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Category: General (143 terms)

Generic technology terms explained

Term Definition
AC "Alternating Current: the common form of electricity from power plant to home/office. Its direction is reversed 60
times per second in the U.S.; 50 times in Europe. Contrast with DC."
Access "Read, write, or update information on some storage medium, such as a disk."
ADC "Analogue-to-Digital Converter: a device that converts continuously varying analogue signals from instruments that
monitor such conditions as movement, temperature, sound, etc., into binary code for the computer. It may be
contained on a single chip or can be one circuit within a chip."
AI "Artificial Intelligence: the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans.
Applications include: games playing, expert systems, natural language and robotics. AI also implies the ability to
learn or adapt through experience."
ANSI "American National Standards Institute. A standards-setting, non-government organisation which develops and
publishes standards for voluntary use in the United States."
API "Application Programming Interface: a set of subroutines or functions that a program, or application, can call to tell
the operating system to perform some task. The Windows API consists of more than 1,000 functions that programs
written in C, C++, Pascal, and other languages can call to create windows, open files, and perform other essential
Archive "Long-term on- and/or off-site storage."
ASCII "American Standard Code for Information Interchange: a standard developed by the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI) describing how characters can be represented on a computer. The ASCII character set consists of
128 characters numbered from 0 to 127 and includes numerals, punctuation symbols, letters, and special control
codes such as end-of-line characters. Most personal computers use some form of the ASCII character set."
ASIC "Application Specific Integrated Circuit: an integrated circuit chip designed for a particular use rather than general
use. Many video boards and modems use ASICs."
ASPI "Advanced SCSI Protocol Interface: an interface standard developed by Adaptec Inc. that has become one of the
major SCSI interface standards for computers."
Asynchronous "Refers to events that are not synchronised, or co-ordinated, in time. Most communication between computers and
devices is asynchronous - it can occur at any time and at irregular intervals."
Backup "A copy of a file, directory, or volume on a separate storage device from the original, for the purpose of retrieval in
case the original is accidentally erased, damaged, or destroyed."
Bandwidth "The amount of data that can be moved through a particular interface in a given period of time, e.g. a 64-bit wide,
100 MHz SDRAM data bus has a bandwidth of 800 MBps."
BBS "Bulletin Board System: a term for dial-up on-line systems from which to download software, leave messages for
other users, and exchange information. BBBs proliferated in the 1980s before the WWW became popular. A BBS
functions somewhat like a stand-alone Web site, but without graphics. However, unlike Web sites, each BBS has its
own telephone number to dial into."
Binary "Pertaining to a number system that has just two unique digits. For most purposes, the decimal number system is
used, which has ten unique digits, 0 through 9. All other numbers are then formed by combining these ten digits.
Computers are based on the binary numbering system, which consists of just two unique numbers, 0 and 1. All
operations that are possible in the decimal system (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) are equally
possible in the binary system."
Bit "A Binary Digit is the basic binary unit for storing data. It can either be 0 or 1. It takes 8 bits to equal a byte."
Block "Data is organised into logical "blocks" for transmission between devices. Blocks may be fixed or variable length,
with block sizes of 512 or 1024 bytes being particulary common. An example of a block format is: preamble, user
data, CRC, postamble."
Boot Drive "The drive that the operating system first loads from (usually :A: or :C)."
BPI "Bits Per Inch: a measure of how densely information is packed on a storage medium. See also Flux Density."
Breakout "In simple terms a breakout is something that takes a grouped set and breaks it into its constituent parts. For
example, a breakout box might be used to separate out the individual inputs and/or outputs of a single optical cable
carrying multiple channels of audio."
Buffer "A storage location used for temporary storage of data read from or waiting to be sent to some device. Use of a
memory buffer - often referred to as a "cache" - is used to speed up access to many devices, such as a hard disk,
CD-ROM or tape drive."
Bus "An electronic traffic lane through which electrical signals are carried from one chip to another chip. Most often
used in the context of communication between the processor and other system components. There are many
different kinds of bus including ISA, EISA, MCA and the local bus standards PCI and VL-Bus."
Byte "Eight bits treated as a unit and representing a character."
Capacity "Generally quantifies the amount of data that can be stored on a storage device. Capacity is usually expressed in
megabytes, meaning millions of bytes. This contrasts with RAM, where a megabyte refers to 1,048,576 bytes."
CCIA "Computer and Communications Industry Association: a trade association composed of computer and
communications firms. It represents their interests in domestic and foreign trade, and keeps members advised of
relevant standards and regulatory policy."
CCIR "Consultative Committee for International Radio communications."
CeBIT "A computer exhibition hosted in Hannover, Germany in the spring of each year. The exhibition is a spin-off from
the more broadly-based Hannover Fair trade show and debuted in 1986."
Clone "Any computer system compatible with the IBM PC standard."
COM Port "The connectors and accompanying circuitry that allow serial devices - such as serial printers, modems, or mice - to
be connected to PC. Communication ports are also called serial ports. To keep track of the devices, DOS assigns
names that begin with the letters COM to communication ports (such as COM1 and COM2)."
COMDEX "COMputer Dealers EXposition: a twice yearly - once in the spring (in Atlanta) and once in autumn (in Las Vegas)
- trade show originally created for computer dealers and distributors but nowadays also attended by large numbers
of end users. The first COMDEX in the autumn of 1979 had 157 exhibitors and 4,000 attendees. By the end of the
millennium the events were attracting more than 2,000 exhibitors and 200,000 people annually."
CRC "Cyclical Redundancy Check: a complex mathematical method that permits errors in long runs of data to be
detected with a very high degree of accuracy."
Crosstalk "Interference from an adjacent electronics circuitry."
DAC "Digital-to-Analogue Converter: a device (usually a single chip) that converts digital data into analogue signals.
Graphics cards have traditionally required DACs to convert digital data to analogue signals that a monitor can
process. Modems require a DAC to convert data to analogue signals that can be carried by telephone wires."
Daughter Board "A printed circuit board that plugs into another circuit board (usually the motherboard). It is similar to an expansion
board, but accesses the motherboard components (memory and CPU) directly rather than through the slower
expansion bus."
DC "Direct Current: an electrical current that travels in one direction and used within the computer's electronic circuits.
Contrast with AC."
DDE "Dynamic Date Exchange: a mechanism used in Windows to transfer data between two applications or two separate
instances of the same application. Windows itself uses DDE for a variety of purposes, from opening documents in
running applications when a document icon is double-clicked in the shell to obtaining program icons for DOS
applications. DDE is also used to support OLE. See also OLE."
Device Driver "A software routine that links a peripheral device to the operating system. It acts like a translator between a device
and the applications that use it. Each device has its own set of specialised commands known only to its driver. In
contrast, most applications access devices by using high-level, generic commands. The driver accepts these generic
and translates them into the low-level specialised commands required by the device."
DIN Connector " A German standard used mostly for audio applications. DIN connectors are used for keyboards, PS/2 style mice,
MIDI, and Apple printer attachments."
Directory "An area or data structure in which information is stored regarding the location and contents of files and/or file
structures. Also called directory partition."
DLL "Dynamic Link Library: a special type of Windows program containing functions that other programs can call,
resources (such as icons) that other programs can use, or both. Unlike a standard programming library, whose
functions are linked into an application when the application's code is compiled, an application that uses functions
in a DLL links with those functions at runtime - hence the term "dynamic"."
Drive Bay "Refers to a site in a where many mass storage devices can be internally installed. Usually a 5.25in-wide 1in-tall
hole in a computer case. The number of drive bays in a computer determines how many such devices can be
internally installed. The other common size is 3.5in. Bays are described as either internal or exposed. An internal
bay is meant for hard disk drives, an exposed bay for removable media drives, such as a CD-ROM, tape backup or
floppy disk unit. Some manufacturers use the terms hidden and accessible in place of internal and exposed."
DTR "Data Transfer Rate: the speed at which data is transferred between a host and a data recording device. Usually
noted in KBps or MBps, and sometimes in MB/minute. Can mean a "peak" rather than a "sustained" transfer rate."
Dual Boot "Allows the computer to boot to two different operating systems (DOS and UNIX, for example)."
ECMA "European Computer Manufacturers Association; a non-profit international industry association founded in 1961
dedicated to the worldwide standardisation of information and communication systems, and responsible
spearheading the development of a standard for holographic information storage."
EDVAC "Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer: the first computer to incorporate von Neumann's "stored
program" concept, in which the programme executed by the computer was stored as data, rather than existing as
wire connections. Designed in 1946, when EDVAC became fully operational in 1952 it comprised contained
approximately 4,000 vacuum tubes and 10,000 crystal diodes."
EIA "Electronic Industries Association: a trade association representing the U.S. high technology community which
began life in 1924 as the Radio Manufacturers Association. It has been responsible for developing some important
standards, such as the RS-232, RS-422 and RS-423 standards for connecting serial devices. In 1988, it spun off its
Information & Telecommunications Technology Group into a separate organisation known as the TIA."
EMI "Electro-Magnetic Interference; unwanted electrical noise that may "leak" from a power line in the form of a
magnetic field capable of adversely affect electronic equipment and causing intermittent data corruption on data
lines that have not been properly shielded."
Encoding "A method whereby a group of data bits is translated into a group of recording bits."
Expansion Card "A circuit board that fits into a computer expansion slot to add a certain function (like a modem, sound card, or
SCSI interface)."
File Server "A computer that provides network stations with controlled access to shareable resources. The network operating
system is loaded on the file server, and most shareable devices (disk subsystems, printers) are attached to it. The file
server controls system security and monitors station-to-station communications. A dedicated file server can be used
only as a file server while it is on the network. A non-dedicated file server can be used simultaneously as a file
server and a workstation."
Firmware "Permanent instructions and data programmed directly into the circuitry of read-only memory for controlling the
operation of the computer or peripheral devices. Distinct from software, which is stored in read/write memory and
can be altered."
Form Factor "The physical size and shape of a device. It is often used to describe the size of circuit boards. The physical size of
a device as measured by outside dimensions. With regard to a disk drive, the form factor is the overall diameter of
the platters and case, such as 3.5in or 5.25in, not the size in terms of storage capacity. If the drive is a 5.25in form
factor it means that the drive is the same size as a 5.25in diskette drive and uses the same fixing points."
Format "A preparatory process that is necessary before data can be recorded to some storage devices. Formatting erases any
previously stored data."
GB "Gigabyte: a unit of measure consisting of 1000MB."
GBps "Gigabytes per second: a performance measure used for mass storage devices and memory systems."
Gflops "Gigaflops: 1 thousand million floating-point instructions per second."
GiB "Gibibyte: a unit of measure consisting of 1024MiB."
Gigabyte (GB) "A gigabyte (derived from the Standard's Institute prefix giga-) is a unit of information or computer storage defined
as one billion bytes by the Standard's Institute. It can alternately mean 2^30 bytes, though the preferred term for this
is the Gibibyte (GiB). It's abbreviated GB."
GOPS "Giga Operations Per Second: in the case of multimedia processing, more GOPS translate to better video quality."
GPF "General Protection Fault: the error code triggered when a Windows program causes a failure or lock-up."
HSM "Hierarchical Storage Management: System of ranking and storing information across a variety of device types."
Huffman Coding "For a given character distribution, by assigning short codes to frequently occurring characters and longer codes to
infrequently occurring characters, Huffman's minimum redundancy encoding minimises the average number of
bytes required to represent the characters in a text."
Hz "Hertz: the number of times something happens a second."
I/O "Input/Output: refers to data transfer from input devices (keyboard, mouse, scanner, etc.) to output devices (printer,
screen, etc.)."
I/O Address "Memory location for a particular device (disk drive, sound card, printer port, etc.). Two devices cannot share the
same I/O address space."
IBM PC "IBM created the PC industry when it launched its first PC in 1981. They were named PC, XT, AT etc."
IEC "International Electrotechnical Commission: the body that attempted to resolve the confusion surrounding the use
of "MB" to mean either binary megabytes and decimal megabytes - depending on context - by their approval, in late
1998, of names and symbols for prefixes for binary multiples for use in the fields of data processing and data
transmission. The acceptance of the symbols - "Ki", "Mi", "Gi" etc. - by the PC industry has been somewhat
disappointing. "
IEEE "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: a membership organisation that includes engineers, scientists and
students in electronics and allied fields. Best known for its involvement in setting standards for computers and
communications, such as the widely followed IEEE 802 standards for Local Area Networks."
iMac "An Apple computer intended for home, school, and small offices, and promoted by Apple as an easy-to-use, stylish
computer that outperforms other low-cost options. The computer comes equipped with a 233MHz G3 processor, 32
MB SDRAM, 4GB hard disk drive, a 56K modem, and a Universal Serial Bus (USB), which allows a user to add
devices without restarting the computer. Controversially, the iMac does not come with a floppy disk drive. Easily
recognisable for its translucent blue casing, the computer sold quickly after its introduction in the summer of 1998."
Interface "A hardware or software protocol, contained in the electronics of the disk controller and disk drive, that manages
the exchange of data between the drive and computer. The most common interfaces for small computer systems are
AT (IDE) and SCSI."
Internet "The global computer network, composed of thousands of WANs and LANs that uses TCP/IP to provide world-
wide communications to homes, schools, businesses and governments. The WWW runs on the Internet."
ISO "International Standards Organisation: an international body responsible for establishing and managing various
standards committees and expert groups, including several image-compression standards."
Isochronous "Refers to processes where data must be delivered within certain time constraints. For example, multimedia streams
require an isochronous transport mechanism to ensure that data is delivered as fast as it is displayed and to ensure
that the audio is synchronised with the video. Contrast with Asynchronous and Synchronous."
Kbit "Kilobit: a unit of measure consisting of 1000 bits. The unit often used in expressions of data transmission
KBps "Kilobytes per second: a performance measure used for mass storage devices and memory systems."
KiB "Kibibyte: a unit of measure consisting of 1024 bytes. One of the names and symbols for prefixes for binary
multiples for use in the fields of data processing and data transmission approved as an IEC International Standard in
December 1998. See also MiB, GiB and TiB."
Kilobyte (KB) "A kilobyte (derived from the Standards Insitute prefix kilo-, meaning 1000) is a unit of information or computer
storage defined by the Standards Institute as 1000 bytes. Abbreviations for kilobyte include KB, kB, Kbyte, and
kbyte. Note that "kilobyte" is also used to represent 1024 (2^10) bytes, though the preferred term for this is a
kibibyte (KiB)."
Latency "The time between initiating a request for data and the beginning of the actual data transfer. For example, the
average latency of a hard disk drive is easily calculated from the spindle speed, as the time for half a rotation. In
communications, network latency is the delay introduced when a packet is momentarily stored, analysed and then
forwarded. "
Legacy "Term used to describe an application, architecture, protocol, system or system component etc. that has been in
existence for a long time."
Low Profile "Describes drives built to the 3.5in form factor, which are only 1in high. The standard form factor drives are
1.625in high."
Macintosh "Introduced by Apple Computer in 1984, the Macintosh marked a breakthrough in personal computer technology,
featuring a graphical user interface (GUI) that utilised windows, icons and a mouse. The success of the Macintosh
GUI led heralded a new age of graphics-based applications and operating systems, Microsoft's subsequent Windows
interface copying many features from the Mac."
Mask "Used like stencils in the chip making process. When used with the UV light, masks create the various circuit
patterns on each layer of the microprocessor. Also used to describe the information in the alpha channel of a graphic
that determines how effects are rendered."
MBps "Megabytes per second: a performance measure used for mass storage devices and memory systems."
Media "A component used to store data such as a tape, floppy disk or CD-ROM."
Megabyte (MB) "A megabyte (derived from the Standards Insitute prefix mega-, meaning a million) is a unit of information or
computer storage that the Standards Insititute defines as one million (10^6) bytes. With memory, however, it is
commonly given the quantity of 1,048,576 bytes (2^20). A megabyte is abbreviated MB."
MEMS "Micro-electromechanical systems: the name for technology that embeds mechanical devices such as fluid sensors,
mirrors, actuators, pressure and temperature sensors, vibration sensors and valves in semiconductor chips. MEMS
combine many disciplines, including physics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, electrical engineering, optics and
Mflops "Megaflops: 1 million floating-point instructions per second."
MHz "Megahertz: a measurement of frequency in millions of cycles per second."
MiB "Mebibyte: a unit of measure consisting of 1024KiB."
Microcode "The lowest-level instructions that directly control a microprocessor. A single machine-language instruction
typically translates into several microcode instructions. In modern PC microprocessors, the microcode is hard-wired
and can't be modified."
Micron "µm: a unit of measure equivalent to one-millionth of a metre; synonymous with micrometre."
Microsecond "µs: one millionth of a second (.000001 sec.)."
Millisecond "ms: one thousandth of a second (.001 sec.)."
MIPS "Millions of Instructions Per Second: refers to a computer processor's performance and is the benchmark for
comparing standard for CPUs."
Moore's Law "It was in 1965, three years before he was to become a co-founder of Intel Corporation, that Gordon Moore made
the famous prediction that would thereafter be referred to as "Moore's Law" - that the number of transistors per
integrated circuit would double every 18 months. Moore forecast that the trend would continue through 1975; in
fact it has been maintained for far longer."
MOPS "Millions of Operations Per Second."
MTBF "Mean Time Between Failure: the average time a specific component is expected to work without failure."
MTTR "Mean Time To Repair: the average time to repair a specific component."
Multitasking "The concurrent execution of several jobs."
Multithreading "Multiple concurrent threads of execution within a single application."
Nanometre "nm: one thousand millionth of a metre."
Nanosecond "ns: one thousand-millionths of a second of a second (.000000001 sec.). Light travels approximately 8 inches in 1
Network "A group of two or more computer systems linked together. There are many types of computer networks, including
LANs and WANs."
NMI "NonMaskable Interrupt: a high-priority interrupt that cannot be disabled by another interrupt. It is used to report
malfunctions such as parity, bus and math co-processor errors."
Noise "Interference (static) that destroys the integrity of signals on electronic highways or communications lines. Noise
can come from a variety of sources, including radio waves, nearby electrical wires, lightning, and bad connections.
Noise is an analogue problem; once a signal is digitised, it is relatively immune to noise."
NTFS "NT File System: the file system that is native to Microsoft Windows NT. NTFS is probably the most advanced file
system available for personal computers, featuring superior performance, excellent security and crash protection,
and the ability to handle large volumes of data."
ODBC "Open Database Connectivity: a standard promulgated by Microsoft that allows databases created by various
database management programs-such as DBASE, Microsoft Access, Microsoft FoxPro, and Oracle to be accessed
using a common interface independent of the database file format. By relying on ODBC, one can write an
application that uses the same code to read records from a DBASE file or a FoxPro file. Internally, ODBC drivers
use a form of SQL to carry out database operations. See also SQL and WOSA."
OEM "Original Equipment Manufacturer: a company which develops, produces and sells computer and consumer
OLE "Object Linking and Embedding: an industry-standard method for inserting an object into a document. The
document retains a connection, or link, with its original program so that double-clicking on the object in the
document opens the object's original program. See also DLL."
OS "Operating System: the software controlling the overall operation of a multipurpose computer system, including
such tasks as memory allocation, input and output distribution, interrupt processing, and job scheduling."
Oscilloscope "A test instrument that displays electronic signals (waves and pulses) on a screen. It creates its own time base
against which signals can be measured, and display frames can be frozen for visual inspection."
OSR "OEM Service Release: a version of Windows 95 incorporating bug fixes and new functionality released to PC
vendors for bundling with new PCs. Not available as an upgrade to older versions of Windows 95."
Overrun "The condition occurring when data is transmitted to a receiving device at a rate that's too fast for it to handle. See
also Underrun and Flow Control."
PCB "Printed Circuit Board: a board upon which there are layers of printed circuits and onto which other integrated
circuits can be soldered or otherwise attached."
PCMCIA "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association: a consortium of computer manufacturers that devised
the standard for the credit card-size adapter cards used in many notebook computers. PCMCIA defines three card
types: Type I cards can be up to 3.3mm thick and are generally used for RAM and ROM expansion cards; Type II
cards can be as thick as 5.5mm and typically house modems and fax modems; Type III cards are the largest of the
lot (up to 10.5mm thick) and are mostly used for solid state disks or miniature hard disks. PCMCIA cards are also
known as "PC Cards"."
PDA "Personal Digital Assistant: a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax, and networking features. A
typical PDA can function as a cellular phone, fax sender, and personal organiser. Some PDAs are hand-held PC
with tiny keyboards. Another class of device uses a touch-screen and stylus for data entry."
Peripheral "Any hardware device - such as a disk drive, tape drive, printer or modem - added to a system as a complement to
the basic CPU."
Petabyte (PB) "A petabyte (derived from the Standard's Institute prefix peta- ) is a unit of information or computer storage defined
by the Standards Institute as a quadrillion bytes, or a million gigabytes. It can alternately mean 2^50 bytes, though
the preferred term for this is a pebibyte (PiB). The petabyte is abbreviated PB."
PIC "Programmable Interrupt Controller: a chip or device that prioritises interrupt requests generated by keyboards,
serial ports, and other devices and passes them on to the CPU in order of highest priority. See also IRQ."
Picolitre "pl: a million millionth of a litre."
PnP "Plug and Play: a Microsoft/Intel specification that allows for self-configuration of computers and peripherals. A
fully Plug and Play-enabled PC requires three PnP components: a PnP BIOS, PnP adapters and peripherals, and a
PnP operating system. Adding a PnP-compliant device to a PnP PC requires little more than making the physical
connection. The operating system, in conjunction with PnP logic present in the BIOS and in the device itself,
handles the IRQ settings, I/O addresses, and other technical aspects of the installation to ensure that the device does
not conflict with other installed devices."
POSIX "Portable Operating System Interface for UNIX: a set of IEEE and ISO standards that define an interface between
programs and operating systems. By designing their programs to conform to POSIX, developers have some
assurance that their software can be easily ported to POSIX-compliant operating systems. This includes most
varieties of UNIX."
Protected Mode "A memory-addressing system supporting 32-bit instruction sets. I t mediates between different programs running
at once, and keeps them within their memory boundaries."
Protocol "A formal set of rules and descriptions of information formats that allow two computers to exchange information."
PS/2 "An IBM personal computer series introduced in 1987, superseding the original PC line. It introduced the 3.5in
floppy disk, VGA graphics and Micro Channel bus. The latter has since given way to the PCI bus."
Random Access "Ability to access any particular block by going directly to it. Memory and disk devices support random access; by
contrast, tape storage devices do not."
Real-time "In computing, refers to an operating mode under which data is received and processed and the results returned so
quickly as to seem instantaneous."
Removable Storage "A type of storage which allows the actual storage media to be removed from a drive and replace it with other
media. It is used for the transportation of data between computers and for data backup."
RPM "Revolutions Per Minute."
RTF "Rich Text Format: a format in common use by word processors. It accepts both text and images, and retains text
formatting and page layout."
SOHO "Small Office/Home Office: refers to the small business or business-at-home user. This market segment has
benefited greatly from recent technological advances, allowing it to compete on a level playing ground with the
bigger companies."
SQL "Structured Query Language: a query language developed by IBM that relies on simple English-language
statements to perform database queries. Almost universally supported in one form or another by relational databases
on platforms of all types, SQL allows databases from different manufacturers and on different types of computers to
be queried using a standard syntax. See also ODBC."
Substrate "The underlying material on which a microelectronic device or storage media is built. Silicon is the most widely
used substrate for chips, fibreglass for printed circuit boards and ceramic for multichip modules. Aluminium is
commonly used for hard disks, glass for optical disks and mylar for floppy disks."
Synchronous "Refers to events that are synchronised, or co-ordinated, in time. Communication within a computer is usually
synchronous and is governed by the microprocessor clock. Signals along the bus, for example, can occur only at
specific points in the clock cycle."
TB "Terabyte: a unit of measure for storage capacity 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) bytes, or 1,000,000 (1 million)
megabytes or 1,000 (1 thousand) gigabytes."
Terabyte (TB) "A terabyte (derived from the Standard's Institute prefix tera-) is a unit of information or computer storage defined
by the Standard's Institute as one trillion bytes, or a thousand gigabytes. It can alternately mean 2^40 bytes, though
the preferred term for this is a tebibyte (TiB). A terabyte is abbreviated TB."
TiB "Tebibyte: a unit of measure consisting of 1024GiB."
UNIX "A multi-user, multiprocessor operating system developed by AT&T in the early 1970s. It exists in various forms
and implementations and is the predominant operating system used by the Internet servers. It is not, however,
required by the user to access the Internet."
VAR "Value Added Reseller: a company which resells hardware and software packages to developers and/or end-users."
VESA "Video Electronics Standards Association: an international non-profit organisation established in 1989 to set and
support industry-wide interface standards designed for the PC, workstation, and other computing environments. The
VESA Local Bus (VL-Bus) standard - introduced in 1992 and widely used before the advent of PCI - was a 32-bit
local bus standard compatible with both ISA and EISA cards."
Volume "A logical division of data, comprising of a number of files. In the context of hard disk drives, a volume is
formatted by using a file system - such as FAT or NTFS - and has a drive letter assigned to it. A single hard disk can
have multiple volumes and, unlike partitions, volumes can span multiple disks. Under the ISO 9660 standard, a
"volume" refers to a single CD-ROM disc."
WOSA "Windows Open Services Architecture: a collection of APIs that provide standard ways for Windows applications to
access databases, telephony devices, messaging services, and other services. ODBC and MAPI are two examples of
APIs that fall under the WOSA umbrella."
WYSIWYG "What You See Is What You Get: screen output that exactly (or very closely) matches the appearance of printed
output. WYSIWYG displays were once rare on the PC platform, because most applications ran in character mode
and had little control over the format of text rendered on the screen. Today WYSIWYG applications abound,
because Windows allows more precise control over screen formatting and provides a device-independent interface
to both screens and printers."

