange technology similar to CD-RW and DVD-RW.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 28
DVD+R/RW are the most compatible, fastest, most
capable, and most popular of all the recordable
DVD formats. See also DVD+R.
DVD±RW A DVD drive capable of reading and
writing to both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW media.
Some of these drives also support some or all of
these media types: DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL, and
DVI (Digital Video Interactive) A standard
that was originally developed at RCA Laboratories
and sold to Intel in 1988. DVI integrates digital
motion, still video, sound, graphics, and special
effects in a compressed format. DVI is a highly
sophisticated hardware compression technique used
in interactive multimedia applications.
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) The current de
facto standard for LCD displays developed by the
Digital Display Working Group in April 1999.
DVI-D provides digital signals only, whereas DVI-I
(which is more common) provides both digital and
analog signals. A DVI-I connector can be converted
to VGA with an external adapter.
Dvorak keyboard A keyboard design by August
Dvorak that was patented in 1936 and approved by
ANSI in 1982. Provides increased speed and comfort and reduces the rate of errors by placing the
most frequently used letters in the center for use by
the strongest fingers. Finger motions and awkward
strokes are reduced by more than 90% in comparison with the familiar QWERTY keyboard. The
Dvorak keyboard has the five vowel keys (A, O, E,
U, I) together under the left hand in the center row
and the five most frequently used consonants (D,
H, T, N, S) under the fingers of the right hand.
dynamic execution A processing technique
that enables the processor to dynamically predict
the order of instructions and execute them out of
order internally if necessary for an improvement in
speed. Uses these three techniques: Multiple Branch
Prediction, Data Flow Analysis, and Speculative
E2000 Also called Energy 2000, this is a Swissdeveloped standard for power management that
calls for computer monitors to use only 5 watts of
power when in standby mode.
EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal
Interchange Code) An IBM-developed, 8-bit
code for the representation of characters. It allows
256 possible character combinations within a single
byte. EBCDIC is the standard code on IBM minicomputers and mainframes, but not on the IBM
microcomputers, where ASCII is used instead.
ECC (error correcting code) A type of system
memory or cache that is capable of detecting and
correcting some types of memory errors without
interrupting processing.
ECP (enhanced capabilities port) A type of
high-speed parallel port jointly developed by
Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard that offers improved
performance for the parallel port and requires special hardware logic. ECP ports use both an IRQ and
a DMA channel. See also IEEE 1284.
edge connector The part of a circuit board containing a series of printed contacts that is inserted
into an expansion slot or a connector.
EDO (extended data out) RAM A type of
RAM chip that enables a timing overlap between
successive accesses, thus improving memory
cycle time.
EEB Entry-Level Electronics Bay is a specification
for pedestal servers developed by SSI. See also Server
System Infrastructure (SSI).
EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) A type of nonvolatile
memory chip used to store semipermanent information in a computer, such as the BIOS. An EEPROM can be erased and reprogrammed directly in
the host system without special equipment. This is
used so manufacturers can upgrade the ROM code
in a system by supplying a special program that
erases and reprograms the EEPROM chip with the
new code. Also called flash ROM.
EGA (enhanced graphics adapter) A type of
PC video display adapter first introduced by IBM
on September 10, 1984, that supports text and
graphics. Text is supported at a maximum resolution of 80×25 characters in 16 colors with a character box of 8×14 pixels. Graphics are supported at a
maximum resolution of 640×350 pixels in 16 (from
9:24 AM
Page 29
a palette of 64) colors. The EGA outputs a TTL (digital) signal with a horizontal scanning frequency of
15.75KHz, 18.432KHz, or 21.85KHz, and it supports
TTL color or TTL monochrome displays.
EIA (Electronic Industries Association) An
organization that defines electronic standards in
the United States.
EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive
Electronics) A specific Western Digital implementation of the ATA-2 specification. See also
eight-way server
A server containing eight
EISA (Extended Industry Standard
Architecture) An extension of the Industry
Standard Architecture (ISA) bus developed by IBM
for the AT. The EISA design was led by Compaq
Corporation. Later, eight other manufacturers (AST,
Epson, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy,
Wyse, and Zenith) joined Compaq in a consortium
founded September 13, 1988. This group became
known as the “gang of nine.” The EISA design was
patterned largely after IBM’s Micro Channel
Architecture (MCA) in the PS/2 systems, but unlike
MCA, EISA enables backward compatibility with
older plug-in adapters. EISA products became obsolete after the development of the PCI slot architecture. See also PCI.
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) An intense
pulse of electromagnetic radiation, often from a
nuclear explosion.
electronic mail (email) A method of transferring messages from one computer to another.
electrostatic discharge (ESD) The grounding
of static electricity. A sudden flow of electricity
between two objects at different electrical potentials. ESD is a primary cause of integrated circuit
damage or failure.
ELF (extremely low frequency) A very lowfrequency electromagnetic radiation generated by
common electrical appliances, including computer
monitors. The Swedish MPR II standard governs
this and other emissions. Also called VLF (very
low frequency).
EM64T Intel’s implementation of the AMD64
64-bit processor architecture. See also AMD64.
Appendix A
embedded controller In disk drives, this is a
controller built into the same physical unit that
houses the drive rather than on a separate adapter
card. IDE and SCSI drives both use embedded controllers.
embedded servo data Magnetic markings
embedded between or inside tracks on disk drives
that use voice-coil actuators. These markings enable
the actuator to fine-tune the position of the
read/write heads.
EMM (expanded memory manager) A driver
that provides a software interface to expanded
memory. EMMs were originally created for
expanded memory boards but also can use the
memory management capabilities of the 386 or
later processors to emulate an expanded memory
board. EMM386.EXE is an example of an EMM that
comes with DOS and Windows 9x.
EMS (Expanded Memory Specification)
Sometimes also called the LIM spec because it was
developed by Lotus, Intel, and Microsoft. Provides a
way for microcomputers running under DOS to
access additional memory. EMS memory management provides access to a maximum of 32MB of
expanded memory through a small (usually 64KB)
window in conventional memory. EMS is a cumbersome access scheme designed primarily for pre-286
systems that could not access extended memory.
emulator A piece of test apparatus that emulates
or imitates the function of a particular chip.
encoding The protocol by which data is carried
or stored by a medium.
encryption The translation of data into unreadable codes to maintain security.
End User License Agreement (EULA) A type
of license or legal contract used for most software,
the application of which often depends on simply
opening the package.
endec (encoder/decoder) A device that takes
data and clock signals and combines (or encodes)
them using a particular encoding scheme into a
single signal for transmission or storage. The same
device also later separates (or decodes) the data and
clock signals during a receive or read operation.
Sometimes called a data separator.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 30
Energy Star A certification program started by
the Environmental Protection Agency. Energy
Star–certified computers and peripherals are
designed to draw less than 30 watts of electrical
energy from a standard 110-volt AC outlet during
periods of inactivity. Also called Green PCs. See also
Enhanced CD (CD-E)
See Blue Book.
enhanced graphics adapter
See EGA.
enhanced small device interface
e-PCI-X The PICMG 1.2 embedded PCI-X specification for passive backplane computers. See also
EPIC Short for Explicitly Parallel Instruction
Computing; the RISC-based 64-bit processor architecture used by the Intel Itanium and Itanium 2
processors. EPIC is not the same architecture as
AMD64 or EM64T. See also RISC.
EPP (enhanced parallel port) A type of parallel port developed by Intel, Xircom, and Zenith
Data Systems that operates at almost ISA bus speed
and offers a tenfold increase in the raw throughput
capability over a conventional parallel port. EPP is
especially designed for parallel port peripherals,
such as LAN adapters, disk drives, and tape backups. See also IEEE 1284.
EPROM (erasable programmable read-only
memory) A type of read-only memory (ROM) in
which the data pattern can be erased to allow a
new pattern. EPROM usually is erased by ultraviolet
light and recorded by a higher-than-normal voltage
programming signal.
equalization A compensation circuit designed
into modems to counteract certain distortions
introduced by the telephone channel. Two types
are used: fixed (compromise) equalizers and those
that adapt to channel conditions (adaptive). Goodquality modems use adaptive equalization.
error control Various techniques that check the
reliability of characters (parity) or blocks of data.
V.42, MNP, and HST error-control protocols use
error detection (CRC) and retransmission of error
frames (ARQ).
error message A word or combination of words
to indicate to the user that an error has occurred
somewhere in the program.
ESCD (extended system configuration data)
An area in CMOS or flash/NVRAM where plug-andplay information is stored.
ESDI (Enhanced Small Device Interface) A
hardware standard developed by Maxtor and standardized by a consortium of 22 disk drive manufacturers on January 26, 1983. A group of 27
manufacturers formed the ESDI steering committee
on September 15, 1986, to enhance and improve
the specification. A high-performance interface
used primarily with hard disks, ESDI enables a maximum data transfer rate to and from a hard disk of
between 10Mbps and 24Mbps. ESDI was replaced
by IDE and SCSI interfaces. ESDI drives use the
same 34-pin and 20-pin cables used by
ST412/ST506 drives.
Ethernet A type of network protocol developed
in the late 1970s by Bob Metcalf at Xerox
Corporation and endorsed by the IEEE. One of the
oldest LAN communications protocols in the personal computing industry, Ethernet networks use a
collision-detection protocol to manage contention.
Ethernet is defined by the IEEE 802.3 standard.
See also 10BASE-T.
expanded memory Otherwise known as EMS
memory, this is memory that conforms to the EMS
specification. Requires a special device driver and
conforms to a standard developed by Lotus, Intel,
and Microsoft.
expansion card An integrated circuit card that
plugs into an expansion slot on a motherboard to
provide access to additional peripherals or features
not built into the motherboard. Also called an
add-in board.
expansion slot A slot on the motherboard that
physically and electrically connects an expansion
card to the motherboard and the system buses.
extended graphics array
See XGA.
extended memory Direct processor-addressable
memory addressed by an Intel (or compatible) 286
or more advanced processor in the region beyond
the first megabyte. Addressable only in the processor’s protected mode of operation.
9:24 AM
Page 31
extended partition A nonbootable DOS partition (also supported by Windows) containing DOS
volumes. Starting with DOS v3.3, the FDISK program can create two partitions that serve DOS: an
ordinary, bootable partition (called the primary partition) and an extended partition, which can contain as many as 23 volumes from D: to Z:.
external device
the system case.
A peripheral installed outside
extra-high density (ED) An indication of the
storage capacity of a floppy drive or disk in which
36 sectors per track are recorded using a vertical
recording technique with MFM encoding.
FAQ (frequently asked questions) Name for
a list of popular questions and answers covering
any particular subject.
Fast Ethernet Popular term for 100BASE-T and
other 100Mbps versions of Ethernet. Fast Ethernet
uses CAT 5 cable.
Fast Page Mode RAM A type of RAM that
improves on standard DRAM speed by enabling
faster access to all the data within a given row of
memory by keeping the row address the same and
changing only the column.
Fast-ATA (fast AT attachment interface)
Also called Fast ATA-2, these are specific Seagate
and Quantum implementations of the ATA-2 interface. See also ATA-2.
FAT (file allocation table) A table held near
the outer edge of a disk that tells which sectors are
allocated to each file and in what order.
FAT32 A disk file allocation system from
Microsoft that uses 32-bit values for FAT entries
instead of the 16-bit values used by the original
FAT system, enabling partition sizes up to 2TB (terabytes). Although the entries are 32 bits, 4 bits are
reserved and only 28 bits are used. FAT32 first
appeared in Windows 95B and is also supported by
Windows 98 and later.
fault tolerance The capability of a computer to
withstand a failure. Many levels of fault tolerance
exist, and fault tolerance can be applied to several
components or systems in the computer. For example, ECC (error correcting code) memory is
Appendix A
considered fault tolerant because it is typically
capable of automatically identifying and correcting
single bit errors.
fax/modem A peripheral that integrates the
capabilities of a fax machine and a modem in one
expansion card or external unit. Almost all
14.4Kbps and faster modems sold for use in desktop or portable PCs include fax capabilities.
FCC Part 15 The section of the FCC regulations
governing emissions from electronics devices. FCC
Part 15 Class A devices are suitable for business but
not residential use because they emit more interference than FCC Part 15 Class B devices (which are
safe in residential areas). Most server components
are FCC Part 15 Class A devices.
FC-PGA (flip-chip pin grid array) A type of
chip packaging first used in the Socket PGA370 version of the Pentium III where the raw processor die
has bumped contacts spaced on the face of the die
and is mounted facedown to a pin grid array carrier. The heatsink is then directly attached to the
back of the raw silicon die surface.
FDISK The name of the disk-partitioning program under several operating systems, including
DOS and Windows 9x/Me, used to create the master boot record and allocate partitions for the operating system’s use.
feature connector On a video adapter, a connector that enables an additional video feature
card, such as a separate 3D accelerator, video capture card, or MPEG decoder, to be connected to the
main video adapter and display.
ferro-resonant UPS A type of UPS design noted
for excellent power conditioning, but also for its
bulk and inefficient use of power. It has been
largely replaced by double-conversion online UPS
units. See also double-conversion online UPS.
fiber optic A type of cable or connection using
strands or threads of glass to guide a beam of modulated light. Allows for very high-speed signaling
and multiplexing as well as the combining of many
data streams along a single cable.
FIFO (first-in, first-out) A method of storing
and retrieving items from a list, table, or stack so
that the first element stored is the first one
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 32
file A collection of information kept somewhere
other than in random-access memory.
file attribute Information held in the attribute
byte of a file’s directory entry.
file compression
See compressed file.
filename The name given to the disk file. For
DOS, it must be from one to eight characters long
and can be followed by a filename extension,
which can be from one to three characters long.
Windows 9x and above ease these constraints by
allowing filenames of up to 255 characters, including the directory path.
firewall A hardware or software system designed
to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private
FireWire Also called IEEE 1394 or i.Link. A serial
I/O interface standard that is extremely fast, with
data transfer rates up to 400MBps, 800MBps, or
3.2GBps, depending on the version of standard
used. Most current implementations use the
400MBps IEEE 1394a version.
firmware Software contained in a read-only
memory (ROM) device. A cross between hardware
and software, firmware can be easily updated if
stored in an EEPROM or flash ROM chip. See also
EEPROM and flash ROM.
fixed disk Also called a hard disk, it’s a disk that
can’t be removed from its controlling hardware or
housing. Made of rigid material with a magnetic
coating and used for the mass storage and retrieval
of data.
flash ROM A type of EEPROM developed by
Intel that can be erased and reprogrammed in the
host system. See also EEPROM.
flat panel display (FPD) A type of display that
is thinner and lighter than traditional CRTs, usually
based on LCD, plasma, or LED technology.
flicker A monitor condition caused by refresh
rates that are too low, in which the display flashes
visibly. This can cause eyestrain or more severe
physical problems.
floating-point unit (FPU) Sometimes called
the math coprocessor; handles the more complex
calculations of the processing cycle.
floppy disk A removable disk using flexible
magnetic media enclosed in a semirigid or rigid
plastic case.
floppy disk drive (FDD) A type of magnetic
media storage where data is stored on flexible
mylar disks with a magnetic coating. A popular
form of storage used by personal computers during
the 80s and 90s.
floppy disk controller The logic and interface
that connects a floppy disk drive to the system.
floppy tape A tape standard that uses drives
connecting to an ordinary floppy disk controller,
such as QIC-80 or Travan-1.
floptical drive A special type of high-capacity
removable disk drive that uses an optical mechanism to properly position the drive read/write
heads over the data tracks on the disk. This enables
more precise control of the read/write positioning
and thus narrower track spacing and more data
packed into a smaller area than traditional floppy
disks. The LS-120 and LS-240 SuperDisk drives are
recent examples of floptical drives.
flow control A mechanism that compensates
for differences in the flow of data input to and output from a modem or other device.
FM encoding Frequency modulation encoding.
An outdated method of encoding data on the disk
surface that uses up half the disk space with timing
FM synthesis An audio technology that uses one
sine wave operator to modify another and create an
artificial sound that mimics an instrument.
folder In a graphical user interface, a simulated
file folder that holds documents (text, data, or
graphics), applications, and other folders. A folder
is similar to a DOS subdirectory.
footprint Describes the shape of something. See
also form factor.
form factor The physical dimensions of a
device. Two devices with the same form factor are
physically interchangeable. The IBM PC, XT, and
XT Model 286, for example, all use power supplies
that are internally different but have exactly the
same form factor.
9:24 AM
Page 33
FORMAT The DOS/Windows format program
that performs both low- and high-level formatting
on floppy disks but only high-level formatting on
hard disks.
formatted capacity The total number of bytes
of data that can fit on a formatted disk. The unformatted capacity is higher because space is lost
defining the boundaries between sectors.
formatting Preparing a disk so the computer
can read or write to it. The disk is checked for
defects and an organizational system is constructed
to manage information on the disk.
FORTRAN (formula translator) A high-level
programming language developed in 1954 by John
Backus at IBM primarily for programs dealing with
mathematical formulas and expressions similar to
algebra and used primarily in scientific and technical applications.
four-way server
A server containing four
fragmentation The state of having a file scattered around a disk in pieces rather than existing in
one contiguous area of the disk. Fragmented files
are slower to read than files stored in contiguous
areas and can be more difficult to recover if the
FAT or a directory becomes damaged.
frame 1) A data communications term for a
block of data with header and trailer information
attached. The added information usually includes a
frame number, block size data, error-check codes,
and start/end indicators. 2) A single, complete picture in a video or film recording. A video frame
consists of two interlaced fields of either 525 lines
(NTSC) or 625 lines (PAL/SECAM), running at 30
frames per second (NTSC) or 25 frames per second
frame buffer A memory device that stores,
pixel by pixel, the contents of an image. Frame
buffers are used to refresh a raster image. Sometimes they incorporate local processing capability.
The “depth” of the frame buffer is the number of
bits per pixel, which determines the number of
colors or intensities that can be displayed.
frame rate The speed at which video frames are
scanned or displayed: 30 frames per second for
NTSC and 25 frames per second for PAL/SECAM.
Appendix A
frames per second (fps) The number of video
frames displayed per second. See also frame rate.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) A method of
transferring files over the Internet. FTP can be used
to transfer files between two machines on which
the user has accounts. Anonymous FTP can be used
to retrieve a file from a server without having an
account on that server.
full duplex Signal flow in both directions at the
same time. In microcomputer communications, it
also can refer to the suppression of the online local
echo. 100BASE-TX network cards capable of fullduplex operations can run at an effective speed of
200Mbps when full-duplex operation is enabled.
full-height drive A drive unit that is 3 1/4"
high, 5 1/4" wide, and 8" deep. Equal to two halfheight drive bays.
full-motion video A video sequence displayed
at full television standard resolutions and frame
rates. In the U.S., this equates to NTSC video at
30 frames per second.
function keys Special-purpose keys that can be
programmed to perform various operations. They
serve many functions, depending on the program
being used.
G.lite A popular form of ADSL, G.lite can be selfinstalled by the user. Also referred to as the G.992.2
gas-plasma display Commonly used in
portable systems, it’s a type of display that operates
by exciting a gas—usually neon or an argon-neon
mixture—through the application of a voltage.
When sufficient voltage is applied at the intersection of two electrodes, the gas glows an orange-red.
Because gas-plasma displays generate light, they
require no backlighting.
gateway Officially, an application-to-application
conversion program or system. For example, an
email gateway converts from SMTP (Internet) email
format to MHS (Novell) email format. The term
gateway is also used as a slang term for router. See
also router.
GDDR (Graphics Double Data Rate) A type
of DRAM memory similar to DDR but designed
exclusively for graphics applications. A number of
versions have been released including GDDR,
GDDR2, GDDR3, etc.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 34
gender When describing connectors for PCs,
connectors are described as male if they have pins
or female if they have receptacles designed to
accept the pins of a male connector.
genlocking The process of aligning the data rate
of a video image with that of a digital device to digitize the image and enter it into computer memory.
The machine that performs this function is known
as a genlock.
Ghost Popular utility program sold by Symantec
that can be used to create a compressed version of a
drive’s contents, which is then cloned to one or
more PCs over a network or via CD storage.
A multiplier equal to 1,073,741,824.
gibibyte (Gi) A unit of information storage
equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes (1,024×1,024×1,024
equals a Gi). Formerly known as a binary gigabyte.
See also gigabyte and kilobyte.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) A popular raster graphics file format developed by
CompuServe that handles 8-bit color (256 colors)
and uses the LZW method to achieve compression
ratios of approximately 1.5:1 to 2:1. You can reduce
the size of a GIF file even more by dropping unused
colors from the file.
giga A multiplier indicating one billion
(1,000,000,000) of some unit. Abbreviated as g or
G. The binary giga (1,073,741,824) is now referred
to as a gibi. See also gibi.
gigabit (Gb) A unit of information storage equal
to 1,000,000,000 bits. Usually used in relation to
data transmission speeds, as in gigabit Ethernet,
which transmits one gigabit per second.
gigabyte (GB) A unit of information storage
equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes. The value formerly
called a binary GB (1,073,741,824 bytes) is now
called a gibibyte. See also gibibyte.
gigahertz GHz is used to measure the clock frequency of high-performance processors. The first
1GHz desktop processor was introduced by AMD
(a 1GHz Athlon) in March 2000.
