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51 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
3-D sound card
Enables a computer to produce a sound that is omnidirectional, or three-dimensional.
access time
The time it takes a storage device to locate its stored data.
arithmetic logic unit (ALU)
Part of the central processing unit (CPU) that is designed to perform mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and to perform comparison operations such as greater than, less than, and equal to.
bit depth
The number of bits the video card uses to store data about each pixel on the monitor.
Bluetooth
Technology that uses radio waves to transmit data over short distances.
central processing unit (CPU)
The part of the system unit of a computer that is responsible for data processing (or the "brains" of the computer); it is the largest and most important chip in the computer. It controls all the functions performed by the computer's other components and processes all the commands issued to it by software instructions.
CD-ROM
A portable, read-only optical storage device.
clock speed
The steady and constant pace at which a computer goes through machine cycles, measured in hertz (Hz).
CD-RW (Compact Disc-Read/Writable) disc
A portable, optical storage device that can be written and rewritten to many times.
CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable) disc
A portable, optical storage device that can be written to once and can be used with either a CD-R drive or a CD-RW drive.
control unit
A component that controls the switches inside the central processing unit (CPU).
CPU usage
The percentage of time a central processing unit (CPU) is working.
data transfer rate (or throughput)
The speed at which a storage device transfers data to other computer components, expressed in kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps).
DVD drive
A drive that enables the computer to read digital video discs (DVDs). A DVD±R/RW drive can write DVDs as well as read them.
Ethernet port
A port that is slightly larger than a standard phone jack and transfers data at speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). It is used to connect a computer to a cable modem or a network.
File Allocation Table (FAT)
An index of all sector numbers that the hard drive stores in a table to keep track of which sectors hold which files.
FireWire port (previously called the IEEE 1394 port)
A port based on a standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), with a transfer rate of 400 megabits per second (Mbps). Today, it is most commonly used to connect digital video devices such as digital cameras to the computer.
flash drive
Drives that plug into a universal serial bus (USB) port on a computer and store data digitally. Also called USB drives.
flash memory card
A form of portable storage. This removable memory card is often used in digital cameras, MP3 players, and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
floppy disk
Aportable 3.5-inch storage format, with a storage capacity of 1.44 megabytes (MB).
gigahertz (GHz)
One billion hertz.
hard disk drive (or hard drive)
Holds all permanently stored programs and data; is located inside the system unit.
head crash
A stoppage of the hard disk drive that often results in data loss.
kernel memory
The memory that the computer's operating system uses.
latency (or rotational delay)
Occurs after the read/write head locates the correct track, then waits for the correct sector to spin to the read/write head.
machine cycle (or processing cycle)
The steps a central processing unit (CPU) follows to perform its tasks.
magnetic media
Portable storage devices, such as floppy disks and Zip disks, that use a magnetized film to store data.
megahertz (MHz)
One million hertz; hertz is the unit of measure for processor speed, or machine cycles per second.
memory bound
A system that is limited in how fast it can send data to the central processing unit (CPU) because there's not enough random access memory (RAM) installed.
Moore's Law
A mathematical rule, named after Gordon Moore, the cofounder of the central processing unit (CPU) chip manufacturer Intel, that predicts that the number of transistors inside a CPU will increase so fast that CPU capacity will double every 18 months.
motherboard
A special circuit board in the system unit that contains the central processing unit (CPU), the memory (RAM) chips, and the slots available for expansion cards. It is the largest printed circuit board; all of the other boards (video cards, sound cards, and so on) connect to it to receive power and to communicate.
nonvolatile storage
Permanent storage, as in read-only memory (ROM).
optical media
Portable storage devices that use a laser to read and write data, such as CDs and DVDs.
page file
The file the operating system builds on the hard drive when it is using virtual memory to enable processing to continue.
parallel port
A port that sends data between devices in groups of bits at speeds of 92 kilobits per second (Kbps). Parallel ports are often used to connect printers to computers.
physical memory
The amount of random access memory (RAM) that is actually available on memory modules in a computer.
Plug and Play
Technology that enables the operating system, once the system is booted up, to recognize automatically any new peripherals and configure them to work with the system.
port
An interface through which external devices are connected to the computer.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
The computer's temporary storage space or shortterm memory. It is located as a set of chips on the system unit's motherboard, and its capacity is measured in megabytes, with most modern systems containing around 256 megabyte (MB) to 512 MB of RAM.
read/write heads
The read/write heads move from the outer edge of the spinning platters to the center, up to 50 times per second, to retrieve (read) and record (write) the magnetic data to and from the hard disk.
sectors
A section of a hard disk drive platter, wedge-shaped from the center of the platter to the edge.
seek time
The time it takes for the read/write heads to move over the surface of the disk, between tracks, to the correct track.
serial port
A port that enables the transfer of data, one bit at a time, over a single wire at speeds of up to 56 kilobits per second (Kbps); it is often used to connect modems to the computer.
sound cards
An expansion card that attaches to the motherboard inside the system unit that enables the computer to produce sounds.
system evaluation
The process of looking at a computer's subsystems, what they do, and how they perform to determine whether the computer system has the right hardware components to do what the user ultimately wants it to do.
universal serial bus (USB) port
A port that can connect a wide variety of peripherals to the computer, including keyboards, printers, Zip drives, and digital cameras. USB 2.0 transfers data at 480 megabits per second (Mbps) and is approximately 40 times faster than the original USB port.
video card (video adapter)
An expansion card that is installed inside a system unit to translate binary data (the 1s and 0s your computer uses) into the images viewed on the monitor.
video RAM (VRAM)
The random access memory included with a video.
virtual memory
The space on the hard drive that the operating system stores data to if you don't have enough random access memory (RAM) to hold all of the programs you're currently trying to run.
volatile storage
Temporary storage, such as in random access memory (RAM); when the power is off, the data in volatile storage is cleared out.
Zip disks
A portable storage medium with storage capacities ranging from 100 megabytes (MB) to 750 MB.