Category: Motherboard (66 terms)

A comprehensive glossary of motherboard related terms

Term Definition
ACPI "Advanced Configuration and Power Interface: the successor to DPMA for controlling power management and
monitoring the health of the system."
ACR "Advanced Communication Riser: a rival riser card architecture to Intel's CNR specification, which emerged at
about the same time and offers similar features."
AGP "Accelerated Graphics Port: an Intel-designed 32-bit PC bus architecture introduced in 1997 allowing graphics
cards direct access to the system bus (currently up to 100MHz), rather than going through the slower 33MHz PCI
bus. AGP uses a combination of frame buffer memory local to the graphics controller, as well as system memory,
for graphics data storage, vastly increasing the amount of memory available for 3D textures."
AMR "Audio Modem Riser: an Intel specification that defines a new architecture for the design of motherboards. AMR
allows manufacturers create motherboards without analogue I/O functions. Instead, these functions are placed on a
separate card which plugs in perpendicular to the motherboard so that the motherboard and "riser" card form a right
AT Bus "The 16-bit bus started with the IBM-AT (Advanced Technology) systems. It is still the standard interface for most
PC expansion cards. It is also known as the ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) bus."
ATA "AT Attachment: the specification, formulated in the 1980s by a consortium of hardware and software
manufacturers, that defines the IDE drive interface. AT refers to the IBM PC/AT personal computer and its bus
architecture. IDE drives are sometimes referred to as ATA drives or AT bus drives. The newer ATA-2 specification
defines the EIDE interface, which improves upon the IDE standard. See also IDE and EIDE."
ATAPI "Advanced Technology Packet Interface: a specification that defines device side characteristics for an IDE
connected peripheral, such as CD-ROM or tape drives. ATAPI is essentially an adaptation of the SCSI command set
to the IDE interface."
ATX "The predominant motherboard form factor since the mid-1990s. It improves on the previous standard, the Baby AT
form factor, by rotating the orientation of the board 90 degrees. This allows for a more efficient design, with disk
drive cable connectors nearer to the drive bays and the CPU closer to the power supply and cooling fan."
Baby AT "The form factor used by most PC motherboards in the early 1990s. The original motherboard for the PC-AT
measured 12in by 13in. Baby AT motherboards are a little smaller, 8.5in by 11in."
BIOS "Basic Input Output System: a set of low-level routines in a computer's ROM that application programs (and
operating systems) can use to read characters from the keyboard, output characters to printers, and interact with the
hardware in other ways. It also provides the initial instructions for POST (Power On Self-Test) and booting the
system files."
BTX "Balanced Technology Extended: Intel's interface specification developed as an evolutionary follow-on to the ATX
form factor and designed to better accommodate modern-day PC technologies and lead to cooler, quieter, and more
efficient PCs of all sizes."
Bus Master IDE "Capability of the PIIX element of Triton chipset to effect data transfers from disk to memory with minimum
intervention by the CPU, saving its horsepower for other tasks."
Cache "An intermediate storage capacity between the processor and the RAM or disk drive. The most commonly used
instructions are held here, allowing for faster processing."
Chipset "A number of integrated circuits designed to perform one or more related functions."
CMOS RAM "Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Random Access Memory: a bank of memory that stores a PC's
permanent configuration information, including type identifiers for the drives installed in the PC, and the amount of
RAM present. It also maintains the correct date, time and hard drive information for the system."
CNR "Communications and Networking Riser: An Intel riser card architecture that provides expanded audio, modem and
networking functions."
Concurrent PCI "An enhancement to the PCI bus architecture that allows PCI and ISA buses to transfer data simultaneously."
DIP Switch "Switch mounted on PC board for configuration options."
DMA "Direct Memory Access: a process by which data moves directly between a disk drive (or other device) and system
memory without requiring the involvement of the CPU, thus allowing the system to continue processing other tasks
while the new data is being retrieved."
DPMA "Dynamic Power Management Architecture: Intel's extensive set of power management features built in at the
chipset level, with particular emphasis on intelligent power conservation and standby facilities."
EIDE "Enhanced Integrated Device Electronics or Enhanced Intelligent Drive Electronics: an enhanced version of the
IDE drive interface that expands the maximum disk size from 504Mb to 8.4Gb, more than doubles the maximum
data transfer rate, and supports up to four drives per PC (as opposed to two in IDE systems). EIDE's primary
competitor is SCSI-2, which also supports large hard disks and high transfer rates."
EISA "Extended Industry Standard Architecture: an open 32-bit extension to the ISA 16-bit bus standard designed by
Compaq, AST and other clone makers in response to IBM's proprietary MCA (Micro Channel Architecture) 32-bit
bus design. Unlike the Micro Channel, an EISA bus is backward-compatible with 8-bit and 16-bit expansion cards
designed for the ISA bus."
ESCD "Region of non-volatile memory used by BIOS and ICU (Intel Configuration Utility) or PnP operating system to
record information about the current configuration of the system. "
ESDI "Enhanced Small Device Interface: an interface standard developed by a consortium of the leading PC
manufacturers for connecting disk drives to PCs. Introduced in the early 1980s, ESDI was two to three times faster
than the older ST-506 standard. It has long since been superseded by the IDE, EIDE and SCSI interfaces."
Expansion Bus "An input/output bus typically comprised of a series of slots on the motherboard. Expansion boards are plugged
into the bus. ISA, EISA, PCI and VL-Bus are examples of expansion buses used in a PC."
FDD "The interface which allows a floppy or tape drive to be connected to the motherboard."
Frontside Bus "The bus within a microprocessor that connects the CPU with main memory. See also Backside Bus."
Heat Sink "A structure, attached to or part of a semiconductor device that serves the purpose of dissipating heat to the
surrounding environment; usually metallic and often aluminium."
Host Adapter "A plug-in board or circuitry on the motherboard that acts as the interface between the system bus and a peripheral
device. IDE and SCSI are examples of peripheral interfaces that call their controllers host adapters."
IDE "Integrated Device Electronics or Intelligent Drive Electronics: a drive-interface specification for small to medium-
size hard disks (disks with capacities up to 504Mb) in which all the drive's control electronics are part of the drive
itself, rather than on a separate adapter connecting the drive to the expansion bus. This high level of integration
shortens the signal paths between drives and controllers, permitting higher data transfer rates and simplifying
adapter cards. See also EIDE and SCSI."
IRQ "Interrupt ReQuest: a signal generated by a device to request processing time from the CPU. Each time a keyboard
button is pressed or a character is printed to a screen, an IRQ is generated by the requesting device. IRQ signals are
transmitted along IRQ lines, which connect peripheral devices to a programmable interrupt controller, or PIC. A PC
has 16 IRQs, and no two operational devices can share the same IRQ. "
ISA "Industry Standard Architecture: the architectural standard for the IBM XT (8-bit) and the IBM AT (16-bit) bus
designs. In ISA systems, an adapter added by plugging the card into one of the 16-bit expansion slots enables
expansion devices like network cards, video adapters and modems to send data to and receive data from the PC's
CPU and memory 16 bits at a time. See also EISA."
Jumper "Small metal blocks with black plastic handles for enabling or disabling specific functions on a motherboard or
expansion card."
LGA775 "Land Grid Array 775: Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor introduced in the summer of 2004. Similar to a
pin grid array (PGA), the connection between LGA775 chip packaging and the processor chip is via an array of
solder bumps rather than pins. Also referred to as Socket T."
Local Bus "A bus which co-exists with the main bus and connects the processor itself to the main memory. PCI is now the
standard local bus architecture, having replaced the older VL-Bus."
LPX "A motherboard form factor which allows for smaller cases used in some desktop model PCs. The distinguishing
characteristic of LPX is that expansion boards are inserted into a riser that contains several slots and are therefore
parallel, rather than perpendicular, to the motherboard."
MCA "Micro Channel Architecture: a 32-bit bus architecture introduced by IBM for their PS/2 series microcomputers.
Incompatible with original PC/AT (ISA) architecture."
Motherboard "The PC's main printed circuit board which houses the processor, memory and other components."
NLX "An Intel-designed motherboard form factor. It features a number of improvements over the ATX design providing
support for new technologies such as AGP and allows easier access to motherboard components."
Northbridge "Refers to the System Controller component of a Pentium chipset, responsible for integrating the cache and main
memory DRAM control functions and for managing the host and PCI buses. See also Southbridge."
PCI "Peripheral Component Interface: the 32-bit bus architecture (64-bit with multiplexing), developed by DEC, IBM,
Intel, and others, that is widely used in Pentium-based PCs. A PCI bus provides a high-bandwidth data channel
between system board components such as the CPU and devices such as hard disks and video adapters. Superseded
the VL-Bus, which was widely used in 486 PCs in the early 1990s."
PCIe "PCI Express; a version of the PCI computer bus that uses existing PCI programming concepts, but bases it on a
completely different and much faster serial physical-layer communications protocol. While the original was a single
parallel data bus that operated at 33MHz with a peak theoretical bandwidth of 132MBps, PCIe is a two-way serial
connection that carries data in packets along two pairs of point-to-point data lanes. The first generation of PCIe
architecture provided up to 8GBps of dedicated bi-directional bandwidth."
PIO "Mode Programmed Input Output Mode: a method of transferring data to and from a storage device (hard disk or
CD device) controller to memory via the computer's I/O ports, where the CPU plays a pivotal role in managing the
throughput. For optimal performance a controller should support the drive's highest PIO mode (usually PIO mode
PIXX "PCI ISA IDE Xcelerator: a key component of the Peripheral Bus Controller chipset, responsible for integrating
many common I/O functions found in ISA-based PC systems."
POST "Power-On Self-Test: a set of diagnostic routines that run when a computer is first turned on."
RAS Line "Physical track on motherboard used to select which sides of which SIMMs will be involved in a data transfer. A
given chipset supports only a certain number of RAS lines, thereby dictating how many SIMMs can be
accommodated. A pair of SIMMs uses one RAS line; a pair of DIMMs uses two."
SCSI "Small Computer System Interface: an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) interface between the
computer and peripheral controllers. SCSI excels at handling large hard disks and permits up to eight devices to be
connected along a single bus provided by a SCSI connection. The original 1986 SCSI-1 standard is now obsolete
and references to "SCSI" generally refer to the "SCSI-2" variant. Also features in Narrow, Wide and UltraWide
flavours. See also IDE."
Slot 1 "Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor for Pentium II CPUs. Slot 1 replaces the Socket 7 and Socket 8 form
factors used by previous Pentium processors. It is a 242-contact daughtercard slot that accepts a microprocessor
packaged as a Single Edge Contact (SEC) cartridge. Communication between the Level 2 cache and CPU is at half
the CPU's clock speed."
Slot 2 "An enhanced Slot 1, which uses a somewhat wider 330-way connector SEC cartridge that holds up to four
processors. The biggest difference from Slot 1 is that the Level 2 runs at full processor speed."
Slot A "AMD's proprietary 242-way connector SEC cartridge used by their original Athlon processor. Physically identical
to Slot 1 but electrically incompatible. "
Socket 370 "Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor first introduced for its Celeron line of CPUs and subsequently
adopted for later versions of the Pentium III family. "
Socket 423 "Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor used by its early Pentium 4 processors."
Socket 478 "Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor which replaced Socket 423 with the advent of the 0.13-micron
Pentium 4 Northwood core. "
Socket 7 "The CPU interface form factor for fifth-generation Pentium-class CPU chips from Intel, Cyrix, and AMD."
Socket 754 "AMD's 754-pin CPU interface form factor introduced with its 64-bit Athlon 64 processor in the autumn of 2003."
Socket 8 "Intel's proprietary CPU interface form factor used exclusively by their sixth-generation Pentium Pro CPU chip.
Socket 8 is a 387-pin ZIF socket with connections for the CPU and one or two SRAM dies for the Level 2 cache."
Socket 939 "AMD's 939-pin CPU interface form factor introduced in the summer of 2004. The Socket 939 marked the
convergence of the mainstream and FX versions of the Athlon 64 CPU, which had previously used different
interfaces, the Socket 754 and Socket 940 respectively."
Socket 940 "AMD's 940-pin CPU interface form factor originally used by Opteron and FX versions of the Athlon 64 CPU.
Replaced by for use by the latter in the summer of 2004 by Socket 939, which allowed for a less-expensive
motherboard option, one with only four layers rather than from six to nine."
Socket A "AMD's 462-pin CPU interface form factor which replaced Slot A at the time of the introduction of the Thunderbird
and Spitfire cores used by AMD's Athlon and Duron desktop processor ranges respectively."
Socket AM2 "AMD's 940-pin CPU interface form factor, introduced in the spring of 2006. Incompatible with the previous
Socket 939 and 940 interfaces, the new form factor marked the move away from DDR memory towards DDR2
Southbridge "Refers to the Peripheral Bus Controller component of a Pentium chipset, responsible for implementing a PCI-to-
ISA bridge function and for managing the ISA bus and all the ports. See also Northbridge."
System Bus "The primary pathway between the CPU, memory and high-speed peripherals to which expansion buses, such as
ISA, EISA, PCI and VL-Bus, can connect. Also referred to as the external bus or host bus, and came to be used
interchangeably with frontside bus (FSB) following the introduction of Intel's Dual Independent Bus (DIB)
architecture in 1997."
Ultra DMA "A hard drive protocol which doubled the previous maximum I/O throughput to 33 MBps."
VLB "VESA Local Bus or VL-Bus: the 32-bit local-bus standard created by the Video Electronics Standards Association
(VESA) to provide a fast data connection between CPUs and local-bus devices. The VL-Bus was widely used in
486 PCs, but has since been replaced by the Intel PCI Bus."
VRM "Voltage Regulator Module: used to absorb the voltage difference between a CPU which may be added in the future
and the motherboard."
ZIF "Zero Insertion Force: a socket allows a processor to be upgraded easily and without the need for specialist tools. It
clamps down on the microprocessor pins using a small lever located to the side of the socket. Socket 5 and Socket 7
are common types of ZIF socket."

Category: Microprocessors (73 terms)

CPU terminology explained

Term Definition
ALU "Arithmetic and Logic Unit: the smart part of a processor chip that performs commands like adding, subtracting,
multiplying and dividing. It also knows how to read logic commands like OR, AND, or NOT. Messages from the
Control Unit instruct the ALU what to do and then it takes data from its close companion, the Registers, to perform
the task."
Athlon XP "The brand name given to AMD's family of "extra performance" processors, dating from the time of the Athlon
CPU's transition from the Thunderbird core to the Palomino core in 2001."
Backside Bus "A dedicated channel between the CPU and a Level 2 cache. The so-called dual independent bus (DIB) architecture
allows a processor to use both this and the frontside bus (which connects the CPU with main memory)
simultaneously. See also Frontside Bus."
BGA "Ball/Column Grid Array: a specification for pin lay-outs on micro chips, such as those used on a CPU chip."
Boolean Logic "Named after the nineteenth-century mathematician George Boole, Boolean logic is a form of algebra in which all
values are reduced to either TRUE or FALSE. Boolean logic is especially important for computer science because
of its suitably for use with the binary numbering system, in which each bit has a value of either 1 or 0. Another way
of looking at it is that each bit has a value of either TRUE or FALSE."
Bus Unit "The Bus Unit is the place where instructions flow in and and out of the microprocessor from the computer's main
Capacitor "An electronic component that holds a charge."
CISC "Pronounced "sisk" and standing for Complex Instruction Set Computer, this relates to a microprocessor
architecture that favours the richness of the instruction set (typically as many as 200 unique instructions) over the
speed with which individual instructions are executed. See also RISC."
Clock Doubling "Boosts CPU performance by increasing the internal CPU clock, while maintaining the same I/O speed (for
Clock Rate "The number of pulses emitted from a computer's clock in one second; it determines the rate at which logical or
arithmetic gating is performed in a synchronous computer."
Control Unit "The Control Unit is one of the most important parts of the microprocessor because it is in charge of the entire
process. Based on instructions from the Decode Unit, it creates control signals that tell the Arithmetic Logic Unit
(ALU) and the Registers how to operate, what to operate on, and what to do with the result. The Control Unit
makes sure everything happens in the right place at the right time."

CPU "Central Processing Unit: a formal term for the microprocessor chip that powers a personal computer. The Intel
Pentium chip is one example of a CPU. The term sometimes also refers to the case that houses this chip. See also
Data Cache "The Data Cache works very closely with the "processing partners", the ALU, Registers and the Decode Unit. This
is where specially labelled data from the Decode Unit are stored for later use by the ALU and where final results are
prepared for distribution to different parts of the computer."
Decode Unit "The Decode Unit does just that - it decodes or translates complex machine language instructions into a simple
format understood by the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) and the Registers. This makes processing more efficient."
Depleted Substrate "A new generation of transistor built into an SOI substrate in such a way that its active silicon layer between source
Transistor and drain is fully depleted so as to create a high conductivity channel."
Die "The formal term for an area of silicon containing an integrated circuit. A die has many layers, each designed for a
specific function, and refers to a semiconductor component or part that has not yet been packaged. The popular
term for a die is chip."
Dielectric "Substance that is a poor conductor of electricity and will sustain the force of an electric field passing through it.
Also called an insulator."
Diode "An electronic component that acts primarily as a one-way valve."
Doping "The introduction of an element that alters the conductivity of a semiconductor. Adding boron to silicon will create
a P-type (more positive) material, while adding phosphorus or arsenic to silicon will create N-type (more negative)
DSP "Digital Signal Processor: a microprocessor-like device designed to process analogue to digital (& vice-versa) data
streams. DSPs are used for a variety of devices in personal computers, including high-speed modems, multimedia
sound boards, and real-time audio/video compression and decompression hardware."
EIST "Enhanced Intel Speed Step technology: an enhanced version of Intel's Speed Step technology which dynamically
scales the speed of a processor between its default clock setting and a minimum speed, based on how much CPU
horsepower is needed at that moment, so as to both reduce power consumption and heat."
EM64T "Extended Memory 64 Technology: an enhancement to Intel's IA-32 architecture which allows a processor to run
newly written 64-bit code and access larger amounts of memory when used with a 64-bit OS and application. These
extensions do not run code written for the Intel Itanium processor."
Etch "A process using a chemical bath (wet etch) or a plasma (dry etch) that removes unwanted substances from the
wafer surface."
FCBGA "Flip Chip Ball Grid Array: a micro CPU package for surface mount boards consisting of a die placed face-down on
an organic substrate. Instead of using pins, the package uses small balls, which acts as contacts for the processor.
The advantage of using balls instead of pins is that there are no leads that bend. The package uses 479 balls, which
are .78 mm in diameter."
FCPGA "Flip Chip Plastic Grid Array: a micro CPU package, for socketable boards, consisting of a die placed face-down on
an organic substrate. The package uses 478 pins, which are 2.03 mm long and .32 mm in diameter."
FPU "Floating Point Unit: a formal term for the math co-processors (also called numeric data processors, or NDPS)
found in many personal computers. FPUs perform certain calculations faster than CPUs because they specialise in
floating-point math, whereas CPUs are geared for integer math. Today, most FPUs are integrated with the CPU
rather than packaged and sold separately."
FSB "Frontside bus: the bus within a microprocessor that connects the CPU with main memory. The so-called dual
independent bus (DIB) architecture allows a processor to use both this and the backside bus (which connects the
CPU and the Level 2 cache) simultaneously."
HyperTransport "An industry standard high-speed, high-performance, point-to-point connection method for integrated circuits
pioneered by AMD. It initially allowed for connection speeds of up to 6.4GBps."
IA-32 "Intel Architecture 32-bit. Intel's 32-bit architecture, also known as x86. IA-32 chips span the early 1990s Intel 486
series to the seventh-generation Intel Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon chips. See also IA-64."
IA-64 "Next generation 64-bit architecture made up of the 64-bit Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) jointly developed by
HP and Intel and an IA-32 compatibility component. IA-64 supports 32-bit and 64-bit environments, and provides
compatibility with PA-RISC and IA-32."
IC "Integrated Circuit: a tiny complex of electronic components and their connections that is produced in or on a small
slice of material (such as silicon). Its name results from the integration of previously separate transistors, resistors
and capacitors - all on a single chip."
Instruction Cache "The Instruction Cache is a warehouse of instructions right on the chip, so that the microprocessor doesn't have to
stop and look in the computer's main memory for instructions. This quick access makes processing fast as
instructions are "fetched" to the Prefetch Unit where they are put in the proper order for processing."
Ions "Atoms or molecules that have a net electrical charge. In semiconductor manufacturing, ions are the source of
chemical impurities that alter the conductivity of silicon."
IPC "Instructions Per Clock: a measure of how many instructions a CPU is capable of executing in a single clock. Since
different processor architectures have different IPCs, clock frequency x IPC is a much truer measure of processor
performance than clock frequency alone."
Itanium "Brand name for the first product in Intel's IA-64 family of processors, formerly codenamed Merced."
KNI "Katmai New Instructions: the 70 new Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) instructions supported by the
Pentium III - formerly codenamed Katmai - which came to market in the spring of 1999 designed to optimise the
performance of multimedia and graphics applications."
Logic Gate "A collection of transistors and resistors that implement Boolean logic operations on a circuit board. Transistors
make up logic gates. Logic gates make up circuits. Circuits make up electronic systems."
LSI "Large Scale Integration: refers to the placement of thousands (between 3,000 and 100,000) of electronic
components on a single integrated circuit. VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) is between 100,000 and one million
transistors on a chip."
Main Memory "This is the big store house of data located within the main computer outside of the microprocessor. At times the
Main Memory may send in data or instructions for the Prefetch Unit, which often get stored at an address in the
Instruction Cache to be used later."
Metals "Metals, such as aluminium and copper are used to conduct the electricity throughout the microprocessor. Gold is
also used to connect the actual chip to its package."
MMO "Intel's pop-out CPU packaging designed for mobile processors which includes an integrated L2 cache, introduced
with Mobile MMX processor launched in early 1998."
MMX "MultiMedia eXtensions: Intel's upgraded Pentium processor which incorporates additional instructions designed
specifically for processing multimedia data more efficiently and a larger 32Mb on-board cache. Codenamed P55C."
NX "Support for so-called "No Execute" or NX technology is a joint venture hardware/software mechanism to defend
against buffer overruns and consequent vulnerability to virus attack. AMD calls this technology "Enhanced Virus
Protection", while Intel refers to this functionality as the "Execute Disable Bit"."
OverDrive "A user -installable microprocessor from Intel for the 486 microprocessor. Many PCs 486-based PCs were built
with an "OverDrive" socket, which allowed a processor upgrade simply by inserting a faster OverDrive chip."
P5 "The Intel codename for the original 60/66MHz Pentiums introduced in 1993. Subsequent faster clock-speed chips
were referred to as P54 and the MMX version as P55."
P6 "The Intel codename for the Pentium Pro, which is optimised for 32-bit applications. The P6 generation includes
the Pentium Pro and Pentium II."
PGA "Pin Grid Array: a square chip package, either ceramic or plastic, with a high density of pins (typically 200 pins can
fit in 1.5in square). In an SPGA (Staggered PGA), the pins are staggered and do not line up in perfect rows and
Photolithography "The process of reproducing the chip's circuitry pattern onto the wafer surface by using ultraviolet light and stencils
or masks to transfer the image photomechanically."
Photoresist "A material which becomes soluble when exposed to ultraviolet light. Used to help define circuit patterns during
chip fabrication where it prevents etching or plating of the area it covers; also called resist."
Pipeline Processing "A category of techniques that provide simultaneous, or parallel, processing within a CPU. It refers to overlapping
operations by moving data or instructions into a conceptual pipe with all stages of the pipe processing
simultaneously. For example, while one instruction is being executed, the computer is decoding the next
Polysilicon "Conductive material used as an interconnect layer on a chip."
Prefetch Unit "The Prefetch Unit decides when to order data and instructions from the Instruction Cache or the computer's main
memory based on commands or the task at hand. When the instructions come in the most important task for the
Prefetch Unit is to be sure all the instructions are lined up correctly to send off to the Decode Unit."
Registers "The Registers are a mini-storage area for data used by the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) to complete the tasks the
Control Unit has requested. The data can come from the data cache, main memory or the control unit and are all
stored at special locations within the Registers. This makes retrieval for the ALU quick and efficient."
Resistor "An electronic component that resists the flow of current in an electronic circuit."
RISC "Reduced Instruction Set Computer: a microprocessor architecture that recognises a relatively limited number of
instructions, favouring the speed at which individual instructions execute over the richness of the instruction set.
See also CISC."
SEC "Single Edge Connect: a form of processor packaging first used by Intel's Pentium II CPU. Comprising a hardware
module (cartridge) that contains the CPU and an external L2 cache, it plugs into a socket (Slot 1, Slot 2, etc.) on the
motherboard which bears greater resemblance to a bus slot than an individual chip socket."
Semiconductor "A solid-state substance with conductive properties that can be altered with electricity. Silicon performs as a
semiconductor when chemically combined with other elements. A semiconductor is also halfway between a
conductor and an insulator. When charged with electricity or light, semiconductors change their state from non-
conductive to conductive or vice versa. The most significant product built from a semiconductor is the transistor."
Silicon Dioxide "Grown on a wafer during chip fabrication to serve as an insulating layer."
Silicon Ingot "A large, cylindrical, single crystal made from purified silicon. The cylinder is sliced into thin wafers which are
used for making computer chips."
Silicon Wafer "Intel uses wafers of pure silicon cut from a silicon ingot to make microprocessors. Silicon, the primary ingredient
of beach sand, is a semiconductor of electricity. Semiconductors are materials that can be altered to be either a
conductor or an insulator."
Sledgehammer "Codename for AMD's x86-64 design for extending the iA-32 architecture to support 64-bit code and memory
SMP "Symmetric Multiprocessing: a computer architecture that provides fast performance by making multiple CPUs
available to complete individual processes simultaneously (multiprocessing). Unlike asymmetrical processing, any
idle processor can be assigned any task, and additional CPUs can be added to improve performance and handle
increased loads."
SOI "Silicon-On-Insulator: silicon wafer with a thin layer of oxide - into which integrated circuits are built - buried in it.
SOI substrates achieve superior isolation between adjacent devices in CMOS devices."
StrongARM "A family of high-performance RISC-based microprocessors from Intel. StrongARM chips are used in handheld
devices such as PDAs and palmtops. The StrongARM technology was jointly developed by Digital Equipment
Corporation and Advanced RISC Machines (ARM). In 1997, Intel acquired Digital's chip manufacturing facilities
and continues to make the Alpha and StrongARM chips."
Superscalar "A CPU architecture that allows more than one instruction to be executed in one clock cycle. Processors can do this
by fetching multiple instructions in one cycle, deciding which instructions are independent of other instructions,
and executing them."
TDP "Thermal Design Power; the TDP of a system refers to the maximum amount of power (and accordingly, heat) that
must be dissipated to avoid overheating or other power-related damage."
TLB "Translation Lookaside Buffer: a small piece of associative memory within a processor which caches part of the
translation from virtual addresses to physical addresses. Such translations can often be very large and complex and
the data structures that implement them too large to store efficiently on the processor. Instead, a few elements of the
translation are stored in the TLB, which the processor can access extremely quickly. If a required translation for a
particular virtual address is not present in the TLB the address will be resolved using the more general mechanism.
Also referred to as Address Translation Cache."
Transistor "A device used to amplify a signal or open and close a circuit. In a computer, it functions as an electronic switch, or
bridge. The transistor contains a semiconductor material that can change its electrical state when pulsed. Invented in
1947 at Bell Labs, transistors have become the key ingredient of all digital circuits, including computers."
ULSI "Ultra Large Scale Integration: more than one million transistors on a chip."
UV Light "Ultraviolet Light has very short wavelengths and is just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum. It is used to
expose patterns on the layers of the microprocessor in a process much like photography."
Vandepool technology "An Intel technology - also referred to as virtualisation technology - that allows a single CPU to run more than one
operating system at any given time."
VLSI "Very Large Scale Integration: the process of placing hundreds of thousands (between 100,000 and one million) of
electronic components on a single chip. Nearly all modern chips employ VLSI architectures, or ULSI (ultra large
scale integration)."
Wafer Fab "Also known as a semiconductor fabrication plant, this is where all of a semiconductor's electronic components are
interconnected onto a single die of silicon."