Global Positioning System (GPS) A network
of satellites used by earthbound receivers to precisely determine geographical location.
Global System for Mobile communications
(GSM) A popular digital cellular voice and data
transmission system.
GPU (graphics processing unit) A 3D graphics chip that contains advanced 3D rendering features such as hardware, vertex, and pixel shaders.
NVIDIA’s GeForce 3 and GeForce 4 Ti series; the ATI
Radeon 7xxx, 8xxx, and 9xxx series; and the
Matrox Parhelia series are typical GPUs. See also
hardware shader, pixel shader, and vertex shader.
graphics accelerator A video processor or
chipset specially designed to speed the display and
rendering of graphical objects onscreen. Originally,
accelerators were optimized for 2D or 3D operations, but all current graphics accelerators, such as
NVIDIA’s GeForce and ATI’s RADEON series, accelerate both types of data.
graphics adapter
See video adapter.
Green Book The standard for Compact DiscInteractive (CD-I). Philips developed CD-I technology for the consumer market to be connected to a
television instead of a computer monitor. CD-I is
not a computer system but a consumer device that
made a small splash in the market and disappeared.
CD-I discs require special code and are not compatible with standard CD-ROMs. A CD-ROM can’t be
played on the CD-I machine, but Red Book audio
can be played on it.
GUI (graphical user interface) A type of program interface that enables users to choose commands and functions by pointing to a graphical
icon using either a keyboard or pointing device,
such as a mouse. Windows is the most popular GUI
available for PC systems.
half duplex Signal flow in both directions but
only one way at a time. In microcomputer communications, half duplex can refer to activation of the
online local echo, which causes the modem to send
a copy of the transmitted data to the screen of the
sending computer.
half-height drive A drive unit that is 1.625"
high, 5 1/4" wide, and 8" deep.
halftoning A process that uses dithering to simulate a continuous tone image, such as a photograph or shaded drawing, using various sizes of
9:24 AM
Page 35
dots. Newspapers, magazines, and many books use
half-toning. The human eye merges the dots to give
the impression of gray shades.
handshaking The process of exchanging information about speeds and protocols between
analog modems to establish a dialup connection.
If your modem volume is high enough, you can
hear handshaking as a series of distinct tones at the
start of a modem-to-modem call.
hard disk A high-capacity disk storage unit
characterized by a normally nonremovable rigid
substrate medium. The platters in a hard disk usually are constructed of aluminum or glass/ceramic.
Also sometimes called a fixed disk.
hard error An error in reading or writing data
caused by damaged hardware.
hard reset Resetting a system via the hardware,
usually by pressing a dedicated reset button wired
to the motherboard/processor reset circuitry. Does
not clear memory like a cold boot does. See also
cold boot.
hardware Physical components that make up a
microcomputer, monitor, printer, and so on.
hardware shader A general term describing the
processing of vertex or pixel shading in a GPU’s
hardware. GPUs such as the ATI 8xxx and 9xxx
series or the NVIDIA GeForce 3 and GeForce 4
Ti-series GPU chips have hardware shaders compatible with DirectX 8 and above.
HDLC (High-Level Data Link Control) A
standard protocol developed by the ISO for software applications and communicating devices operating in synchronous environments. Defines
operations at the link level of communications—
for example, the format of data frames exchanged
between modems over a phone line.
head A small electromagnetic device inside a
drive that reads, records, and erases data on the
head actuator The device that moves read/
write heads across a disk drive’s platters. Most
drives use a stepper-motor or voice-coil actuator.
head crash A (usually) rare occurrence in which
a read/write head strikes a platter surface with sufficient force to damage the magnetic medium.
Appendix A
head parking A procedure in which a disk
drive’s read/write heads are moved to an unused
track so they will not damage data in the event of a
head crash or other failure.
head seek The movement of a drive’s read/write
heads to a particular track.
heatsink A mass of metal attached to a chip carrier or socket for the purpose of dissipating heat.
Some heatsinks are passive (relying on existing air
currents only), but most heatsinks on processors are
active (including a fan). Many video card accelerator chips and motherboard North Bridge chips are
also fitted with heatsinks today.
helical scan A type of recording technology that
has vastly increased the capacity of tape drives.
Invented for use in broadcast systems and now
used in VCRs. Conventional longitudinal recording
records a track of data straight across the width of a
single-track tape. Helical scan recording packs more
data on the tape by positioning the tape at an
angle to the recording heads. The heads spin to
record diagonal stripes of information on the tape.
Helical scan is used by DAT/DDS, Exabyte, and AIT
hexadecimal number A number encoded in
base-16, such that digits include the letters A–F and
the numerals 0–9 (for example, 8BF3, which equals
35,827 in base-10).
hidden file A file not displayed in DOS directory listings because the file’s attribute byte holds a
special setting.
high density (HD) An indication of the storage
capacity of a floppy drive or disk, in which 15 or 18
sectors per track are recorded using MFM encoding.
High Sierra format A standard format for placing files and directories on CD-ROMs, proposed by
an ad hoc committee of computer vendors, software developers, and CD-ROM system integrators.
(Work on the format proposal began at the High
Sierra Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.) A revised version of the format was adopted by the ISO as ISO
9660. Use the ISO 9660 format to create crossplatform CD-R recordings.
high-definition television (HDTV) Video formats offering greater visual accuracy (or resolution)
than current NTSC, PAL, or SECAM broadcast standards. HDTV formats generally range in resolution
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 36
from 655 to 2,125 scanning lines, having an aspect
ratio of 5:3 (or 1.67:1) and a video bandwidth of
30MHz–50MHz (5+ times greater than the NTSC
standard). Digital HDTV has a bandwidth of
300MHz. HDTV is subjectively comparable to
35mm film.
High Definition Multimedia Interface
(HDMI) A digital audio/video interface supporting uncompressed data on a single cable.
High Density Digital Versatile Disc (HDDVD) One of the two competing high-definition
DVD format standards. Also see Blu-ray Disc.
high frequency (HF)
between 3 and 30MHz.
The frequency band
high-level formatting Formatting performed
by the DOS FORMAT program. Among other
things, it creates the root directory and FATs.
history file A file created by utility software to
keep track of earlier use of the software. Many
backup programs, for example, keep history files
describing earlier backup sessions.
hit ratio In describing the efficiency of a disk or
memory cache, the hit ratio is the ratio of the
number of times the data is found in the cache to
the total number of data requests. 1:1 is a perfect
hit ratio, meaning that every data request was
found in the cache. The closer to 1:1 the ratio is,
the more efficient the cache.
host The main device when two or more devices
are connected. When two or more systems are connected, the system that contains the data is typically called the host, whereas the other is called the
guest or user.
host protected area A technique used in ATA-7
and newer ATA drive specifications for reducing the
reported size of the hard disk. The space not
reported is used to store system recovery data.
hotfix A software patch for a Microsoft application or operating system. Hotfixes can be downloaded individually from the Windows Update
website or as a service pack. Microsoft also calls
them quick fix engineering (QFE) files.
hot-plug RAID memory A memory technology used on servers to permit hot-swapping of
defective memory modules without loss of memory
contents. Memory modules form a RAID array similar in operation to a RAID 5 disk array.
HPT (high-pressure tin) A PLCC socket that
promotes high forces between socket contacts and
PLCC contacts for a good connection.
HST (High-Speed Technology) The nowobsolete U.S. Robotics proprietary high-speed
modem-signaling scheme, developed as an interim
protocol until the V.32 protocol could be implemented in a cost-effective manner.
HT technology
See hyper-threading technology.
HMA (high memory area) The first 64KB of
extended memory, which typically is controlled by
the HIMEM.SYS device driver. Real-mode programs
can be loaded into the HMA to conserve conventional memory. Normally, DOS 5.0 and later use
the HMA exclusively to reduce the DOS conventional memory footprint.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) A language used to describe and format plain-text files
on the Web. HTML is based on pairs of tags that
enable the user to mix graphics with text, change
the appearance of text, and create hypertext documents with links to other documents. See also
HomePNA A home networking standard using
existing home or office telephone wiring to obtain
speeds up to 11Mbps.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) The
protocol that describes the rules a browser and
server use to communicate over the World Wide
Web. HTTP allows a web browser to request HTML
documents from a web server. See also hypertext.
HomeRF A wireless home network using radio
waves to obtain speeds up to 11Mbps.
horizontal scan rate In monitors, the speed at
which the electron beam moves laterally across the
screen. It’s normally expressed as a frequency; typical monitors range from 31.5KHz to 90KHz, with
the higher frequencies being more desirable.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)
An extension to the HTTP protocol that provides
for sending data securely over the Internet.
9:24 AM
Page 37
hub A common connection point for multiple
devices in a network. A hub contains a number of
ports to connect several segments of a LAN
together. When a packet arrives at one of the ports
on the hub, it is copied to all the other ports so all
the segments of the LAN can see all the packets. A
hub can be passive, intelligent (allowing remote
management, including traffic monitoring and port
configuration), or switching. A switching hub is
also called a switch. See also switch.
Huffman coding A technique that minimizes
the average number of bytes required to represent
the characters in a text. Huffman coding works for
a given character distribution by assigning short
codes to frequently occurring characters and longer
codes to infrequently occurring characters.
hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) A network (such as
that used by digital cable TV and two-way cable
modems) that uses fiber-optic cabling for its backbone with coaxial cable connections to each individual computer or TV.
hyper-threading technology A method (also
called HT technology) developed by Intel for running two different instruction streams through a
processor at the same time. Introduced in 2002, HT
technology was first used in the Intel Xeon processor with hyper-threading technology, with speeds
starting at 2.8GHz; the first HT technology–enabled
desktop processor was the 3.06GHz Pentium 4.
hypertext A technology that enables quick and
easy navigation between and within large documents. Hypertext links are pointers to other sections within the same document, other documents,
or other resources, such as FTP sites, images, or
HyperTransport AMD’s high-speed technology
for connecting the North Bridge and South
Bridge or equivalent chips on a motherboard.
HyperTransport runs at six times the speed of the
PCI bus (800MBps versus 133MBps for PCI). The
original name was Lightning Data Transport (LDT).
Several chipset makers, including AMD and
NVIDIA, use HyperTransport.
Hz An abbreviation for hertz—a frequency measurement unit used internationally to indicate one
cycle per second.
Appendix A
i.Link Sony’s term for IEEE 1394/FireWire port.
See also FireWire.
I/O (input/output) A circuit path that enables
independent communication between the processor and external devices.
I/O controller hub
See ICH.
I/O port (input/output port) Used to communicate to and from another device, such as a
printer or disk.
IA-64 Intel’s 64-bit processor architecture, first
used in the Itanium processor for servers.
One of the DOS system files required
to boot the machine in older versions of PC-DOS
(IBM’s version of MS-DOS). The first file loaded
from disk during the boot, it contains extensions to
One of the DOS system files required
to boot the machine in older versions of PC-DOS
(IBM’s version of MS-DOS). Contains the primary
DOS routines. Loaded by IBMBIO.COM, it in turn
IC (integrated circuit) A complete electronic
circuit contained on a single chip. It can consist of
only a few or thousands of transistors, capacitors,
diodes, or resistors, and it generally is classified
according to the complexity of the circuitry and
the approximate number of circuits on the chip. SSI
(small-scale integration) equals 2–10 circuits; MSI
(medium-scale integration) equals 10–100 circuits.
LSI (large-scale integration) equals 100–1,000 circuits, and VLSI (very-large-scale integration) equals
1,000–10,000 circuits. Finally, ULSI (ultra-large-scale
integration) equals more than 10,000 circuits.
ICH (I/O controller hub) Intel’s term for the
chip used in its 8xx chipsets to interface with
lower-speed devices such as PCI slots, USB ports,
ATA drives, and other devices traditionally controlled by the South Bridge chip. ICH chips connect
with the memory controller hub (the 8xx chipsets’
replacement for the North Bridge) through a highspeed hub interface. Current ICH chips used by
Intel 8xx–series chipsets include the ICH2 and
ICH4. See also MCH.
IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) A hard
disk with the disk controller circuitry integrated
within it. The first IDE drives were called hard cards.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 38
Also refers to the ATA interface standard—the standard for attaching hard disk drives to ISA bus IBMcompatible computers. IDE drives typically operate
as though they are standard ST-506/412 drives. See
also ATA.
IEEE 802.3
See 10BASE-2.
IEEE 802.11 family A family of wireless network standards commonly known as wireless
Ethernet, the most popular of which include
802.11a (54Mbps using 5GHz signaling), 802.11b
(11Mbps using 2.4GHz signaling), 802.11g (54Mbps
using 2.4GHz signaling), and 802.11n (540Mbps
using 2.4GHz or 5GHz signaling). See also Wi-Fi.
IEEE 1284 A series of standards for parallel ports.
IEEE 1284 includes EPP and ECP configurations as
well as the older bidirectional and 4-bit compatible
parallel port modes. Printer cables that can work
with all modes are referred to as IEEE 1284–
compliant cables. See also EPP and ECP.
IEEE 1394
See FireWire.
illegal operation A command sent to Windows
or the processor that can’t be performed. Illegal
operations can be triggered by software bugs or
conflicts between programs in memory; although
the name is reminiscent of a penalty in football, an
illegal operation is hardly ever caused by the computer user. In most cases, you can continue to work
and might even be able to restart the program
without rebooting.
impedance The total opposition a circuit offers
to the flow of alternating current, measured in
incremental backup A backup of all the files
that have changed since the last backup.
inductive A property in which energy can be
transferred from one device to another via the magnetic field generated by the device, even though no
direct electrical connection is established between
the two.
.INF file
A Windows driver and device information file used to install new drivers or services.
Information Technology (IT) Involves the
managing and processing of information, especially
in a company or organization.
See boule.
initiator A device attached to the SCSI bus that
sends a command to another device (the target) on
the SCSI bus. The SCSI host adapter plugged into
the system bus is an example of a SCSI initiator.
inkjet printer A type of printer that sprays one
or more colors of ink on the paper; it can produce
output with quality approaching that of a laser
printer at a lower cost.
input Data sent to the computer from the keyboard, the telephone, a video camera, another computer, paddles, joysticks, and so on.
InstallShield A popular program used to create
installation and uninstallation routines for
Windows-based programs.
instruction A program step that tells the computer what to do for a single operation.
integrated circuit
See IC.
interface A communications device or protocol
that enables one device to communicate with
another. Matches the output of one device to the
input of the other device.
interlacing A method of scanning alternate
lines of pixels on a display screen. The odd lines are
scanned first from top to bottom and left to right.
The electron gun goes back to the top and makes a
second pass, scanning the even lines. Interlacing
requires two scan passes to construct a single
image. Because of this additional scanning, interlaced screens often seem to flicker unless a longpersistence phosphor is used in the display.
Interlaced monitors were used with the IBM 8514/A
display card but are now obsolete for desktop
interleave ratio The number of sectors that
pass beneath the read/write heads before the “next”
numbered sector arrives. When the interleave ratio
is 3:1, for example, a sector is read, two pass by,
and then the next is read. A proper interleave ratio,
laid down during low-level formatting, enables the
disk to transfer information without excessive revolutions due to missed sectors. All modern IDE and
SCSI drives have a 1:1 interleave ratio.
9:24 AM
Page 39
interleaved memory The process of alternating
access between two banks of memory to overlap
accesses, thus speeding up data retrieval. Systems
that require only one memory module per bank to
operate can work more quickly when two are
installed if the system supports interleaved memory.
Inter-Module Bus (IMB) A proprietary highspeed bus used by the Broadcom ServerWorks
chipsets. It runs at various speeds, depending on
the chipset.
internal command In DOS, a command contained in COMMAND.COM so that no other file must be
loaded to perform the command. DIR and COPY are
two examples of internal commands. In Windows,
a command contained in CMD.EXE.
internal device A peripheral device installed
inside the main system case in either an expansion
slot or a drive bay.
internal drive A disk or tape drive mounted
inside one of a computer’s disk drive bays (or a
hard disk card, which is installed in one of the
computer’s slots).
Internet A computer network that joins many
government, university, and private computers
together. The Internet traces its origins to a network set up in 1969 by the Department of Defense.
You can connect to the Internet through many
online services, such as CompuServe and America
Online, or you can connect through local Internet
service providers (ISPs). Internet computers use the
TCP/IP communications protocol. Several million
hosts exist on the Internet; a host is a mainframe,
mini, or workstation that directly supports the
Internet protocol (the IP in TCP/IP).
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN) The non-profit organization having the responsibility for IP address and
domain name assignments on the Internet.
Internet Explorer (IE) Microsoft’s line of web
browsers for Windows and Macintosh computers.
Most websites are optimized to display best on systems running recent versions of IE.
interpreter A program for a high-level language
that translates and executes the program at the
same time. The program statements that are interpreted remain in their original source language, the
Appendix A
way the programmer wrote them—that is, the program does not need to be compiled before execution. Interpreted programs run more slowly than
compiled programs and always must be run with
the interpreter loaded in memory.
interrupt A suspension of a process, such as the
execution of a computer program, caused by an
event external to that process and performed in
such a way that the process can be resumed. An
interrupt can be caused by internal or external conditions, such as a signal indicating that a device or
program has completed a transfer of data. Hardware
interrupts (also called IRQs) are used by devices,
whereas software interrupts are used by programs.
See also IRQ.
interrupt vector A pointer in a table that gives
the location of a set of instructions the computer
should execute when a particular interrupt occurs.
IO.SYS One of the DOS/Windows 9x system files
required to boot the machine. The first file loaded
from disk during the boot, it contains extensions to
IP address An identifier for a computer or
device on a TCP/IP network. The format of an IP
address is a 32-bit numeric address written as four
numbers separated by periods, in which each number can be 0–255. The TCP/IP protocol routes messages based on the IP address of the destination.
IPv6 A new version of the IP protocol that
expands the range of IP addresses from 32 bits to
128 bits, which relieves the strain on the current
universe of IP addresses. IPv6 is backward compatible with IPv4 to allow its gradual adoption.
IPX (internetwork packet exchange) Novell
NetWare’s native LAN communications protocol
(primarily in versions 4.x and earlier) used to move
data between server and/or workstation programs
running on different network nodes. IPX packets
are encapsulated and carried by the packets used in
Ethernet and the similar frames used in Token-Ring
IrDA An infrared communications standard
established by the Infrared Data Association in
1993. IrDA is currently used primarily for data
transfer between portable computers or to allow
portable computers to print to a printer with an
IrDA port.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 40
IRQ (interrupt request) Physical connections
between external hardware devices and the interrupt controllers. When a device such as a floppy
controller or a printer needs the attention of the
CPU, an IRQ line is used to get the attention of
the system to perform a task. On PC and XT IBMcompatible systems, eight IRQ lines are included,
numbered IRQ0–IRQ7. On the AT and PS/2 systems, 16 IRQ lines are numbered IRQ0–IRQ15. IRQ
lines must be used by only a single adapter in the
ISA bus systems, but devices on Micro Channel
Architecture (MCA), PCI (Peripheral Component
Interconnect) and PCI Express buses can share
interrupts. See also virtual IRQ.
ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) The
bus architecture introduced as an 8-bit bus with the
original IBM PC in 1981 and later expanded to 16
bits with the IBM PC/AT in 1984. ISA slots are occasionally found in PC systems today, but the latest
chipsets have eliminated them.
ISA bus clock Clock that normally operates the
ISA bus at 8.33MHz.
iSCSI Short for Internet SCSI, this is an implementation of SCSI that uses Ethernet networks using
TCP/IP to transfer data in both directions between
a server and a SCSI drive or drive array.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
An international telecommunications standard that
enables a communications channel to carry
digital data simultaneously with voice and video
ISO (International Standards Organization)
The ISO, based in Paris, develops standards for
international and national data communications.
The U.S. representative to the ISO is the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI). See also High
Sierra format.
ISO 9660 An international standard that defines
file systems for CD-ROM discs, independent of the
operating system. ISO (International Standards
Organization) 9660 has two levels. Level one provides for DOS file system compatibility, whereas
level two allows filenames of up to 32 characters.
See also High Sierra format.
ISP (Internet service provider) A company
that provides Internet access to computer users.
Most ISPs originally provided dialup analog modem
service only, but many ISPs now provide various
types of broadband support for DSL, cable modem,
or fixed wireless Internet devices. Some ISPs, such
as America Online (AOL), also provide proprietary
Itanium An Intel eighth-generation processor,
codenamed Merced, it is the first 64-bit instruction
PC processor from Intel. It features a new Explicitly
Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) architecture
for more performance when running optimized
code. Also, it features internal L1/L2 and L3 error
correcting code (ECC) caches to improve throughput and reliability. It was designed initially for the
server or high-end workstation market. The
improved Itanium 2 processor offers faster clock
speeds and faster cache memory. See also L3 cache.
