Jargon buster

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By  Published  November 30, 2006

ADSL - (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line). A form of DSL connection through which the downstream speed is different from that of the upstream speed.

AGP - (Accelerated Graphics Port). A graphics card interface used by older motherboards that has now been usurped by the more advanced PCI-E bus.

API - (Application Programming Interface). A collection of drivers and applets that allows software to talk either to computer hardware or to another piece of software.

ATA - (Advanced Technology Attachment). The standard interface used to connect storage devices such as optical drives and hard drives to your PC. Can operate in either parallel mode (PATA) or serial mode (SATA).

ATX - (Advanced Technology eXtended). Now the most common form factor for motherboards and PC cases.

BIOS - (Basic Input Output System). Code that loads the control systems for PC components and peripherals.

CPU - (Central Processing Unit). The main component in any PC. Responsible for interpreting and running instructions contained within software.

CrossFire - ATi’s multiGPU system whereby two graphics cards can be run in parallel to boost visual performance.

DDR - (Double Data Rate). Form of memory that runs at double the speed of standard RAM.

DSL - (Digital Subscriber Line). A form of broadband internet that uses twisted copper pair wiring.

DIMM - (Dual Inline Memory Module). Refers to today’s RAM modules and their respective motherboard sockets.

DOS - (Disk Operating System). Microsoft’s old command-line based operating system.

DoS - (Denial Of Service). An attack performed by hackers who attempt to ‘swamp’ or crash an internet connected machine by using up all of its bandwidth.

D-SUB - (D-Subminiature). An electrical connector commonly used by video cards and display devices.

DVI - (Digital Visual Interface). A connector that digitally transmits signals in order to maximise graphics and video image quality.

ECC - (Error Correcting Code). A method of encoding data that conforms to specific rules so that errors can be detected and corrected automatically.

EIDE - (Extended Integrated Device Electronics). The predecessor to ATA. Supports hard disk drives up to 8.4Gbytes in size.

FAT - (File Allocation Table). A disk partition format that was first introduced in 1977. Improved with Fat32 (WIndows 95 onwards).

FSB - (Front Side Bus). The high-speed interlink between a motherboard chipset’s main ‘Northbridge’ chip and a CPU.

FPU - (Floating Point Unit). The part of a CPU that is used for floating-point (numbers featuring decimal points) calculations .

FSAA - (Full Screen Anti Aliasing). The artificial removal of jagged edges from graphics.

FTP - (File Transfer Protocol). A system for transferring files from one PC to another over the internet.

GPU - (Graphics Processing Unit). A processor found on graphics cards that specialises in graphics rendering.

HD - (High Definition). A term used to describe visual content that is encoded at a higher than standard resolution.

HDD - (Hard Disk Drive). The main permanent storage device in most PCs.

HDCP - (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). An encryption system used to stop users from pirating HD content through DVI or HDMI connections.

HDMI - (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). A new digital connection based on DVI or dual-link DVI, with additional wiring to support audio and control signals.

ISP - (Internet Service Provider). A company responsible for providing internet connections to users.

JPEG - (Joint Photographic Experts Group). An image compression format developed by this group.

LAN - (Local Area Network). A PC network set-up using local wiring.

MIMO - (Multiple Input Multiple Output). A method of increasing the range and speed of a wireless network by using multiple aerials, that so interference and reflections contribute to signal quality rather than degrade it.

MPEG - (Motion Picture Experts Group). A widely adopted form of video compression developed by this group.

NTFS - (New Technology File System). The secure partition format that was originally introduced with the Windows NT operating system.

OS - (Operating System). Software, such as Windows, which provides an on-computer working environment for other
software programs.

PCB - (Printed Circuit Board). A board made of a number of layers housing both insulators and conductive circuitry. These are laminated together and provide electrically connectivity to components mounted on the surface of the board.

PCI - (Peripheral Component Interconnect). The standard bus connection used by devices such as soundcards and modems.

PCI-E - (PCI-Express). The high-speed serial successor to the aging AGP and PCI parallel buses.

POST - (Power On Self-Test). The process each PC must go through to check whether its primary components are functioning before booting into its OS.

PSU - (Power Supply Unit). Responsible for breaking down
mains current into forms useable by PC components.

RAM - (Random Access Memory). The high-speed volatile - or ‘non permanent’ storage - memory in your PC that is used by software to function.

RAID - (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). Essentially a system in which multiple hard drives follow a single data structure. There are a number of different forms of RAID (striping, mirroring etc.) and each has different drive requirements.

ROM - (Read Only Memory). Memory that is pre-programmed and can’t be written to again..

SLI - (Scalable Link Interface). nVidia’s multiGPU system whereby two cards run in parallel to boost graphics performance.

SMART - (Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology). A feature found on most modern hard drives through which the drive monitors itself and reports potential problems.

TFT - (Thin Film Transistor). A transistor placed on glass (in the case of LCDs) to create an active matrix of switching pixels in flat-screen monitors.

USB - (Universal Serial Bus). A serial connection designed to connect external peripherals to a PC.

VGA - (Video Graphics Array). An analogue display standard. Also used to refer to a display resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.

VIVO - (Video Input Video Output). Refers to a graphics card
that features input and output ports for video signals.

VoIP - (Voice Over IP). A conversion system that turns voice (telephone signals) into data packets that can then be sent
across the internet.

VPN - (Virtual Private Network). A security system used to secure remote connections established over the internet.

WLAN - (Wireless Local Area Network). Exactly like a standard LAN except that it uses one of the 802.11 protocols for wireless connectivity rather than cables.

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