Category: Memory (75 terms)

Memory terminology, including new and old technology

Term Definition
Array "The area of the RAM that stores the bits. The array consists of rows and columns, with a cell at each intersection
that can store a bit. The large rectangular section in the centre of the die where the memory is stored."
Asynchronous Cache "An SRAM that does not require a clock signal to validate its control signals. About 30% lower in price and
performance compared to synchronous cache."
Auto Refresh "Commonly referred to as CAS before RAS refresh or CE before RE refresh. An internal address counter
increments the row address each time the memory controller initiates a CAS before RAS refresh cycle."
BEDO DRAM "Burst EDO DRAM: a type of EDO DRAM that can process four memory addresses in one burst. Unlike SDRAM,
however, BEDO DRAM can only stay synchronised with the CPU clock for short periods (bursts) and it can't keep
up with processors whose buses run faster than 66 MHz."
Burst Mode "Bursting is a rapid data-transfer technique that automatically generates a block of data (a series of consecutive
addresses) every time the processor requests a single address. The assumption is that the next data-address the
processor will request will be sequential to the previous one. Bursting can be applied both to read operations (from
memory) and write operations (to memory)."
Cache Controller "The circuit in control of the interface between the CPU, cache and DRAM (main memory)."
Cache Hit "When the address requested by the CPU is found in cache. Conversely, cache miss is when its not found."
Cache Memory "A small block of high-speed memory (usually SRAM) located between the CPU and main memory that is used to
store frequently requested data and instructions. Properly designed, a cache improves system performance by
reducing the need to access the system's slower main memory for every transaction."
CAS "Column Address Select (or Strobe): a control pin on a DRAM used to latch and activate a column address. The
column selected on a DRAM is determined by the data present at the address pins when CAS becomes active. Used
with RAS and a row-address to select a bit within the DRAM."
CELP "A Card Edge Low Profile socket is often used for cache modules."
Check Bits "Extra data bits provided by a DRAM module to support ECC function. For a 4-byte bus, 7 or 8 check bits are
needed to implement ECC, resulting in a total bus width of 39 or 40 bits. On an 8-byte bus, 8 additional bits are
required, resulting in a bus width of 72 bits."
CMOS "Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor: a process that uses both N- and P-channel devices in a
complimentary fashion to achieve small geometries and low power consumption."
COAST "Cache On A Stick: another popular design specification for cache modules."
Column "Part of the memory array. A bit can be stored where a column and a row intersect."
CompactFlash "CF: a flash memory format introduced by SanDisk Corporation in 1994 which has become widely used for
handheld digital devices."
DDR "Double Data Rate: a memory technology that works by allowing the activation of output operations on the chip to
occur on both the rising and falling edge of a clock cycle, thereby providing an effective doubling of the clock
frequency without increasing the actual frequency."
DDR2 "Like DDR, DDR2 is a type of SDRAM in which data is sent on both the rising and falling edges of clock cycles in
a data burst. DDR2 is the next evolutionary step in the DDR infrastructure whose improved design increases
memory bandwidth. Since DDR2 runs more efficiently than standard DDR memory, it actually uses less power.
DDR2 memory is not compatible with DDR memory, DDR2 modules having 240 contacts, compared with DDR
modules' 184."
DIMM "Dual In-line Memory Module: a form of chip packaging, designed to meet JEDEC standards, that is rapidly
replacing SIMM as the module standard for the PC industry as memory subsystems standardise around an 8-byte
data interface. Importantly, and unlike SIMMs, they can be used singly."
DIP "Dual In-Line Package chip housing with pins on each edge."
DQM "Data mask signal used by SDRAMs to provide byte masking during write operations. There is one DQM signal for
every 8 bits of data width."
DRAM "Dynamic Random Access Memory: the read/write memory used to store data in personal computers. DRAM stores
each bit of information in a "cell" composed of a capacitor and a transistor. Because the capacitor in a DRAM cell
can hold a charge for only a few milliseconds, DRAM must be continually refreshed in order to retain its data. See
also EDO RAM and SRAM."
DRDRAM "Direct Rambus DRAM: a totally new RAM architecture, complete with bus mastering (the Rambus Channel
Master) and a new pathway (the Rambus Channel) between memory devices (the Rambus Channel Slaves). A
single Rambus Channel has the potential to reach 500 MBps in burst mode; a 20- fold increase over DRAM."
EAROM "Electrically Alterable Read-Only Memory."
ECC "Error Correction Code: a system of scrambling data and recording redundant data in stored data in order to enable
the detection of errors that can be corrected by the device's controller when the data is read. ECC memory can
detect up to 4-bit memory errors; only single-bit errors, however, can be corrected. See also CRC."
ECC optimised "On a SIMM or DIMM, the use of a module addressing architecture that facilitates the use of the memory module
by systems with ECC. ECC optimised memory modules do not have byte-write capability."
EDO DRAM "Extended Data Out Random Access Memory: a form of DRAM that has a two-stage pipeline, which lets the
memory controller read data off the chip while it is being reset for the next operation. While similar in performance
to synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), it cannot support bus speeds above 66MHz."
EDRAM "Enhanced Dynamic Random Access Memory: a form of DRAM that boosts performance by placing a small
complement of static RAM (SRAM) in each DRAM chip and using the SRAM as a cache. Also known as cached
EEPROM "Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory: a special type of read-only memory (ROM) that can be
erased and written electrically. EEPROM maintains its contents without power backup and is frequently used for
system-board BIOS's."
EPROM "Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory: an integrated circuit memory chip that can store programs and data
in a non-volatile state. These devices can be erased by high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light and then rewritten, or
"reprogrammed", in a manner similar to common DRAM. EPROM chips normally contain UV-permeable quartz
windows exposing the chips' internals."
Flash Memory "Flash memory is a non-volatile memory device that retains its data when the power is removed. The device is
similar to EPROM with the exception that it can be electrically erased, whereas an EPROM must be exposed to
ultra-violet light to erase. Commonly used in digital cameras."
FPM DRAM "Fast Page Mode RAM: a timing option that permits several bits of data in a single row on a DRAM to be accessed
at an accelerated rate. Fast Page Mode involves selecting multiple column addresses in rapid succession once the
row address has been selected."
HPM "Hyper Page Mode: in DRAM operation, another term for EDO or Extended Data Out."
Index "The subset of the CPU address bits used to get a specific location within cache."
Interleave "Generally refers to the arrangement of data in a non-contiguous way to increase performance. When used in the
context of hard disk drives, it describes the way in which sectors are arranged on a track. When used in the context
of memory subsystems, it refers to the process of taking data bits (singly or in bursts) alternately from two or more
memory pages."
JEDEC "An organisation that establishes standards for memory operation, features, and packaging."
Keys "Notches in a memory module (DRAM DIMM or SIMM) that prevent them from being plugged into an
incompatible system. For example, a DIMM keyed for 3.3V operation cannot be plugged into a socket designed for
use with a 5V system."
Latch "Circuit element that stores a given value on its output until told to store a different value."
Level 1 Cache "Cache that is closest to the processor: typically located inside the CPU chip. Can be implemented either as a
unified cache or as separate sections for instructions and data. Also referred to as primary cache or internal cache."
Level 2 Cache "Cache that is second closest to the processor; typically located on the system board. Also referred to as secondary
cache and external cache."
Level 3 Cache "Level 3 Cache: a memory reservoir near the processor that boosts performance beyond that possible with
traditional two-level cache designs. First seen in early 1999 on AMD's K6-III CPU, a similar system was later used
by Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor."
Memory Bank "A logical unit of memory in a computer, the size of which the CPU determines. For example, a 32-bit CPU
requires memory banks that provide 32 bits of information at a time. A bank can consist of one or more memory
modules. "
Memory Controller "An essential component in any computer. Its function is to oversee the movement of data into and out of main
memory. It also determines what type of data integrity checking, if any, is supported."
Memory Cycle "Minimum amount of time required for a memory to complete a cycle such as read, write, read/write, or
MNOS "Metal Nitride Oxide Semiconductor: the technology used for EAROMs (Electrically Alterable ROMs); not to be
confused with NMOS."
MOS "Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor: layers used to create a semiconductor circuit. A thin insulating layer of oxide is
deposited on the surface of the wafer. Then a highly conductive layer of tungsten silicide is placed over the top of
the oxide dielectric."
NMOS "N-channel Metal Oxide Semiconductor: pertains to MOS devices constructed on a P-type substrate in which
electrons flow between N-type source and drain contacts. NMOS devices are typically two to three times faster than
PMOS devices."
Non-Volatile Memory "Types of memory that retain their contents when power is turned off. ROMs, PROMs, EPROMs and flash memory
are examples. Sometimes the term refers to memory that is inherently volatile, but maintains its content because it
is connected to a battery at all times, such as CMOS memory and to storage systems, such as hard disks."
Page "On a DRAM, the number of bits that can be accessed from one row address. The size of a page is determined by
the number of column addresses. For example, a device with 10 column address pins has a page depth of 1024
Parity Memory "A common method for ensuring the integrity of data stored in memory in which an additional data bit is generated
and added to each data byte. Parity is able to detect only single bit errors reliably but cannot perform any
correction. If more than one bit has been corrupted, the parity check may not detect a problem. The most commonly
used forms of parity are even parity, odd parity, and checksums."
Pipeline "In DRAMs and SRAMs, a method for increasing the performance using multistage circuitry to stack or save data
while new data is being accessed. The depth of a pipeline varies from product to product. For example, in an EDO
DRAM, one bit of data appears on the output while the next bit is being accessed. In some SRAMs, pipelines may
contain bits of data or more."
Pipeline Burst Cache "A type of synchronous cache that uses two techniques to minimise processor wait states - a burst mode that pre-
fetches memory contents before they are requested, and pipelining so that one memory value can be accessed in the
cache at the same time that another memory value is accessed in DRAM."
PMOS "P-channel Metal Oxide Semiconductor: pertains to MOS devices constructed on an N-type silicon substrate in
which holes flow between source and drain contacts."
RAM "Random Access Memory: the PC's primary storage area, used to write, store and retrieve information and program
instructions which are then passed to the CPU for processing. The type of RAM used affects performance as the
information stored here has to be refreshed many times per second by the processor. Manufacturers are continually
coming up with new designs to provide the fastest possible access times at the lowest possible cost."
RAS "Row Address Select (or Strobe): a control pin on a DRAM used to latch and activate a row address. The row
selected on a DRAM is determined by the data present at the address pins when RAS becomes active."
Refresh "The process used to restore the charge in DRAM memory cells at specified intervals. The required refresh interval
is a function of the memory cell design and the semiconductor technology used to manufacture the memory device.
There are several refresh schemes that may be used."
Registered Memory "A type of SDRAM memory that uses registers to hold data for one clock cycle before it is moving it on and in so
doing increases the reliability of high-speed data access. Registered memory modules are typically used only in
server environments and other mission-critical systems. Registered and unbuffered memory cannot be mixed. the
design of the processor's memory controller dictating which type is required."
RIMM "A form of chip packaging that is similar to DIMMs to be used with the next generation of Direct DRAM memory
ROM "Read Only Memory: an integrated circuit chip containing programs and data that can be accessed and read but
cannot be modified."
Row "Part of the RAM array; a bit can be stored where a column and a row intersect."
SDRAM "Synchronous DRAM: a type of DRAM designed to deliver bursts of data at very high speeds using automatic
addressing, multiple page interleaving, and a synchronous (or clocked) interface. SDRAM can support bus speeds
of up to 100MHz today and will probably support bus speeds of up to 200MHz in the future."
Secure Digital "SD: a postage stamp size portable flash memory format developed by Toshiba, Sandisk and Panasonic. Content
encoded on an SD card may be encrypted, providing copyright protection of intellectual properties. Expected to the
industry standard for the warehousing and transfer of digital media including music, still and moving video, talking
books, etc. "
SGRAM "Synchronous Graphics RAM: a single ported DRAM designed for high-speed, serial data, and usually used on
graphics boards."
SIMM "Single In-Line Memory Module: On Pentium-class PCs, SIMM-style RAM chips replaced the dual in-line package
(DIP) chips, identifiable by two rows of protruding legs, that were popular in the 1980s. They are themselves being
replaced by the DIMM module."
SmartMedia "An ultra-compact flash memory format developed by Toshiba. About the size of CompactFlash, but as thin as a
credit card, SmartMedia cards can be plugged into a SmartMedia socket or into a standard Type II PC Card slot
with an adapter."
SOJ "Small Outline J-Lead package: this plastic package, designed for memory chips, is a surface mount package with
turned under leads that look like the letter J."
SRAM "Static Random Access Memory: a form of RAM that retains its data without the constant refreshing that DRAM
requires. SRAM is generally preferable to DRAM because it offers faster memory access times, but it is also more
expensive to manufacture because it contains more electrical components."
Strobe "An input that allows parallel data to be entered asynchronously."
Synchronous Cache "An SRAM that requires a clock signal to validate its control signals. This enables the cache memory to run
lockstep with the CPU. Can be either Burst or Pipelined Burst."
Tag "The subset of the CPU address bits used to compare the tag bits of the cache directory to the main memory address
being accessed."
Tag RAM "Cache is physically divided into two sections. The Tag RAM section stores the Tag address of the location of the
data in cache. This section is smaller than the Data RAM section, which stores the actual data or instruction."
Volatile Memory "Memory that loses its contents when the power is turned off. A computer's main memory, made up of dynamic
RAM or static RAM chips, loses its content immediately upon loss of power. Contrast ROM, which is non-volatile
VRAM "Video Random Access Memory: a dual-ported DRAM designed for graphics and video applications. One port
provides data to the CRT, while the other is used for read/write transfers from the graphics controller. See also
WRAM "Windows Random Access Memory: a form of VRAM used exclusively by Matrox Graphics. WRAM has added
logic designed to accelerate common video functions such as bit-block transfers and pattern fills. It can
substantially speed up certain graphical operations such as video playback and screen animation."
Write Back "Data written into the cache by the CPU is not written into main memory until that data line in the cache is to be
replaced. Also referred to as Copy Back."
Write Through "A technique for writing data from the CPU simultaneously into the cache and into main memory to assure

Category: Disk Storage (102 terms)