ITU (International Telecommunications
Union) Formerly called CCITT. An international
committee organized by the United Nations to set
international communications recommendations—
which frequently are adopted as standards—and to
develop interface, modem, and data network recommendations. The Bell 212A standard for
1,200bps communication in North America, for
example, is observed internationally as CCITT V.22.
ITU standards for telecommunications used in PC
based modems include V.22bis (2,400bps) through
V.92 (56Kbps).
J-lead J-shaped leads on chip carriers, which can
be surface-mounted on a PC board or plugged into
a socket that then is mounted on a PC board, usually on .050" centers.
jabber An error condition on an Ethernet-based
network in which a defective network card or outside interference is constantly sending data, preventing the rest of the network from working.
Java An object-oriented programming language
and environment similar to C or C++. Java was
developed by Sun Microsystems and is used to
create network-based applications.
JavaScript A scripting language developed by
Netscape for web browsers. JavaScript can perform
calculations and mouse rollovers, but it doesn’t
require the web browser to download additional
files, as with Java.
9:24 AM
Page 41
Jaz drive A proprietary type of removable media
drive with a magnetic hard disk platter in a rigid
plastic case. Developed by Iomega, Jaz drives were
discontinued in 2002, but media is still available
for both 1GB and 2GB versions of the drive.
JEDEC (Joint Electron Devices Engineering
Council) A group that establishes standards for
the electronics industry. JEDEC established the original PC66 SDRAM standard.
Joliet Microsoft extension of the ISO 9660 standard for recordable/rewritable CDs. Joliet is
designed for use with 32-bit Windows versions that
support long filenames, but it supports file/folder
names up to 128 bytes (128 European or 64
Unicode characters) only. Some very long folder/
filenames might need to be truncated when stored
on a Joliet-format CD.
Appendix A
jumper block A small, plastic-covered metal
clip that slips over two pins protruding from a circuit board. Sometimes also called a shunt. When in
place, the jumper block connects the pins electrically and closes the circuit. By doing so, it connects
the two terminals of a switch, turning it “on.”
Jumper blocks are commonly used to configure
internal hard drives and motherboard settings.
Just a Bunch Of Disks (JBOD) A group of
hard disk drives combined to act as a single volume. Similar to RAID 0, but the data is spanned
and not striped.
K6 The popular line of Socket 7 and Super Socket
7 processors developed by AMD. Members included
the K6, K6-2, and K6-III.
joule The standard unit of electrical energy, it’s
frequently used to measure the effectiveness of
surge suppressors.
K56flex A proprietary standard for 56Kbps
modem transmissions developed by Rockwell and
implemented in modems from a variety of vendors.
Superseded by the official V.90 standard for 56Kbps
modems. See also X2, V.90, and V.92.
joystick An input device generally used for game
software, usually consisting of a central upright
stick that controls horizontal and vertical motion
and one or more buttons to control discrete events,
such as firing guns. More complex models can
resemble flight yokes and steering wheels or incorporate tactile feedback.
Kermit A protocol designed for transferring files
between microcomputers and mainframes.
Developed by Frank DaCruz and Bill Catchings at
Columbia University (and named after the talking
frog on The Muppet Show), Kermit was widely
accepted in the academic world before the advent
of the Internet.
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
The international consortium of hardware, software, and publishing interests which—under the
auspices of the ISO—has defined a universal standard for digital compression and decompression of
still images for use in computer systems. JPEG compresses at about a 20:1 ratio before visible image
degradation occurs. A lossy data compression standard that was originally designed for still images
but also can compress real-time video (30 frames
per second) and animation. Lossy compression permanently discards unnecessary data, resulting in
some loss of precision. Files stored in the JPEG format have the extension .jpg or .jpeg.
JScript Microsoft’s equivalent to JavaScript. See
also JavaScript.
jukebox A type of CD-ROM drive that enables
several CD-ROM discs to be in the drive at the
same time. The drive itself determines which disc is
needed by the system and loads the discs into the
reading mechanism as needed.
Operating system core component.
key disk In software copy protection schemes
popular during the 1980s, a distribution floppy disk
that must be present in a floppy disk drive for an
application program to run.
keyboard The primary input device for most
computers, consisting of keys with letters of the
alphabet, digits, punctuation, and function
control keys.
keyboard macro A series of keystrokes automatically input when a single key is pressed.
keychain drive A popular term for small solidstate devices using flash memory that connect to a
PC through the USB port. Such devices are recognized as drive letters. Most have a fixed capacity,
but some have provision for upgradeable memory
with SD or other small-form-factor flash memory.
Also known as thumb drives.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 42
keylock Physical locking mechanism to prevent
internal access to the system unit or peripherals.
kibi A multiplier indicating 1,024 of some unit.
Abbreviated as Ki. See also gibi.
kilo A multiplier indicating one thousand
(1,000) of some unit. Abbreviated as k or K. When
used to indicate a number of bytes of memory storage, the multiplier definition changes to 1,024. One
kilobit, for example, equals 1,000 bits, whereas one
kilobyte equals 1,024 bytes.
kilobyte (KB) A unit of information storage
equal to 1,000 bytes (decimal) or 1,024 bytes
(binary). Binary KB are now called kibibytes. See
also kibi.
kludge An inelegant but workable solution for a
software or hardware problem.
KVM switch Short for keyboard-video-mouse
switch, it’s a device that permits a single keyboard,
display, and mouse to control two or more PCs or
L1 cache (level one) A first level processor
memory cache built into the CPU core of 486 and
later generation processors. See also cache and disk
L2 cache (level two) A second-level processor
memory cache, usually larger and sometimes slower
than L1. Originally external to (and running significantly slower than) the processor, L2 was first integrated into the processor package in the Pentium
Pro (November 1995), and later directly into the
CPU die in the Mendocino core versions of the
Celeron processor (August 1998). Since then virtually all new processors have included on-die L2
cache running at the full core speed of the processor. See also SEC, cache, and disk cache.
L3 cache (level three) A third-level processor
memory cache rarely used in PC processors. See
also cache and disk cache.
LAN Local area network; a network contained
within a building. Both home and office networks
are considered LANs. Ethernet, Fast Ethernet,
Gigabit Ethernet, and Wireless Ethernet are used
in office LANs, whereas home LANs might use
Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, HomePNA, HomeRF, or
Wi-Fi Wireless Ethernet.
landing zone An unused track on a disk surface
on which the read/write heads can land when
power is shut off. The place a parking program or a
drive with an autopark mechanism parks the heads.
LAPM (link-access procedure for modems)
An error-control protocol incorporated in CCITT
Recommendation V.42. Similar to the MNP and
HST protocols, it uses cyclic redundancy checking
(CRC) and retransmission of corrupted data (ARQ)
to ensure data reliability.
laptop computer A computer system smaller
than a briefcase but larger than a notebook that usually has a clamshell design in which the keyboard
and display are on separate halves of the system,
which are hinged together. These systems normally
run on battery power. Many vendors use the terms
notebook and laptop computer interchangeably.
large mode A translation scheme used by the
Award BIOS to translate the cylinder, head, and sector specifications of an IDE drive to those usable by
an enhanced BIOS. It doesn’t produce the same
translated values as LBA mode and is not recommended because it is not supported by other BIOS
large-scale integration
See IC.
laser printer A type of printer that is a combination of an electrostatic copying machine and a
computer printer. The output data from the computer is converted by an interface into a raster feed,
similar to the impulses a TV picture tube receives.
The impulses cause the laser beam to scan a small
drum that carries a positive electrical charge. Where
the laser hits, the drum is discharged. A toner,
which also carries a positive charge, is then applied
to the drum. This toner—a fine, black powder—
sticks to only the areas of the drum that have been
discharged electrically. As it rotates, the drum
deposits the toner on a negatively charged sheet of
paper. Another roller then heats and bonds the
toner to the page. See also LED printer.
latency 1) The amount of time required for a
disk drive to rotate half a revolution. Represents the
average amount of time to locate a specific sector
after the heads have arrived at a specific track.
Latency is part of the average access time for a
drive. 2) The initial setup time required for a memory transfer in DRAM to select the row and column
addresses for the memory to be read/written.
9:24 AM
Page 43
LBA (logical block addressing) A method
used with SCSI and IDE drives to translate the
cylinder, head, and sector specifications of the drive
to those usable by an enhanced BIOS. LBA is used
with drives that are larger than 528MB and causes
the BIOS to translate the drive’s logical parameters
to those usable by the system BIOS.
LCC (leadless chip carrier) A type of integrated circuit package that has input and output
pads rather than leads on its perimeter.
LCD (liquid crystal display) A display that
uses liquid crystal sealed between two pieces of
polarized glass. The polarity of the liquid crystal is
changed by an electric current to vary the amount
of light that can pass through. Because LCD displays do not generate light, they depend on the
reflection of ambient light or backlighting the
screen. The best type of LCD, the active-matrix or
thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD, offers fast screen
updates and true color capability.
LED (light-emitting diode) A semiconductor
diode that emits light when a current is passed
through it.
LED printer A printer that uses an LED instead
of a laser beam to discharge the drum.
legacy port I/O ports used on systems before
the development of the multipurpose USB port.
Serial, parallel, keyboard, and PS/2 mouse ports are
legacy ports.
letterbox Refers to how wide-screen movies are
displayed on TV or monitor screens with normal
aspect ratios of 4:3. Because wide-screen movies
have aspect ratios as high as 16:9, the wide-screen
image leaves blank areas at the top and bottom of
the screen. See also aspect ratio.
LGA (land grid array) A type of chip socket
that moves the pins from the processor to the
motherboard. The pins (lands) connect to pads on
the back side of the processor. The first LGA design
is Socket 775.
LIF (low insertion force) A socket that
requires only a minimum of force to insert a
chip carrier.
light pen A handheld input device with a lightsensitive probe or stylus connected to the computer’s graphics adapter board by a cable. Used for
Appendix A
writing or sketching onscreen or as a pointing
device for making selections. Unlike mice, it’s not
widely supported by software applications.
line-interactive UPS A UPS design that uses a
two-way AC/DC inverter to charge the battery and
provide power from the battery after AC power
fails. It’s the simplest type of UPS suitable for
server use.
line voltage The AC voltage available at a standard wall outlet, nominally 110V–120V in North
America and 220V–230V in Europe and Japan.
linear tape-open (LTO) A family of open standards for tape backups whose first products were
introduced in mid-2000. LTO was jointly developed
by Seagate, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard. Ultrium format products have capacities of up to 800GB (2:1
compression). The faster but smaller-capacity
Accelis format was never manufactured. See also
lithium-ion A portable system battery type that
is longer-lived than either NiCad or NiMH technologies, can’t be overcharged, and holds a charge
well when not in use. Lithium-ion batteries are also
lighter weight than the NiCad and NiMH technologies. Because of these superior features, Li-ion batteries have come to be used in all but the very low
end of the portable system market.
local area network (LAN) The connection of
two or more computers, usually via a network
adapter card or NIC.
local bus A generic term used to describe a bus
directly attached to a processor that operates at the
processor’s speed and data-transfer width.
local echo A modem feature that enables the
modem to send copies of keyboard commands and
transmitted data to the screen. When the modem is
in command mode (not online to another system),
the local echo usually is invoked through an ATE1
command, which causes the modem to display the
user’s typed commands. When the modem is
online to another system, the local echo is invoked
by an ATF0 command, which causes the modem to
display the data it transmits to the remote system.
logical drive A drive as named by a DOS drive
specifier, such as C: or D:. Under DOS 3.3 or later, a
single physical drive can act as several logical
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 44
drives, each with its own specifier. A primary partition can contain only one logical drive; an
extended partition can contain one or more logical
drives. See also extended partition and primary
logical unit number
See LUN.
lossless compression A compression technique
that preserves all the original information in an
image or other data structures. PKZIP and Microsoft
CAB files are popular applications of lossless
lossless linking A technique used by DVD+RW
drives to enable the DVD+RW video-writing process
to pause and continue as data is available. Lossless
linking enables DVD+RW video media to be read
by standalone DVD video players and DVD-ROM
lossy compression A compression technique
that achieves optimal data reduction by discarding
redundant and unnecessary information in an
image. MP3, MPEG, and JPEG are popular examples
of lossy compression.
lost clusters Clusters that have been marked
accidentally as “unavailable” in the FAT even
though they don’t belong to any file listed in a
directory. See also cluster.
low-level formatting Formatting that divides
tracks into sectors on the platter surfaces. Places
sector-identifying information before and after each
sector and fills each sector with null data (usually
hex F6). Specifies the sector interleave and marks
defective tracks by placing invalid checksum figures
in each sector on a defective track.
LPT port Line printer port, a common system
abbreviation for a parallel printer port. Common
LPT port numbers range from LPT1 to LPT3.
LPX A semiproprietary motherboard design used
in many Low Profile or Slimline case systems.
Because no formal standard exists, these typically
are not interchangeable between vendors and are
often difficult to find replacement parts for or
luminance Measure of brightness usually used
in specifying monitor brightness.
LUN (logical unit number) A number given to
a device (a logical unit) attached to a SCSI physical
unit and not directly to the SCSI bus. Although as
many as eight logical units can be attached to a
single physical unit, a single logical unit typically is
a built-in part of a single physical unit. A SCSI hard
disk, for example, has a built-in SCSI bus adapter
that is assigned a physical unit number or SCSI ID,
and the controller and drive portions of the hard
disk are assigned a LUN (usually 0). See also PUN.
LZW (Lempel Zev Welch) A lossless compression scheme used in the GIF and TIFF graphic formats, named after its co-creators, Abraham Lempel,
Jacob Zev, and Terry Welch.
MAC address Short for Media Access Control
address, this is a unique hardware number assigned
to network hardware, such as NICs and routers. The
MAC address assigned to the WAN side of some
broadband Internet routers can be changed to
equal the MAC address of the NIC previously used
to attach to a broadband device, such as a cable
machine address
in memory.
A hexadecimal (hex) location
machine language Hexadecimal program code
a computer can understand and execute. It can be
output from the assembler or compiler.
macro A series of commands in an application
that can be stored and played back on demand.
Many applications from various vendors support
Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications as their
macro language.
macro virus A computer virus that uses a scripting language to infect Microsoft Word document
templates or email systems.
magnetic domain A tiny segment of a track
just large enough to hold one of the magnetic flux
reversals that encode data on a disk surface.
magneto-optical recording An erasable optical disk recording technique that uses a laser beam
to heat pits on the disk surface to the point at
which a magnet can make flux changes.
magneto-resistive A technology originally
developed by IBM and commonly used for the read
element of a read/write head on a high-density
magnetic disk. Based on the principle that the
9:24 AM
Page 45
resistance to electricity changes in a material when
brought into contact with a magnetic field (in this
case, the read element material and the magnetic
bit). Such drives use a magneto-resistive read sensor
for reading and a standard inductive element for
writing. A magneto-resistive read head is more sensitive to magnetic fields than inductive read heads.
Giant magneto-resistive heads are an improved version that store more data in the same space.
mainframe A somewhat vague distinction that
identifies any large computer system normally
capable of supporting many users and programs
mask A photographic map of the circuits for a
particular layer of a semiconductor chip used in
manufacturing the chip.
master boot record (MBR) On hard disks, a
one-sector-long record that contains the master
boot program as well as the master partition table
containing up to four partition entries. The master
boot program reads the master partition table to
determine which of the four entries is active
(bootable) and then loads the first sector of that
partition, called the volume boot record. The master boot program tests the volume boot record for a
55AAh signature at offset 510; if it’s present, program execution is transferred to the volume boot
sector, which typically contains a program designed
to load the operating system files. The MBR is
always the first physical sector of the disk, at
Cylinder 0, Head 0, Sector 1. Also called master
boot sector.
math coprocessor A processing chip designed
to quickly handle complex arithmetic computations involving floating-point arithmetic, offloading these from the main processor. Originally
contained in a separate coprocessor chip, starting
with the 486 family of processors. Intel now has
incorporated the math coprocessor into the main
processors in what is called the floating-point unit.
Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) The
largest packet that a network can transmit, usually
measured in bytes.
MCA (Micro Channel Architecture)
Developed by IBM for the PS/2 line of computers
and introduced on April 2, 1987. Features include
a 16- or 32-bit bus width and multiple master
Appendix A
control. By allowing several processors to arbitrate
for resources on a single bus, the MCA is optimized
for multitasking, multiprocessor systems. Offers
switchless configuration of adapters, which eliminates one of the biggest headaches of installing
older adapters. MCA systems became obsolete after
the development of the PCI bus.
MCGA (multicolor graphics array) A type of
PC video display circuit introduced by IBM on April
2, 1987, which supports text and graphics. Text is
supported at a maximum resolution of 80×25 characters in 16 colors with a character box of 8×16
pixels. Graphics are supported at a maximum resolution of 320×200 pixels in 256 (from a palette of
262,144) colors or 640×480 pixels in two colors.
The MCGA outputs an analog signal with a horizontal scanning frequency of 31.5KHz and supports
analog color or analog monochrome displays.
MCH (memory controller hub) Intel’s term
for the chip used in its 8xx-series chipsets to connect the processor with high-bandwidth devices
such as memory, video, and the system bus, replacing the North Bridge chip. MCH chips connect
with the I/O controller hub (the 8xx chipsets’
replacement for the South Bridge) through a highspeed hub interface. See also ICH.
MCI (media control interface) A deviceindependent specification for controlling multimedia devices and files. MCI is a part of the
multimedia extensions and offers a standard interface set of device control commands. MCI commands are used for audio recording and playback
and animation playback. Device types include CD
audio, digital audio tape players, scanners, MIDI
sequencers, videotape players or recorders, and
audio devices that play digitized waveform files.
MDA (monochrome display adapter; also,
MGA [mono graphics adapter]) A type of PC
video display adapter introduced by IBM on August
12, 1981, that supports text only. Text is supported
at a maximum resolution of 80×25 characters in
four colors with a character box of 9×14 pixels.
Colors, in this case, indicate black, white, bright
white, and underlined. Graphics modes are not
supported. The MDA outputs a digital signal with a
horizontal scanning frequency of 18.432KHz and
supports TTL monochrome displays. The IBM MDA
card also includes a parallel printer port.
Appendix A
Page 46
mean time between failure
mean time to repair
9:24 AM
MEB Stands for Mid-Level Electronics Bay, an SSI
form factor originally developed for use with slotbased server processors, now used for four-way and
larger designs. Sometimes erroneously referred to as
EEB 3.5.
mebi A multiplier indicating 1,048,576 of a unit
of measurement.
mebibyte (Mi) A unit of information storage
equal to 1,048,576 bytes (1,024×1,024 equals 1Mi).
This value was previously called a binary megabyte.
See also megabyte and kilobyte.
medium The magnetic coating or plating that
covers a disk or tape.
mega A multiplier indicating one million
(1,000,000) of some unit. Abbreviated as m or M.
Traditionally, mega has also been defined as
1,048,576 (1,024 kilobytes, where kilobyte equals
1,024) in applications such as memory sizing and
disk storage (as defined by many BIOSs and by
FDISK and other disk preparation programs). The
term mebi is now used for 1,048,576. See also mebi.
megabyte (MB) A unit of information storage
equal to 1,000,000 bytes. Also called a decimal
megabyte. The value 1,048,576 bytes has been called
a binary megabyte but is now known as a
mebibyte. See also mebibyte.
megapixel A unit of digital camera resolution
equal to approximately 1,000,000 pixels. A 1megapixel camera has a resolution of approximately 1,152×864; a 2-megapixel camera has a
resolution of approximately 1,760×1,168. Finally, a
3-megapixel camera has a resolution of approximately 2,160×1,440. One-megapixel or lowerresolution cameras are suitable for 4"×6" or smaller
snapshots only, whereas 2-megapixel cameras produce excellent 5"×7" enlargements and acceptable
8"×10" enlargements. Three-megapixel or higherresolution cameras produce excellent 8"×10" and
11"×14" enlargements. The higher the megapixel
rating, the more flash memory space is used by
each picture and the longer it takes each picture to
be recorded to flash memory.
memory Any component in a computer system
that stores information for future use.
memory caching A service provided by
extremely fast memory chips that keeps copies of
the most recent memory accesses. When the CPU
makes a subsequent access, the value is supplied by
the fast memory rather than by the relatively slow
system memory. L1 and L2 caches are memory
caches found on most recent processors. See also L1
cache, L2 cache, and L3 cache.
memory scrubbing A task performed by many
servers that repeatedly reads memory contents during idle time and corrects errors when possible.
Noncorrectable errors are reported to the server
management software so the defective module can
be replaced.
Memory Stick A Sony-developed flash memory
device that’s about the size of a stick of gum. It is
used by digital cameras, camcorders, digital music
players, and voice recorders—primarily those made
by Sony.
memory-resident program A program that
remains in memory after it has been loaded, consuming memory that otherwise might be used by
application software.
menu software Utility software that makes a
computer running DOS easier to use by replacing
DOS commands with a series of menu selections.
