Computing Glossary

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USB (Universal Serial Bus): A connection port that, at 12MB per second, offers faster data transfer rates than a serial connection. In addition, it allows peripherals to be hot swapped, eliminating the need to reboot the PC after the device is connected.

IEEE 1394: Like USB 1394, also known as FireWire and iLink, this is a new connectivity technology, but it features an even higher data transfer rate of 400MB per second. It was originally developed by Apple and has been firmly adopted by Sony, which includes the technology in almost all its PCs, notebooks and camcorders.

Serial Port: A full-duplex channel that sends and receives data at the same time.

Parallel Port: A port that sends and receives data 8 bits at a time over eight separate wires.

CD-R Drive: A write-once drive that can record up to 650MB on a CD-R disc. Because these drives cannot use rewritable media, sales have fallen off as CD-RW drives have become more affordable.

CD-RW Drive: A rewritable CD drive that can use CD-R and CD-RW media. The most popular use for these drives has been for storing CD audio and CD-ROM software. When used with CD-RW media the consumer can create back up discs.

DVD+RW Drive: Rewritable DVD format. The drives can burn 3GB of data to DVD+RW media and are backward compatible with all CD-type discs. Developed by Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Philips, Yamaha and Mitsubishi Chemical. Will ship to retail this fall.

DVD-RAM Drive: Rewritable DVD format competing with DVD+RW. Currently capable of burning 2.6GB of data to a DVD-RAM disc, the developing companies have reported that a 4.7GB will be available. Can also read CD-type media. Developed by Toshiba, Hitachi, Hi Val and several other manufacturers.

DVD-ROM Drive: Basically a mega-size CD-ROM that can hold several gigabytes of data. Consumer acceptance has grown as more PC vendors include the drives as a standard feature, but software publishers have yet to develop large numbers of DVD applications.

Hard Drive: Where data and applications are stored when not being used by the PC.

RAM (Random Access Memory): System memory in which programs and data are stored temporarily while the computer is operating. There are two types of RAM: DRAM and SRAM.

DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory): Typically used for system board and SIMM module memory. Data stored in DRAM is lost when power is turned off.

SRAM (Static Random Access Memory): High-speed memory typically used for cache.

Video RAM: Memory used specifically to increase graphics resolution.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): Technology used to develop flat-panel desktop monitors and the displays in notebook and handheld computers.

Graphics Accelerator: Any hardware device used to perform all or part of creating the graphics that appear on a PC.

MPEG-2: In order to fit two hours of motion video on one side of a DVD disc, video data is compressed. The standard used to compress DVD video in North America is MPEG-2. In Europe, both video and audio is compressed using the MPEG-2 compression standards. The acronym stands for Motion Picture Experts Group.

AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port): A new bus interface for graphics accelerators, AGP allows fast, high throughput direct access to system memory. This allows a graphics accelerator access to more memory than available locally on the graphics card.

Degauss: Adjusts the monitor for changes in the surrounding magnetic field. An indication of the need to degauss is the appearance of color irregularities on the screen, which can be caused by interference from other magnetic devices placed near the monitor.

Dot Pitch: A measurement of distance between the centers of two same-color phosphor dots on the screen. The closer the dots, the smaller the dot pitch and the sharper the image.

Video Card: Allows for the display and manipulation of video clips on a PC.

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