Quick reference for disk terminology

Term Definition
Access Time "Time interval between the instant that a piece of information is requested from a memory or peripheral device and
the instant the information is supplied by the device. Access time includes the actual seek time, rotational latency,
and command processing overhead time."
Actuator "The internal mechanism that moves the read/write head to the proper track. Typically consists of a rotary voice coil
and the head mounting arms. One end of each head mounting arm attaches to the rotor with the read/write heads
attached at the opposite end of each arm. As current is applied to the rotor, it rotates, positioning the heads over the
desired cylinder on the media. Also known as the rotary actuator or positioner."
AHCI "Advanced Host Controller Interface: developed by an industry group chaired by Intel, AHCI provides a standard
interface to system driver/OS software for discovering and implementing such advanced SATA features as native
command queuing (NCQ) and hot plug and power management."
Areal Density "The amount of data that's stored on a hard disk per square inch, and equal to the tracks per inch multiplied by the
bits per inch along each track. In the context of tape storage, the number of flux transitions per square unit of
recordable area, or bits per square inch."
AV Drive "Audio Video drive: a hard disk drive that is optimised for audio and video applications. Transferring analogue
high-fidelity audio and video signals onto a digital disk and playing them back at high performance levels requires
a drive that can sustain continuous reads and writes without interruption. AV drives are designed to avoid thermal
recalibration during reading and writing so that lengthy transfers digital video data will not be interrupted, and
frames will not be lost."
Average Seek Time "The average time it takes for the read/write head to move to a specific location. To compute the average seek time,
divide the time it takes to complete a large number of random seeks by the number of seeks performed."
Bad Block "A block (usually the size of a sector) that cannot reliably hold data because of a media flaw or damaged format
Bad Track Table "A label affixed to the casing of a hard disk drive that tells which tracks are flawed and cannot hold data. The list is
typed into the low-level formatting program when the drive is being installed."
Bernoulli Drive "Named after a Swiss scientist who discovered the principle of aerodynamic lift, principal characteristic of a
Bernoulli drive is that the flexible disk floats between the read/write heads, so there is no actual contact between the
disk and the heads and, being flexible, it is less susceptible than a hard disk to head crashes."
Boot Sector "Reserved sectors on disk that are used to load the operating system. On start-up, the computer looks for the master
book record (MBR), which is typically the first sector in the first partition of the disk. The MBR contains pointers
to the first sector of the partition that contains the operating system, and that sector contains the instructions that
cause the computer to "boot" the operating system (from the phrase "pulling yourself up from your bootstraps")."
Burst Transfer Rate "The maximum amount of data per second a drive can supply intermittently; this is limited by the disk interface and
is typically 16.6 MBps (using PIO Mode 4)."
Cache Buffer "An intermediate storage capacity between the processor and the disk drive used to store data likely to be requested
next. Also known as Data Buffer. See also Look Ahead."
Clean Room "An environmentally controlled dust-free assembly or repair facility in which hard disk drives are assembled or can
be opened for internal servicing."
Cluster "A group of sectors on a hard disk drive that is addressed as one logical unit by the operating system."
Controller "The chip or circuit that translates computer data and commands into a form suitable for use by the hard drive. Also
known as the disk controller."
Controller Card "An expansion card that interprets the commands between the processor and the disk drive."
Cylinder "When disks are placed directly above one another along the shaft, the circular, vertical "slice" consisting of all the
tracks located in a particular position."
Data Separator "On a hard disk drive that stores data and timing information in an encoded form, the circuit that extracts the data
from the combined data and clock signal."
Defect Management "A technique ensuring long-term data integrity. Defect management consists of scanning disk drives both at the
factory and during regular use, deallocating defective sectors before purchase and compensating for new defective
sectors afterward."
Disk "In general, any circular-shaped data-storage medium that stores data on the flat surface of the platter. The most
common type of disk is the magnetic disk, which stores data as magnetic patterns in a metal coating. Magnetic
disks come in two forms: floppy and hard. Optical recording is a newer disk technology that gives higher capacity
storage but at slower access times."
Drive Geometry "The functional dimensions of a drive in terms of the number of heads, cylinders, and sectors per track."
EDAP "Extended Data Availability and Protection: Created by the RAID Advisory Board in 1997, EDAP introduces a
classification system for the resilience of the entire storage system and that is not confined to disk-based storage
alone. Availability of an EDAP-certified system is sustainable even in the event of failure, the degree of resiliency
provided being reflected in the level of EDAP capability attributed to the system."
Embedded Servo "The method most disks use to help the head locate tracks accurately; servo fields are interspersed with the real
data, acting like runway lights for the head to line up on."
External Drive "A drive mounted in an enclosure, separate from the computer system enclosure, with its own power supply and
fan, and connected to the system by a cable."
Fast Multiword DMA "An alternative protocol to PIO modes for a controller to send and receive data to and from a drive."
FAT "File Allocation Table: the file system used by DOS and Windows to manage files stored on hard disks, floppy
disks, and other disk media. The file system takes its name from an on-disk data structure known as the file
allocation table, which records where individual portions of each file are located on the disk. Earlier versions of
Windows used the 16-bit version known as FAT16. Windows 98 has the option of using FAT32, which supports
larger partition sizes and smaller cluster sizes, thereby improving disk performance and increasing available disk
space. See also VFAT."
FCI "Flux Changes per Inch. See also BPI."
Ferrite "A ferromagnetic compound of ferric oxide used in the construction of magnetic recording heads and media."
Floppy Drive "Practically all PCs come with a floppy disk drive. 3.5in high density 1.44MB floppy disks are now the standard.
They come in hard plastic cases and have replaced the older, literally floppy, 5.25in disks."
Flux Density "The number of magnetic field patterns that can be stored on a given area of disk surface, used as a measure of data
density. The number is usually stated as flux changes per inch (FCI), with typical values in the tens of thousands."
Fly Height "The distance between the read/write head and the disk surface, made up of a cushion of air that keeps the head
from contacting the media. Smaller flying heights permit denser data storage but require more precise mechanical
Formatted Capacity "The amount of room left to store data on a disk after writing the sector headers, boundary definitions, and timing
information during a format operation. The size of a Quantum drive always is expressed in formatted capacity,
accurately reflecting the usable space available."
GMR "Giant Magnetoresistive technology uses various thin film layers to produce a greater change in resistance and is
even more sensistive than standard magnetoresistive technology. See also Magnetoresistive."
GPU "Graphics Processing Unit: a single-chip processor that creates lighting effects and transforms objects every time a
3D scene is redrawn. Off-loading these mathematically-intensive tasks from the main processor greatly increases
overall system performance."
Guide Rails "Plastic or metal strips attached to the sides of a hard disk drive mounted in an IBM AT and compatible computers
so that the drive easily slides into place."
Hard Disk "A type of storage medium that retains data as magnetic patterns on a rigid disk, usually made of a magnetic thin
film deposited on an aluminium or glass platter. Magnetic read/write heads are mounted on an actuator that
resembles a record needle pickup arm."
Hard Error "A data error that persists when the disk is reread, usually caused by defects in the physical surface."
HDA "Head Disk Assembly: The mechanical components of a disk drive (minus the electronics), which includes the
actuators, access arms, read/write heads and platters. Typically housed in a sealed unit."
Head "The tiny electromagnetic coil and metal pole used to create and read back the magnetic pat-terns on the disk. Also
known as the read/write head."
Head Crash "Damage to a read/ write head and magnetic media, usually caused by sudden contact of the heads with the disk
surface. Head crash also can be caused by dust and other contamination inside the HDA."
High-Level Formatting "Formatting performed by the operating system's format program (for example, the DOS FORMAT pro-gram).
Among other things, the formatting program creates the root directory, file allocation tables, and other basic
configurations. See also Low-Level Formatting."
Home "Reference position track for recalibration of the actuator, usually the outer track (Track 0)."
HVD "High Voltage Differential: the logic signalling system originally defined in the SCSI-2 standard. HVD has a
maximum logic voltage of 5V and uses a paired plus and minus signal level to reduce the effects of noise on the
SCSI bus. It was functionally replaced by LVD (Low Voltage Differential) in the SCSI-3 variant of the standard.
HVD and LVD SCSI are not directly compatible but can be interconnected by the use of a special adapter."
Interleave Factor "Refers to a technique used by older hard disk drives to arrange sectors in a non-contiguous way so as to reduce
rotational latency and thereby increase read/write performance. The interleave factor specifies the physical spacing
between consecutive logical sectors."
Internal Drive "A drive mounted inside one of a computer's drive bays (or a hard disk on a card, which is installed in one of the
computer's slots)."
Kerr Effect "A change in rotation of light reflected off a magnetic field. The polarity of a magneto-optic bit causes the laser to
shift one degree clockwise or counterclockwise."
Landing Zone "The non-data area set-aside on a hard drive platter for the heads to rest when the system powers down."
LBA "Logical Block Addressing: the scheme by which the BIOS passes an operating system request for a given sector to
a modern hard drive."
Look Ahead "The technique of buffering data into cache RAM by reading subsequent blocks in advance to anticipate the next
request for data. The look ahead technique speeds up disk access of sequential blocks of data."
Low-Level Formatting "The process of creating sectors on the disk surface so that the operating system can access the required areas for
generating the file structure. Also known as initialisation."
LVD "Low Voltage Differential: the lastest type of SCSI used by hard disk drives in entry-level servers and workstations.
Connects via a coloured ribbon cable and a 68-pin socket. Also known as Ultra Wide 2."
MFM "Modified Frequency Modulation: the data storage system used by floppy disk drives and older early hard disk
drives. Had twice the capacity of the earlier FM method but was slower than the competing RLL scheme."
Microdrive "An ultra-miniature hard disk technology from IBM that uses a single one-inch diameter platter to provide either
170MB or 340MB storage capacity and either one or two GMR heads, the Microdrive is built into a Type II
CompactFlash form factor."
MR "Magneto-resistive heads detect the magnetic flux of a platter by using a sliver of a special material whose
resistance changes according to the strength of an applied magnetic field; MR heads are more sensitive than TFI
heads, allowing higher areal densities."
NCQ "Native command queuing: a technology designed to increase performance of SATA hard disks by allowing the disk
firmware to internally optimise the order in which read and write commands are executed. For NCQ to be enabled,
it must be supported and turned on in the SATA controller driver and in the hard drive itself."
Overhead "Command overhead refers to the processing time required by the controller, host adapter, or drive prior to the
execution of a command. Lower command overhead yields higher drive performance. Disk overhead refers to the
space required for non- data information such as location and timing. Disk overhead often accounts for about ten
percent of drive capacity. Lower disk overhead yields greater disk capacity."
Partition "A portion of a hard disk accessible as a single logical volume, perhaps dedicated to a particular operating system
or application."
Performance "A measure of the speed of the drive during normal operation. Factors affecting performance are seek times,
transfer rate, and command overhead."
Physical Format "The actual physical layout of cylinders, tracks, and sectors on a disk drive."
Plated Media "Disks that are covered with a hard metal alloy instead of an iron-oxide compound. Plated disks can store more data
than their oxide-coated counter-parts."
Platter "A disk made of metal (or other rigid material) that is mounted inside a fixed disk drive. Most drives use more than
one platter mounted on a single spindle (shaft) to provide more data storage surfaces in a smaller area."
PMR "Perpendicular Magnetic Recording; a technique for writing bits to magnetic media which allows for more room in
which to pack data, thus enabling higher recording or "areal" densities."
PRML "Partial Response Maximum Likelihood: a technique used to differentiate a valid signal from noise which achieves
improved accuracy by looking at entire waveforms rather than just peaks in isolation, using digital signal
processing (DSP) to reconstruct recorded data. On magnetic disks PRML uses RLL encoding to provide a ratio of
user data to recorded data of 8:9."
RAID "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks: when configured for performance a RAID writes and reads data in parallel
from multiple drive simultaneously. In theory data can be moved at the speed of one drive multiplied by the number
of drives working in parallel, although in practice management overheads reduce this significantly."
RAM Disk "A "phantom" drive created by setting aside a section of RAM as if it were a group of regular sectors. Access to a
RAM disk is very fast but data is lost when the system is reset or turned off."
Read After Write "A mode of operation that has the computer read back each sector immediately after it is written on the disk,
checking that the data read back is the same as recorded. This slows disk operations, but raises reliability."
Read Channel "A drive's read channel performs the vital job of converting the head's analogue signal into accurate digital data."
Read Verify "A disk mode where the disk reads in data to the controller, but the controller only checks for errors and does not
pass the data on to the system."
Read/Write Head "A device which uses induction to "write" a data pattern onto magnetic media; and which uses either inductance or
magnetoresistance to "read" the data back. Heads come in many different shapes and forms, and are used for both
contact and non-contact type recording."
Removable Disk "Generally said of disk drives where the disk itself is meant to be removed, and in particular of hard disks using
disks mounted in cartridges. Their advantage is that multiple disks can be used to increase the amount of stored
material, and that once removed, the disk can be stored away to prevent unauthorised use."
RLL "Run Length Limited: a method used on some hard disks to encode data into magnetic pulses. RLL requires more
processing, but stores almost 50 percent more data per disk than the older MFM (modified frequency modulation)
method. The "run length" is the maximum number of consecutive 0s before a 1 bit is recorded."
SATA "Serial Advanced Technology Attachment: a new standard for connecting hard drives into computer systems. An
evolution of the Parallel ATA physical storage interface, SATA is based on serial signalling technology, a single
cable with a minimum of four wires creating a point-to-point connection between devices. The first implementation
of SATA supported a transfer rate of 150 MBps."
SCA "Single Connector Attachment: Same speed SCSI interface as LVD, but integrates power and I/O information into a
single 80-pin connector. Used in high-end servers to allow hard disks to be hot-swapped in a RAID array."
Sector "Describes the minimum segment of track length that can be assigned to store data. Magnetic disks are typically
divided into tracks, each which contains a number of sectors. A sector contains a predetermined amount of data,
such as 512 bytes. CDs can contain [(75 sectors per second) x (60 seconds per minute) x (number of minutes on
disc)] sectors, the capacity of a sector depending on what physical format and mode is used for recording."
Seek Time "The time taken for the actuator to move the heads to the correct cylinder in order to access data."
Servo Data "Magnetic markings written on the media that guide the read/write heads to the proper position."
Servo Motor "A closed-loop control system used to adjust head position and/or tape speed."
Servo Platter "A separate surface containing only positioning and disk timing information but no data. Used only in a dedicated
servo system."
Settle Time "The interval between the arrival of the read/write head at a specific track, and the lessening of the residual
movement to a level sufficient for reliable reading or writing."
Shader "A shader is an algorithm which mathematically describes how an individual material is rendered to an object and
how light interacts with its overall appearance."
Shock Rating "A rating (expressed in Gs) of how much shock a disk drive can sustain without damage. Operating and non-
operating shock levels are usually specified separately."
Soft Error "A faulty data reading that does not recur if the same data is reread from the disk or corrected by ECC. Usually
caused by power fluctuations or noise spikes."
Soft-Sectored "Disks that mark the beginning of each sector of data within a track by a magnetic pattern."
Spindle "The drive's centre shaft, on which the hard disk platters are mounted."
Spindle Speed "Velocity at which the disk media spins within a hard disk, measured in rpm (revolutions per minute). By the late
1990s EIDE hard disks generally features a 5,400rpm or 7,200 mechanism, while SCSI drives were usually either
7,200rpm or 10,000rpm."
SSA "Serial Storage Architecture: a peripheral interface from IBM whose ring configuration allows remaining devices to
function if one fails. SCSI software can be mapped over SSA allowing existing SCSI devices to be used."
ST506 "Introduced in 1979, Seagate's ST506 was the first hard disk drive for personal computers. Supporting 5.25in full-
height drives with a capacity of between 5MB and 40MB, the ST506 interface became an industry standard for the
IBM PC and its successors, eventually being superseded by the IDE interface."
Superparamagnetic effect "The point at which discrete magnetic areas of a disk's surface are so tiny that their magnetic orientation is unstable
at room temperature."
Surface "The top or bottom side of the platter that is coated with the magnetic material for recording data. On some drives
one surface may be reserved for positioning information."
Sustained Transfer Rate "The amount of data a drive can continuously read or write per second."
T&L "Transform and Lighting: two separate engines on the GPU that provide for a powerful, balanced PC platform and
enable extremely high polygon count scenes. Transform performance determines how complex objects can be and
how many can appear in a scene without sacrificing frame rate. Lighting techniques add to a scene's realism by
changing the appearance of objects based on light sources."
TFI "Thin film inductive heads use a minute coil deposited onto a thin film using the photo-etching techniques
employed to create integrated circuits; as the magnetic flux of the platter cuts the coil it induces a detectable
Thermal Recalibration "The periodic sensing of the temperature in hard disk drives so as to make minor adjustments to the alignment servo
and data platters. In an AV drive, this process is performed only in idle periods so that there is no interruption in
reading and writing long streams of digital video data."
Thin Film "A type of coating allowing very thin layers of magnetic material used on hard disks and read/write heads. Hard
disks with thin film surfaces can store greater amounts of data."
TPI "Tracks Per Inch: the number of tracks written within each inch of a storage medium's recording surface. In the
context of hard disk drives, EIDE drives generally have a higher TPI than SCSI drives. Also referred to as Track
Track "Sub-division of the recording area of storage media, such as magnetic disks, optical discs and magnetic tape. "
Transfer Rate "The rate at which the disk drive sends and receives data from the controller. The sustained transfer rate includes
the time required for system processing, head switches, and seeks, and accurately reflects the drive's true
performance. The burst mode transfer rate is a much higher figure that refers only to the movement of data directly
into RAM."
Unformatted Capacity "The total number of usable bytes on a disk, including the space that will be required later to record location,
boundary definitions, and timing information. See also formatted capacity."
VFAT "Virtual File Allocation Table: the 32-bit file system that Windows 95 uses to manage information stored on disks.
An extension of the FAT file system, VFAT supports long filenames and 32-bit Protected Mode access while
retaining compatibility with FAT volumes."
Voice Coil "A fast and reliable actuator motor that works like a loudspeaker, with the force of a magnetic coil causing a
proportionate movement of the head. Voice coil actuators are more durable than their stepper counterparts, since
fewer parts are subject to daily stress and wear and also provide higher performance."
Winchester Disk "The term "Winchester" comes from an early type of disk drive developed by IBM that stored 30MB and had a 30-
millisecond access time; so its inventors called it a Winchester in honour of the .30-calibre rifle of the same name.
Although modern disk drives are faster and hold more data, the basic technology is the same, so "Winchester" has
become synonymous with "hard"."
Zones "Because outer tracks are longer than inner tracks they can store more data; consequently disks are divided into
zones, each zone having a certain number of sectors per track."

Category: Graphics (143 terms)

"Still" graphic terms explained (not multimedia)