MESI Short for modified exclusive shared invalid,
it’s a cache coherency protocol used by Intel
MFM encoding (modified frequency modulation encoding) A method of encoding data on
the surface of a disk. The coding of a bit of data
varies by the coding of the preceding bit to preserve clocking information. Used only by floppy
drives today because it stores less data than other
types of encoding, such as RLL. See also RLL.
MHz An abbreviation for megahertz, a unit of
measurement indicating the frequency of one million cycles per second. One hertz (Hz) is equal to
one cycle per second. Named after Heinrich R.
Hertz, a German physicist who first detected electromagnetic waves in 1883.
MI/MIC (mode indicate/mode indicate common) Also called forced or manual originate.
Provided for installations in which equipment
other than the modem does the dialing. In such
9:24 AM
Page 47
installations, the modem operates in dumb mode
(no auto-dial capability), yet must go off-hook in
originate mode to connect with answering
μ) A prefix indicating one millionth
micro (μ
(1/1,000,000 or .000001) of some unit.
micron A unit of measurement equaling one
millionth of a meter. Often used in measuring the
size of circuits in chip manufacturing processes.
Current state-of-the-art chip fabrication builds
chips with 0.13 to 0.15-micron circuits.
microprocessor A solid-state central processing
unit much like a computer on a chip. An integrated
circuit that accepts coded instructions for
μs) A unit of time equal to one
microsecond (μ
millionth (1/1,000,000 or .000001) of a second.
MIDI (musical instrument digital interface)
An interface and file format standard for connecting a musical instrument to a microcomputer and
storing musical instrument data. Multiple musical
instruments can be daisy-chained and played
simultaneously with the help of the computer and
related software. The various operations of the
instruments can be captured, saved, edited, and
played back. A MIDI file contains note information,
timing (how long a note is held), volume, and
instrument type for as many as 16 channels.
Sequencer programs are used to control MIDI functions such as recording, playback, and editing.
MIDI files store only note instructions and not
actual sound data. MIDI files can be played back by
virtually all sound cards, but old sound cards might
use FM synthesis to imitate the musical instruments called for in the MIDI file. Recent sound
cards use stored musical instrument samples for
more realistic MIDI playback.
MII A Socket 7–compatible processor originally
developed by Cyrix and now sold by VIA
Technologies as the VIA Cyrix MII.
milli (m) A prefix indicating one thousandth
(1/1,000 or .001) of some unit.
milliampere per hour (mAh) A current of
one milliampere flowing for one hour. Often used
to indicate the storage capacity of a rechargeable
Appendix A
millivolt (mV) A unit of voltage equal to one
thousandth of a volt.
millisecond (ms) A unit of time equal to one
thousandth (1/1,000 or .001) of a second.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions) Allows Internet and email services
to exchange binary files and select the proper program to open the file after it’s received.
minitower A type of PC system case that is
shorter than a full- or mid-sized tower. Most lowcost computers sold at retail stores use the minitower case combined with a Micro-ATX
MIPS (million instructions per second)
Refers to the average number of machine-language
instructions a computer can perform or execute in
1 second. Because various processors can perform
different functions in a single instruction, MIPS
should be used only as a general measure of performance among various types of computers.
MMX An Intel processor enhancement that adds
57 new instructions designed to improve multimedia performance. MMX also implies a doubling of
the internal L1 processor cache on Pentium MMX
processors compared to non-MMX Pentium processors. Later processors also include MMX along with
other multimedia instructions.
mnemonic An abbreviated name for something
used in a manner similar to an acronym. Computer
processor instructions are often abbreviated with a
mnemonic, such as JMP (jump), CLR (clear), STO
(store), and INIT (initialize). A mnemonic name for
an instruction or an operation makes it easy to
remember and convenient to use.
MNP (Microcom Networking Protocol)
Asynchronous error-control and data-compression
protocols developed by Microcom, Inc., and now in
the public domain. They ensure error-free transmission through error detection (CRC) and retransmission of erred frames. MNP Levels 1–4 cover error
control and have been incorporated into CCITT
Recommendation V.42. MNP Level 5 includes data
compression but is eclipsed in superiority by
V.42bis—an international standard that is more
efficient. Most high-speed modems connect with
MNP Level 5 if V.42bis is unavailable. MNP Level
10 provides error correction for impaired lines and
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 48
adjusts to the fastest possible speed during connection. MNP Level 10EC is an improved version of
MNP Level 10, adding more reliability and support
for cellular phone hand-offs.
MO (magneto-optical) MO drives use both
magnetic and optical storage properties. MO technology is erasable and recordable, as opposed to
CD-ROM (read-only) and WORM (write-once)
drives. MO uses laser and magnetic field technology to record and erase data.
mobile module (MMO) A type of processor
packing from Intel for mobile computers consisting
of a Pentium or newer processor mounted on a
small daughterboard along with the processor voltage regulator, the system’s L2 cache memory, and
the North Bridge part of the motherboard chipset.
modem (modulator/demodulator) A device
that converts electrical signals from a computer
into an audio form transmittable over telephone
lines, or vice versa. It modulates, or transforms, digital signals from a computer into the analog form
that can be carried successfully on a phone line; it
also demodulates signals received from the phone
line back to digital signals before passing them to
the receiving computer. To avoid confusion with
other types of Internet connection devices such as
cable modems, modems are often called analog
modems or dialup modems.
modulation The process of modifying some
characteristic of a carrier wave or signal so that it
varies in step with the changes of another signal,
thus carrying the information of the other signal.
module An assembly that contains a complete
circuit or subcircuit.
MOESI Short for modified owned exclusive shared
invalid, it’s a cache coherency protocol used by
AMD Opteron processors.
See display.
monochrome display adapter
See MDA.
MOS (metal-oxide semiconductor) Refers to
the three layers used in forming the gate structure
of a field-effect transistor (FET). MOS circuits offer
low-power dissipation and enable transistors to be
jammed closely together before a critical heat problem arises. PMOS, the oldest type of MOS circuit,
is a silicon-gate P-channel MOS process that uses
currents made up of positive charges. NMOS is a
silicon-gate N-channel MOS process that uses currents made up of negative charges and is at least
twice as fast as PMOS. CMOS, complementary
MOS, is nearly immune to noise, runs off almost
any power supply, and is an extremely low-power
circuit technique.
motherboard The main circuit board in the
computer. Also called planar, system board, or
Mount Rainier (Mt. Rainier) A standard
developed by Philips for CD-RW and DVD+RW
drives that provides for native operating system
support of rewriteable media. Drives and operating
systems (such as Windows Vista) that support the
Mount Rainier standard can read or write Mount
Rainier–formatted CD-R/RW or DVD+R/RW media
without the need for proprietary packet-reading
software such as Roxio’s UDF Volume Reader for
DirectCD-formatted media (
Mount Rainier compliant drives may carry the
Philips EasyWrite marketing name and logo.
mouse An input device invented by Douglas
Engelbart of Stanford Research Center in 1963 and
popularized by Xerox in the 1970s. A mechanical
mouse consists of a roller ball and a tracking mechanism on the underside that relays the mouse’s
horizontal and vertical position to the computer,
allowing precise control of the pointer location
onscreen. The top side features two or three buttons and possibly a small wheel used to select or
click items onscreen. Old-style optical mice sold in
the 1980s used a single optical sensor and a gridmarked pad as an alternative to the roller ball. The
latest optical mice use two optical sensors and can
be moved across virtually any nonmirrored surface.
MPC A trademarked abbreviation for Multimedia
Personal Computer. The original MPC specification
was developed by Tandy Corporation and Microsoft
as the minimum platform capable of running multimedia software. In the summer of 1995, the MPC
Marketing Council introduced an upgraded MPC 3
standard. The MPC 1 Specification defines the following minimum standard requirements: a 386SX
or 486 CPU, 2MB RAM, 30MB hard disk, VGA
video display, 8-bit digital audio subsystem, CDROM drive, and systems software compatible with
the applications programming interfaces (APIs) of
Microsoft Windows version 3.1 or later. The MPC 2
9:24 AM
Page 49
specification defines the following minimum standard requirements: 25MHz 486SX with 4MB RAM,
160MB hard disk, 16-bit sound card,; 65,536-color
video display, double-speed CD-ROM drive, and systems software compatible with the APIs of Microsoft
Windows version 3.1 or later. The MPC 3 specification defines the following minimum standard
requirements: 75MHz Pentium with 8MB RAM,
540MB hard disk, 16-bit sound card, 65,536-color
video display, quad-speed CD-ROM drive, OM1–compliant MPEG-1 video, and systems software
compatible with the APIs of Microsoft Windows version 3.1 and DOS 6.0 or later. Virtually all computers sold since 1995 exceed MPC 3 standards.
MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group)
A working ISO committee that has defined standards for lossy digital compression and decompression of motion video/audio for use in computer
systems. The MPEG-1 standard delivers decompression data at 1.2MBps–1.5MBps, enabling CD players to play full-motion color movies at 30 frames
per second. MPEG-1 compresses at about a 50:1
ratio before image degradation occurs, but compression ratios as high as 200:1 are attainable. MPEG-2
extends to the higher data rates (2Mbps–15Mbps)
necessary for signals delivered from remote sources
(such as broadcast, cable, or satellite). MPEG-2 is
designed to support a range of picture aspect ratios,
including 4:3 and 16:9. MPEG compression produces about a 50% volume reduction in file size.
MP3 (the audio layer portion of the MPEG-1 standard) provides a wide range of compression ratios
and file sizes for digital music storage, making it
the de facto standard for exchanging digital music
through sites such as Napster and its many rivals.
See also lossy compression.
MPR The Swedish government standard for maximum video terminal radiation. The current version
is called MPR II, but most monitors also comply
with the newer and more restrictive TCO standards.
See also TCO.
MSDOS.SYS One of the DOS/Windows 9x system
files required to boot the machine. Contains the
primary DOS routines. Loaded by IO.SYS, it in turn
MTBF (mean time between failure) A statistically derived measure of the probable time a
device will continue to operate before a hardware
failure occurs, usually given in hours. Because no
Appendix A
standard technique exists for measuring MTBF, a
device from one manufacturer can be significantly
more or significantly less reliable than a device
with the same MTBF rating from another manufacturer.
MTTR (mean time to repair) A measure of
the probable time it will take a technician to service or repair a specific device, usually given in
Multichannel Multipoint Distribution
Service (MMDS) The most common form of socalled “wireless cable TV,” MMDS is also used for
two-way wireless Internet service. One of the leading MMDS technology manufacturers is Navini
Networks (
multicolor graphics array
multimedia The integration of sound, graphic
images, animation, motion video, and text in one
environment on a computer. It is a set of hardware
and software technologies that is rapidly changing
and enhancing the computing environment.
multisession A term used in CD-ROM recording
to describe a recording event. Multisession capabilities allow data recording on the disk at various
times in several recording sessions. Kodak’s Photo
CD is an example of multisession CD-R technology.
See also session (single or multisession).
To run several programs simultane-
multithread To concurrently process more than
one message by an application program. OS/2 and
32-bit versions of Windows are examples of multithreaded operating systems. Each program can start
two or more threads, which carry out various interrelated tasks with less overhead than two separate
programs would require.
multiuser system A system in which several
computer terminals share the same central processing unit (CPU).
nano (n) A prefix indicating one billionth
(1/1,000,000,000 or .000000001) of some unit.
nanosecond (ns) A unit of time equal to one
billionth (1/1,000,000,000 or .000000001) of a
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 50
National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) A nonregulatory federal
agency within the U.S. Commerce Department’s
Technology Administration. Founded in 1901,
NIST’s mission is to promote U.S. innovation and
industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.
NetBEUI (NetBIOS Extended User Interface)
A network protocol used primarily by Windows NT
and Windows 9x and most suitable for small peerto-peer networks. NetBEUI is not supported by
Microsoft in Windows XP and above but can still
be manually installed for use in troubleshooting
NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output
System) A commonly used network protocol
originally developed by IBM and Sytek for PC local
area networks. NetBIOS provides session and transport services (Layers 4 and 5 of the OSI model).
NetWare Novell’s server-based network for large
businesses. NetWare 5 and NetWare 6 are designed
to work well with IP-based networks.
network A system in which several independent
computers are linked to share data and peripherals,
such as hard disks and printers.
Network Address Translation (NAT) An
Internet standard allowing a router on a local area
network to use one set of IP addresses internally,
while using a second set of addresses for external
network attached storage (NAS) A hard diskbased storage device or array that plugs into the
network and has its own IP address.
network interface card (NIC)
connects a PC to a network.
An adapter that
Network Layer In the OSI reference model, the
layer that switches and routes the packets as necessary to get them to their destinations. This layer is
responsible for addressing and delivering message
packets. See also OSI.
Network Time Protocol (NTP) A standard
Internet protocol allowing for the accurate synchronization of clocks on a network.
NiCad The oldest of the three battery technologies used in portable systems, nickel cadmium batteries are rarely used in portable systems today
because of their shorter life and sensitivity to
improper charging and discharging. See also NiMH
and lithium-ion.
NiMH A battery technology used in portable systems. Nickel metal-hydride batteries have approximately a 30% longer life than NiCads, are less
sensitive to the memory effect caused by improper
charging and discharging, and do not use the environmentally dangerous substances found in
NiCads. Newer lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are far
superior. NiMH batteries can sometimes be used in
place of NiCads.
NLX A new low-profile motherboard form factor
standard that is basically an improved version of
the semiproprietary LPX design. It’s designed to
accommodate larger processor and memory form
factors and incorporate newer bus technologies,
such as AGP and USB. Besides design improvements, it is fully standardized, which means you
should be able to replace one NLX board with
another from a different manufacturer—something
that was not normally possible with LPX.
node A device on a network. Also any junction
point at which two or more items meet.
noise Any unwanted disturbance in an electrical
or mechanical system.
noninterlaced monitor A desirable monitor
design in which the electron beam sweeps the
screen in lines from top to bottom, one line after
the other, completing the entire screen in one pass.
Virtually all CRTs sold recently for desktop use are
nonvolatile memory (NVRAM) Randomaccess memory whose data is retained when power
is turned off. ROM/EPROM/EEPROM (flash) memory are examples of nonvolatile memory. Sometimes NVRAM is retained without any power
whatsoever, as in EEPROM or flash memory
devices. In other cases, the memory is maintained
by a small battery. NVRAM that is battery maintained is sometimes also called CMOS memory
(although CMOS RAM technically is volatile).
9:24 AM
Page 51
CMOS NVRAM is used in IBM-compatible systems
to store configuration information. True NVRAM
often is used in intelligent modems to store a userdefined default configuration loaded into normal
modem RAM at power-up.
nonvolatile RAM disk A RAM disk powered by
a battery supply so that it continues to hold its
data during a power outage.
North Bridge The Intel term for the main portion of the motherboard chipset that incorporates
the interface between the processor and the rest
of the motherboard. The North Bridge contains the
cache, main memory, and AGP controllers, as well
as the interface between the high-speed (normally
66MHz or 100MHz) processor bus and the 33MHz
PCI (peripheral component interconnect) or 66MHz
AGP (accelerated graphics port) buses. The functional equivalent of the North Bridge on the latest
8xx-series chipsets from Intel is the MCH. See also
chipset, ICH, MCH, and South Bridge.
notebook computer A very small personal
computer approximately the size of a notebook.
NTSC The National Television Standards
Committee, which governs the standard for television and video playback and recording in the
United States. The NTSC was originally organized
in 1941 when TV broadcasting first began on a
wide scale in black and white, and the format was
revised in 1953 for color. The NTSC format has 525
scan lines, a field frequency of 60Hz, a broadcast
bandwidth of 4MHz, a line frequency of 15.75KHz,
a frame frequency of 1/30 of a second, and a color
subcarrier frequency of 3.58MHz. It is an interlaced
signal, which means it scans every other line each
time the screen is refreshed. The signal is generated
as a composite of red, green, and blue signals for
color and includes an FM frequency for audio and a
signal for stereo. See also PAL and SECAM, which
are incompatible systems used in Europe. NTSC is
also called composite video.
null modem A serial cable wired so that two data
terminal equipment (DTE) devices, such as personal
computers, or two data communication equipment
(DCE) devices, such as modems or mice, can be connected. Also sometimes called a modem-eliminator or
a LapLink cable. To make a null-modem cable with
DB-25 connectors, you wire these pins together: 1-1,
2-3, 3-2, 4-5, 5-4, 6-8-20, 20-8-6, and 7-7.
numeric coprocessor
Appendix A
See math coprocessor.
NVRAM (nonvolatile random access memory) See nonvolatile memory (NVRAM).
object hierarchy Occurs in a graphical program
when two or more objects are linked and one
object’s movement is dependent on the other
object. This is known as a parent-child hierarchy. In
an example using a human figure, the fingers
would be child objects to the hand, which is a
child object to the arm, which is a child to the
shoulder, and so on. Object hierarchy provides
much control for an animator in moving complex
OC (optical carrier) rates Various data rates
for optical fiber used in Internet backbones, based
on the OC-1 rate of 51.84Mbps. Multiply the OC
rate by 51.84Mbps to derive the data rate. For
example, OC-12 is 622.08Mbps (51.84×12).
Occam’s Razor Also spelled Ockham’s Razor;
popular name for the principle that the simplest
explanation is usually the correct one—a very useful principle in computer troubleshooting.
OCR (optical character recognition) An
information-processing technology that converts
human-readable text into computer data. Usually a
scanner is used to read the text on a page, and OCR
software converts the images to characters.
Advanced OCR programs, such as OmniPage, can
also match fonts, re-create page layouts, and scan
graphics into machine-readable form.
ODI (Open Data-link Interface) A device driver standard from Novell that enables multiple protocols to run on the same network adapter card.
ODI adds functionality to Novell’s NetWare and
network computing environments by supporting
multiple protocols and drivers.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer)
Any manufacturer who sells its product to a reseller.
Usually refers to the original manufacturer of a particular device or component. Most HP hard disks,
for example, are made by Seagate Technologies,
who is considered the OEM. OEM products often
differ in features from retail products and can have
very short warranty periods if purchased separately
from their intended use.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 52
OLE (object linking and embedding) An
enhancement to the original Dynamic Data
Exchange (DDE) protocol that enables the user to
embed or link data created in one application to a
document created in another application and subsequently edit that data directly from the final
On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) A term that
refers to the self-diagnostic and reporting technology and capability found in 1980s and newer automobiles with computer controlled engines.
online fallback A feature that enables highspeed error-control modems to monitor line quality
and fall back to the next lower speed if line
quality degrades. Some modems fall forward as
line quality improves.
open architecture A system design in which
the specifications are made public to encourage
third-party vendors to develop add-on products.
The PC is a true open architecture system, but the
Macintosh is proprietary.
operating system (OS) A collection of programs for operating the computer. Operating systems perform housekeeping tasks, such as input
and output between the computer and peripherals
and accepting and interpreting information from
the keyboard. Windows XP and Vista are examples
of popular OSs used in PCs.
Opteron An AMD single-core and multi-core
processor built for workstation and server tasks.
Opteron supports AMD64 64-bit extensions. See
also AMD64.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) A system for optically scanning text from documents,
then translating the text into digital character data
that can be stored and searched via a computer.
optical disk A disk that encodes data as a series
of reflective pits that are read (and sometimes written) by a laser beam.
Orange Book The standards for recordable
(CD-R) and rewritable (CD-RW) compact discs.
originate mode A state in which the modem
transmits at the predefined low frequency of the
communications channel and receives at the high
frequency. The transmit/receive frequencies are the
reverse of the called modem, which is in answer
mode. See also answer mode.
OS/2 An operating system originally developed
through a joint effort by IBM and Microsoft
Corporation and later by IBM alone. Originally
released in 1987, OS/2 is a 32-bit operating system
designed to run on computers using the Intel 386
or later microprocessors. The OS/2 Workplace Shell,
an integral part of the system, is a graphical interface similar to Microsoft Windows and the Apple
Macintosh system. OS/2 Warp 4 is the most recent
version and is used primarily as a server or in backoffice functions today.
OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) A reference model developed by the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the
1980s, the OSI model splits a computer’s networking stack into seven discrete layers. Each layer provides specific services to the layers above and below
it. From the top down, the Application Layer is
responsible for program-to-program communication; the Presentation Layer manages data representation conversions. Next, the Session Layer is
responsible for establishing and maintaining communications channels, and the Transport Layer is
responsible for the integrity of data transmission.
The Network Layer routes data from one node to
another, the Data Link Layer is responsible for
physically passing data from one node to another,
and finally, the Physical Layer is responsible for
moving data on and off the network media.
output Information processed by the computer
or the act of sending that information to a mass
storage device, such as a video display, printer, or
overclocking The process of running a processor or video card at a speed faster than the officially
marked speed by using a higher clock multiplier,
faster bus speed, or faster core clock speed. Not recommended or endorsed by processor or video card
manufacturers. See also clock multiplier.