Term Definition
3D API "A 3D application programming interface controls all aspects of the 3D rendering process. A mass of conflicting
standards exist, including Microsoft's DirectX and OpenGL, Intel's 3DR, Reality Lab and Brender. Most are custom
designed for either entertainment or serious 3D animation."
3D Graphics "The display of objects and scenes with height, width, and depth information. The information is calculated in a co-
ordinate system that represents three dimensions via x, y, and z axes."
Addressability "Refers to how many pixels can be sent to the display horizontally and vertically. The most common combinations
currently in use are 640x480 (VGA mode), 800x600 (SVGA mode), 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200."
Aliasing "A form of image distortion associated with signal sampling. A common form of aliasing is a stair-stepped
appearance along diagonal and curved lines. Another is moir 鬠 two geometrically regular patterns such as two sets
of parallel lines or two halftone screens superimposed."
Alpha "Additional colour component in some representations of pixels, along with red, green, and blue (RGB). The alpha
channel denotes transparency or opacity, often as a fractional value, used in blending and anti-aliasing."
Alpha Blending "An approach which uses the alpha channel to control how an object or bitmap interacts visually with its
surroundings. It can be used to layer multiple textures onto a 3D object, or to simulate the translucency of glass or
mask out areas of background."
Alpha Channel "The extra layer of 8-bit greyscale carried by a 32-bit graphic. This extra information is used to determine the
transparency or edge characteristics of the image."
Anti-aliasing "Hides the jagged effect of image diagonals (sometimes called jaggies) by modulating the intensity on either side of
the diagonal boundaries, creating localised blurring along these edges and reducing the appearance of stepping."
Artefact "Unsightly visual side effect caused by defects in compression or other digital manipulation. Common artefacts
include jaggies, polygon shearing (where 3D objects are torn or warped when screen refreshes can't keep up with
3D activity) and pixelation (where texture maps lose resolution and look blocky close up)."
Asymmetrical Compression "A system which requires more processing capability to compress an image than to decompress an image. It is
typically used for the mass distribution of programs on media such as CD-ROM, where significant expense can be
incurred for the production and compression of the program but the playback system must be low in cost."
Back Buffer "A hidden drawing buffer used in double-buffering. Graphics are drawn into the back buffer so that the rendering
process cannot be seen by the user. When the drawing is complete, the front and back buffers are swapped."
Bezier "A way of mathematically describing a curve, used by graphics programs such as MacroMedia FreeHand and
Adobe Illustrator."
Bi-linear Filtering "Improves the look of blocky, low-resolution 3D textures when viewed close up by blending and interpolating
groups of texels to create a smoother image."
Bit Depth "In colour images, the number of colours used to represent the image. Typical values are 8-, 16- and 24-bit colour,
allowing 256, 65,536 and 16,777,216 colours to be represented. The latter is known as true colour, because 16.8
million different colours is about as many as the human eye can distinguish. Devices that support 32-bit colour use
an 8-bit alpha channel to define a possible 256 levels of opacity. Also referred to as colour depth."
Bitmap "Generally a graphics file in which every pixel on screen is represented by a piece of data, although some audio
formats are also described as bitmapped. Contrast a vector image, in which only a description of the image is
stored. Each pixel can be represented by one bit (simple black and white) or up to 32 bits (high-definition colour).
Uses the file extension "bmp"."
Blockiness "The consequence of portions of an image breaking into little squares due to over-compression or a video file
overwhelming a computer's processor. See also Artefact."
BLT "Bit-aLigned BLock Transfer: the process of copying pixels or other data from one place in memory to another."
BPP "Bits Per Pixel: the number of bits used to represent the colour value of each pixel in a digitised image."
Brightness "A measure of the overall intensity of the image. The lower the brightness value, the darker the image; the higher
the value, the lighter the image will be."
Bump Mapping "A 3D rendering lighting technique designed to give a texture a three-dimensional, animated feel."
Camera "In 3D graphics, the viewpoint through which a scene is viewed. Flythroughs of scenes are conceptually a moving
CGA "Colour Graphics Adapter: a low-resolution video display standard, invented for the first IBM PC. CGA's highest
resolution mode is 2 colours at a resolution of 640 x 200 pixels."
Chroma "The colour portion of a video signal that includes hue and saturation information. Requires luminance, or light
intensity, to make it visible. Also referred to as Chrominance."
CIE "Commission International de l'Eclairage: the international organisation that establishes methods for measuring
colour. Their colour standards for colourmetric measurements are internationally accepted specifications that define
colour values mathematically."
CIELAB (L*a*b*) "A colour model to approximate human vision. The model consists of three variables: L* for luminosity, a* for one
colour axis, and b* for the other colour axis. CIELAB is a good model of the Munsell colour system and human
CIELUV (L*u*v) "A colour space model produced in 1978 by the CIE at the same time as the L*a*b model. CIE L*u*v is used with
colour monitors, whereas CIE L*a*b is used with colour print production."
Clip Art "A collection of icons, buttons and other useful image files, along with sound and video files, that can be inserted
into documents."
Clipping "Removing, from the processing pipeline to spare unneeded work, complete objects and surfaces which are outside
the field of view (known as the "viewing frustrum"). Also known as Culling."
CMYK "Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black: the four process colours that are used in four-colour printed reproduction. By
overlaying or dithering combinations of these four inks in different proportions, a vast range of colours can be
Colour Balance "The process of matching the amplitudes of red, green and blue signals so the resulting mixture makes an accurate
white colour."
Colour Palette "Also called a colour lookup table (CLUT), index map, or colour map, it is a commonly-used method for saving file
space when creating colour images. Instead of each pixel containing its own RGB values, which would require 24
bits, each pixel holds an 8-bit value, which is an index number into the colour palette. The colour palette contains a
256-colour subset of the 16 million unique displayable colours."
Compound Document "A file that has more than one element (text, graphics, voice, video) mixed together."
Continuous Tone "An image that has all the values (0 to 100%) of grey (black and white) or colour in it. A photograph is a continuous
tone image."
Contrast "The range between the lightest tones and the darkest tones in an image. The lower the number value, the more
closely the shades will resemble each other. The higher the number, the more the shades will stand out from each
Decal "A texture that is placed specifically on one part of a 3D object."
Decal Texture Blending "A blend technique where the triangle colour at each vertex is strictly the colour of the texture. The triangle's colour
doesn't alter the texture colour."
Density "The degree of darkness of an image. Also, percent of screen used in an image."
Depth Cueing "Used in conjunction with fogging, depth cueing is the adjustment of the hue and colour of objects in relation to
their distance from the viewpoint."
DIB File Format "Device-Independent Bitmap Format: a common bitmap format for Windows applications."
DisplayPort "Digital display interface standard, approved by the member companies of the Video Electronics Standards
Association (VESA) in 2006, designed to unify the desktop and notebook PC markets to a common high-bandwidth
display interface. Uses DisplayPort Copy Protection (DPCP) rather than the more common HDCP copy protection
scheme used by other display interface standards."
DVI "Digital Visual Interface; a digital interface specification created by an industry consortium - the Digital Display
Working Group (DDWG) - that specifies a single plug and connector that accommodates both the new digital and
legacy VGA interfaces. A graphics card?s digital signal is converted to analogue if the display device is analogue
and received unconverted by digital devices, such as a flat panel monitor."
DXF "Drawing Exchange Format: the industry standard 3D data format."
EGA "Enhanced Graphics Adapter: the IBM standard for colour displays prior to the VGA standard. It specified a
resolution of 640x350 with up to 256 colours and a 9-pin (DB-9) connector."
Extrusion "Taking a flat, 2-D object and adding a z plane to expand it into 3-D space."
Flat Shading "The simplest form of 3D shading which fills polygons with one colour. Processor overheads are negligible and 3D
games will allow the graphics to be stripped down to flat shading to improve the frame rate."
Fogging "The alteration of the visibility or clarity of an object, depending on how far the object is from the camera. Usually
implemented by adding a fixed colour (fog colour) to each pixel. Also known as Haze."
Fractals "Along with raster and vector graphics, a way of defining graphics in a computer. Fractal graphics translate the
natural curves of an object into mathematical formulas, from which the image can later be constructed."
Frame Buffer "Display memory that temporarily stores (buffers) a full frame of picture data at one time.Frame buffers are
composed of arrays of bit values that correspond to the display's pixels. The number of bits per pixel in the frame
buffer determines the complexity of images that can be displayed."
Gamma "A mathematical curve representing both the contrast and brightness of an image. Moving the curve in one direction
will make the image both darker and decrease the contrast. Moving the curve the other direction will make the
image both lighter and increase the contrast."
Gamma Correction "A form of tone mapping in which the shape of the tone map is a gamma."
Gamma Curve "A mathematical function that describes the non-linear tonal response of many printers and monitors. A tone map
that has the shape of this its compensating function cancels the nonlinearities in printers and monitors."
Gamut "The range of colours that can be captured or represented by a device. When a colour is outside a device's gamut,
the device represents that colour as some other colour."
Geometry "The computation of the base properties for each point (vertex) of the triangles forming the objects in the 3D world.
These properties include x-y-z co-ordinates, RGB values, alpha translucency, reflectivity and others. The geometry
calculations involve transformation from 3D world co-ordinates into corresponding 2-D screen co-ordinates,
clipping off any parts not visible on screen and lighting."
GIF "Graphics Interchange Format: an image used by CompuServe and other on-line formats. Limited to 256 colours
but supports transparency without an alpha channel and animation."
Gouraud Shading "A method of hiding the boundaries between polygons by modulating the light intensity across each one in a
polygon mesh."
Gradient "In graphics, having an area smoothly blend from one colour to another, or from black to white, or vice versa."
Graphics Card "An expansion card that interprets drawing instructions sent by the CPU, processes them via a dedicated graphics
processor and writes the resulting frame data to the frame buffer. Also called video adapter (the term "graphics
accelerator" is no longer in use)."
Graphics Library "A tool set for application programmers, interfaced with an application programmer's interface, or API. The
graphics library usually includes a defined set of primitives and function calls that enable the programmer to bypass
many low-level programming tasks."
Graphics Processor "The specialised processor at the heart of the graphics card. Modern chipsets can also integrate video processing,
3D polygon setup and texturing routines, and, in some cases, the RAMDAC."
Greyscale "Shades of grey that represent light and dark portions of an image. Colour images can also be converted to
greyscale where the colours are represented by various shades of grey."
GUI "Graphical User Interface: a graphics-based user interface that incorporates icons, pull-down menus and a mouse.
The GUI has become the standard way for users to interact with a computer. The first graphical user interface was
designed by Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Centre in the 1970s, but it was not until the 1980s and the
emergence of the Apple Macintosh that graphical user interfaces became popular. The three major GUIs in popular
use today are Windows, Macintosh and Motif."
High Colour "Graphics cards that can show 16-bit colour (up to 65,536 colours)."
Highlight "The brightest part of an image."
HSB "Hue Saturation Brightness: with the HSB model, all colours can be defined by expressing their levels of hue (the
pigment), saturation (the amount of pigment) and brightness (the amount of white included), in percentages."
Hue "The attribute of a visual sensation according to which an area appears to be similar to one of the perceived colours,
red, yellow, green and blue, or a combination of two of them. Also referred to as tint."
Image "The computerised representation of a picture or graphic."
Image Resolution "The fineness or coarseness of an image as it was digitised, measured in Dots Per Inch (DPI), typically from 200 to
400 DPI."
Jaggies "Also known as Aliasing. A term for the jagged visual appearance of lines and shapes in raster pictures that results
from producing graphics on a grid format. This effect can be reduced by increasing the sample rate in scan
JPEG "Joint Photographic Experts Group: supported by the ISO, the JPEG committee proposes an international standard
primarily directed at continuous-tone, still-image compression. Uses DCT (Discrete Cosine Transfer) algorithm to
shrink the amount of data necessary to represent digital images anywhere from 2:1 to 30:1, depending on image
type. JPEG compression works by filtering out an image's high-frequency information to reduce the volume of data
and then compressing the resulting data with a compression algorithm. Low-frequency information does more to
define the characteristics of an image, so losing some high frequency information doesn't necessarily affect the
image quality."
Just-Noticeable Difference "In the CIELAB colour model, a difference in hue, chroma, or intensity, or some combination of all three, that is
apparent to a trained observer under ideal lighting conditions. A just-noticeable difference is a change of 1; a
change of 5 is apparent to most people most of the time."
Lathing "Creating a 3-D surface by rotating a 2-D spline around an axis."
LFB "Linear Frame Buffer: a buffer organised in a linear fashion, so that a single address increment can be used to step
from one pixel to the pixel below it in the next scan line in the frame buffer. The entire LFB can be addressed using
a single 32-bit pointer."
Lighting "A mathematical formula for approximating the physical effect of light from various sources striking objects.
Typical lighting models use light sources, an object's position & orientation and surface type."
Line Art "A type of graphic consisting entirely of lines, without any shading."
Lossless "A way of compressing data without losing any information; formats such as GIF are lossless."
Lossy "A way of compressing by throwing data away; this results in much smaller file sizes than with lossless
compression, but at the expense of some artefacts. Many experts believe that up to 95 percent of the data in a
typical image may be discarded without a noticeable loss in apparent resolution."
Luminance "The amount of light intensity; one of the three image characteristics coded in composite television (represented by
the letter Y). May be measured in lux or foot-candles. Also referred to as Intensity."
LZW "Lempel-Zif-Welch: a popular data compression technique developed in 1977 by J. Ziv and A Lempel. Unisys
researcher Terry Welch later created an enhanced version of these methods, and Unisys holds a patent on the
algorithm. It is widely used in many hardware and software products, including V.42bis modems, GIF and TIFF
files and PostScript Level 2."
Mapping "Placing an image on or around an object so that the image is like the object's skin."
MDA "Monochrome Display Adapter: the first IBM PC monochrome video display standard supporting 720x350
monochrome text but with no support for graphics or colours."
Mesh Model "A graphical model with a mesh surface constructed from polygons. The polygons in a mesh are described by the
graphics system as solid faces, rather than as hollow polygons, as is the case with wireframe models. Separate
portions of mesh that make up the model are called polygon mesh and quadrilateral mesh."
Midtones "Tones in an image that are in the middle of the tonal range, halfway between the lightest and the darkest tones."
Mip Mapping "A sophisticated texturing technique to ensure that 3D objects gain detail smoothly when approaching or receding.
This is typically produced in two ways; per-triangle (faster) or per pixel (more accurate)."
Modelling "The process of creating free-form 3-D objects."
Moir "A noticeable pattern of interference, often perceived as flickering. For example, a TV image of someone wearing a
herringbone jacket can cause the effect. In images of closely spaced lines or other finely detailed patterns, these
ripples or waves can appear on colour monitors as well as in scanned images. "
Munsell Colour System "A system consisting of over 3 million observations of what people perceive to be like differences in hue, chroma,
and intensity. The participants chose the samples they perceived to have like differences."
NURBS "Nonuniform Rational B-Spline: a type of spline that can represent more complex shapes than a Bezier spline."
On-The-Fly Switching "A term used regarding the changing of resolution or refresh rates without having to restart a PC."
OpenGL "Open Graphics Library: a standardised 2- and 3D graphics library that has its historical roots in the Silicon
Graphics IrisGL library. It has become a de facto standard endorsed by many vendors and can be implemented as an
extension to an operating system or a window system and is supported by most UNIX-based workstations,
Windows and X Windows. Some implementations operate entirely in software, while others take advantage of
specialised graphics hardware."
Particle Animation "Rendering a 3D scene as millions of discrete particles rather than smooth, texture-mapped surfaces. Much more
flexible but computer intensive."
PCX "A popular bitmapped graphics file format originally developed by ZSOFT for its PC Paintbrush program. PCX
handles monochrome, 2-bit, 4-bit, 8-bit and 24-bit colour and uses Run Length Encoding (RLE) to achieve
compression ratios of approximately 1.1:1 to 1.5:1."
Perspective Correction "Adjustment of texture maps on objects, viewed at an angle (typically large, flat objects) in order to retain the
appearance of perspective."
Phong Shading "A computation-intensive rendering technique that produces realistic highlights while smoothing edges between
Pixelisation "Graininess in an image that results when the pixels are too big. Also referred to as Pixelated."
Polygon "Any closed shape with four or more sides. In 3D, complex objects like teapots are decomposed, or "tessellated",
into many primitive polygons to allow regular processing of the data, and hardware acceleration of that processing."
Polygon-Based Modelling "Representing 3-D objects as a set or mesh of polygons."
Primitives "Smallest units in the 3D database. Usually points, lines, and polygons representing basic geometric shapes, such as
balls, cubes, cylinders, and donuts. Some 3D hardware and software schemes also employ curves, known as
QXGA "Quad XGA: a QXGA display has 2048 horizontal pixels and 1536 vertical pixels giving a total display resolution
of 3,145,728 individual pixels - 4 times the resolution of an XGA display."
Radiosity "Complex methods of drawing 3D scenes, which result in photorealistic images. Essentially, they calculate the path
that light rays follow from objects to the viewer, and all the accompanying reflections. Also known as ray tracing."
RAMDAC "The RAMDAC converts the data in the frame buffer into the RGB signal required by the monitor."
Rasterisation "Rasterisation is the conversion of a polygon 3D scene, stored in a frame buffer, into an image complete with
textures, depth cues and lighting."
Refresh Rate "Expressed in Hertz (Hz), in interlaced mode this is the number of fields written to the screen every second. In non-
interlaced mode it is the number of frames (complete pictures) written to the screen every second. Higher
frequencies reduce flicker, because they light the pixels more frequently, reducing the dimming that causes flicker.
Also called vertical frequency."
Rendering "Fundamentally this relates to the drawing of a real-world object as it actually appears. It often refers to the process
of translating high-level database descriptions to bitmap images comprising a matrix of pixels or dots."
Resolution "The number of pixels per unit of area. The finer the grid defining an area, the more pixels it contains and the
higher its resolution. The higher the resolution the greater its capacity for reproducing detail. "
Saturated Colours "Strong, bright colours (particularly reds and oranges) which do not reproduce well on video; they tend to saturate
the screen with colour or bleed around the edges, producing a garish, unclear image."
Saturation "The colourfulness of an area judged in proportion to its brightness. For example, a fully saturated red would be a
pure red. The less saturated, the more pastel the appearance. See also Chroma."
Scaling "Process of uniformly changing the size of characters or graphics."
Setup "The conversion of a set of instructions concerning the size, shape and position of polygons into a 3D scene ready
for rasterisation."
Shading "The process of creating pixel colours. Gouraud is a constant increment of colour from one pixel to the next, while
Phong is much more complex and higher quality. Flat shading means no smooth blending of colours, each polygon
being a single colour."
Specular Highlights "A lighting characteristic that determines how light should reflect off an object. Specular highlights are typically
white and can move around an object based on camera position."
Spline "A 3D bezier curve used in modelling."
Spline-Based Modelling "Representing 3-D objects as surfaces made up of mathematically derived curves (splines)."
Sprite "A small graphic drawn independently of the rest of the screen."
SVGA "Super-VGA; when SVGA first came out it was used to describe graphics adapters capable of handling a resolution
of 800x600 with support for 256 colours or 1024x768 with 16-colour support. It subsequently came to be used to
indicate a capability of 800x600 or greater, regardless of the number of colours available. "
SXGA "Super XGA: a screen resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, regardless of the number of colours available. "
Tessellation "The process of dividing an object or surface into geometric primitives (triangles, quadrilaterals, or other polygons)
for simplified processing and rendering."
Texel "A textured picture element; the basic unit of measurement when dealing with texture-mapped 3D objects."
Texture "A (2 dimensional) bitmap pasted onto objects or polygons, to add realism."
Texture Filtering "Bilinear or trilinear filtering. Also known as sub-texel positioning. If a pixel is in between texels, the program
colours the pixel with an average of the texels' colours instead of assigning it the exact colour of one single texel. If
this is not done, the texture gets very blocky up close as multiple pixels get the exact same texel colouring, while
the texture shimmers at a distance because small position changes keep producing large texel changes."
Texture Mapping "The application of a bitmap onto a 3D shape to give the impression of perspective and different surfaces. Texture
maps can vary in size and detail, and can be "projected" on to a shape in various different ways: cylindrically,
spherically and so on."
Texture Memory "Memory used to store or buffer textures to be mapped on to 3D polygon objects."
TIFF "Tagged Image File Format: a popular file format for bitmapped graphics that stores the information defining
graphical images in discrete blocks called tags. Each tag describes a particular attribute of the image, such as its
width or height, the compression method used (if any), a textual description of the image, or offsets from the start
of the file to "strips" containing pixel data. The TIFF format is generic enough to describe virtually any type of
bitmap generated on any computer."
Time Line "A scale measured in either frames or seconds; it provides an editable record of animation events in time and in
Transparency "The quality of being able to see through a material. The terms transparency and translucency are often used
synonymously; however, transparent would technically mean "seeing through clear glass," while translucent would
mean "seeing through frosted glass.""
Trichromatic "The technical name for RGB representation of colour to create all the colours in the spectrum."
True Colour "The ability to generate 16,777,216 colours (24-bit colour)."
Tweening "Also known as in-betweening; calculating the intermediate frames between two keyframes to simulate smooth
UDI "Unified Display Interface; newly-proposed digital display interface specification designed for HDTV and PC
usage, which supports the HDCP copy protection scheme and maintains compatibility with existing HDMI and DVI
UXGA "Ultra XGA: a screen resolution of 1600x1200 pixels."
Vector Graphics "Images defined by sets of straight lines, defined by the locations of the end points."
Vertex "A dimensionless position in three- or four-dimensional space at which two or more lines (for instance, edges)
VGA "Video Graphics Array: also referred to as Video Graphics Adapter. VGA quickly replaced earlier standards such as
CGA (Colour Graphics Adapter) and EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) and made the 640x480 display showing 16
colours the norm. Other manufacturers have since extended the VGA standard to support more pixels and colours.
See also SVGA."
VGA Feature Connector "A standard 26-pin plug for passing the VGA signal on to some other device, often a video overlay board. This
feature connector cannot pass the high-resolution signal from the card and is limited to VGA."
Video Memory "The graphics card RAM used in the frame buffer, the Z-buffer and, in some 3D graphics cards, texture memory.
Common types include DRAM, EDO DRAM, VRAM and WRAM."
Video Scaling and "When scaled upwards, video clips tend to become pixelated, resulting in block image. Hardware scaling and
Interpolation interpolation routines smooth out these jagged artefacts to create a more realistic picture. Better interpolation
routines work on both the X and Y axis to prevent stepping on curved and diagonal elements."
Virtual Desktop "When a graphics card is capable of holding in its memory a resolution greater than that being displayed on the
screen, the monitor can act as a "window" onto the larger viewing area which may be panned across the "desktop"."
VM Channel "Vesa Media Channel, VESA's video bus which avoids the main system bus."
VUMA "VESA Unified Memory Architecture: a standard which establishes the electrical and logical interface between a
system controller and an external VUMA device enabling them to share physical system memory."
Wireframe "All 3D models are constructed from lines and vertices forming a dimensional map of the image. Then texture,
shading or motion can be applied. Also referred to as Polygon Mesh."
WMF "Windows Meta File: a vector graphics format used mostly for word processing clip art."
X Windows "A windowing system developed at MIT, which runs under UNIX and all major operating systems. It uses a client-
server protocol and lets users run applications on other computers in the network and view the output on their own
XGA "eXtended Graphics Array: also referred to as Extended Graphics Adapter. An IBM graphics standard introduced in
1990 that provides screen pixel resolution of 1024x768 in 256 colours or 640x480 in high (16-bit) colour. It
subsequently came to be used to describe cards and monitors capable of resolutions up to 1024x768, regardless of
the number of colours available."
XYZ Planes "The three dimensions of space; each is designated by an axis. The x- and y-axes are the 2D co-ordinates, at right
angles to each other. The z-axis adds the third dimension. Z-buffers accelerate the rendering of 3D scenes by
tracking the depth position of objects and working out which are visible and which are hidden behind other

Category: Multimedia (153 terms)

Multimedia terms - also refer to sound and graphics sections

Term Definition
1080i "One of the resolution specifications used in the HDTV, 1080i stands for resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The "i"
stands for interlaced as opposed to progressive scanning, used in the other main HDTV standard, 720p."
24p "Refers to 24fps progressive scan. This has been the frame rate of motion picture film since talkies arrived. It is also
one of the rates allowed for transmission in the DVB and ATSC television standards, allowing them to handle film
without needing any frame-rate change. It is now accepted as a part of television production formats, usually
associated with high-definition, 1080-line, progressive scans. "
720p "One of the resolution specifications used in the HDTV. 720p stands for resolution of 1280x720 pixels and the "p"
means that the video is in progressive format. Other common HDTV resolutions are 1080i and 720i."
Acrobat "Adobe's system for producing documents to be displayed on the screen, with the correct fonts and layout."
ActiveMovie "Microsoft software component for handling and displaying digital video, including AVI, MPEG, and QuickTime.
Incorporated into Windows 98 it is intended to replace Video for Windows. Renamed DirectShow in 1997."
ActiveX "Microsoft's object technology for the Web, will allow smooth animations and interactivity over the Internet."
Adaptive Compression "Data compression software that continually analyses and compensates its algorithm, depending on the type and
content of the data and the storage medium."
ADD2 "An ADD2 card is a PCI Express adapter card that can be used to display system output to a television, digital
display, or simultaneously to a monitor and digital display."
Algorithm "In compression software refers to a specific formula used to compress or decompress video."
Analogue Video "A video signal that represents an infinite number of smooth gradations between given video levels. Contrast with a
Digital Video signal which assigns a finite set of levels."
Anamorphic "Unequally scaled in vertical and horizontal dimensions. The term is used to describe the representation of a wide-
screen video image by squeezing it horizontally to fit into a conventional 4:3 aspect ratio for purposes of storage
and transmission."
Animated GIF "A file containing a series of GIF images that are displayed in rapid sequence by some Web browsers, giving an
animated effect."
Animation Path "An editable line that objects follow during the course of an animation."
Applet "Small program that performs a limited range of tasks as part of a Web page."
APS "Analogue Protection System: a technology developed by Macrovision that helps thwart attempts to copy
programming onto VCRs. Used on the majority of DVD-Video discs currently being produced, the technology is
designed to degrade unauthorised copies made on consumer VCRs without impacting the original picture."
Asset "Term for all the constituent media files (such as text, graphics, sounds, video) that make up a multimedia movie."
ATSC "An international, non-profit organisation responsible for developing voluntary standards for digital television in
the USA, including the high definition television (HDTV) and standard definition television (SDTV) families of
standards. See also DVB."
Authoring System "Software which helps developers design interactive courseware easily, without the painstaking detail of computer
AV "Audio Visual or Audio Video: refers to equipment used in audio and video applications, such as microphones,
videotape machines (VCRs), sound systems and hard disk systems for storing digitised audio or video data."
Avatar "Digital representation of yourself in a digital environment."
AVC "Advanced Video Coding; also known as MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-4 part 10 or H.264, this codec is expected to offer
up to twice the compression of the current MPEG-4 ASP (Advanced Simple Profile) standard, as well as
improvements in perceptual quality."
AVI "Audio Video Interleaved: Microsoft's file format for digital video and audio under Windows. Blocks of video and
audio data are interspersed together in this format. It is cross-platform compatible, allowing *.AVI video files to be
played under other operating systems."
AVK "Audio Video Kernel: DVI system software designed to play motion video and audio across hardware and operating
system environments."
AVSS "Audio-Video Support System: DVI system software for DOS. It plays motion video and audio."
BLOB "Binary Large OBject: a database entity comprising multimedia objects - such as images, videos, and sound - stored
as a collection of binary data."
CBR "Information that is represented in a digital form by a constant stream of bits is said to have a constant bit rate. This
type of encoding has advantages for multimedia streaming applications where video will not be interrupted by
sudden drops or spikes in the available bandwidth."
CCIR 601 "A recommendation developed by the International Radio Consultative Committee for the digitisation of colour
video signals. The CCIR 601 recommendation deals with colour space conversion from RGB to VCrCb, the digital
filters used for limiting the bandwidth, the sample rate (defined as 13.5 MHz), and the horizontal resolution (720
active pixels)."
CDTV "Commodore Dynamic Total Vision: consumer multimedia system from Commodore that includes CD-ROM/CD
audio player, Motorola 68000 processor, 1MB RAM, and 10-key infrared remote control."
CGI "Common Gateway Interface: a standard method of extending Web server functionality by executing programs or
scripts on a Web server in response to Web browser requests. A common use of CGI is in form processing, where
the browser sends the form data to a CGI script on the server, and the script integrates the data with a database and
sends back a results page as HTML."
CGM "Computer Graphics Metafile: a standard format that allows for the interchanging of graphics images."
CGMS "Copy Guard Management System: a method of preventing copies or controlling the number of sequential copies
allowed. CGMS/A is added to an analogue signal (such as line 21 of NTSC). CGMS/D is added to a digital signal,
such as IEEE 1394."
Chapter "Subdivisions of a video title (e.g. movie) on a DVD-Video disc, each chapter being a scene or other section as
defined during authoring."
CIF "Common Image Format: the standardisation of the structure of the samples that represent the picture information
of a single frame in digital HDTV, independent of frame rate and sync/blank structure. An image that is digitised to
CIF format has a resolution of 352 x 288 or 352 x 240."
Codec "COmpression DECompression: any technology that converts analogue signals, such as video and voice signals,
into digital form and compresses them to conserve bandwidth on a transmission path. Used by QuickTime and
Video for Windows to make videos smaller for storage and to expand them for display."
Colour Cycling "A means of simulating motion in a video by changing colours."
Colour Keying "To superimpose one image over another for special effects."
Compression "The translation of data (video, audio, digital, or a combination) using a variety of computer compression
algorithms and other techniques to reduce the amount of data required to accurately represent the content."
CPPM "Content Copy Protection for Pre-recorded Media: the digital copy protection system used for DVD-Audio discs.
Developed when the intended CSS-II method of DVD-Audio encryption was abandoned after the emergence of the
DeCSS hack."
CPRM "Content Protection for Recordable Media: copy protection for writable DVD formats that ensures that DVD discs
cannot be copied - or that first-generation copies cannot be further copied - unless permitted by the content owner."
CSS "Content Scrambling System: the copy protection system used for DVD media. It is implemented in chipsets inside
the DVD player."
DCT "Discrete Cosine Transform: a coding methodology - similar to Fast Fourier Transform - used, for example, in the
JPEG and MPEG image compression algorithms to reduce the number of bits for actual data compression. DCT
converts data into sets of frequencies, the first being the most meaningful. Latter frequencies are stripped away
based on allowable resolution loss."
Decompression "To reverse the procedure conducted by the compression software algorithm to return data to its original size and
DeCSS "Open-source Linux computer code that appeared in late 1999 and allows encrypted DVD movies to be read. By
reverse-engineering the Content Scrambling System (CSS) method that had been adopted by the MPAA (Motion
Picture Association of America) to prevent the playing of DVD movies on unlicensed DVD players, the developers
of the DeCSS utility made possible the online trading of DVD movies."
Delivery System "The equipment used by end users to run or "play" an interactive program."
Delta Frame "Also called Difference Frame. Contains only the pixels different from the preceding Keyframe. Delta Frames
reduce the overall size of the video clip to be stored on disk. See also Keyframe."
Dichroic Mirror "A mirror used to reflect light selectively according to its wavelength."
Digital Video "A video signal represented by computer-readable binary numbers that describe a finite set of colours and
luminance levels."
Digitisation "Process of transforming analogue video signal into digital information."
DirectX "This Microsoft Windows API was designed to provide software developers with direct access to low-level
functions on PC peripherals. Before DirectX, programmers usually opted for the DOS environment, which was free
of the limited multimedia feature set that characterised Windows for many years."
DSP Solution "The use of a Digital Signal Processor in conjunction with mixed-signal devices and embedded software to collect,
process, compress, transmit and display the analogue and digital data found in today's most popular multimedia
DSS "Digital Satellite System, a network of satellites that broadcast digital data. An example of a DSS is DirecTV, which
broadcasts digital television signals."
DTCP "Digital Transmission Content Protection: a system devised for secure transmission in the home environment over
two-way transmission lines such as the FireWire bus. DTCP prevents unauthorised copying of digital content while
allowing legitimate copying for purposes such as time shifting."
DTP "DeskTop Publishing: use of a personal computer to produce high-quality printed documents. A DTP system allows
use of different typefaces, various margins and justifications, and embedded illustrations and graphs."
DV "A consumer digital video format endorsed by all major video equipment vendors. Using 1/4" (6.35mm) metal
evaporated tape, DV is recorded at 25 Mbps (18.8mm/sec) on three-hour standard cassettes or MiniDV cassettes
providing up to 90 minutes of record time in long-play mode."
DVB "The Digital Video Broadcasting project is a European consortia that has developed a set of standards that define
digital broadcasting using existing satellite, cable, and terrestrial infrastructures. See also ATSC."
Field "One-half of a complete video frame, consisting of every other analogue scan line."
Fill Factor "Used in connection with digital display technologies (such as LCD and DLP) to convey how much of the area of a
single pixel is used for the image as opposed to the grid surrounding the pixel. The higher the "fill factor" the better.
See also Screen Door Effect."
Filtering "A process used in both analogue and digital image processing to reduce bandwidth. Filters can be designed to
remove information content such as high or low frequencies, for example, or to average adjacent pixels, creating a
new value from two or more pixels."
FPS "Frames Per Second: an expression of frame rate."
FPX "FlashPIX: an emerging WWW standard for images. The FPX file format is a single, interoperable digital imaging
format which supports other file formats like JPEG, PCX, PICT and TIFF. It has multi-resolutions because it stores
images in multiple sizes."
Frame "A single, complete picture in 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 Grabber "A device that "captures" and potentially stores one complete video frame. Also known as frame storer."
Frame Rate "How fast the source repaints the screen with a new frame. NTSC repaints the screen every 1/30th of a second for a
frame rate for 30 frames per second. PAL is 25 frames per second. "Full-motion" playback of compressed MPEG
files is at 30 frames per second."
Front Projection "Front projection is when a projection unit is positioned in front of the screen. See also Rear Projection."
Full-Motion Video "FMV: video reproduction at 30 frames per second (NTSC-original signals), 25 frames per second (PAL-original
signals) and 30 frames per second (compressed MPEG)."
GOP "In an MPEG signal the GOP is a group of frames between successive I frames, the others being P and/or B frames.
The GOP concept allows the temporal redundancy across frames (from frame to frame) for video content to be
H.261 "A video compression standard developed for video teleconferencing systems. It is DCT-based and resembles
MPEG to some degree. It is hoped that this will be the standard that allows a videophone from one manufacturer to
"talk" to a videophone from another manufacturer, just as two different FAX machines can "talk" to each other."
HDCP "High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection: an encoding method for distributing digital content via a DVI (Digital
Visual Interface) port. Using hardware on both the graphics adapter card and the monitor, HDCP encrypts data on
route to a display device, where it is then decrypted. "
HDMI "High-Definition Multimedia Interface; similar to DVI, but using a much smaller connector, HDMI is the first
industry-supported uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface. Like DVI, it uses the HDCP copy protection
HDTV "High Definition TV: a television system with approximately twice the horizontal and twice the vertical resolution
of current 525-line and 625-line systems, component colour coding (e.g. RGB or YCbCr) a picture aspect ratio of
16:9 and a frame rate of at least 24 Hz. The principal scanning formats have active vertical scanning lines of 720
progressive (720p), 1080 interlaced (1080i). Though 1080i as higher resolution than 720p, it doesn't render motion
quite as well the progressive scanning format."
Home Theatre "a home theatre system is a combination of audio-video components - such as a TV, VCR, DVD player and
surround-sound speaker system - designed to recreate the experience of watching a movie in a cinema."
HTML "Hypertext Markup Language: an ASCII text-based, script-like language for creating hypertext documents like
those on the Internet's World Wide Web."
HTTP "Hypertext Transfer Protocol: the way a Web browser and the server computer delivering Web pages
Hyperlink "A pointer from text or from an image map to a page or other type of file on the WWW. On Web pages, hyperlinks
are the primary way to navigate between pages and among Web sites."
IEEE 1394 "An international high-performance serial-bus standard that offers the real-time data transfer of video, audio and
peripheral applications through a universal I/O interface. With this technology, digital cameras, CD-ROMs, printers,
hard-disk drives and audio/stereo equipment can move data at high speeds to desktops and portable computers
through a single cable. Also known as FireWire."
IMA "Interactive Multimedia Association: formed in 1991 (rooted in IVIA, Interactive Video Industry Association), an
industry association chartered with creating and maintaining standard specifications for multimedia systems."
Interactive Video "The fusion of video and computer technology. A video program and a computer program running in tandem under
the control of the user. In interactive video, the user's actions, choices, and decisions affect the way in which the
program unfolds."
Interframe Coding "Compression techniques which track the differences between frames of video. Results in more compression over a
range of frames than intraframe coding."
Inverse Kinematics "In an object hierarchy where there are parent and child objects, grabbing one child object at the end of a chain and
automatically calculating the proper movements back to the first object, all according to a series of pre-programmed
constraints. An example would be an articulated hand, where moving the tip of a finger causes all the other parts to
move together in a properly jointed way."
Java "Sun Microsystem's object oriented programming language, designed for networked systems such as the Web."
JavaScript "Netscape's simple scripting language for Web pages which allows simple interactivity to be built into a page."
Keyframe "Most video compression schemes work by taking keyframes at certain intervals and working out the differences
between that frame and the following frames. This means that only small pieces of information need to be stored
about each frame in order to allow the whole frame to be reconstructed. See also Delta Frame."
Laser Disc "An optical disk used for full-motion video. In the 1970s, various videodisc systems were introduced, but only the
Philips LaserVision survived. Began being superseded by DVD-ROM during 1998."
LCOS "Liquid Crystal on Silicon: a liquid crystal layer on top of a pixelated, highly-reflective substrate. Below the
substrate is a backplane that includes the electronics to drive the pixels. The backplane and liquid crystals are
combined into a panel and packaged for use in a projection subsystem or "light engine.""
MCI "Media Control Interface: platform-independent multimedia specification published by Microsoft Corporation and
others in 1990. Provides a consistent way to control devices such as CD-ROMs and video playback units."
MIME "Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension: the format for transferring multimedia type file transfers across the
Internet. Since email messages are designed for text data, this format converts non-text data into a text-based
miniDVD "A CD-R(W) disc containing up to 15 minutes of DVD-encoded video."
Mixed-Signal Device "Collects analogue signals and converts them into digital data to be processed. Once a DSP processes and
compresses the digital data, a mixed-signal device decompresses, transmits and displays the digital data as either
digital or analogue signals."
Morph "Short for metamorphosing, morphing refers to an animation technique in which one image is gradually turned into
Motion Video "Video that displays real motion by displaying a sequence of images (frames) rapidly enough that the eyes see the
image as a continuously moving picture."
Motion-JPEG "A derivative of JPEG that includes some keyframe-based compression to make it suitable for video."
MPC "Multimedia PC: a specification developed by the Multimedia Council. It defines the minimum platform capable of
running multimedia software. PCs carrying the MPC logo will be able to run any software that also displays the
MPC logo."
MPEG "Moving Picture Experts Group: a standards committee, supported by the ISO, formed to establish uniform
methodologies and algorithms for digital audio and video compression."
MPEG-1 "MPEG-1 video, used in VideoCDs, is defined for non-interlaced, computer-type data streams. It is the form
normally used with PCs. Typical MPEG-1 video compression ranges up to 100:1 for images comprised of 352
pixels (picture elements) by 240 lines at a refresh rate of up to 30 frames per second with 24-bit colour and CD-
quality sound."
MPEG-2 "The newer MPEG-2 standard offers resolutions of 720x480 and 1280x720 at 60 fps, with full CD-quality audio.
This is sufficient for all the major TV standards, including NTSC, and even HDTV. MPEG-2 is used by DVD-
ROMs and is capable of compressing a 2 hour video into a few gigabytes."
MPEG-4 "A standard for video compression that is targeted at bit rates of tens of kilobytes and below to accommodate
applications for digitally-encoded moving pictures and synchronised audio that can be enabled only at very low bit
rates. The low bit rates targeted by MPEG-4 are the operating points for widespread communication channels, such
as public switched telephone network and low-cost wired and wireless networks."
Multimedia "Refers to the delivery of information that combines different content formats (motion video, audio, still images,
graphics, animation, text, etc.)."
NLE "Non-Linear Editing: refers to the ability to manipulate digitised video on a computer under software control. The
required file segments can be cut, pasted and copied anywhere in the timeline of your project. In the context of AV
applications, NLE is to video editing what the word processor was to the typewriter. "
NTSC "National Television Standards Committee: the industry group that formulated the standards for American
television. An NTSC signal is a composite video signal used by televisions and VCRs in North America and some
other parts of the world. The NTSC system uses 525 lines per frame, a field frequency of 60 Hz, a 30-frame per
second update rate, and the YIQ colour space. Modern NTSC encoders and decoders may also use the YUV colour
Overlay "The ability to superimpose computer graphics over a live or recorded video signal and store the resulting video
image on videotape. It is often used to add titles to videotape."
PAL "Phase Alternating Line: video format - used in most of Western Europe, Australia and China as well as in various
African, South American and Middle Eastern countries - with a 4:3 image format, 625 lines per frame, a field
frequency of 50Hz and 4 MHz video bandwidth with a total 8 MHz of video channel width. PAL has a 25-frame per
second update rate and uses YUV colour space."
PDF "Portable Document Format: Acrobat file format containing embedded fonts and graphics."
PVR "Personal Video Recorder: a generic term for the modern-day replacement of the VCR. Using hardware-based
MPEG-2 compression like that used by DVDs, PVRs encode video data and store the data on a hard disk drive.
PVRs have all of the functionality of VCRs, (recording, playback, fast forwarding, rewinding, pausing) plus the
ability to instantly jump to any part of the program without having to rewind or fast forward the data stream. Also
referred to a Digital Video Recorder."
PX64 "Similar to MPEG, but adapted to slower bit rate. Typically used for video conferencing over an ISDN phone line."
QuickTime "Apple Computer's video environment (like Microsoft's Video For Windows). QuickTime video files must be
converted to .AVI format to run under Microsoft's Video For Windows."
Rainbow Effect "An artefact unique to single-chip DLP projectors which appears as a rainbow or multi-colour shimmer briefly
noticeable by some people when they change focus from one part of the projector screen to another. It appears as a
secondary image that appears at the viewer's peripheral vision and is typically noticeable when shifting focus from
a high contrast area or bright object."
RCA "Radio Corporation of America: refers to the standard single-ended analogue cables used to connect audio and
video devices together. Typically red/white inputs are for the left/right channels of sound and yellow is for video."
Rear Projection "With rear projection, the projector is placed behind a translucent screen. See also Front Projection."
Reed-Solomon "An error-correction encoding system that cycles data multiple times through a mathematical transformation in
order to increase the effectiveness of the error correction, especially for burst errors (errors concentrated closely
together, as from a scratch or physical defect). DVD uses rows and columns of Reed-Solomon encoding in a two-
dimensional lattice, called Reed-Solomon product code (RS-PC)."
RIFF "Resource Interchange File Format: platform-independent multimedia specification (published by Microsoft and
others in 1990) that allows audio, image, animation, and other multimedia elements to be stored in a common
format. See also Media Control Interface (MCI)."
RLE "Run Length Encoding: Microsoft's video compression algorithm for base level multimedia PCs. Compresses 8-bit
sequences only. Playback is also in 8 bit and isn't scaleable for higher power PCs."
RPC "Regional Playback Control: restrictions to prevent unauthorised playback of DVD discs in countries they were not
intended for. "
RS170A "The EIA standard for the combination of signals required to form NTSC colour video."
RTV "Real Time Video: single step compression of video."
S-Video "Type of video signal used in Hi8, S-VHS and some laserdisc formats. S-Video is a hardware standard for the way a
signal is carried on the cable itself and also defines the physical cable jacks. It transmits luminance and colour
portions separately, using multiple wires, and avoids composite video encoding (such as NTSC) and the resulting
loss of picture quality. Also known as Y-C Video."
Scalability "The ability to vary the information content of a program by changing the amount of data that is stored, transmitted
or displayed. In a video image, this translates into creating larger or smaller windows of video on screens (shrinking
Screen Door Effect "Screen Door Effect (SDE) is common with LCD-based projectors and relates to a viewer's awareness of the grid,
or spacing between the pixels. The lines which form the grid are, in fact, where the panel's control electronics are
preventing light from shining through the panel."
SDTV "Standard-definition television: a type of digital television operation method which is able to transmit and produce
images which are of a higher quality than standard analogue broadcasts. SDTV is typically a 480i signal - where
"480" represents the vertical resolution and "i" represents interlaced."
SECAM "Sequentiel Coleur A Memoire: European video standard, used in France and Eastern Europe, with image format
4:3, 819 lines per frame, 50 Hz and 6 MHz video bandwidth with a total 8 MHz of video channel width. Like the
similar PAL standard, it has a 25-frame per second update rate. The major difference from PAL is that SECAM uses
FM-modulated chrominance."
SIF "Standard Interchange Format: format for exchanging video images of 240 lines with 352 pixels each for NTSC,
and 288 lines by 352 pixels for PAL and SECAM. At the nominal field rates of 60 and 50 fields/s, the two formats
have the same data rate."
SIMD "Single Instruction Multiple Data: a method of efficiently processing data in which a single instruction is applied to
multiple pieces of data simultaneously rather than to each piece of data individually. Repetitive tasks are effectively
consolidated into a single one, greatly increasing the speed of data processing. Instructions of this nature are often
associated with 3D graphics and multimedia. See also SSE."
SMPTE Timecode "An 80-bit standardised edit time code adopted by SMPTE, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
See also Time Code, for measuring video duration. Each frame is identified in the form
sRGB "Standardised Red, Green and Blue: the colour space standard established by the International Electrotechnical
Commission which forms the basis of colour matching hardware devices such as CRT monitors, LCD panels,
projectors, printers, scanners and digital cameras and applications, including the World Wide Web."
SSE "Streaming SIMD Extensions: Intel's SSE and SSE2 technologies are effectively sets of instructions for
accelerating multimedia applications. SSE is found on Intel Pentium III processors; SSE2 is an incremental
supported on Intel Pentium 4 processors. Some of the benefits of SSE/SSE2 include rendering higher quality
images, high quality audio, MPEG2 video, simultaneous MPEG2 encoding and decoding and reduced CPU
utilisation for speech recognition. See also SIMD."
Streaming "A technique for transferring data such that it can be processed as a steady and continuous stream. Streaming allows
the user to play media from the Internet immediately, without having first to download the entire media file. "
Subsampling "Bandwidth reduction techniques which reduce the amount of digital data used to represent an image. Part of a
compression process."
SVCD "Super VCD: an evolution of the VCD format that uses MPEG-2 compression to store between 35 and 80 minutes
(depending on bit rate) of SVHS quality video on a CD. Also known as Chaoji VCD."
Tearing "Video artefact in which portions of a video window are not updated in time for the next frame."
Teleconference "A general term for a meeting not held in person. Usually refers to a multi-party telephone call, set up by the phone
company or private source, which enables more than two callers to participate in a conversation. The growing use
of video allows participants at remote locations to see, hear, and participate in proceedings, or share visual data
("video conference")."
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. It is an eight-digit number encoding time in hours, minutes, seconds, and video frames
URL "Uniform Resource Locator: a logical address that identifies a resource on the Internet."
VC-1 "The emerging Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) standard implemented by Microsoft
as Windows Media Video (WMV) 9 Advanced Profile. Formally known as SMPTE 421M, VC-1 minimises the
complexity of decoding HD content through improved intermediate stage processing and more robust transforms
decoding HD video twice as fast as the H.264 standard, while offering 2-to-3 times better compression than MPEG-
2 and at a quality claimed to be better than MPEG-4."
VCR "Video Cassette Recorder: a videotape recording and playback machine that is available in several formats. Sony's
Beta tape was the first VCR format, but is now defunct. VHS 1/2in tape is the most commonly used format.
Although VCRs are analogue recording machines, adapters allow them to store digital data for computer backup.
See also VHS."
VDI "Video Device Interface: a software driver interface that improves video quality by increasing playback frame rates
and enhancing motion smoothness and picture sharpness. VDI was developed by Intel and will be broadly licensed
to the industry."
VDRV "Variable Data Rate Video: in digital systems, the ability to vary the amount of data processed per frame to match
image quality and transmission bandwidth requirements. DVI symmetrical and asymmetrical systems can compress
video at variable data rates."
VfW "Video for Windows: a standard established by Microsoft for the integration of digital video, animation and sound
which uses the .AVI file format. The necessary software drivers are incorporated into the Windows operating
VHS "A VCR format introduced by JVC in 1976 to compete with Sony's Beta format. VHS subsequently become the
standard for home and industry, and Beta became obsolete. S-VHS (Super VHS) is a subsequent format that
improves resolution."
VidCap "Microsoft's Video For Windows program to capture video input to RAM or hard disk memory."
Video Capture "Performed by an expansion board that digitises full-motion video from a VCR, camera or other video source. The
digital video is then stored in a compressed format on hard disk."
Video Mapping "A feature allowing the mapping of an AVI, MPEG movie or animation on to the surface of a 3D object."
Video1 "The default video compression algorithm in Microsoft's Video for Windows. Can produce 8- or 16-bit video
VideoCD "Format that allows the viewing of MPEG-1 (also known as the ISO IEC 11172 compression standard) video on
CD-ROM. Originally devised by Philips, it allows for more than an hour of compressed video, the audio also being
compressed and giving hi-fi standard. The whole point of VideoCD is cross-platform compatibility. The discs
should work on suitably equipped PCs, Macs, dedicated VideoCD players, and CD-i systems. Video CD is based on
the White Book standard developed by Philips and other industry leaders. Also referred to as VCD."
Virtual Reality "Technology that allows the user to experience 3D interaction with the computer. Some VR systems may
incorporate special visors, helmets, gloves, and special 3D graphics technology to simulate the real world
Viterbi Decoder "A decoding algorithm developed in the late 1960s by Andrew Viterbi and used to decode a particular convolutional
code (i.e. that adds redundancy to the data to improve the signal-to-noise ratio). Viterbi decoders output a 0 or a 1
based on an estimate of the input signal. Viterbi decoders are needed for reading HD DVD and Blu-ray discs."
VRML "Virtual Reality Modelling Language: a database description language applied to create 3D worlds. VRML viewers,
similar to HTML Web browsers, interpret VRML data downloaded from the Web and render it on your computer.
This allows the bulk of the processing to be performed locally, and drastically reduces the volume of information
for transmittal from the Web."
Watermark "A background image. Typically used to decorate and identify pages in a Web site, a watermark remains stationary
as the page scrolls."
Web "Popular term for the World Wide Web."
Web Browser "A client application that fetches and displays Web pages and other WWW resources to the user. The most popular
browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator."
WML "Wireless Markup Language: XML is a meta-language defined by the World Wide Web Consortium. This means
that it is a series of rules for how to create other languages for specific applications. Content is not directly encoded
in XML, but in a specific markup language defined using XML. WML is an example of a specific language for
wireless applications that is fully compliant with XML's rules. WML is thus an XML application."
WWW "World Wide Web: a collection of richly formatted graphic/hypermedia documents located on computers around the
world and logically linked together by the Internet. With a graphical Web browser users can "surf" the Web by
clicking highlighted words on the screen. Each click activates a hypertext link, connecting the user to another Web
location identified by a URL."
YCrCb "The colour space used in the CCIR601 specification. Y is the luminance component, and the Cr and Cb
components are colour difference signals. Cr and Cb are scaled versions of U and V in the YUV colour space."
YIQ "The colour space used in the NTSC colour system. The Y component is the black-and-white portion of the image.
The I and Q parts are the colour components; these are effectively nothing more than a "watercolour wash" placed
over the black and white, or luminance, component."
YUV "A colour encoding scheme for natural pictures in which luminance and chrominance are separate. The human eye
is less sensitive to colour variations than to intensity variations. YUV allows the encoding of luminance (Y)
information at full bandwidth and chrominance (UV) information at half bandwidth. YUV is used by the PAL
colour system."

Category: Displays (79 terms)