OverDrive An Intel trademark name for its line
of upgrade processors for 486, Pentium, and
Pentium Pro systems. Although Intel no longer sells
OverDrive processors, similar products are available
from Evergreen Technologies and PowerLeap
Products, Inc., for these processors plus Pentium II,
Pentium III, Pentium 4, and Celeron-based systems.
9:24 AM
Page 53
overlay Part of a program loaded into memory
only when it is required.
overrun A situation in which data moves from
one device more quickly than a second device can
accept it.
overscanning A technique used in consumer
display products that extends the deflection of a
CRT’s electron beam beyond the physical boundaries of the screen to ensure that images always fill
the display area.
overwrite To write data on top of existing data,
thus erasing the existing data.
package A device that includes a chip mounted
on and sealed inside a carrier.
packet A message sent over a network that contains data and a destination address.
packet writing A recording technique that
sends data to a CD-R or CD-RW disc in multiple
blocks, enabling normal writing processes in
Windows Explorer to be used instead of a CDmastering program. Compatible packet-reading
software, such as Roxio’s UDF Reader for DirectCD,
must be used on systems that don’t have a CD-R or
CD-RW drive to enable the media to be read. See
also Mt. Rainier.
pairing Combining processor instructions for
optimal execution on superscalar processors.
PAL 1) Phase Alternating Line system. Invented
in 1961, a system of TV broadcasting used in
England and other European countries (except
France). PAL’s image format is 4:3, 625 lines, 50Hz,
and 4MHz video bandwidth with a total 8MHz of
video channel width. With its 625-line picture
delivered at 25 frames per second, PAL provides a
better image and an improved color transmission
over the NTSC system used in North America. As a
consequence, PAL and NTSC video tapes aren’t
interchangeable. 2) Programmable array logic, a
type of chip that has logic gates specified by a
device programmer.
palmtop computer A computer system smaller
than a notebook that is designed so it can be held
in one hand while being operated by the other.
Many are now called PDAs or personal digital
Appendix A
parallel A method of transferring data characters
in which the bits travel down parallel electrical
paths simultaneously—for example, eight paths for
8-bit characters. Data is stored in computers in parallel form but can be converted to serial form for
certain operations.
parity A method of error checking in which an
extra bit is sent to the receiving device to indicate
whether an even or odd number of binary 1 bits
was transmitted. The receiving unit compares the
received information with this bit and can obtain a
reasonable judgment about the validity of the character. The same type of parity (even or odd) must
be used by two communicating computers, or both
may omit parity. When parity is used, a parity bit is
added to each transmitted character. The bit’s value
is 0 or 1, to make the total number of 1s in the
character even or odd, depending on which type of
parity is used. Parity checking isn’t widely supported on recent systems, but memory with parity
bits can be used as ECC memory on systems with
ECC-compatible chipsets. See also ECC.
park program A program that executes a seek
to the highest cylinder or just past the highest
cylinder of a drive so the potential of data loss is
minimized if the drive is moved. Park programs are
not interchangeable between drives and are no
longer required on most drives 40MB and above
because these drives self-park their heads for safety.
partition A section of a hard disk devoted to a
particular operating system. Most hard disks have
only one partition, devoted to DOS. A hard disk
can have as many as four partitions, each occupied
by a different operating system. DOS v3.3 or later
can occupy two of these four partitions. A boot
manager enables you to select the partition occupied by the operating system you want to start if
you have multiple operating systems installed in
different partitions. See also boot manager.
Pascal A high-level programming language
named for the French mathematician Blaise Pascal
(1623–1662). Developed in the early 1970s by
Niklaus Wirth for teaching programming and
designed to support the concepts of structured programming.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 54
passive heatsink A heatsink that does not
include a fan. Passive heatsinks used on processors
are usually larger than active heatsinks and rely on
case fans to dissipate heat. Many North Bridge or
memory control hubs on recent motherboards also
use passive heatsinks.
passive matrix Another name for dual-scan,
display-type LCDs.
PC Card (PCMCIA—Personal Computer
Memory Card International Association)
A credit card–sized expansion adapter for
notebook and laptop PCs. PC Card is the official
PCMCIA trademark; however, both PC Card
and PCMCIA card are used to refer to these standards. PCMCIA cards are removable modules that
can hold numerous types of devices, including
memory, modems, fax/modems, radio transceivers,
network adapters, solid state disks, hard disks, and
flash memory adapters.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
A standard bus specification initially developed by
Intel in 1992 that bypasses the standard ISA I/O
bus and uses the system bus to increase the bus
clock speed and take full advantage of the CPU’s
data path. The most common form of PCI is 32 bits
wide running at 33MHz, but 66MHz and 64-bit
wide versions of PCI are frequently used on servers.
PCI Express A high-speed serial I/O interconnect standard being developed by the PCI-SIG
( as an eventual replacement for
the original PCI standard. The initial version of PCI
Express supports 0.8V signaling at 2.5GHz, while
version 2 and later support 5GHz, allowing for
250MBps or 500MBps bandwidth per lane, respectively. Connectors featuring 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 lanes
are used in PCs, with up to 32 lanes possible.
PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect
Extended) A faster 64-bit version of PCI
with speeds up to 133MHz. PCI-X is backwardcompatible with PCI but also supports faulttolerant features such as automatic reinitializing
and disabling of faulty add-on cards.
PCL (Printer Control Language) Developed
by Hewlett-Packard in 1984 as a language for the
HP LaserJet printer. PCL is now the de facto industry standard for PC printing. PCL defines a standard
set of commands, enabling applications to communicate with HP or HP-compatible printers and is
supported by virtually all printer manufacturers.
Various levels of PCL are supported by HP and
other brands of laser and inkjet printers.
PCM (pulse code modulation) A technique
for digitizing analog signals by sampling the signal
and converting each sample into a binary number.
Also stands for powertrain control module, which
is what the computer in most modern automobiles
is called.
PDA (personal digital assistant) A handheld,
palm-sized computer that functions primarily as a
personal organizer and can be combined with a cellular phone or pager. Leading examples include the
Palm series, Windows–based PalmPCs, and the
Handspring (which also runs the Palm OS).
PDF (portable document format) Files with
this extension can be read with the Adobe Acrobat
Reader. See also Acrobat.
pedestal A server chassis that resembles a tower
chassis but is wider, taller, and deeper to permit the
use of larger motherboards. Some pedestal server
chassis include wheels, and some can be converted
to a rack-mount form factor.
peer-to-peer A type of network in which any
computer can act as both a server (by providing
access to its resources to other computers) and a
client (by accessing shared resources from other
See pixel.
Pentium An Intel microprocessor with 32-bit
registers, a 64-bit data bus, and a 32-bit address bus.
The Pentium has a built-in L1 cache segmented
into a separate 8KB cache for code and another 8KB
cache for data. The Pentium includes an FPU or
math coprocessor. It is backward compatible with
the 486 and can operate in real, protected virtual,
and virtual real modes. The MMX Pentium has a
16KB cache for code, has a 16KB cache for data,
and adds the MMX instruction set.
Pentium 4 The first Intel seventh-generation
processor, it’s based on a new 32-bit microarchitecture that operates at higher clock speeds because of
hyper pipelined technology, a rapid execution
engine, a 400MHz system bus (later boosted to
533MHz and 800MHz), and an execution trace
cache. The system bus runs at four times the
processor bus speed. The floating-point and
9:24 AM
Page 55
multimedia units have been improved by making
the registers 128 bits wide and adding a separate
register for data movement. Finally, SSE2 adds 144
new instructions for double-precision floatingpoint, SIMD integer, and memory management.
The original Socket 423 version (Willamette) was
later replaced by Socket 478 (Northwood) and
finally by Socket 775 (Prescott) running at up to
3.6GHz. 800MHz system bus versions also support
HT Technology.
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition A high-speed
version of the Pentium 4 that includes 2MB of L3
cache. The original versions ran at 3.46GHZ and
were made in Socket 478 and Socket 775. Later
versions boosted the system bus from 800MHz to
1066MHz, used the Prescott core, and ran at
3.73MHz. It has been replaced by the Pentium
Extreme Edition.
Pentium D An Intel seventh-generation processor (code named Smithfield and Presler) that
includes two Pentium 4 Prescott or Cedar Mill
processor cores in the same processor die. The
Pentium D fits into Socket 775 and was the first
dual-core PC processor, introduced in May 2005.
The Pentium D includes EM64T architecture. See
also EM64T and AMD64.
Pentium Extreme Edition A seventhgeneration EM64T-compatible dual-core processor
based on the Pentium D, but with HT Technology
enabled. Dual-processor–enabled operating systems
treat this chip as having four logical processors.
Requires a different chipset from the Pentium D.
See also Pentium D, EM64T, and AMD64.
Pentium II An Intel sixth-generation processor
similar to the Pentium Pro but with MMX capabilities and SEC cartridge packaging technology.
Includes L2 cache running at half-core speed.
Pentium III An Intel sixth-generation processor
similar to the Pentium II but with SSE (Streaming
SIMD Extensions) added. Later PIII models (codenamed Coppermine) include on-die L2 cache running at full core speed. It’s available in both
cartridge (Slot 1) and chip package (Socket 370)
Pentium Pro An Intel sixth-generation (P6)
processor with 32-bit registers, a 64-bit data bus,
and a 36-bit address bus. The Pentium Pro has the
Appendix A
same segmented Level 1 cache as the Pentium but
also includes a 256KB, 512KB, or 1MB of L2 cache
on a separate die inside the processor package. The
Pentium Pro includes an FPU or math coprocessor.
It is backward compatible with the Pentium and
can operate in real, protected, and virtual real
modes. The Pentium Pro fits into Socket 8.
peripheral Any piece of equipment used in
computer systems that is an attachment to the
computer. Disk drives, terminals, and printers are
all examples of peripherals.
persistence In a monitor, the quality of the
phosphor chemical that indicates how long the
glow caused by the electrons striking the phosphor
will remain onscreen.
personal computer (PC) Generically any small
computer that can be used by an individual; more
specifically, a type of personal computer that is
based on the original IBM PC introduced in 1981.
Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
Video Recorder (DVR).
See Digital
petabyte (P) A measure of disk capacity equaling 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.
PGA 1) Pin grid array. A chip package that has a
large number of pins on the bottom designed for
socket mounting. 2) Professional graphics adapter.
A limited-production, high-resolution graphics card
for XT and AT systems from IBM.
phosphor A layer of electroluminescent material
applied to the inside face of a cathode-ray tube
(CRT). When bombarded by electrons, the material
fluoresces, and after the bombardment stops it
phosphorescence The emission of light from a
substance after the source of excitation has been
Photo CD A technology developed by Eastman
Kodak and Philips that stores photographic images
on a CD-R recordable compact disc. Images stored
on the Photo CD can have resolutions as high as
2,048×3,072 pixels. Up to 100 true-color images
(24-bit color) can be stored on one disc. Photo CD
images are created by scanning film and digitally
recording the images on compact discs. The digitized images are indexed (given a 4-digit code), and
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 56
thumbnails of each image on the disc are shown on
the front of the case along with its index number.
Multisession capability enables several rolls of film
to be added to a single disc on different occasions.
pin compatible Chips having the same pinout
functions. For example, a VIA C3 processor is pin
compatible with an Intel Celeron (Socket 370
photolithography The photographic process
used in electronic chip manufacturing that creates
transistors and circuit and signal pathways in semiconductors by depositing different layers of various
materials on the chip.
pinout A listing of which pins have which functions on a chip, socket, slot, or other connector.
photoresist A chemical used to coat a silicon
wafer in the semiconductor manufacturing process
that makes the silicon sensitive to light for
physical drive A single disk drive. DOS defines
logical drives, which are given a specifier, such as
C: or D:. A single physical drive can be divided into
multiple logical drives. Conversely, special software
can span a single logical drive across two physical
Physical Layer
See OSI.
physical unit number
See PUN.
PICMG The PCI Industrial Computers
Manufacturers Group is a trade association that
develops standards for single-board and industrial
computers. Its standards include AdvancedTCA,
CompactPCI, and others. See also AdvancedTCA
and CompactPCI.
Picture CD A simplified version of Photo CD
that stores scanned images from a single roll of film
on a CD-R disc. Images on Picture CDs, unlike
those on Photo CDs, are stored in the industrystandard JPEG file format and can be opened with
most photo-editing programs.
PIF (program information file) A file that
contains information about a non-Windows application specifying optimum settings for running the
program under Windows 3.x. These are called property sheets in 32-bit Windows.
PIN (Personal Identification Number) A
personal numeric password used for identification
pin The lead on a connector, chip, module, or
PIO mode (programmed input/output
mode) The standard data transfer modes used by
IDE drives that use the processor’s registers for data
transfer. This is in contrast with DMA modes,
which transfer data directly between main memory
and the device. The slowest PIO mode is 0, and the
fastest PIO mode is mode 4 (16.66MBps). Faster
modes use Ultra DMA transfers. See also Ultra DMA.
A path for instructions or data to
pixel A mnemonic term meaning picture element.
Any of the tiny elements that form a picture on a
video display screen. Also called a pel.
pixels per inch (ppi) A measurement of resolution used primarily by video displays and monitors.
pixel shader A small program that controls the
appearance of individual pixels in a 3D image.
Most recent mid-range and high-end GPUs such as
NVIDIA’s GeForce 3 and GeForce 4 Ti series and the
ATI 8xxx and 9xxx series have built-in pixel
shaders. See also GPU, hardware shader, and vertex
PKZIP The original ZIP-format
compression/decompression program developed by
the late Phil Katz. His company, PKWARE, continues to develop PKZIP for popular operating systems,
including Windows.
planar board A term equivalent to motherboard, used by IBM in some of its literature.
plasma display A display technology that uses
plasma (electrically charged gas) to illuminate each
plated media Hard disk platters plated with a
form of thin metal film medium on which data is
platter A disk contained in a hard disk drive.
Most drives have two or more platters, each with
data recorded on both sides.
9:24 AM
Page 57
Appendix A
PLCC (plastic leaded-chip carrier) A chipcarrier package with J-leads around the perimeter of
the package.
proprietary bus on the rear of a portable computer,
but so-called universal models might attach to the
PC Card (PCMCIA) slot or to a USB port.
Plug and Play (PnP) A hardware and software
specification developed by Intel that enables a PnP
system and PnP adapter cards to automatically configure themselves. PnP cards are free from switches
and jumpers and are configured via the PnP BIOS
in the host system, or via supplied programs for
non-PnP systems. PnP also allows the system to
detect and configure external devices, such as monitors, modems, and devices attached to USB or
IEEE-1394 ports. Windows 9x and later support PnP
portable computer A computer system smaller
than a transportable system but larger than a laptop system. Very few systems in this form factor are
sold today, but companies such as Dolch still produce them. Most portable systems conform to the
lunchbox style popularized by Compaq or the
briefcase style popularized by IBM, each with a
fold-down (removable) keyboard and built-in display. These systems characteristically run on AC
power and not on batteries, include several expansion slots, and can be as powerful as full desktop
polling A communications technique that determines when a device is ready to send data. The system continually interrogates polled devices in a
round-robin sequence. If a device has data to send,
it sends back an acknowledgment and the transmission begins. This contrasts with interrupt-driven
communications, in which the device generates a
signal to interrupt the system when it has data to
send. Polling enables two devices that would normally have an IRQ conflict to coexist because the
IRQ is not used for flow control.
port A plug or socket that enables an external
device, such as a printer, to be attached to the
adapter card in the computer. Also a logical address
used by a microprocessor for communication
between it and various devices.
port address One of a system of addresses used
by the computer to access devices such as disk
drives or printer ports. You might need to specify
an unused port address when installing any adapter
boards in a system unit.
port replicator For mobile computers, a device
that plugs into the laptop and provides all the ports
for connecting external devices. The advantage of
using a port replicator is that the external devices
can be left connected to the replicator and the
mobile computer can be connected to them all at
once by connecting to the replicator, rather than
connecting to each individual device. A port replicator differs from a docking station in that the
latter can provide additional drive bays and expansion slots not found in port replicators.
Traditionally, port replicators have plugged into a
POS (Programmable Option Select) The
Micro Channel Architecture’s POS eliminates
switches and jumpers from the system board and
adapters by replacing them with programmable registers. Automatic configuration routines store the
POS data in a battery-powered CMOS memory for
system configuration and operations. The configuration utilities rely on adapter description files
(ADF) that contain the setup data for each card.
POST (power-on self test) A series of tests run
by the computer at power-on. Most computers scan
and test many of their circuits and sound a beep
from the internal speaker if this initial test indicates proper system performance.
PostScript A page-description language developed primarily by John Warnock of Adobe Systems
for converting and moving data to the laser-printed
page. Instead of using the standard method of
transmitting graphics or character information to a
printer and telling it where to place dots one by
one on a page, PostScript provides a way for the
laser printer to interpret mathematically a full page
of shapes and curves. Adobe Acrobat converts
PostScript output files into files that can be read by
users with varying operating systems. See also
POTS (plain old telephone service)
analog telephone service.
power factor conversion (PFC) An expression
of how efficient a power supply or UPS is at providing power. A device that provides 100% of its rated
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 58
output has a PFC of 1.0. In practice, high-quality
power supplies and UPS units have PFCs in the
90%–97% range (.90–.97 PFC).
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) An
electronic device that can be programmed to control a process or machine operation.
power management Systems used initially in
mobile computers (and now also used in desktop
systems) to decrease power consumption by turning off or slowing down devices during periods of
inactivity. See also APM.
PROM (programmable read-only memory)
A type of memory chip that can be programmed to
store information permanently—information that
can’t be erased. Also referred to as OTP for one-time
power supply An electrical/electronic circuit
that supplies all operating voltage and current to
the computer system.
proprietary Anything invented by one company and uses components available from only
that one company. Especially applies to cases in
which the inventing company goes to lengths to
hide the specifications of the new invention or to
prevent other manufacturers from making similar
or compatible items. The opposite of standard or
open architecture. Computers with nonstandard
components that are available from only the original manufacturer, such as Apple Macintosh systems, are known as proprietary.
PPGA (plastic pin grid array) A chippackaging form factor used by Intel as an alternative to traditional ceramic packaging.
PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) A protocol that
enables a computer to use the Internet with a standard telephone line and high-speed modem. PPP
has largely replaced the Serial Line Internet
Protocol (SLIP) because it supports line sharing and
error detection.
PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over
Ethernet) A specification for connecting to the
Internet, used primarily on DSL connections.
precompensation A data write modification
required by some older drives on the inner cylinders to compensate for the higher density of data
on the (smaller) inner cylinders.
Presentation Layer
See OSI.
primary partition An ordinary, single-volume
bootable partition. See also extended partition.
printer A device that records information visually on paper or other material.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) A private
telephone network used within an organization.
See microprocessor.
processor speed The clock rate at which a
microprocessor processes data. A typical Pentium 4
processor, for example, operates at 2GHz (2 billion
cycles per second).
program A set of instructions or steps telling the
computer how to handle a problem or task.
protected mode A mode available in all
Intel and compatible processors except the firstgeneration 8086 and 8088. In this mode, memory
addressing is extended beyond the 1MB limits of
the 8088 and real mode and restricted protection
levels can be set to trap software crashes and control the system.
protocol A system of rules and procedures governing communications between two or more
devices. Protocols vary, but communicating devices
must follow the same protocol to exchange data.
The data format, readiness to receive or send, error
detection, and error correction are some of the
operations that can be defined in protocols.
proxy server A computer that acts as a gateway
between the computers on a network and the
Internet and also provides page caching and
optional content filtering and firewall services to
the network. Some home network software solutions for Internet sharing, such as WinProxy, use a
proxy server.
PS/2 mouse A mouse designed to plug into a
dedicated mouse port (a round, 6-pin DIN connector) on the motherboard, rather than plugging into
a serial port. The name comes from the fact that
this port was first introduced on the IBM PS/2
9:24 AM
Page 59
PUN (physical unit number) A term used to
describe a device attached directly to the SCSI bus.
Also known as a SCSI ID. As many as eight SCSI
devices can be attached to a single SCSI bus, and
each must have a unique PUN or ID assigned from
7 to 0. Normally, the SCSI host adapter is assigned
the highest-priority ID, which is 7. A bootable hard
disk is assigned an ID of 0, and other nonbootable
drives are assigned higher priorities.
QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation)
A modulation technique used by high-speed
modems that combines both phase and amplitude
modulation. This technique enables multiple bits to
be encoded in a single time interval.
QDR (quad data rate) A high-speed SDRAM
technology ( that uses separate
input and output ports with a DDR interface to
enable four pieces of data to be processed at the
same time. See also DDR.
QIC (Quarter-Inch Committee) An industry
association that sets hardware and software standards for tape-backup units that use quarter-inchwide tapes. QIC, QIC-Wide, Travan, and Travan NS
drives are all based on QIC standards.
Quantum Formerly a major maker of hard disk
drives and now a major maker of attached network
storage devices. Quantum-brand disk drives are
now sold and supported by Maxtor.