The various different monitors and the related jargon clarified

Term Definition
Active Matrix "An LCD technology used in flat panel computer displays. It produces a brighter and sharper display with a broader
viewing angle than passive matrix screens. Active matrix technology uses a thin film transistor at each pixel and is
often designated as a "TFT" screen. See also Passive Matrix."
Additive Colour "Colour produced by "adding" colours, usually the combination of red, green and blue."
Ambient Light Sensor "A light sensor at the top of the monitor which gauges ambient light in the work environment and automatically
adjusts the brightness of the monitor for optimum viewing. This takes away the frequent and tedious task of
manually adjusting brightness on the screen; it is particularly beneficial in environments where light in the office is
subject to change throughout the day."
Anode "A positively charged electrode used to attract (negatively charged) electrons in a CRT monitor."
Aperture Grille "The phosphor separation method used in a Trinitron CRT in place of a shadow mask. A series of thin, closely-
spaced vertical wires are used to isolate pixels horizontally. The pixels are separated vertically by the nature of the
scan lines used to compose the image."
Aspect Ratio "The relationship of width and height. When an image is displayed on different screens, the aspect ratio must be
kept the same to avoid "stretching" in either the vertical or horizontal direction. For most current monitors, this ratio
is 4:3. For HDTV, the ratio is generally 16:9."
Astigmatism "A lens aberration that causes off-axis light electron beams to focus to an elliptical, rather than circular, spot. The
larger the monitor size, the greater the problem."
Autoscan "A microprocessor-based feature of some monitors incorporating automatic synchronisation of their horizontal and
vertical frequencies with those of the installed video graphics adapter. An autoscan monitor can thus operate with a
wide range of video adapters."
Backlight "An LCD screen that has its own light source from the back of the screen, making the background brighter and
characters appear sharper."
Barrel Distortion "A type of image distortion where vertical lines are bowed outwards, towards the edges of the screen."
Bezel "The border around the edge of the screen, covering the extremities of a CRT. Also used to describe the rim around
the perimeter of faceplates - often clip-on - of drive bays and even PC cases, used to vary their appearance."
Bifringence "The property of a material which causes incident light waves of different polarisations to be refracted differently
by the material."
Blooming "A problem where bright white areas have a slight halo around them."
BNC "A video connection type found on many high-end monitors. It consists of five separate cables for red, green, blue,
horizontal and vertical synchronisation signals."
Candela "A unit of measurement of the intensity of light. An ordinary wax candle generates one candela. The maximum
brightness for CRTs is about 100 to 120 cd/m2 and for TFTs, up to 250 cd/m2."
Cathode "An electrode that is negatively charged. Electrons are released from the cathode in a CRT monitor."
Colour Temperature "Defines the whiteness of the white on the screen. Variations are measured in degrees Kelvin. Natural colours used
in life-like images, such as people or landscapes, look more true to life when displayed at a colour temperature of
6500K. Black text on a white page is better represented by a colour temperature of 9300K."
Composite Video "A video signal format that includes the complete visual waveform, including: chrominance (colour), luminance
(brightness), blanking pedestal, field, line, colour sync pulses and field qualising pulses."
Convergence "The term used to describe how accurately the three (red, green, and blue) electron beams converge to illuminate
their respective phosphors in a colour monitor. The better the guns converge, the sharper the image. If a monitor
shows poor convergence, edges of objects will have a red, blue or green tinge."
CRT "Cathode Ray Tube: the tube of a television or monitor in which rays of electrons are beamed onto a
phosphorescent screen to produce images. Often used as a generic term for a computer monitor."
CSTN "Colour Super-Twist Nematic: a passive matrix LCD technology developed by Sharp Electronics Corporation."
D-SUB Connector "A type of monitor socket and cable plug found on all PC monitors. It consists of a single cable that carries all the
video information and uses the same pin layout as the socket on a graphics card."
DDC "Display Data Channel: DDC 1/2B and 2AB are standardised techniques by which monitors and graphics cards
communicate with each other to help establish the best resolution and refresh rate combination. DDC is only
possible through a D-SUB connection."
Deflection Yoke "The arrangement of electromagnets which can alter the direction of the electron beam that passes through it."
Degauss "Magnetic interference caused by a change in the position of a monitor in relation to the earth's magnetic field or
the presence of an artificial magnetic field can cause discoloration. To correct this, all colour monitors
automatically degauss at power-on and some also have a manual degaussing button. This allows the monitor to
compensate for the change in the magnetic field by realigning the electron guns."
DLP "Digital Light Processor: an all-digital display technology that turns image data into light. Enabled by a DMD
device, DLP is capable of projecting sharp, clear images of almost any size without losing any of the original
image's resolution."
DMD "Digital Micromirror Device: an array of semiconductor-based digital mirrors that precisely reflect a light source
for projection display and hard-copy applications. A DMD enables Digital Light Processing and displays images
digitally. Rather than displaying digital broadcast signals as analogue signals, a DMD directs the digital signal
directly to your screen."
Dot Pitch "A measurement of distance between the centres of two same-colour phosphor dots on the screen. The closer the
dots, the smaller the dot pitch, and the sharper the image. See also Stripe Pitch."
Dot Trio "The standard phosphor triad arrangement."
DPMS "Display Power Management Signalling: displays or monitors that comply with this can be managed by Power
Management features found in CMOS configuration on Energy Saving PCs."
DSTN "Double-layer SuperTwist Nematic: a passive-matrix LCD technology that uses two display layers to counteract the
colour shifting that occurs with conventional supertwist displays. Also referred to as dual-scan LCD."
Dynamic Focus "The ability of a CRT monitor's electron gun to adjust focus so that it is sharp across the whole screen - not just the
EDP "Enhanced Dot Pitch: Hitachi's tube technology in which the phosphor triads are spaced closer together horizontally
than they are vertically."
Electron Beam "The invisible stream of electrons that flow from a CRT monitor's cathode to its screen."
Energy Star "Launched in 1993, this is a program established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a partnership
with the computer industry to promote the introduction of energy-efficient personal computers which help reduce
air pollution caused by power generation. To comply with the Energy Star guidelines, a computer system or monitor
must consume less than 30 watts of power in its lowest power state."
FED "Field Emission Display: a display technology which use vacuum tubes (one for each pixel) with conventional
RGB phosphors."
Flat Panel Display "A thin display screen that uses any of a number of technologies, such as LCD, plasma and FED. Traditionally used
in laptops, flat panel displays are slowly beginning to replace desktop CRTs for specialised applications."
Footlambert "fL: a unit of luminance equal to 3.463 candelas per square metre."
FST "Flat Square Tube: describes the viewing surface of a cathode ray tube that is nearly flat. Flatter screens give the
appearance of straighter lines, and they can aid in the reduction of glare, compared to conventional tubes."
Ghosting "A visual effect in which an area of "on" pixels causes a shadow on "off" pixels in the same rows and columns. A
particular problem with passive matrix LCDs."
HSF "Horizontal Scanning Frequency: indicates the speed, measured in kilohertz, at which a single horizontal line is
drawn on the screen. Higher scan rates are needed to provide sharper, crisper images at higher resolutions. Also
called scan rate."
HTPS "High Temperature Poly-Silicon: A thin-film transistor (TFT) panel is an active matrix display containing a
microscopic thin-film transistor in the corner of each pixel. HTPS panels allow driver ICs to be embedded into their
TFTs, thereby allowing greater miniaturisation (higher pixel counts and higher aperture ratios)."
Interlaced "Scheme to display a video image by displaying alternate scan lines in two discrete fields."
Invar "Type of metal used in the shadow mask that provides more consistent images over time, by reducing warping of
the shadow mask when bright images are displayed."
Jitter "The interference that occurs - causing a shimmering effect that results in lines and characters to losing their focus -
when a TFT panel's clock and phase aren't perfectly synchronised."
LCD "Liquid Crystal Display: a display technology that relies on polarising filters and liquid crystal cells rather than
phosphors illuminated by electron beams to produce an on-screen image."
LED "Light Emitting Diode: a display technology that uses a semiconductor diode that emits light when charged. LEDs
are usually red. It was the first digital watch display, but was superseded by LCD, which uses less power."
LEP "Light-Emitting Polymer: a display technology in which plastics are made to conduct electricity and, under certain
conditions, emit light."
Modes "Specific frequencies at which the monitor (and/or computer) can display text or graphical information. Most
monitors today support several frequencies. This is called multifrequency or multi-scanning, and it ensures that the
monitor will perform with a variety of computers and applications."
MPR2 "Provides reduced electrostatic and electromagnetic emissions. MPR 1990, or MPR2, is a standard defined to
measure emissions from devices such as monitors."
Multi-Frequency "A monitor's ability to change resolution or refresh rate when signalled by a video adapter. Graphics adapters have
the ability to "tell" a monitor to use various display resolutions and refresh rates. If the resolution or refresh rate is
within a monitor's scanning range, multi-frequency monitors adjust to the resolutions and refresh rates "ordered" by
the video adapter. Also known as multi-scanning. See also Modes."
Multiscan "A monitor that can display many different resolutions. A single-scan monitor can only display a particular
nit "A unit of luminance equal to one candlepower measured at a distance of 1m over an area of 1 square metre. One
nit is equal to 1 candela per square metre or 0.2919 fL (footlamberts)."
nT "nano Tesla: a unit of measurement for magnetic flux density. A magnetic field of one Tesla is very strong - the
earth's magnetic field is only tens of nano-Teslas."
OLED "Organic Light-Emitting Diode: a display device invented by Eastman Kodak in the early 1980s. OLEDs sandwich
carbon-based films between two charged electrodes, one a metallic cathode and one a transparent anode. The
organic films consist of a hole-injection layer, a hole-transport layer, an emissive layer and an electron-transport
layer. When voltage is applied to the OLED cell, the injected positive and negative charges recombine in the
emissive layer and create electro luminescent light. "
Overscan "A condition that exists when a created image is larger than the visible portion of the display. Overscan helps
relegate the relatively fuzzy perimeter of a CRT image to portions of the screen that are out of sight, and the
overscan may disappear over time anyway. On the other hand, monitors with excessive overscan can lose icons and
text at the edges of the display."
PanelLink "Developed by Silicon Images Inc. to provide an all digital link between a graphics card and an LCD monitor,
PanelLink uses Transition Minimised Differential Signalling (TMDS) signalling technology, allowing a distance of
up to 10m between the graphics card and the LCD panel."
Parallelogram Distortion "A type of geometric distortion, where lines are parallel but not perpendicular."
Passive Matrix "A common LCD technology used in laptops. Passive matrix displays (DSTN, CSTN, etc.) are not quite as sharp
and do not have as broad a viewing angle as active matrix (TFT) displays, but they have improved dramatically in
recent years."
PDP "Plasma Display Panel: a display technology that works on the principle that passing a high voltage through a low-
pressure gas creates light."
Phosphor "A luminescent substance, used to coat the inside of the cathode-ray tube display, that is illuminated by the electron
gun in the pattern of graphical images as the display is scanned."
Phosphor Triad "One red, one green and one blue phosphor that composes a pixel."
Pincushion Distortion "The opposite of barrel distortion. The vertical lines in a rectangular image curve inwards, with an increase in the
distortion towards the edges of the image."
Pixel "An abbreviation for picture element. In a raster grid, the pixel is the smallest unit that can be addressed and given a
colour or intensity. The pixel is represented by some number of bits (usually 8, 16 or 24) in the frame buffer, and is
illuminated by a collection of phosphor dots in the CRT that are struck by the beams of the electron gun."
Pixel Clock Speed "The frequency or speed at which individual pixels (picture elements) in an image are written to the screen. The
higher the pixel clock speed, the less likely there will be flicker."
Raster "A raster is a rectangular grid of picture elements representing graphical data for display. Raster operations (ROPs)
can be performed on some portion or all of the raster."
Response Time "It typically takes around 25ms for the liquid crystal inside a modern TFT panel to respond to the applied current,
which is usually more than enough to fool the naked eye into seeing fluid movement. Quoted response times
include an element of latency, when a pixel remains lit for a short time after the current has been removed."
RGB "Red-Green-Blue: a way of encoding images in computer graphics by describing a colour by the amount of the
three basic colours Red, Green and Blue. Three bytes are required for "true colour" (three numbers between 0 and
255), giving a theoretical maximum of 16.7 million colours. Computer monitors are generally driven by an RGB
signal. The other technique for output display is composite video, which typically offers less resolution than RGB."
Rotation "Determines how well the image area lines up to the bezel; also called tilt."
Screen Regulation "A distortion where the size of the image varies according to the brightness of the screen content. A white rectangle
will appear larger when surrounding a solid white rectangle than when surrounding a plain black area."
Shadow Mask "The perforated metal sheet that rests between the electron gun and a screen's phosphor coating to ensure that the
three electron beams only strike the correct phosphor dots. A "shadow mask display" is a monitor which conforms
to the conventional three-electron gun, shadow mask design."
Slotted Mask "A variation on the aperture grill phosphor triad approach which uses the slot-mask design used on many non-
Trinitron TV sets."
Streaking "A visual effect which is related to "white level shift" and "black level shift", where the difference in intensity
between neighbouring white and black areas results in a discoloration. Occurs when a CRT's electron gun does not
switch on and off quickly enough."
Stripe Pitch "This is similar to dot pitch, but applicable tubes which the aperture grille method to separate phosphors. Dot stripe
is measured as the distance between the vertical stripes that result. Measures of dot pitch and dot stripe are not
directly comparable."
Tesla "Magnetic fields, or more specifically, magnetic flux densities historically have been measured with a unit called
the milligauss - 1 milligauss(mg) being equal to 0.001 Gauss(g). Electrical engineers and physicists use the Tesla as
a unit of international standard, one Tesla being the equivalent to 10,000 Gauss or 10,000,000 milligauss. Typically
the Tesla is used in technical journals and the milligauss unit is used in information for the general public."
TFT "Thin Film Transistor: a type of LCD flat-panel display screen, in which each pixel is controlled by from one to
four transistors. TFT technology provides the best resolution of all the current flat-panel techniques. TFT screens
are sometimes called active-matrix LCDs."
TN "Twisted Nematic: the first LCD technology. It twists liquid crystal molecules 90 degrees between polarises. TN
displays require bright ambient light and are still used for low-cost applications."
Trapezoidal Distortion "A type of geometric distortion where the vertical edges of an image slant inwards towards the top horizontal edge.
Also called keystone distortion."
Unbalanced Pin "Describes concave and convex lines on opposite sides of the screen."

Category: Optical storage (110 terms)

A reference for optical storage terminology

Term Definition
ADPCM "Adaptive Delta Pulse Code Modulation: an audio encoding compression technique which encodes the difference
between the predicted value of the signal instead of the absolute value of the original waveform so that the
compression efficiency is improved. This difference is usually small and can thus be encoded in fewer bits than the
sample itself. Used in CD-I and CD-ROM XA recording."
ATIP "Absolute Time In Pregroove: a part of a CD-R disc that specifies its characteristics, such as its manufacturer,
capacity and supported writing speeds."
BCA "Burst Cutting Area: a zone near the hub of a DVD reserved for a barcode that can be etched into the disc by a laser.
Since barcode cutting is independent of the stamping process, each disc can have unique data recorded on it, such
as a serialised ID. DVD readers can use the laser pickup head to read the BCA."
Blu-ray Disc "Jointly developed by Philips and Sony, BD was the first "next-generation" DVD format to gain widespread
industry support. Ultimately, the DVD Forum approved the rival HD-DVD format, proposed by Toshiba and NEC."
Blue Book "The standard for combining audio and data seamlessly on one CD. Also known as CD-Extra or CD-Plus."
Blue Laser "A type of laser capable of writing bits with up to five times greater density than the infrared lasers commonly used.
In 1993, IBM demonstrated a recording density of 2.5 billion bits per square inch on a magneto-optic disk. It is
expected that blue lasers will be commercially used within a few years."
Burn "Generating a CD-ROM on a specialised writer (CD-R); "burn" comes from the heat generated by the high-
powered laser needed to make the pits."
Caddy "The plastic and metal carrier into which a CD must be inserted before it is loaded into some CD-ROM drives or
CD recorders and which is a highly controversial feature of DVD-RAM media. Also called cartridge."
CAV "Constant Angular Velocity: CD-ROM drive method in which a steady spin speed is maintained, resulting in
increased data transfer rates and reduced seek times as the head moves towards its outside edge. Has largely
superseded CLV."
CD-Compatible "CD-R discs written that can be read in either a CD-DA player or in a CD-ROM reader."
CD-DA "Compact Disc-Digital Audio: jointly developed by Philips and Sony and launched in October 1982, CD-DA was
the first incarnation of the compact disc, used to digitally record and play back music at unprecedented quality. The
standard under which CD-DA discs are recorded is known as the Red Book."
CD-Extra "A multisession disc containing a number of audio tracks in the first session, and one CD-ROM XA data track in
the second session. Additional characteristics are defined in the Blue Book standard. An alternative to mixed-mode
for combining standard CD-D audio (which can be played in a normal audio player), and a computer application,
on a single disc. Also known as CD-Plus."
CD-i "Compact Disc-Interactive: a compact disc format (developed by Philips and Sony) designed to allow interactive
multimedia applications to be played through a computer/disc player attached to a television. The CD-i standard is
called the Green Book."
CD-i Bridge "A set of specifications defining a way of recording CD-i information on a CD-ROM XA disc. Used for Photo CD
and Video CD."
CD-R "Compact Disc-Recordable: also referred to as Compact Disc-Write Once (CD-WO). A type of disk drive that can
create CD-ROMs and audio CDs, allowing users to "master" discs for subsequent publishing."
CD-ROM "Compact Disc-Read Only Memory: a standard for compact disc to be used as a digital memory medium for
personal computers. The 4.75in laser-encoded optical memory storage medium can hold about 650MB of data,
sound, and limited stills and motion video. A CD-ROM player will typically play CD-DA discs, but a CD-DA
player will not play CD-ROMs. The standard used for most CD-ROM formats is known as Yellow Book, based on
the standard published by Philips."
CD-ROM XA "CD-ROM Extended Architecture: a hybrid format, promoted by Sony and Microsoft, that combines CD-ROM and
CD-i capabilities. The extension adds ADPCM audio to permit the interleaving of sound and video data to
animation and with sound synchronisation. It is an essential component of Microsoft's plan for multimedia
computers and also the physical format for Kodak's Photo CD format."
CD-RW "Compact Disc-Rewritable: once known as CD-Erasable, or CD-E."
CIRC "Cross-Interleaved Reed-Solomon Code: the first level of error correction used in every compact disc, and the only
one used for audio CDs. It consists of two Reed-Solomon codes interleaved crosswise."
CLV "Constant Linear Velocity: the traditional CD-ROM drive method in which motor speed is regulated to keep the
track passing under the read head at a steady speed. See also CAV."
Cue Sheet "A list of audio files which are to be recorded to a CD in Red Book format. Also referred to as a compilation list."
Curie Point "The temperature at which the molecules of a material can be altered when subjected to a magnetic field. In optical
material, it is approximately 200 degrees centigrade."
DDCD "Double Density CD: CD format specified by Philips and Sony, and described in their informal Purple Book
specification, which specifies CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW media with a storage capacity of 1.3GB. The media
require special CD drives to handle it and was seen by many as a stop-gap solution pending the resolution of the
standardisation and compatibility issues which surrounded DVD media at the time."
Disc-At-Once "In Disc-at-Once mode, the whole disc is written without turning off the recording laser. All of the information to
be recorded needs to be staged on the computer's hard disk prior to recording. The mode is especially useful for
creating a master disc for subsequent mass production via a replicator since eliminates the linking and run-in and
run-out blocks associated with multisession and packet recording modes, which often are interpreted as
uncorrectable errors during the mastering process. It requires the pre-mastering software to send a "cue sheet" to the
CD-R/DVD-R drive that describes the disc layout."
DIVX "DIgital Video eXpress: a proprietary extension to the DVD-Video standard which effectively turns it into a pay-
per-view system. Introduced in the second half of 1998, its backers - led by the Circuit City electronics chain -
abandoned the technology in mid-1999."
DOW "Direct OverWrite: with CD-RW, the traditional concept of erasure does not exist. New data is simply written over
existing data in a single-pass. CD-RW is therefore known as a Direct Overwrite (DOW) system."
DVD "Digital Versatile Disk: the replacement for the ubiquitous compact disc. Like the CD it is available in a number of
different formats. Unlike the CD, it is available with a number of capacities ranging from 4.7GB to 17GB."
DVD Forum "A membership organization devoted to defining DVD standards for read-only, rewritable, video and audio use.
Founded in late 1995 as the DVD Consortium, it was renamed in 1997."
DVD Multi "A logo program that promotes compatibility with DVD-RAM and DVD-RW. Putting the emphasis for
compatibility on the reader, not the writer, it defines a testing methodology to ensure drives are able to read both
DVD-RAM and DVD-RW media."
DVD+R "A write-once optical media format designed for use by devices using DVD+RW technology."
DVD+RW "A competing (with DVD-RAM and DVD-RW) rewritable DVD standard being promoted by Hewlett-Packard,
Philips and Sony. Unlike the DVD-RAM standard, DVD+RW allows the use of bare discs. All three standards are
incompatible. At one time the DVD-Forum - who do not support the standard - were insisting on the name being
changed to "+RW" - but this appears to have had little effect."
DVD+RW Alliance "A voluntary association of industry-leading personal computing manufacturers, optical storage and consumer
electronics manufacturers."
DVD-R "DVD Recordable: the write-once DVD format. DVD-R discs are the DVD counterpart to CD-R discs."
DVD-RAM "A rewritable compact disc format that provides much greater data storage than today's CD-RW systems. The
caddy-mounted discs will initially provide 2.6GB per side on single or double-sided discs."
DVD-ROM "The read-only format supports discs with capacities of from 4.7GB (enough for an MPEG-2 compressed full-
length movie) to 17GB and access rates of 600 KBps to 1.3 MBps. Backward-compatible with CD-ROMs."
DVD-RW "Pioneer's rewritable DVD format, incompatible with the rival DVD-RAM and DVD+RW formats but generally
compatible with DVD-ROM drives and consumer DVD players."
DVD-Video "A consumer DVD format for displaying full-length digital movies. DVD-Video players attach to a television like a
videocassette player. Unlike DVD-ROMs, the Digital-Video format includes a Content Scrambling System (CSS)
to prevent users from copying discs. This means that today's DVD-ROM players cannot play DVD-Video discs
without a software or hardware upgrade to decode the encrypted discs."
EDC "Error Detection Code: 32 bits in each sector which are used to detect errors in the sector data."
EFM "Eight to Fourteen Modulation: used on every CD for modulation and error correction."
Finalisation "When a disc is "finalised" the absolute lead-in and lead-out for the entire disc is written, along with information
which tells the reader not to look for subsequent sessions. This final table of contents (TOC) conforms to the ISO
9660 file standard."
Fixation "The process of writing the lead-in and lead-out information to the disc. This process finishes a writing session and
creates a table of contents. Fixation is required for a CD-ROM or CD-Audio player to play the disc. Discs which
are "fixated for append" can have additional sessions recorded, with their own session lead-in and lead-out, creating
a multisession disc."
Gold Disc "The recordable disc used in recordable CD systems. The blank disc is made of a bottom layer of polycarbonate,
with a preformed track spiral which the recording laser follows when inscribing information onto the disc. This type
of disc is therefore also called pre-grooved. A translucent organic dye layer is laid on top of the polycarbonate, then
a reflective layer of gold. On top there are thin layers of lacquer and label."
Green Book "The now defunct Philips/Sony specification for CD-i."
HD-DVD "High Definition Digital Versatile Disc: the official, DVD Forum approved, next-generation DVD format,
originally jointly specified and proposed by Toshiba and NEC."
High Sierra Format "The standard logical file format for CD-ROM originally proposed by the High Sierra Group, revised and adopted
by the International Standards Organisation as ISO 9660."
Hybrid "Under the Orange Book standard for recordable CD, hybrid means a recordable disc on which one or more
sessions are already recorded, but the disc is not closed, leaving space open for future recording."
Image Pac "In Photo CD, a set of five versions of the same image, at varying resolutions."
Incremental writing "A mode of writing supported by DVD-R drives which allows files to be added to a DVD-R disc one recording at a
time as an alternative to the disc-at-once method. Similar in concept to the packet writing technology employed by
Information Area "The space on a CD-ROM where the user data is written. It begins at the address 00:02:00."
ISO 9660 Format "An international standard specifying the logical format for files and directories on a CD-ROM. It provides a cross-
platform format for storing filenames and directories which restricts the characters used to ensure all CD-ROM
drives of all ages can read a data disc.The ISO 9660 data starts at track time 00:02:16 or sector 166 (logical sector
16) of track one. For a multisession disc the ISO 9660 data will be present in the first data track of each session
containing CD-ROM tracks."
ISO 9660 Image "A single large file which is an exact representation of the whole set of data and programs as it will appear on a CD,
in terms of both content and logical format."
ISRC "International Standard Recording Code: some recorders allow the ISRC to be recorded for each audio track on a
disc. The code is made up of: Country Code (2 ASCII characters), Owner Code (3 ASCII characters), Year of
Recording (2 digits), Serial Number (5 digits)."
Joliet "An extension of the ISO 9660 standard, developed by Microsoft to allow CDs to be recorded using long filenames,
and using the Unicode international character set. Joliet allows use of filenames up to 64 characters in length,
including spaces."
Land "A non-indented area on an optical medium such as a CD-ROM or DVD disc. Contrast with Pit."
Laser "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation: a means of generating coherent light which can be
focused to a very small spot size and ideal for reading compact discs, or writing CD-R and CD-RW discs."
Lead-In "An area at the beginning of each session on a recordable compact disc which is left blank for the session's Table of
Contents (track numbers and start points). The lead-in is written when a session is closed, and takes up 4500 sectors
on disc (1 minute, or roughly 9 megabytes). The lead-in also indicates whether the disc is MultiSession, and if the
disc is not closed, which is the next writable address on the disc."
Lead-Out "The area at the end of a session which indicates that the end of the data has been reached; there is no actual data
written in the lead-out. The first lead-out on a disc is 6750 sectors (1.5 minutes, about 13.5 megabytes) long; any
subsequent lead-outs are 2250 sectors (.5 minute, about 4.5 megabytes)."
LIMDOW "Light Intensity Modulated Direct Overwrite: a storage technology that works on the same basic principle as MO
drives but which uses magnets built into disk itself instead of a magnetic read/write head. This enables data to be
written in a single pass of the read/write head rather than two."
Link Blocks "Blocks created between Track-at-Once and Track Multi-session recording sessions. These are interpreted as
"uncorrectable errors" on most mastering systems at replication plants."
Logical Block "The smallest addressable space on a disc. Each logical block is identified by a unique Logical Block Number
(LBN), assigned in order starting from 0 at the beginning of the disc. Under the ISO 9660 standard, all data on a
CD is addressed in terms of Logical Block Numbers."
Mastering "Technically, refers to the process of creating a glass master from which compact discs will be reproduced in
quantity. In desktop recordable CD systems, mastering is done together with premastering by the desktop CD
recorder, and the term mastering is used generally to mean recording."
Mini CD "The 8cm version of the standard 12cm CD format, offering a storage capacity of 185MB. Used as a cheap and
convenient form of removable storage in consumer devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players."
Mixed Mode "A compact disc which combines computer data and audio. The data is generally all contained in Track 1, and the
audio in one or more following tracks."
MO Technology "Magneto-Optical Technology: a rewritable optical storage technology that uses a combination of magnetic and
optical methods. Data is written on an MO disk by both a laser and a magnet. The laser heats the bit to the Curie
point, which is the temperature at which molecules can be realigned when subjected to a magnetic field. A magnet
then changes the bit's polarity. Writing takes two passes. Unlike with phase-change drives MO disks do not have to
be "reformatted" when full. See also LIMDOW."
Mode "There are two recording modes for compact discs. In Mode 1, used with CD-ROM applications, 288 bytes of each
sector are used for storing error correction code, and the remaining 2048 bytes per sector are available for user data.
Mode 2, used in CD-I and CD-ROM XA, has two forms: Form 1 is similar to Mode 1, as it is also used to record
data that requires error correction; Form 2 is used for recording information such as sound or images which do not
require such extreme precision. Since less error correction is needed, more bytes in the sector can be freed for
information storage, resulting in a data area of 2336 bytes per sector."
Mount "To install a compact disc so that the computer recognises its presence and can read data from it."
MSCDEX "Microsoft DOS extensions for CD-ROM. Allows the DOS operating system to recognise a CD-ROM as a DOS
MultiRead "An OSTA standard for CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives. Drives which follow the MultiRead standard can read
commercial CDs (audio and data), CD-R discs, and CD-RW discs. They can also read discs written in fixed- or
variable-length packets. This applies also to DVD."
MultiSession "The Orange Book specification which allows additional data to be appended to a previously recorded disc. A
session is defined as an area including lead-in, program data and lead-out. Contrast the recording structure of a
pressed CD-ROM or a CD-R written in Disc at Once mode that contains just. Also referred to as linked session."
MultiTrack "The ability to record more than a single track on a disc. Track numbers are from 1 to 99. They continue to
increment across session boundaries. e.g. if session 1 used tracks 1 to 4, session 2 would start at track 5. Track
numbers may start at any value, but must be incremented sequentially on the disc."
Orange Book "The Philips/Sony specification for Compact Disc Magneto-Optical (CD-MO) and Write-Once (CD-WO) systems.
Part II is the primary specification for CD-R media and defines both the physical structure and dimensions of a CD-
R disc as well as the use of certain portions of the recording surface: the Program area, the Power Calibration area
(PCA), the Program Memory area (PMA), the Lead-in and Lead-out areas. It also Includes the specification for the
Hybrid Disc technology on which Photo CD is based."
OSTA "Optical Storage Technology Association: an international trade association dedicated to promoting use of writable
optical technology for storing computer data and images."
P-channel "One of the CD subcode channels. The P-channel is used to indicate the gap between tracks on a CD."
Packet Writing "Track at Once writing is a form of incremental write which mandates a minimum track length and a maximum
number of tracks per disc. A track written "at once" has 150 blocks of overhead for run-in, run-out, pre-gap and
linking. Packet write, on the other hand, is a method whereby several write events are allowed within a track, thus
reducing the overhead. These "packets" are bounded by 7 blocks, 4 for run-in, 2 for run-out and 1 link block.
Packets can be of fixed or variable length."
PCA "Power Calibration Area: a space reserved at the beginning of the disc for calibrating the laser to record to that
PD Drive "Refers to the Phase-change Dual optical technology as implemented in Panasonic's patented PD system. Similar to
phase-change WORM technology (as used in CD-R) this uses an active layer with reversible properties allowing
data to be overwritten in a single pass of the read/write head. This compares with the two-pass operation of
conventional MO devices."
Phase-change Technology "An optical storage technology in which the disk drive writes data with a laser that changes dots on the disk
between amorphous and crystalline states. An optical head reads data by detecting the difference in reflected light
from amorphous and crystalline dots. When full a phase-change disk can be erased (or "reformatted") using a
medium-intensity pulse to restore the original crystalline structure. CD-RW uses phase-change technology."
Photo CD "A compact disc format developed by Kodak and Philips, based on the CD-i Bridge specification, that allows
photographic images to be recorded and viewed on a CD-ROM. Up to 100 high resolution images can be stored on
a Photo CD."
Pit "An indentation in an optical medium such as a CD-ROM or DVD. The laser beam is either absorbed in the pit or
reflects off the non-indented areas, which are called lands. Using various algorithms, the reflections are converted
into 0 and 1 bits."
PMA "Program Memory Area: on a recordable disc, an area which temporarily contains track numbers and their starting
and stopping points (that is, the session TOC) when tracks are written in a session which is not yet closed. When the
session is closed, this same TOC information is written in the session lead-in."
Post-Gap "A space dividing tracks, recorded within the track data area at its end. The post-gap is 150 sectors (2 seconds) long
and is required only where successive tracks are of different types."
Pre-Gap "A space dividing tracks, recorded before the track data area. The length of the pre-gap varies with the CD recorder
and the types of tracks. Where successive tracks are both of data, one track is separated from another by a track pre-
gap of 150 sectors (2 seconds). Where successive tracks are of different types, the pre-gap is usually of 225 sectors
(or three seconds). If two successive tracks are audio, there may be no pre-gap at all."
Premastering "The technical process of preparing data to be mastered onto a compact disc. It includes breaking the data into
logical blocks and recording those blocks with the appropriate header (address) and error correction information.
The result of premastering may be a tape ready to go for mastering, or, in the case of recordable CD systems,
premastering and mastering are done in one operation, resulting in a ready-to-read compact disc."
Program area "The largest area on a CD containing the audio or CD-ROM information."
Q-channel "One of the CD subcode channels. The Q-channel is used to give timecode addresses and, in the lead-in, the Table
of Contents."
Random Erase "The ability to erase a single file at a time from a CD-RW disc, freeing up disc space for immediate re-use, just as
you would do on a hard or floppy disk. Part of the UDF 1.5 specification and implemented via UDF driver software
such as Adaptec's DirectCD V2.0."
Red Book "The Philips/Sony specification for audio (CD-DA) compact discs."
Replication "Or duplication. Making multiple copies of a compact disc."
Rock Ridge "The Rock Ridge extensions to ISO-9660 use some undefined fields in the standard to provide support for Unix-
like features such long mixed-case filenames, symbolic links, and deep directories."
SCMS "Serial Copy Management System: a measure introduced to tackle piracy problems which allows the consumer to
make a single digital copy, for personal use, from a copyrighted source."
Second "The reference used where a quantity of data, which if played in audio mode at 1x, would require 1 second to play.
75 sectors."
Sequential Erase "Erasing, or reformatting, an entire CD-RW disc so that it can be re-used. Contrast with Random Erase."
Session "As defined under the Orange Book, a recorded segment of compact disc which may contain one or more tracks of
any type (data or audio)."
Silver Disc "A disc which is mastered by a stamping process. It is Read-Only and can not be modified."
Single Session "The smallest collection of information that can be read by a CD-ROM compatible device. It contains the ISO 9960
file structure and files. A single session can contain a single track or multiple tracks. Contrast MultiSession and
Subcode channel "A separate low speed data channel on every CD. The subcode comprises 8 channels, designated "R" through "W"."
TOC "Table Of Contents: shows the number of tracks, their starting locations, and the total length of the data area of the
Track At Once "A writing mode that allows a session to be written in a number of discrete write events, called tracks. The mode
mandates a minimum track length of 300 blocks (4 seconds), which equates to around 700KB, and a maximum of
99 tracks per disc. The disc may be removed from the writer and read in another writer before the session is
Track MultiSession "This write mode is very similar to Track At Once. In the Multisession environment, each "session" must contain at
least one track. Again, the size of the track must be at least 300 blocks. Track Multisession mode allows tracks to be
incrementally added to a disc (this should not to be confused with Incremental Writing). Each session will take up
about 13.5MB of disc space in overhead; the so-called Lead-in and Lead-out areas."
UDF "Universal Disk Format: a file system for optical media developed by the Optical Storage Technology Association
(OSTA). It was designed for read-write interoperability between all the major operating systems as well as
compatibility between rewritable and write-once media. The standard allows for efficient recording of small
packages of data, using incremental packet writing."
Underrun "The condition occurring when the rate at which data is transmitted to a receiving device is insufficiently fast to
avoid the device going into a "wait" state. Buffer underrun is best known in the context of CD recording, where if a
recorder's buffer becomes completely emptied, the recordable CD is irretrievably damaged. See also Overrun."
Virtual Image "A database of files to be written to CD, created by dragging and dropping files into the main window. Can be used
to write directly to CD, or to master a real ISO 9660 image to hard disk."
VOB "Video Object File: the file format and extension specified for DVD-Video used files - such as DVD movies - that
contains MPEG video, audio and navigation data. "
Volume Descriptors "In ISO 9660, a set of information on the disc containing vital information about the CD and how the computer
should read it."
White Book "The White Book defines the VideoCD specification. First published in 1993."
Wobble Groove "Refers to the undulating "wobble" signal moulded into the pre-grooved spiral track on recordable DVD media
which is used to guide the recording laser beam during the writing process."
WORM "Write Once Read Many: an optical disk technology that allows the drive to store and read back data but prevents
the drive from erasing information once it has been written."
Write Direct "The data referenced in a virtual image are written directly to the CD without first writing a real ISO 9660 image.
This is temporarily written to the hard disk. Also referred to a on-the-fly."
Write First To HD "Everything is written to the hard disk first. Contrast it to Write Direct. Also called ISO image."
Yellow Book "The book which sets out the standard developed by Philips and Sony for the physical format of compact discs to
be used for information storage - CD-ROM."