QuickTime An audio/video system and media
player developed by Apple Computer.
QWERTY keyboard The standard typewriter or
computer keyboard, with the characters Q, W, E, R,
T, and Y on the top row of alpha keys. Because of
the haphazard placement of characters, this keyboard can hinder fast typing.
RAID (redundant array of independent or
inexpensive disks) A storage unit that employs
two or more drives in combination for fault tolerance and greater performance, used mostly in file
server applications. Originally used only with SCSI
drives and host adapters, many motherboards now
feature ATA/IDE or SATA RAID implementations.
RAID On Motherboard (ROMB)
troller built into a motherboard.
A RAID con-
Appendix A
rail A voltage tap or source inside of a power
supply. Also a plastic or metal bracket attached to
the sides of drives mounted in PCs. They fit into
channels in the side of each disk drive bay position
and might be held in position with screws or snap
into place.
RAM (random-access memory) All memory
accessible at any instant (randomly) by a microprocessor.
RAM disk A “phantom disk drive” in which a
section of system memory (RAM) is set aside to
hold data, just as though it were a number of disk
sectors. To an operating system, a RAM disk looks
and functions like any other drive.
RAMDAC (random-access memory digital-toanalog converter) A special type of DAC found
on video cards. RAMDACs use a trio of DACs—one
each for red, green, and yellow—to convert image
data into a picture. RAMDACs were formerly separate chips but are now integrated into the 3D accelerator chips on most recent video cards.
random-access file A file in which all data elements (or records) are of equal length and written
in the file end to end, without delimiting characters between. Any element (or record) in the file
can be found directly by calculating the record’s
offset in the file.
random-access memory
See RAM.
raster A pattern of horizontal scanning lines
normally on a computer monitor. An electromagnetic field causes the beam of the monitor’s tube to
illuminate the correct dots to produce the required
raster graphics A technique for representing a
picture image as a matrix of dots. It is the digital
counterpart of the analog method used in TV.
Several raster graphics standards exist, including
RCA jack Also called a phono connector, this is a
plug and socket for a two-wire coaxial cable used to
connect audio and video components. The plug is
a 1/8"-thick prong that sticks out 5/16" from the
middle of a cylinder.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 60
RDRAM (Rambus DRAM) A proprietary highspeed dynamic RAM technology developed by
Rambus, Inc., which was supported by some 8xx
series Intel chipsets for Pentium III and early
Pentium 4 systems from 1999 through 2001.
Memory modules with RDRAM chips are called
RIMMs (Rambus inline memory modules). Rambus
licenses its technology to other semiconductor
companies, who manufacture the chips and
read-only file A file whose attribute setting in
the file’s directory entry tells DOS not to allow software to write into or over the file.
read-only memory
See ROM.
read/write head A tiny magnet that reads and
writes data on a disk track.
RealAudio A system and player for streaming
audio data over the Internet. Developed by
real mode A mode available in all Intel
8086–compatible processors that enables compatibility with the original 8086. In this mode, memory addressing is limited to 1MB.
real-time The actual time in which a program or
an event takes place. In computing, real-time refers
to an operating mode under which data is received
and processed and the results returned so quickly
that the process appears instantaneous to the user.
The term also is used to describe the process of
simultaneous digitization and compression of audio
and video information.
reboot The process of restarting a computer and
reloading the operating system.
Red Book More commonly known as Compact
Disc-Digital Audio (CD-DA), this is one of four compact disc standards. Red Book got its name from
the color of the manual used to describe the CDAudio specifications. The Red Book audio standard
requires that digital audio be sampled at a 44.1KHz
sample rate using 16 bits for each sample. This is
the standard used by audio CDs and many
redundant power supply (RPS) A power supply with two or more modules, one of which is in
service at a time. If the primary module fails,
another automatically takes its place. An RPS might
be designed into a server or could be retrofitted
refresh cycle A cycle in which the computer
accesses all memory locations stored by DRAM
chips so that the information remains intact.
DRAM chips must be accessed several times per
second; otherwise, the information fades.
refresh rate Another term for the vertical scan
frequency of monitors.
register Storage area in memory having a specified storage capacity—such as a bit, byte, or computer word—and intended for a special purpose.
Registry The system configuration files used by
Windows 95 and later to store settings about
installed hardware and drivers, user preferences,
installed software, and other settings required to
keep Windows running properly. Augments and
replaces the WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI files used in
Windows 3.x and earlier. The Registry structure
varies between Windows versions.
release candidate (RC) A final test release of a
program during the beta test process, to help find
and fix any bugs before the product is released to
manufacturing for duplication.
remote digital loopback A test that checks
the phone link and a remote modem’s transmitter
and receiver. Data entered from the keyboard is
transmitted from the initiating modem, received by
the remote modem’s receiver, looped through its
transmitter, and returned to the local screen for
remote echo A copy of the data received by the
remote system, returned to the sending system,
and displayed onscreen. A function of the remote
rendering Generating a 3D image that incorporates the simulation of lighting effects, such as
shadows and reflection.
resolution 1) A reference to the size of the
pixels used in graphics. In medium-resolution
graphics, pixels are large. In high-resolution graphics, pixels are small. 2) A measure of the number of
horizontal and vertical pixels that can be displayed
by a video adapter and monitor.
9:24 AM
Page 61
REV A proprietary hard-disk-based removablemedia drive made by Iomega. REV has a native/
2.6:1 compressed capacity of 35/90GB per cartridge.
REV can be used for backup or primary storage. An
autoloader is also available. See also autoloader.
revolutions per minute (RPM)
ment of rotational speed.
A measure-
reverse engineering The act of duplicating a
hardware or software component by studying the
functions of the component and designing a different one that has the same functions.
RFI (radio frequency interference) A highfrequency signal radiated by improperly shielded
conductors, particularly when signal path lengths
are comparable to or longer than the signal wavelengths. The FCC now regulates RFI in computer
equipment sold in the U.S. under FCC Regulations,
Part 15, Subpart J.
RGB (red green blue) A type of computer color
display output signal composed of separately controllable red, green, and blue signals, as opposed to
composite video, in which signals are combined
prior to output. RGB monitors offer much higher
resolution and sharper pictures than composite
ribbon cable Flat cable with wires running in
parallel, such as those used for internal IDE or SCSI.
Rich Text Format (RTF) A universal file format suitable for exchanging formatted text files
between different word processing and page layout
RIMM (Rambus inline memory module) A
type of memory module made using RDRAM chips.
See also RDRAM.
RISC (reduced instruction set computer)
Differentiated from CISC, the complex instruction
set computer. RISC processors have simple instruction sets requiring only one or a few execution
cycles. These simple instructions can be used more
effectively than CISC systems with appropriately
designed software, resulting in faster operations.
See also CISC.
RJ-11 The standard two-wire connector type used
for single-line telephone connections.
Appendix A
RJ-14 The standard four-wire connector type
used for two-line telephone connections.
RJ-45 An informal designation used to describe
the 8P8C (8-pin, 8-conductor) standard connector
type used in networking with twisted-pair cabling.
Resembles an RJ-11/14 telephone jack, but RJ-45 is
larger with more wires.
RLL (run-length limited) A type of encoding
that derives its name from the fact that the techniques used limit the distance (run length) between
magnetic flux reversals on the disk platter. Several
types of RLL encoding techniques exist, although
only two are commonly used. (1,7) RLL encoding
increases storage capacity by about 30% over MFM
encoding and is most popular in the very highest
capacity drives due to a better window margin,
whereas (2,7) RLL encoding increases storage capacity by 50% over MFM encoding and is used in the
majority of RLL implementations. Most IDE, ESDI,
and SCSI hard disks use one of these forms of RLL
RMA number (return-merchandise authorization number) A number given to you by a
vendor when you arrange to return an item for
repairs. Used to track the item and the repair.
ROM (read-only memory) A type of memory
that has values permanently or semipermanently
burned in. These locations are used to hold important programs or data that must be available to the
computer when the power initially is turned on.
ROM BIOS (read-only memory basic
input/output system) A BIOS encoded in a
form of read-only memory for protection.
root directory The main directory of any hard
or floppy disk. It has a fixed size and location for a
particular disk volume and can’t be resized dynamically the way subdirectories can.
router A device that is used to connect various
networks, intelligently routing information
between them. It is used to internetwork similar
and dissimilar networks and can select the most
expedient route based on traffic load, line speeds,
costs, and network failures. Routers use forwarding
tables to determine which packets should be forwarded between the connected networks. A cable
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 62
or DSL modem is an example of a simple router
that connects the Internet to your own network.
Many routers include firewall capability to block
suspect packets from being transmitted between
scan lines The parallel lines across a video
screen, along which the scanning spot travels in
painting the video information that makes up a
monitor picture. NTSC systems use 525 scan lines
to a screen; PAL systems use 625.
routine Set of frequently used instructions. It
can be considered as a subdivision of a program
with two or more instructions that are related
ScanDisk The default disk drive testing program
included with Windows 9x/Me; might be referred
to as error checking in the Drive properties screen.
Windows NT and later do not include ScanDisk,
and instead use CHKDSK to test drives.
RS-232 An interface introduced in August 1969
by the Electronic Industries Association. The RS-232
interface standard provides an electrical description
for connecting peripheral devices to computers.
Originally, RS-232 (serial) ports on computers used
a 25-pin interface, but starting with the IBM AT,
most use a 9-pin interface.
RTC (real-time clock) A battery-powered clock
included on the motherboard of 286-class and
newer computers. The contents of the RTC are read
at startup time to provide the time display in the
operating system’s clock. It’s often part of the
NVRAM chip.
S/PDIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface)
Provides digital I/O on high-end sound cards and
multimedia-capable video cards. Might use either
an RCA jack or optical jack; some devices support
both types of S/PDIF connectors.
S-Video (Y/C) Type of video signal used in the
Hi8 and S-VHS videotape formats in which the
luminance and chrominance (Y/C) components are
kept separate, providing greater control and quality
of each image. S-video transmits luminance and
color portions separately, thus avoiding the NTSC
encoding process and its inevitable loss of picture
SATA (Serial ATA) A high-speed serial interface
designed to replace the current parallel ATA and
UltraATA drive interface standards. Serial ATA 1.0
uses a seven-wire data/ground cable and supports
direct point-to-point connections to host adapters
at initial speeds of up to 150MBps, which is faster
than UltraATA-133. SATA 3GB/sec hardware is now
available. See also Ultra DMA.
scan codes The hexadecimal codes actually sent
by the keyboard to the motherboard when a key is
scanner A device that reads an image and converts it into computer data.
scanning frequency A monitor measurement
that specifies how often the image is refreshed.
See also vertical scan frequency.
scratch disk A disk that contains no useful
information and can be used as a test disk. IBM has
a routine on the Advanced Diagnostics disks that
creates a specially formatted scratch disk to be used
for testing floppy drives.
SCSI (small computer system interface) A
standard originally developed by Shugart Associates
(then called SASI for Shugart Associates System
Interface) and later approved by ANSI in 1986.
SCSI-2 (now called SPI-2) was approved in 1994,
and Ultra3 SCSI (now called SPI-3) was approved in
2000. Ultra4 SCSI (now called SPI-4) was approved
in 2002. Eight-bit (narrow) versions of SCSI typically use a 50-pin connector and permit multiple
devices (up to eight including the host) to be connected in daisy-chain fashion. Some low-cost narrow SCSI devices might use a 25-pin connector.
Wide and Ultra Wide versions of SCSI use a 68-pin
connector and can support up to 16 devices,
including the host. An 80-pin connector is used on
hot-swap SCSI drives used in RAID arrays.
SDLC (Synchronous Data Link Control) A
protocol developed by IBM for software applications and communicating devices operation in
IBM’s Systems Network Architecture (SNA). Defines
operations at the link level of communications—for
example, the format of data frames exchanged
between modems over a phone line.
SDRAM (synchronous DRAM) RAM that runs
at the same speed as the main system bus.
9:24 AM
Page 63
SEC (single edge contact) An Intel processor
packaging design in which the processor and
optional L2 cache chips are mounted on a small
circuit board (much like an oversized memory
SIMM), which might be sealed in a metal and plastic cartridge. The cartridge is then plugged into the
motherboard through an edge connector called Slot
1 or Slot 2, which looks similar to an adapter card
slot. Several variations to the SEC cartridge form
factor exist: The single edge contact cartridge
(SECC) has a cover and a thermal plate; the single
edge contact cartridge 2 (SECC2) has a cover, but
no thermal plate; and the single edge processor
package (SEPP, which is used only with Celeron
processors) has no cover or thermal plate. In implementations with no thermal plate, the heatsink is
attached directly to the processor package or die.
SECAM Sequential Couleur A Mémoire (sequential color with memory), the French color TV system also adopted in Russia. The basis of operation
is the sequential recording of primary colors in
alternate lines. The image format is 4:3, 625 lines,
50Hz, and 6MHz video bandwidth with a total
8MHz of video channel width.
SECC (single edge contact cartridge)
See SEC.
SECC2 (single edge contact cartridge 2)
See SEC.
sector A section of one track defined with identification markings and an identification number.
Most sectors hold 512 bytes of data.
security software Utility software that uses a
system of passwords and other devices to restrict an
individual’s access to subdirectories and files.
seek time The amount of time required for a
disk drive to move the heads across one-third of
the total number of cylinders. Represents the average time it takes to move the heads from one cylinder to another randomly selected cylinder. Seek
time is a part of the average access time for a drive.
self-extracting file An archive file that contains its own extraction program. Open it in a file
manager, such as Windows Explorer, to uncompress
the files it contains. Because all types of files,
including Trojans, can be distributed as .exe files
Appendix A
(the extension also used by self-extracting files),
consider using a program such as WinZip to examine the contents of an .exe file before you open it.
semiconductor A substance, such as germanium or silicon, whose conductivity is poor at low
temperatures but is improved by minute additions
of certain substances or by the application of heat,
light, or voltage. Depending on the temperature
and pressure, a semiconductor can control a flow of
electricity. Semiconductors are the basis of modern
electronic-circuit technology.
SEPP (single edge processor package)
See SEC.
sequencer A software program that controls
MIDI file messages and keeps track of music timing.
Because MIDI files store note instructions instead of
actual sounds, a sequencer is needed to play,
record, and edit MIDI sounds. Sequencer programs
enable recording and playback of MIDI files by storing the instrument, note pitch (frequency), duration (in real-time) that each note is held, and
loudness (amplitude) of each musical or soundeffect note.
sequential file A file in which varying-length
data elements are recorded end to end, with delimiting characters placed between each element. To
find a particular element, you must read the whole
file up to that element.
serial The transfer of data characters one bit at a
time, sequentially, using a single electrical path.
Serial ATA
Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) A high-speed serial
implementation of SCSI adopted in 2003, SAS combines backward compatibility with SATA drives, a
current performance of 300MBps, and future
improvements to data rates up to 1,200MBps.
serial mouse A mouse designed to connect to a
computer’s serial port.
serial port An I/O connector used to connect to
serial devices. See also RS-232.
server A computer in a network that enables
resources such as files and printers to be shared by
multiple users.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 64
Server System Infrastructure (SSI) A series
of power supply, motherboard, and chassis standards developed by Intel for servers.
graphical shell and either COMMAND.COM (Windows
9x/Me) or CMD.EXE (Windows NT and later) as the
command-line shell.
ServerWorks A major developer of server
chipsets for use with Pentium III Xeon and
Xeon/Xeon MP processors. Now owned by
shielded twisted-pair (STP) Unshielded
twisted-pair (UTP) network cabling with a metal
sheath or braid around it to reduce interference,
usually used in Token-Ring networks.
Service Set Identifier (SSID) A unique identifier of up to 32 characters that serves to differentiate or “name” a wireless network.
shock rating A rating (usually expressed in G
force units) of how much shock a disk drive can
sustain without damage. Usually two specifications
exist for a drive powered on or off.
servo The mechanism in a drive that enables the
head positioner to adjust continuously so that it is
precisely placed above a given cylinder in the drive.
servo data Magnetic markings written on disk
platters to guide the read/write heads in drives that
use voice-coil actuators.
session (single or multisession) A term used
in CD-ROM recording to describe a recording
event. In a single session, data is recorded on a
CD-ROM and an index is created. If additional
space is left on the disc, another session can be
used to record additional files along with another
index. Some older CD-ROM drives do not expect
additional recording sessions and therefore are
incapable of reading the additional session data on
the disc. The advent of Kodak’s Photo CD propelled
the desire for multisession CD-ROM XA (extended
architecture) drives.
Session Layer
See OSI.
settling time The time required for read/write
heads to stop vibrating after they have been moved
to a new track.
shadow mask A thin screen full of holes that
adheres to the inside of a color CRT. The electron
beam is aimed through the holes in the mask onto
the phosphor dots. See also aperture grille.
shadow RAM A copy of a system’s slower-access
ROM BIOS placed in faster-access RAM, usually during the startup or boot procedure. This setup
enables the system to access BIOS code without the
penalty of additional wait states required by the
slower ROM chips. Also called shadow ROM or ROM
shell The generic name of any user interface software. COMMAND.COM is the standard shell for DOS;
32-bit Windows uses the Windows Explorer as a
signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio The strength of a
video or an audio signal in relation to interference
(noise). The higher the S/N ratio, the better the
quality of the signal. The latest high-end sound
cards have an S/N ratio of 100:1.
silicon The base material for computer chips. An
element, silicon (symbol Si) is contained in the
majority of rock and sand on earth and is the second most abundant element on the planet next to
SIMD (single instruction multiple data)
The term used to describe the MMX and SSE
instructions added to the Intel processors. These
instructions can process matrixes consisting of multiple data elements with only a single instruction,
enabling more efficient processing of graphics and
sound data.
SIMM (single inline memory module) An
array of memory chips on a small PC board with a
single row of I/O contacts. SIMMs commonly have
30 or 72 connectors.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) A
protocol for sending email messages between network servers.
single-ended An electrical signaling method in
which a single line is referenced by a ground path
common to other signals. In a single-ended bus
intended for moderately long distances, commonly
one ground line exists between groups of signal
lines to provide some resistance to signal crosstalk.
Single-ended signals require only one driver or
receiver pin per signal, plus one ground pin per
group of signals. Single-ended signals are vulnerable to common mode noise and crosstalk but are
much less expensive than differential signaling
9:24 AM
Page 65
SIP (single inline package)
with only one row of leads.
A DIP-like package
Appendix A
snow A flurry of bright dots that can appear anywhere onscreen on a monitor.
skinny dip Twenty-four-position and 28position DIP devices with .300" row-to-row
SO-J (small outline J-lead) A small DIP package with J-shaped leads for surface mounting or
socket A receptacle, usually on a motherboard
although sometimes also found on expansion
cards, into which processors or chips can be
See suspend.
SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) An
Internet protocol that is used to run the Internet
Protocol (IP) over serial lines, such as telephone circuits. IP enables a packet to traverse multiple networks on the way to its final destination. Largely
replaced by PPP. See also PPP.
slot A physical connector on a motherboard to
hold an expansion card, SIMMs and DIMMs, or a
processor card in place and make contact with the
electrical connections.
Slot 1 The motherboard connector designed by
Intel to accept its SEC cartridge processor design
used by the Pentium II and early Celeron and
Pentium III processors.
Slot 2 A motherboard connector for Pentium II
and Pentium III Xeon processors intended mainly
for file server applications. Slot 2 systems support
up to four-way symmetric multiprocessing.
S.M.A.R.T. (self-monitoring analysis and
reporting technology) An industry standard for
advance reporting of imminent hard drive failure.
When this feature is enabled in the BIOS and a
S.M.A.R.T.-compliant hard drive is installed, detected
problems can be reported to the computer. This
enables the user to replace a drive before it fails.
Programs such as Norton System Works and Norton
Utilities are compatible with these status messages.
Socket 1–8 The Intel specifications for eight different sockets to accept various Intel processors in
the 486, Pentium, and Pentium Pro families.
Socket 370 A 370-pin socket used by socketed
versions of the Celeron and Pentium III and the
VIA C3 processors.
Socket 423 The socket used by the initial versions of the Pentium 4.
Socket 462
See Socket A.
Socket 478 A 478-pin socket used by the
Northwood versions of the Pentium 4.
Socket 603 A 603-pin socket used by Intel Xeon
processors based on the Pentium 4 design.
Socket 604 A 604-pin socket used by Intel Xeon
processors based on the Pentium 4 design. It is
backward compatible with Socket 603 processors.
Socket 754 A 754-pin socket used by the AMD
Athlon 64 and some versions of the Sempron.
Socket 775 A 775-land socket used by the latest
Intel Pentium 4 processors as well as the Pentium 4
Extreme Edition, Pentium D, and Pentium Extreme
SMBIOS A BIOS that incorporates system management functions and reporting compatibility
with the Desktop Management Interface (DMI).
Socket 939 A 939-pin socket used by recent versions of the Athlon 64 FX and all Athlon 64 X2
SMPTE time code An 80-bit standardized edit
time code adopted by SMPTE, the Society of
Motion Picture and Television Engineers. The
SMPTE time code is a standard used to identify
individual video frames in the video-editing
process. SMPTE time code controls such functions
as play, record, rewind, and forward of video tapes.
SMPTE time code displays video in terms of hours,
minutes, seconds, and frames for accurate video
Socket 940 A 940-pin socket used by the AMD
Opteron processor and early versions of the Athlon
64 FX processor.
Socket A A 462-pin socket used by socketed versions of the AMD Athlon; all AMD Athlon MP,
Athlon XP, Duron; and most versions of the AMD
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 66
Socket AM2 A 940-pin socket used by many versions of the AMD Athlon 64, 64 X2, 64 FX,
Opteron, and Sempron processors.
Socket F A 1207-pin socket used by AMD Quad
FX platform processors to allow two dual-core
processors to work together in a quad-core platform. Also called Socket 1207 FX by AMD and
Socket L1 by NVIDIA.
Socket T Early name for Socket 775. See also
Socket 775.
SODIMM (small outline dual inline memory
module) An industry-standard 144-pin memory
module designed for use primarily in laptop and
portable computers.
soft error An error in reading or writing data
that occurs sporadically, usually because of a transient problem, such as a power fluctuation.
software A series of instructions loaded in the
computer’s memory that instructs the computer in
how to accomplish a problem or task.
sound card An adapter card with soundgenerating capabilities.
South Bridge The Intel term for the lower-speed
component in the chipset that has always been a
single individual chip; it has been replaced in the
8xx-series chipsets by the ICH. The South Bridge
connects to the 33MHz PCI bus and contains the
IDE interface ports and the interface to the 8MHz
ISA bus (when present). It also typically contains
the USB interface and even the CMOS RAM and
real-time clock functions. The South Bridge contains all the components that make up the ISA bus,
including the interrupt and DMA controllers. See
also chipset, ICH, MCH, and North Bridge.
SPI (SCSI parallel interface) Alternative name
for common SCSI standards. See also SCSI.
spindle The central post on which a disk drive’s
platters are mounted.
spindle count In notebook and laptop computers with interchangeable drives, spindle count
refers to how many drives can be installed and used
at the same time.
splitter Used in DSL and cable modem service to
separate Internet signals from those used by the
existing telephone (DSL) or cable TV service.
SRAM (static random access memory) A
form of high-speed memory. SRAM chips do not
require a refresh cycle like DRAM chips and can be
made to operate at very high access speeds. SRAM
chips are very expensive because they normally
require six transistors per bit. This also makes the
chips larger than conventional DRAM chips. SRAM
is volatile, meaning it will lose data with no power.
SRAMs are often used for cache memory.
SSE (streaming SIMD extensions) The name
given by Intel for the 70 new MMX-type instructions added to the Pentium III processor when it
was introduced. See also MMX and SIMD.
ST-506/412 A hard disk interface invented by
Seagate Technology and introduced in 1980 with
the ST-506 5MB hard drive. IDE drives emulate this
disk interface.
stack An area of memory storage for temporary
values that normally are read in the reverse order
from which they are written. Also called last-in,
first-out (LIFO).
stackable hub or switch A hub or switch that
can be connected to another hub or switch to
increase its capacity. The uplink port on the existing hub or switch is used to connect the new hub
or switch.
stair-stepping Jagged raster representation of
diagonals or curves; corrected by antialiasing.
standby Defines an optional operating state
of minimal power reduction with the shortest
recovery time.
standby UPS A UPS that quickly switches into
operation during a power outage.
standoffs In a motherboard and case design,
small nonconductive spacers (usually plastic or
nylon) used to keep the underside of the motherboard from contacting the metallic case, thus preventing short circuits of the motherboard.
start/stop bits The signaling bits attached to a
character before and after the character is transmitted during asynchronous transmission.
starting cluster The number of the first cluster
occupied by a file. Listed in the directory entry of
every file.
9:24 AM
Page 67
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) A technology used in firewalls to ensure that all incoming
packets are the result of an outbound request.
stepper motor actuator An assembly that
moves disk drive read/write heads across platters by
a sequence of small partial turns of a stepper motor.
Once common on low-cost hard disk drives of
40MB or less, stepper motor actuators are now
confined to floppy disk drives.
stepping The code used to identify the revision
of a processor. New masks are introduced to build
each successive stepping, incorporating any
changes necessary to fix known bugs in prior
storage A device or medium on or in which data
can be entered or held and retrieved at a later time.
Synonymous with memory.
storage area network (SAN) A network of
high-speed storage devices accessible by network
streaming In tape backup, a condition in which
data is transferred from the hard disk as quickly as
the tape drive can record the data so the drive does
not start and stop or waste tape.
A sequence of characters.
subdirectory A directory listed in another directory. Subdirectories themselves exist as files.
subroutine A segment of a program that can be
executed by a single call. Also called program
Super DLT (SDLT) An enhanced version of the
DLT tape standard that supports faster data transfer
and native/2:1 compressed capacities up to
superscalar execution The capability of a
processor to execute more than one instruction at a
surface mount Chip carriers and sockets
designed to mount to the surface of a PC board.
surge protector A device in the power line that
feeds the computer and provides protection against
voltage spikes and other transients.
Appendix A
suspend Refers to a level of power management
in which substantial power reduction is achieved
by the display or other components. The components can have a longer recovery time from this
state than from the standby state.
SVGA (Super VGA) Refers to a video adapter or
monitor capable of 800×600 resolution.
SWEDAC (Swedish Board for Technical
Accreditation) Regulatory agency establishing
standards such as MPR1 and MPR2, which specify
maximum values for both alternating electric fields
and magnetic fields and provide monitor manufacturers with guidelines in creating low-emission
switch Also called a switching hub, it’s a type of
hub that reads the destination address of each
packet and then forwards the packet to only the
correct port, minimizing traffic on other parts of
the network. Unlike a regular hub, which wastes
network bandwidth by copying packets to all ports,
a switch forwards packets to only their intended
recipients, immediately reducing network traffic
jams and improving overall efficiency for the entire
network. Many switches also support full-duplex
service, effectively doubling the speed of fullduplex network cards attached to the switch. See
also hub.
SXGA (Super XGA) Refers to a video adapter or
monitor capable of 1280×1024 or greater resolution.
synchronous communication A form of communication in which blocks of data are sent at
strictly timed intervals. Because the timing is uniform, no start or stop bits are required. Compare
this with asynchronous communication. Some
mainframes support only synchronous communication unless a synchronous adapter and appropriate
software have been installed. See also asynchronous
system crash A situation in which the computer
freezes up and refuses to proceed without rebooting. Usually caused by faulty software, it’s unlike a
hard disk crash—no permanent physical damage
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 68
system files Files with the system attribute.
Usually, the hidden files that are used to boot the
operating system. The MS-DOS and Windows 9x
system files include IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS; the IBM
DOS system files are IBMBIO.COM and IBMDOS.COM.
System Management Mode (SMM) Circuitry
integrated into Intel processors that operates independently to control the processor’s power use
based on its activity level. It enables the user to
specify time intervals after which the CPU will be
powered down partially or fully and also supports
the suspend/resume feature that enables instant
power-on and power-off.
T13 The T13 Technical Committee (
is responsible for developing ATA and SATA
TCP port number Logical port numbers used
by TCP to communicate between computers—for
example, web browsing (http://) uses TCP port 80.
POP3 email uses TCP port 110. Some firewalls
require you to manually configure open TCP port
numbers to allow certain processes and programs
to work.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol) A set of protocols developed by the U.S. Department of Defense
(DoD) to link dissimilar computers across many
types of networks. This is the primary protocol
used by the Internet.
TEB Thin Electronics Bay is an SSI-developed
standard for rack-mounted servers.
tape drive Any data storage drive that uses tape
as the storage medium.
Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP)
technique for scrambling encryption keys and
changing the keys over time.
tape library An array of tape drives that can be
partitioned into multiple logical libraries. Tape
libraries incorporate autoloaders. See also
temporary backup A second copy of a work
file, usually having the extension .BAK. Created by
application software so you easily can return to a
previous version of your work.
target A device attached to a SCSI bus that
receives and processes commands sent from
another device (the initiator) on the SCSI bus. A
SCSI hard disk is an example of a target.
temporary file A file temporarily (and usually
invisibly) created by a program for its own use.
TCM (Trellis-coded modulation) An errordetection and correction technique employed
by high-speed modems to enable higher-speed
transmissions that are more resistant to line
TCO 1) Refers to the Swedish Confederation of
Professional Employees, which has set stringent
standards for devices that emit radiation. See also
MPR. 2) Total cost of ownership. The cost of using a
computer. It includes the cost of the hardware, software, and upgrades as well as the cost of the inhouse staff and consultants who provide training
and technical support.
TCP (tape carrier package) A method of
packaging processors for use in portable systems
that reduces the size, power consumed, and heat
generated by the chip. A processor in the TCP form
factor is essentially a raw die encased in an oversized piece of polyamide film. The film is laminated
with copper foil that is etched to form the leads
that will connect the processor to the motherboard.
tera A multiplier indicating one trillion
(1,000,000,000,000) of some unit. Abbreviated as t
or T. A binary tera (now called a tebi) is
terabyte (T) A unit of information storage equal
to 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.
terminal A device whose keyboard and display
are used for sending and receiving data over a communications link. Differs from a microcomputer in
that it has no internal processing capabilities. Used
to enter data into or retrieve processed data from a
system or network.
terminal mode An operational mode required
for microcomputers to transmit data. In terminal
mode, the computer acts as though it were a standard terminal, such as a teletypewriter, rather than
a data processor. Keyboard entries go directly to the
modem, whether the entry is a modem command
or data to be transmitted over the phone lines.
Received data is output directly to the screen. The
more popular communications software products
9:24 AM
Page 69
control terminal mode and enable more complex
operations, including file transmission and saving
received files.
terminator Hardware or circuits that must be
attached to or enabled at both ends of an electrical
bus. A terminator prevents the reflection or echoing of signals that reach the ends of the bus and
ensures that the correct impedance load is placed
on the driver circuits on the bus. Most commonly
used with the SCSI bus and Thin Ethernet.
TFT (thin-film transistor) The highest quality
and brightest LCD color display type. A method for
packaging one–four transistors per pixel within a
flexible material that is the same size and shape as
the LCD display, which enables the transistors for
each pixel to lie directly behind the liquid crystal
cells they control.
thick Ethernet
thin Ethernet
See 10BASE-5.
See 10BASE-2.
thin-film media Hard disk platters that have a
thin film (usually three-millionths of an inch) of
medium deposited on the aluminum substrate
through a sputtering or plating process.
See 10BASE-2.
Appendix A
time code is an eight-digit number encoding time
in hours, minutes, seconds, and video frames.
Token-Ring A type of local area network in
which the workstations relay a packet of data called
a token in a logical ring configuration. When a station wants to transmit, it takes possession of the
token, attaches its data, and then frees the token
after the data has made a complete circuit of the
electrical ring. It transmits at speeds of 4, 16Mbps
or 100Mbps. Originally developed and supported
by IBM, support is now provided by Madge
Networks (
toner The ultrafine, colored, plastic powder used
in laser printers, LED printers, and photocopiers to
produce the image on paper.
tower A personal computer that normally sits on
the floor and is mounted vertically rather than
TPI (tracks per inch) Used as a measurement
of magnetic track density. Standard 5 1/4" 360KB
floppy disks have a density of 48TPI, and the
1.2MB disks have a 96TPI density. All 3 1/2" disks
have a 135.4667TPI density, and hard disks can
have densities greater than 3,000TPI.
through-hole Chip carriers and sockets
equipped with leads that extend through holes in a
PC board.
track One of the many concentric circles that
holds data on a disk surface. Consists of a single
line of magnetic flux changes and is divided into
some number of 512-byte sectors.
throughput The amount of user data transmitted per second without the overhead of protocol
information, such as start and stop bits or frame
headers and trailers.
track density Expressed as tracks per inch (TPI);
defines how many tracks are recorded in 1" of space
measured radially from the center of the disk.
Sometimes also called radial density.
thumb drive
track-to-track seek time The time required for
read/write heads to move between adjacent tracks.
See keychain drive.
TIFF (tagged image file format) A way of
storing and exchanging digital image data.
Developed by Aldus Corporation, Microsoft
Corporation, and major scanner vendors to help
link scanned images with the popular desktop publishing applications. Supports three main types of
image data: black-and-white data, halftones or
dithered data, and grayscale data. Compressed TIFF
files are stored using lossless compression.
time code A frame-by-frame address code time
reference recorded on the spare track of a videotape
or inserted in the vertical blanking interval. The
transistor A semiconductor device invented in
1947 at Bell Labs (released in 1948) that is used to
amplify a signal or open and close a circuit. In digital computers, it functions as an electronic switch.
It is reduced to microscopic size in modern digital
integrated circuits containing 100 million or more
individual transistors.
Transport Layer In the OSI reference model,
when more than one packet is in process at any
time, such as when a large file must be split into
multiple packets for transmission, this is the layer
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 70
that controls the sequencing of the message components and regulates inbound traffic flow. See
also OSI.
transportable computer A computer system
larger than a portable system and similar in size
and shape to a portable sewing machine. Most
transportables conform to a design similar to the
original Compaq portable, with a built-in CRT display. These systems are characteristically very heavy
and run on only AC power. Because of advances
primarily in LCD and plasma-display technology,
these systems are obsolete and have been replaced
by portable systems.
troubleshooting The task of determining the
cause of a problem.
true-color images Also called 24-bit color images
because each pixel is represented by 24 bits of data,
allowing for 16.7 million colors. The number of
colors possible is based on the number of bits used
to represent the color. If 8 bits are used, 256 possible color values (28) exist. To obtain 16.7 million
colors, each of the primary colors (red, green, and
blue) is represented by 8 bits per pixel, which
enables 256 possible shades for each of the primary
red, green, and blue colors or 16.7 million total
colors (256×256×256).
TrueType An Apple/Microsoft-developed scalable font technology designed to provide a highperformance alternative to PostScript Type 1 fonts.
TrueType fonts are supported by both Windows
and MacOS, but a particular TrueType font must
either be made in both MacOS and Windows versions or support the cross-platform OpenType font
format to be used on both platforms.
TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) A program that remains in memory after being loaded.
Because they remain in memory, TSR programs can
be reactivated by a predefined keystroke sequence
or other operation while another program is active.
Usually called resident programs. TSR programs are
often loaded from the AUTOEXEC.BAT file used at
startup by DOS and Windows 9x.
TTL (transistor-to-transistor logic) Digital
signals often are called TTL signals. A TTL display is
a monitor that accepts digital input at standardized
signal voltage levels.
TWAIN An imaging standard used to interface
scanners and digital cameras to applications such as
Photoshop and other image editors. TWAIN enables
the user to scan or download pictures without exiting the image-editing program.
TweakUI An unsupported software utility provided by Microsoft for 32-bit Windows users.
TweakUI allows users to change the user interface
and adjust Registry settings without manual
Registry editing.
twisted pair A type of wire in which two small,
insulated copper wires are wrapped or twisted
around each other to minimize interference from
other wires in the cable. Two types of twisted-pair
cables are available: unshielded and shielded.
Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) wiring commonly is
used in telephone cables and 10BASE-T, 100BASETX, and 1000BASE-T networking and provides little
protection against interference. Shielded twistedpair (STP) wiring is used in some networks or any
application in which immunity from electrical
interference is more important. Twisted-pair wire is
much easier to work with than coaxial cable and is
cheaper as well.
two-way server A server with two separate
processors. A server running a dual-core processor
offers performance close to, but not quite matching, the performance of a two-way server.
typematic The keyboard repeatedly sending the
keypress code to the motherboard for a key that is
held down. The delay before the code begins to
repeat and the speed at which it repeats are useradjustable through MODE commands in DOS or the
Windows Control Panel.
UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver
Transmitter) A chip device that controls the
RS-232 serial port in a PC-compatible system.
Originally developed by National Semiconductor,
several UART versions are in PC-compatible systems: The 8250B is used in PC- and XT-class systems, and the 16450 and 16550 series are used in
AT-class systems. The 16650 and higher UARTs are
used for specialized high-speed serial communication cards.
UDF (Universal Disk Format) The disk format
used by packet-writing software, such as Adaptec
DirectCD. See also Mt. Rainier and packet writing.
9:24 AM
Page 71
Ultra DMA (UDMA or Ultra ATA) A protocol
for transferring data to an ATA interface hard drive.
The Ultra DMA/33 protocol transfers data in burst
mode at a rate of 33MBps, whereas the even faster
Ultra DMA/66 protocol transfers at 66MBps.
Ultra DMA/66 also requires the use of a special
80-conductor cable for signal integrity. This cable
also is recommended for Ultra DMA/33 and is backward compatible with standard ATA/IDE cables. The
fastest UDMA modes are Ultra DMA/100 (supported
by most recent chipsets) and Ultra DMA/133 (introduced in 2001).
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) The frequency
band between 300 and 3,000MHz.
A screen resolution of
Ultrium The high-capacity implementation of
the Linear Tape Open (LTO) standard. LTO-3
Ultrium is the highest-capacity version currently
available, with native/2:1 compressed capacity of
Appendix A
Universal Asynchronous Receiver
Transmitter See UART.
unzipping The process of extracting one or
more files from a PKZIP or WinZip-compatible
archive file.
UPC (universal product code) A 10-digit
computer-readable bar code used in labeling retail
products. The code in the form of vertical bars
includes a five-digit manufacturer identification
number and a five-digit product code number.
update To modify information already contained
in a file or program with current information.
UPnP (universal plug and play) A distributed, open networking architecture standard created by the UpnP forum ( that
leverages TCP/IP to enable seamless peer-to-peer
networking in addition to control and data transfer
among networked devices in the home and office.
upper memory area (UMA) The 384KB of
memory between 640KB and 1MB. See also UMB.
UMB (upper memory block) A block of
unused memory in the upper memory area (UMA),
which is the 384KB region between 640KB and
1MB of memory space in the PC. BIOS chips and
memory buffers on add-on cards must be configured to use empty areas of the UMB; otherwise,
they will not work.
URL (uniform resource locator) The primary
naming scheme used to identify a particular site or
file on the World Wide Web. URLs combine information about the protocol being used, the address
of the site where the resource is located, the subdirectory location at the site, and the name of the
particular file (or page) in question.
unformatted capacity The total number of
bytes of data that can fit on a disk. The formatted
capacity is lower because space is lost defining the
boundaries between sectors. For example, some
vendors have referred to the high-density 1.44MB
floppy disk as a 2.0MB disk (2.0MB is the unformatted capacity). However, because most media is preformatted today, this issue is fading away.
USB (universal serial bus) USB version 1.1 is a
12Mbps (1.5MBps) interface over a simple four-wire
connection. The bus supports up to 127 devices
and uses a tiered star topology built on expansion
hubs that can reside in the PC, any USB peripheral,
or even standalone hub boxes. USB 2.0, also called
High-Speed USB, runs at 480Mbps and handles
multiple devices better than USB 1.1.
Unicode A worldwide standard for displaying,
interchanging, and processing all types of language
texts, including both those based on letters (such as
Western European languages) and pictographs
(such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean).
utility A program that carries out routine procedures to make computer use easier.
uninterruptible power supply (UPS) A
device that supplies power to the computer from
batteries so power will not stop, even momentarily,
during a power outage. The batteries are recharged
constantly from a wall socket.
UTP (unshielded twisted pair) A type of wire
often used indoors to connect telephones or computer devices. Comes with two or four wires twisted
inside a flexible plastic sheath or conduit and uses
modular plugs and phone jacks.
V.21 An ITU standard for modem communications at 300bps. Modems made in the U.S. or
Canada follow the Bell 103 standard but can be set
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 72
to answer V.21 calls from overseas. The actual transmission rate is 300 baud and employs frequency
shift keying (FSK) modulation, which encodes a
single bit per baud.
V.22 An ITU standard for modem communications at 1,200bps, with an optional fallback to
600bps. V.22 is partially compatible with the Bell
212A standard observed in the U.S. and Canada.
The actual transmission rate is 600 baud, using differential-phase shift keying (DPSK) to encode as
much as 2 bits per baud.
V.22bis An ITU standard for modem communications at 2,400bps. Includes an automatic linknegotiation fallback to 1,200bps and compatibility
with Bell 212A/V.22 modems. The actual transmission rate is 600 baud, using quadrature amplitude
modulation (QAM) to encode as much as 4 bits
per baud.
V.23 An ITU standard for modem communications at 1,200bps or 600bps with a 75bps back
channel. Used in the United Kingdom for some
videotext systems.
V.25 An ITU standard for modem communications that specifies an answer tone different from
the Bell answer tone used in the U.S. and Canada.
Most intelligent modems can be set with an ATB0
command so they use the V.25 2,100Hz tone when
answering overseas calls.
V.32 An ITU standard for modem communications at 9,600bps and 4,800bps. V.32 modems fall
back to 4,800bps when line quality is impaired and
fall forward again to 9,600bps when line quality
improves. The actual transmission rate is 2,400
baud using quadrature amplitude modulation
(QAM) and optional trellis-coded modulation
(TCM) to encode as much as 4 data bits per baud.
V.32bis An ITU standard that extends the standard V.32 connection range and supports 4,800bps,
7,200bps, 9,600bps, 12,000bps, and 14,400bps
transmission rates. V.32bis modems fall back to the
next lower speed when line quality is impaired, fall
back further as necessary, and fall forward to the
next higher speed when line quality improves. The
actual transmission rate is 2,400 baud using quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and trellis-coded
modulation (TCM) to encode as much as 6 data
bits per baud.
V.32terbo A proprietary standard proposed by
several modem manufacturers supporting transmission speeds of up to 18,800bps. Because it was not
an ITU industry standard, it did not achieve widespread industry support.
V.34 An ITU standard that extends the standard
V.32bis connection range, supporting 28,800bps
transmission rates as well as all the functions and
rates of V.32bis. This was called V.32fast or
while under development.
V.34+ An ITU standard that extends the standard
V.34 connection range, supporting 33,600bps transmission rates as well as all the functions and rates
of V.34.
V.42 An ITU standard for modem communications that defines a two-stage process of detection
and negotiation for LAPM error control. Also supports MNP error-control protocol, Levels 1–4.
V.42bis An extension of CCITT V.42 that defines
a specific data-compression scheme for use with
V.42 and MNP error control.
V.44 ITU-T designation for a faster datacompression scheme than V.42bis. V.44 can compress data up to 6:1. V.44 is included on most
V.92-compliant modems. See also V.92.
V.90 ITU-T designation for defining the standard
for 56Kbps communication. Supersedes the proprietary X2 schemes from U.S. Robotics (3Com) and
K56flex from Rockwell.
V.92 ITU-T designation for an improved version
of the V.90 protocol. V.92 allows faster uploading
(up to 48Kbps), faster connections, and optional
modem-on-hold (enabling you to take calls while
online). Most V.92 modems also support V.44 compression. See also V.44.
V-Link A VIA Technologies high-speed
(266MBps) bus between the North Bridge and
South Bridge chips in VIA chipsets, such as the
P4X266 (for Pentium 4) and KT266/266A (for
Athlon/Duron). V-Link is twice as fast as the PCI
bus and provides a dedicated pathway for data
vaccine A type of program used to locate and
eradicate virus code from infected programs or
9:24 AM
Page 73
vacuum tube A device used to amplify or control electronic signals, it contains two major components: a cathode (a filament used to generate
electrons) and an anode (a plate that captures electron current after it flows through one or more
grids). Largely replaced by the transistor and integrated circuit in most small electronics applications, vacuum tubes in the form of CRTs are still
used to make conventional monitors. See also CRT.
VCPI (virtual control program interface) A
386 and later processor memory management standard created by Phar Lap software in conjunction
with other software developers. VCPI provides an
interface between applications using DOS extenders
and 386 memory managers.
vertex The corner of a triangle in 3D graphics.
The plural of vertex is vertices. See also vertex
vertex shader A graphics processing function
built into recent 3D graphics chips that manipulates vertices by adding color, shading, and texture
effects. Recent GPUs such as the NVIDIA GeForce 3
and GeForce Ti and the ATI Radeon series incorporate vertex shaders. See also GPU, hardware shader,
and pixel shader.
vertical blanking interval (VBI) The top and
bottom lines in the video field, in which frame
numbers, picture stops, chapter stops, white flags,
closed captions, and more can be encoded. These
lines do not appear on the display screen but maintain image stability and enhance image access.
vertical scan frequency The rate at which the
electron gun in a monitor scans or refreshes the
entire screen each second.
very high frequency (VHF) The frequency
band between 30 and 300MHz.
very large scale integration
See IC.
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 800×600 resolution video displays, commonly known as Super VGA. VESA has
also developed the Video Local Bus (VL-Bus)
Appendix A
standard for connecting high-speed adapters
directly to the local processor bus. The most recent
VESA standards involve digital flat-panel displays
and display identification.
VFAT (virtual file allocation table) A file
system used in Windows for Workgroups and
Windows 9x. VFAT provides 32-bit protected mode
access for file manipulation and supports long filenames (LFNs)—up to 255 characters in Windows 95
and later. VFAT can also read disks prepared with
the standard DOS 16-bit FAT. VFAT was called 32bit file access in Windows for Workgroups. VFAT is
not the same as FAT32.
VGA (video graphics array) A type of PC
video display circuit (and adapter) first introduced
by IBM on April 2, 1987, which supports text and
graphics. Text is supported at a maximum resolution of 80×25 characters in 16 colors with a character box of 9×16 pixels. Graphics are supported at a
maximum resolution of 320×200 pixels in 256
colors (from a palette of 262,144) or 640×480 pixels
in 16 colors. The VGA outputs an analog signal
with a horizontal scanning frequency of 31.5KHz
and supports analog color or analog monochrome
displays. Also refers generically to any adapter or
display capable of 640×480 resolution.
VHS (Video Home System) A popular consumer videotape format developed by Matsushita
and JVC.
VIA Technologies A popular vendor of chipsets
for AMD Athlon and Intel Pentium 4–based systems; it’s also the maker of the VIA C3 processor.
video A system of recording and transmitting
primarily visual information by translating moving
or still images into electrical signals. The term video
properly refers to only the picture, but as a generic
term, video usually embraces audio and other signals that are part of a complete program. Video
now includes not only broadcast television but
many nonbroadcast applications, such as corporate
communications, marketing, home entertainment,
games, teletext, security, and even the visual display units of computer-based technology.
Video 8 or 8mm Video Video format based on
the 8mm videotapes popularized by Sony for
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 74
video adapter An expansion card or chipset
built into a motherboard that provides the capability to display text and graphics onscreen. If the
adapter is part of an expansion card, it also
includes the physical connector for the monitor
cable. If the chipset is on the motherboard, the
video connector is on the motherboard as well.
video graphics array
See VGA.
video-on-CD or video CD A full-motion digital
video format using MPEG video compression and
incorporating a variety of VCR-like control capabilities. See also White Book.
virtual disk A RAM disk or “phantom disk
drive” in which a section of system memory (usually RAM) is set aside to hold data, just as though it
were several disk sectors. To DOS, a virtual disk
looks and functions like any other “real” drive.
virtual IRQ PCI IRQs higher than 15 (the end of
the standard IRQ listing). Windows XP Service Pack
1 and later and Windows 2003 Server assign PCI
devices that share hardware IRQs virtual IRQ numbers in Device Manager. See also IRQ.
virtual memory A technique by which operating systems such as 32-bit Windows versions load
more programs and data into memory than they
can hold. Parts of the programs and data are kept
on disk and constantly swapped back and forth
into system memory. The applications’ software
programs are unaware of this setup and act as
though a large amount of memory is available.
virtual real mode A mode available in all Intel
80386-compatible processors. In this mode, memory addressing is limited to 4,096MB, restricted protection levels can be set to trap software crashes
and control the system, and individual real-mode
compatible sessions can be set up and maintained
separately from one another.
virtual tape library A disk-based backup
device that emulates a tape library. See also tape
virus A type of resident program designed to
replicate itself. Usually at some later time when the
virus is running, it causes an undesirable action to
take place.
VL-Bus (VESA Local Bus) A standard 32-bit
expansion slot bus specification used in 486 PCs,
the VL-Bus connector was an extension of the ISA
slot; any VL-Bus slot is also an ISA slot. Replaced by
the PCI bus, the VL-Bus slot was used on only a
very few early Pentium systems.
VMM (Virtual Memory Manager) A facility in
Windows enhanced mode that manages the task of
swapping data in and out of 386 and later processor virtual real-mode memory space for multiple
non-Windows applications running in virtual
real mode.
vmstat A command-line Linux program that can
be used to view server performance and look for
voice-coil actuator A device that moves
read/write heads across hard disk platters by magnetic interaction between coils of wire and a magnet. Functions somewhat like an audio speaker,
from which the name originated. The standard
actuator type on hard drives.
volatile memory Memory that does not hold
data without power. Both Dynamic RAM (the main
RAM in a computer) and Static RAM (used for
cache memory) are considered volatile memory. See
also nonvolatile memory.
volt (V) The unit of measurement of electromotive force. One volt is equal to the force required to
produce a current of 1 ampere through a resistance
of 1 ohm.
voltage reduction technology An Intel
processor technology that enables a processor to
draw the standard voltage from the motherboard
but run the internal processor core at a lower
voltage regulator A device that smoothes out
voltage irregularities in the power fed to the
volume A portion of a disk signified by a single
drive specifier. Under DOS v3.3 and later, a single
hard disk can be partitioned into several volumes,
each with its own logical drive specifier (C:, D:, E:,
and so on).
9:24 AM
Page 75
volume label An identifier or name of up to 11
characters that names a disk.
VPN (virtual private network) A private network operated within a public network. To maintain privacy, VPNs use access control and
VRAM (video random-access memory)
VRAM chips are modified DRAMs on video boards
that enable simultaneous access by the host system’s
processor and the processor on the video board. A
large amount of information therefore can be transferred quickly between the video board and system
processor. Sometimes also called dual-ported RAM. It
has been replaced by SDRAM, SGRAM, and DDR
SDRAM on recent high-performance video cards.
VxD (virtual device driver) A special type of
Windows driver. VxDs run at the most privileged
CPU mode (ring 0) and enable low-level interaction
with the hardware and internal Windows functions.
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
standards for HTML, XML, and the Web.
wafer A thin, circular piece of silicon either 8"
(200mm) or 12" (300mm) in diameter from which
processors, memory, and other semiconductor electronics are manufactured.
wait states One or more pause cycles added
during certain system operations that require the
processor to wait until memory or some other system component can respond. Adding wait states
enables a high-speed processor to synchronize with
lower-cost, slower components. A system that runs
with “zero wait states” requires none of these cycles
because of the use of faster memory or other components in the system. The widespread use of L1
and L2 memory caches has made the issue of wait
states largely irrelevant. See also L1 cache and L2
warm boot Rebooting a system by means of a
software command rather than turning the power
off and back on. See also cold boot.
watt (W) A unit of electrical power. One watt is
expended when 1 ampere of direct current flows
through a resistance of 1 ohm.
Appendix A
wave table synthesis A method of creating
synthetic sound on a sound card that uses actual
musical instrument sounds sampled and stored on
ROM (or RAM) on the sound card or in system
RAM. The sound card then modifies this sample to
create any note necessary for that instrument.
Produces much better sound quality than FM
webcam An inexpensive (usually under $100)
video camera that plugs into a USB or an IEEE
1394/FireWire port for use with video chat, websites, or email programs.
Whetstone A benchmark program developed in
1976 and designed to simulate arithmetic-intensive
programs used in scientific computing. Remains
completely CPU-bound and performs no I/O or system calls. Originally written in ALGOL, although
the C and Pascal versions became more popular by
the late 1980s. The speed at which a system performs floating-point operations often is measured
in units of Whetstones.
White Book A standard specification developed
by Philips and JVC in 1993 for storing MPEG standard video on CDs. This is an extension of the Red
Book standard for digital audio, Yellow Book standard for CD-ROM, Green Book standard for CD-I,
and Orange Book standard for CD write-once.
Whitney technology A term referring to a
magnetic disk design that usually has oxide or
thin film media, thin-film read/write heads, low
floating-height sliders, and low-mass actuator arms
that together allow higher bit densities than the
older Winchester technology. Whitney technology
first was introduced with the IBM 3370 disk drive,
circa 1979.
Wi-Fi Name for IEEE 802.11–compliant network
hardware that also meets the interoperability standards of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility
Alliance (WECA). Despite the presence of Wi-Fi
approval for various brands of hardware, achieving
the simplest setup and operation is still easier if
you purchase Wi-Fi wireless NICs and access points
that support the same standard (802.11a, b, g, or n)
from the same vendor. See also 802.11.
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 76
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) A Wi-Fi
Alliance standard designed to secure wireless networks, which is much more secure than the previous WEP standard.
World Wide Web (WWW) Also called the
Web. A graphical information system based on
hypertext that enables a user to easily access documents located on the Internet.
wide area network (WAN) A LAN that
extends beyond the boundaries of a single building.
WORM (write-once, read-many or multiple)
An optical mass-storage device capable of storing
many megabytes of information but that can be
written to only once on any given area of the disk.
A WORM disk typically holds more than 200MB of
data. Because a WORM drive can’t write over an old
version of a file, new copies of files are made and
stored on other parts of the disk whenever a file is
revised. WORM disks are used to store information
when a history of older versions must be maintained. Recording on a WORM disk is performed by
a laser writer that burns pits in a thin metallic film
(usually tellurium) embedded in the disk. This
burning process is called ablation. WORM drives are
frequently used for archiving data. WORM drives
have been replaced by CD-R drives, which have
a capacity of 650MB–700MB but have similar
Winchester drive Any ordinary, nonremovable
(or fixed) hard disk drive. The name originates from
a particular IBM drive in the 1960s that had 30MB
of fixed and 30MB of removable storage. This 30-30
drive matched the caliber figure for a popular series
of rifles made by Winchester, so the slang term
Winchester was applied to any fixed-platter hard
Winchester technology The term Winchester is
loosely applied to mean any disk with a fixed or
nonremovable recording medium. More precisely,
the term applies to a ferrite read/write head and
slider design with oxide media that was first
employed in the IBM 3340 disk drive, circa 1973.
Virtually all drives today actually use developments
of Whitney technology.
wire frames The most common technique used
to construct a 3D object for animation. A wire
frame is given coordinates of length, height, and
width. Wire frames are then filled with textures,
colors, and movement. Transforming a wire frame
into a textured object is called rendering.
write precompensation A modification
applied to write data by a controller to partially
alleviate the problem of bit shift, which causes
adjacent 1s written on magnetic media to read as
though they were farther apart. When adjacent 1s
are sensed by the controller, precompensation is
used to write them more closely together on the
disk, thus enabling them to be read in the proper
bit cell window. Drives with built-in controllers
typically handle precompensation automatically.
Precompensation usually is required for the inner
cylinders of now-obsolete oxide media drives.
wireless access point (WAP) A wireless transceiver that acts as a communications hub for network access. Usually included with a router in the
form of a wireless router.
write protect Preventing a removable disk or
Sony Memory Stick from being overwritten by
means of covering a notch or repositioning a sliding switch, depending on the type of media.
wireless local area network (WLAN) A local
area network with at least one wireless access point.
X2 A proprietary modem standard developed by
U.S. Robotics (since acquired by 3Com) that
enables modems to receive data at up to 56Kbps.
This has been superseded by the V.90 standard. See
also V.90 and V.92.
Wintel The common name given to computers
running Microsoft Windows using Intel (or compatible) processors. A slang term for the PC standard.
word length The number of bits in a data character without parity, start, or stop bits.
workstation 1) A somewhat vague term describing any high-performance, single-user computer
that usually has been adapted for specialized graphics, computer-aided design, computer-aided engineering, or scientific applications. 2) A computer
connected to a server.
x86 A generic term referring to Intel and Intelcompatible PC microprocessors. Although the
Pentium family processors do not have a numeric
designation because of trademark law limitations
on trademarking numbers, they are later generations of this family.
9:24 AM
Page 77
Xeon Intel’s family name for its server processors
derived from the Pentium II, Pentium III, and
Pentium 4 desktop processors. The Pentium II Xeon
and Pentium III Xeon use Slot 2, whereas Xeon (the
Pentium 4 version does not have a numerical designation) uses the Socket 603 or Socket 604. All Xeon
processors have larger caches and memory addressing schemes than their desktop counterparts. Some
Xeon processors support EM64T 64-bit extensions,
and a dual-core version of Xeon with EM64T support was introduced in the first quarter of 2006.
Xeon MP A version of the Intel Xeon made especially for four-way and larger server implementations. Some versions of the Xeon MP support
EM64T 64-bit extensions, and a dual-core version
with EM64T support was introduced in the first
quarter of 2006.
XGA (extended graphics array) A type of PC
video display circuit (and adapter) first introduced
by IBM on October 30, 1990, that supports text and
graphics. Text is supported at a maximum resolution of 132×60 characters in 16 colors with a character box of 8×6 pixels. Graphics are supported at a
maximum resolution of 1024×768 pixels in 256
(from a palette of 262,144) colors or 640×480 pixels
in 65,536 colors. The XGA outputs an analog signal
with a horizontal scanning frequency of 31.5KHz
or 35.52KHz and supports analog color or analog
monochrome displays. Also used to refer generically to any adapter or display capable of 1024×768
XML (Extensible Markup Language) A standard for creating and sharing data and data formats
over the Internet and other networks. XML, like
HTML, uses markup tags to control the page, but
XML tags control both appearance and the uses of
the data and can be extended with new tags created
by any XML user. See also W3C.
XMM (extended memory manager) A driver
that controls access to extended memory on 286
and later processor systems. HIMEM.SYS is an example of an XMM that comes with DOS and
Windows 9x.
XModem A file-transfer protocol—with error
checking—developed by Ward Christensen in the
mid-1970s and placed in the public domain.
Designed to transfer files between machines running the CP/M operating system and using 300bps
Appendix A
or 1,200bps modems. Until the late 1980s, because
of its simplicity and public-domain status,
XModem remained the most widely used microcomputer file-transfer protocol. In standard
XModem, the transmitted blocks are 128 bytes.
1KB-XModem is an extension to XModem that
increases the block size to 1,024 bytes. Many newer
file-transfer protocols that are much faster and
more accurate than XModem have been developed,
such as YModem and ZModem.
XMS (extended memory specification) A
Microsoft-developed standard that provides a way
for real-mode applications to access extended memory in a controlled fashion. The XMS standard is
available from Microsoft.
XON/XOFF Standard ASCII control characters
used to tell an intelligent device to stop or resume
transmitting data. In most systems, pressing Ctrl+S
sends the XOFF character. Most devices understand
Ctrl+Q as XON; others interpret the pressing of any
key after Ctrl+S as XON.
Y-connector A Y-shaped splitter cable that
divides a source input into two output signals.
Y-mouse A family of adapters from P.I.
Engineering that enables a single mouse port to
drive two devices. P.I. Engineering also makes the Ysee adapter for dual monitors and the Y-key adapter
for dual keyboards.
Yellow Book The standard used by CD-ROM.
Multimedia applications most commonly use the
Yellow Book standard, which specifies how digital
information is to be stored on the CD-ROM and
read by a computer. Extended architecture (XA) is
currently an extension of the Yellow Book that
enables the combination of various data types
(audio and video, for example) onto one track in a
CD-ROM. Without XA, a CD-ROM can access only
one data type at a time. Many CD-ROM drives are
now XA capable.
Yellow Book standards
YModem A file-transfer protocol first released as
part of Chuck Forsberg’s YAM (yet another modem)
program. An extension to XModem designed to
overcome some of the limitations of the original.
YModem enables information about the transmitted file, such as the filename and length, to be sent
along with the file data and increases the size of a
Appendix A
9:24 AM
Page 78
block from 128 bytes to 1,024 bytes. YModembatch adds the capability to transmit batches, or
groups, of files without operator interruption.
YModemG is a variation that sends the entire file
before waiting for an acknowledgment. If the
receiving side detects an error midstream, the transfer is aborted. YModemG is designed for use with
modems that have built-in error-correcting
Z-buffering A 3D graphics technique used to
determine which objects in a 3D scene will be visible to the user and which will be blocked by other
objects. Z-buffering displays only the visible pixels
in each object.
zero wait states
See wait states.
ZIF (zero insertion force) Sockets that require
no force for the insertion of a chip carrier. Usually
accomplished through movable contacts, ZIF sockets are used by 486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, and
other socketed processors (including the latest
Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon and Duron models).
ZIP (zigzag inline package) A DIP package
that has all leads on one edge in a zigzag pattern
and mounts in a vertical plane.
Zip drive An external drive manufactured by
Iomega that supports 100MB, 250MB, or 750MB
magnetic media on a 3 1/2" removable drive.
Zip file A file created using PKZIP, WinZip, or a
compatible archiving program.
zipping The process of creating a PKZIP- or
WinZip-compatible archive file. See also unzipping.
ZModem A file-transfer protocol commissioned
by Telnet and placed in the public domain. Like
YModem, it was designed by Chuck Forsberg and
developed as an extension to XModem to overcome the inherent latency when using Send/
Ack-based protocols, such as XModem and
YModem. It is a streaming, sliding-window
zoned recording One way to increase the
capacity of a hard drive is to format more sectors
on the outer cylinders than on the inner ones.
Zoned recording splits the cylinders into groups
called zones, with each successive zone having more
and more sectors per track, moving out from the
inner radius of the disk. All the cylinders in a
particular zone have the same number of sectors
per track.
zoomed video A direct video bus connection
between the PC-Card adapter and a mobile system’s
VGA controller, enabling high-speed video displays
for videoconferencing applications and MPEG