Category: Sound (47 terms)

Terms related to sound technology are explained here

Term Definition
16-Bit Audio "A unit of measure that indicates the resolution of a digitised sound sample. The higher the resolution, the better the
audio fidelity. 16-bit audio is the standard used for standard audio Compact Discs (CD-DA)."
3D Sound "A blanket term for technologies that alter the way sound is distributed in real-world space. Spatialisation broadens
the soundstage (the area in space where the sound seems to be coming from), making it more dramatic and
spacious, and gives the illusion of pushing it beyond the physical location of the speakers. Positional audio uses
encoded audio streams to position sounds realistically in the space around the listener when the sounds are played
back on compatible equipment."
8-Bit Audio "A unit of measure that indicates the resolution of a digitised sound sample. The higher the resolution, the better the
audio fidelity. Audio that is digitised using 8 bits of resolution is slightly better in fidelity than normal AM radio."
A3D "A positional audio technology and audio API developed by Aureal Semiconductor Inc. A3D enables a real-life
audio experience by surrounding the listener with sounds in all three dimensions using only a single pair of
ordinary speakers or headphones."
AC 97 "An Intel-recommended standard for PC audio circuitry. The specification reduces noise by partitioning analogue
and digital components into separate modules."
AIIF "Audio Interchange File Format: used for high end audio applications."
AU "Unix sound file format popular on the Internet."
Chorus "A doubling effect used to enhance sound."
Dolby AC-3 "A perceptual digital audio coding technique capable of delivering multichannel digital surround sound. It
incorporates 6 (5.1) discrete channels; each channel can carry a different signal simultaneously (left front, right
front, centre, left rear, right rear, sub-woofer)."
Dolby Digital "A digital audio encoding system from Dolby used in movie and home theaters. First used in 1995, Dolby Digital
employs Dolby's AC-3 (Audio Coding-3) coding and compression technology and provides six channels of audio,
known as 5.1 for front left, front right, front center, rear left, rear right and subwoofer."
DVD-Audio "The DVD audio-only storage format similar to CD-Audio. DVD-Audio is facing stiff competition from a number
of other high fidelity audio standards."
EAX "Environmental Audio Extensions: a hardware and software audio standard developed by Creative Labs. And used
originally in the company's SoundBlaster cards. EAX has subsequently become a widely supported standard
offering 3D positional audio and allowing the manipulation of sounds so that they can appear to be heard in
different listening environments."
FM Synthesis "Frequency Modulation Synthesis: an outdated technique for synthesising music reproduction but still widely
supported to provide compatibility with older games software."
Gain "The increase in signalling power as an audio signal is boosted by an electronic device. It is measured in decibels."
General MIDI "A table of 128 standard sounds or instruments for MIDI cards and synthesisers."
HRTF "Head-Related Transfer Functions: Refers to the mathematics that models the way a human ear localises the
direction of a sound."
MIDI "Musical Instrument Digital Interface: a specification that standardises the interface between computers and digital
devices that simulate musical instruments. Rather than transmit bulky digitised sound samples, a computer
generates music on a MIDI synthesiser by sending it commands just a few bytes in length. These contain all the
information a sound board needs to reproduce the desired sound - the type of instrument, the pitch, duration,
volume, attack, decay, etc. are all specified by the protocol. Each channel of a MIDI synthesiser corresponds to a
different instrument, or "voice". Programming several channels simultaneously produces symphonic sound."
MIDI Mapper "Windows multimedia translator for MIDI hardware and software."
MiniDisc "MD: a compact digital audio disc from Sony that comes in read-only and rewritable versions. Introduced in late
1993, the MiniDisc has been popular in Japan. The read-only 2.5in disc stores 140MB compared to 650MB on a
CD, but holds the same 74 minutes worth of music due to Sony's Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC)
compression scheme, which eliminates inaudible portions of the signal."
MP3 "Standardised as ISO-MPEG Audio Layer-3 (IS 11172-3 and IS 138-3), MP3 employs a lossy compression
technique, with bits of information being discarded to allow data to be compressed into files which are relatively
small in comparison with WAV files but which retain subjective CD quality."
MPEG Audio "MPEG defined three levels or layers of audio compression. Which layer a type of equipment uses depends on the
desired level of compression. These three layers compress audio data streams by roughly four, six and eight times
respectively, around 64, 128 and 192Kbit/s per channel. In practical terms, these compression rates make possible
radio broadcasting of CD-quality music. All three layers are defined for both monaural and stereo sound.
Definitions for surround sound and other high fidelity applications are under consideration."
MPEG-2 Audio "Supplies up to five full bandwidth channels (left, right, centre, and two surround channels), plus an additional low
frequency enhancement channel, and/or up to seven commentary/multilingual channels. The MPEG-2 Audio
Standard will also extend the stereo and mono coding of the MPEG-1 Audio Standard to half sampling-rates (16
KHz, 22.05 KHz, and 24 KHz), for improved quality for bitrates at or below 64 Kbits/s, per channel."
Multi-Timbral "The number of simultaneous instruments a synthesiser can play."
Obstructions "Even when sounds originate in the same room, they are often obstructed by objects like furniture before they reach
a person's ears. However, because the sound remains in the same room as the listener, the reverberation effect on
these sounds will not be muffled - reverberation will spread round a whole room regardless of individual
Occlusions "Sounds that originate from a sound source behind a wall or door or other solitary object. In so doing, they are
subtly altered - usually with a volume drop and muffling, depending on the material and thickness of the
Physical Modelling "A revolutionary method for generating sound. This technique emulates the impulse patterns of real-world
Synthesis instruments using a software model."
Polyphony "The number of voices a synthesiser can play at any one time."
Psychoacoustics "The study of how the human brain perceives sound. Findings relating to which sounds are and are not heard by the
human ear have been used in the formulation of various audio compression techniques, including MP3."
RealAudio "Extreme audio compression scheme used on the Internet to provide streamed audio over ordinary modems"
Reflections "Sounds that originate from a sound source and bounce off walls, floors, ceilings and other obstructions before
reaching the listener."
Reverb "The sum of all sound reflections in a given environment."
RIAA "Recording Industry Association of America: The association formed by the recording companies in the United
States to promote the recording industry and to defend its legal rights. The RIAA equalisation curve is a
compensation method applied to a signal from a record deck pick-up. Phono pre-amps have RIAA circuitry built-
Ripper "The name given to the specialised software that extracts raw audio data from a music CD. The ability to extract
audio digitally relies on a feature of newer CD-ROM drives that allows the digital data from audio CDs to be
passed through the computer's bus (IDE, SCSI) just like CD-ROM data."
Roland GS "Roland General Synthesiser and General MIDI are two overlapping specifications for defining the standard sets of
MIDI sounds that are associated with specific commands."
S/PDIF "Sony/Philips Digital Interchange Format: an interface standard that lets users connect sound equipment (such as
sound boards and speakers) via a pure digital signal."
Sampling "The first step in the process of converting an analogue signal into a digital representation. This is accomplished by
measuring the value of the analogue signal at regular intervals called samples. These values are then encoded to
provide a digital representation of the analogue signal."
Sampling Rate "In digitising operations, the frequency with which samples are taken and converted into digital form. The sampling
frequency should be at least twice that of the analogue frequency being digitised. Thus, the sampling rate for hi-fi
playback is 44.1kHz, slightly more than double the 20kHz frequency humans can hear."
SDMI "Secure Digital Music Initiative: A secure digital format for distributing music over the Internet. Announced in
February 1999, it is backed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Sony, Warner, BMG,
EMI and Universal - the top five music production companies. At the time of its announcement, the new format was
expected in products by Christmas 1999."
Sequencer "Software for recording and editing MIDI files."
Sound Blaster "A family of sound cards from Creative Labs. The Sound Blaster protocol has become the de facto audio standard
for PCs. Monaural versions of Sound Blaster cards were introduced in 1989, and a stereo version three years later.
The Sound Blaster AWE32 and AWE64 are 16-bit sound cards that provide WaveTable MIDI with 32 and 64 voices
Sound Card "Also called sound board and audio adapter, this is an expansion board that records and plays back sound, providing
outputs directly to speakers or an external amplifier. The de facto standard for sound card compatibility in PCs is
Creative Labs' Sound Blaster."
TAPI "Telephony Application Programming Interface: permits Windows applications to program telephone-line-based
devices such as modems and fax machines in a device-independent manner."
Toslink "A fibre optic digital audio connection used to connect a digital source component (e.g., DVD player, CD player,
etc.) to a receiver or pre-amplifier. By passing the "raw" digital audio signal using laser (light) pulses, interference
and degradation are minimised. The means of interconnect used for connecting MiniDisc players to stereos and
certain sound cards."
Voice recognition "The conversion of spoken words into computer text. Speech is first digitised and then matched against a dictionary
of coded waveforms. The matches are then converted into text as if the words were typed on the keyboard."
WAV "Waveform Audio: the native digital audio format used in Windows. WAV files use the .wav file extension and
allow different sound qualities to be recorded. Either 8-bit or 16-bit samples can be taken at rates of 11025Hz,
22050Hz and 44100Hz. The highest quality (16-bit samples at 44100Hz) uses 88KB of storage per second."
WaveTable Synthesis "A common method for generating sound electronically on a PC. Output is produced using a table of sound samples
-actual recorded sounds - that are digitised and played back as needed. By continuously rereading samples and
looping them together at different pitches, highly complex tones can be generated from a minimum of stored data
without overtaxing the processor."
XG "Yamaha's extension of General MIDI that provides many instrument variations and more digital effects. Many
instrument parameters can be controlled in real-time."

Category: Printers (33 terms)

From old to modern, printer terms demystified

Term Definition
Banding "Bands of discrete colour or tone that appear when an inkjet can't reproduce a smooth graduation from one colour
to another. Instead there are noticeable jumps between one value and the next."
Bleeding "A print distortion where adjacent colours run and merge into one another, sometimes caused by excess ink or paper
which is too absorbent."
Bubble Jet "Canon's trade name for its thermal drop on demand ink jet printer technology. The ink is heated, which produces a
bubble that expands and ejects the ink out of the nozzle. As the bubble cools, the vacuum created draws fresh ink
back into the nozzle."
Centronics Interface "This 36-pin connection was designed by Centronics Corp. and has become the preferred way to attach most
printers to a PC parallel data port."
CMY "Cheaper, single cartridge inkjets use the Cyan Magenta Yellow model. Black, referred to as composite black, is
made up from the three colours. Dye-sublimation uses these three colours on the print ribbon."
Composite Black "The creation of black from cyan, magenta and yellow inks. Mixing inks is not a perfect operation, and composite
black is often muddy. This is why the CMYK model is used in professional printing. See also True Black."
Contone "A technique used by colour printing technologies which is a compromise between increased halftone cell size
(giving more shades per halftone cell) and increased resolution (giving less invisible halftone cells)."
Diffuse Dither "A method for printing continuous-tone images on laser printers in which the greyscale information is represented
by randomly located printer dots. Diffuse dithers do not photocopy well because of the small, random, dot location
in the image."
Dithering "The process of intentionally mixing colours of adjacent pixels. Dithering is usually needed for 8-bit colour, and
sometimes for 16-bit. It allows a limited colour set to approximate a broader range, by mixing groups of varying-
colour pixels in a semi-random pattern. Without dithering, colour gradients like sky or sunset tend to show
"banding" artefacts."
Dot Matrix "A type of printer, also known as serial dot matrix, that uses one or two columns of dot hammers to form images out
of dots. The more dot hammers used, the higher the resolution of the printed image."
Dye-Sublimation "A specialist print technology used for demanding graphic arts and photographic applications that require
continuous tone output."
Feathering "A term used when describing printed text quality. Feathering occurs when deposited ink follows the contours of
the paper. Depending on the viscosity of the ink, the rougher the grain of the paper the more pronounced the
feathering will be."
GDI "Graphical Device Interface: a component of Windows that permits applications to draw on screens, printers, and
other output devices. A GDI-compliant printer will print exactly what is displayed on a Windows screen without
having to transpose it into a printer language. Since all the processing happens on the PC, the printer doesn't require
since image processing circuitry, reducing its price."
Halftone "A method of expressing colour gradation in continuous-tone images. The image is resolved into dots, with dark
colour being expressed by a large number of dots and diluted colour is by a smaller number of dots. The dot
patterns used are called dithers. Halftone dots are not the same as printer dots."
Inkjet "A printer technology where ink is splashed onto the printer paper to form an image or character."
Laser Printer "A type of printer that utilises a laser beam to produce an image on a drum. The light of the laser alters the electrical
charge on the drum wherever it hits. The drum is then rolled through a reservoir of toner, which is picked up by the
charged portions of the drum. Finally, the toner is transferred to the paper through a combination of heat and
pressure. This is also the way copy machines work."
LCD Printer "Similar to a laser printer. Instead of using a laser to create an image on the drum, however, it shines a light through
a liquid crystal panel. Individual pixels in the panel either let the light pass or block the light, thereby creating a dot
image on the drum."
LED Printer "An electrophotographic printer that uses a matrix of LEDs as its light source. The LED mechanism is much
simpler than its laser printer counterpart. A stationary array of LEDs is used instead of numerous moving parts, and
the LEDs are selectively beamed onto the drum."
LPT1 "The first parallel or printer port on a PC."
Parallel Port "An I/O channel for a parallel device, like a printer, which sends and receives data eight bits at a time over 8
separate wires. Maximum throughput is around 500 Kbit/s. Increasingly, other devices such as removable storage
drives, scanners etc. share the printer parallel port using a "pass through" mechanism."
PCL "Printer Control Language: a protocol designed by Hewlett-Packard to allow PCs to communicate with its laser
printers. PCL has become a de facto standard for laser and ink jet printers and is supported by virtually all printer
manufacturers. "HP compatible" or "LaserJet compatible" means that a printer supports the PCL command set."
PDL "Page Description Language: a language for describing the layout and contents of a printed page used with laser
printers. The best-known PDLs are Adobe PostScript and Hewlett-Packard PCL (Printer Control Language). Both
PostScript and modern versions of PCL are object-oriented, describing a page in terms of geometrical objects such
as lines, arcs, and circles."
Piezo-Electric "The property of certain crystals that causes them to oscillate when subjected to electrical pressure (voltage)."
Pigment Inks "While conventional inks are essentially oil-based dyes, pigment inks consist of tiny chunks of solid pigment
suspended in a liquid solution. According to their proponents, pigment inks offer richer, deeper colours and have
less tendency to run, bleed or feather."
PostScript "A page description language developed by Adobe. Generally used by laser printers, PostScript is becoming
increasingly common in high-end inkjets too."
Printer Dot "The individual pixel in a halftone image. The size of a printer dot is variable, ranging from zero (all white) to the
size of the halftone screen (all black)."
Process Colours "The four primary ink colours (CMYK) used in colour printing."
Raster Image "An image defined as a set of dots/pixels in a column-and-row format. Rasterisation is the process of determining
values for the dots/pixels in a rendered image. See also Bitmap."
Thermal Transfer "A printer technology that uses heat to transfer coloured dye onto paper."
Thermo Autochrome "A print technology which has emerged in digital camera companion printers and which is claimed to produce
photographic-quality output on a par with the more well-known dye-sublimation technique."
Toner "A special type of ink used by copy machines and laser printers. Toner consists of a dry, powdery substance that is
electrically charged so that it adheres to a drum, plate, or piece of paper charged with the opposite polarity."
True Black "Black produced by a separate black ink rather than the "composite black" produced from a mixture of cyan,
magenta and yellow. See also Composite Black."
WPS "Windows Print System: the scheme supported by Windows 95 in which the operating system spools data from an
application in Enhanced Metafile Format (EMF), instead of raw printer data. The spooler interprets the data in the
background and then passes appropriate commands to the printer. Like with GDI, all the processing is done on the

Category: Communications (195 terms)

A comprehensive glossary of communications terminology

Term Definition
3G "Abbreviation for Third Generation: the generic term used for the next generation of mobile communications
systems, providing enhanced capacity, quality and data rates and promising exciting new services in all of the areas
of voice, text and data."
3GPP "3rd Generation Partnership Project; a collaboration agreement established in December 1998 that brings together a
number of telecommunications standards bodies, with the objective of creating a globally applicable third
generation (3G) mobile phone system based on evolved Global System for Mobile communication (GSM)
specifications, now generally known as the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) system."
ACK "Acknowledgement: notification sent from one network device to another to acknowledge that some event - for
example, receipt of a message - occurred."
ADSL "Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line: the most promising of the family of xDSL technologies, in which the data
rate from the ISP is greater than the data rate to the ISP. Projections are for capacities of more than 6 Mbit/s to the
home and anywhere between 64- and 640 Kbit/s from the home to the ISP."
AM "Amplitude Modulation: a data transmission technique that blends the data signal into a carrier by varying
(modulating) the amplitude of the carrier."
Analogue "In an analogue signal numerical values are represented by physical variables such as voltage, current, etc.
Analogue video represents an infinite number of smooth gradations between given video levels. Analogue devices
are characterised by dials and sliding mechanisms. See also Digital."
Answer Mode "A modem is put into Answer Mode when a call from another computer is expected. The modem uses "originate
mode" when calling another computer. Although a modem can operate in either mode, some modems operate only
in originate mode. To communicate with these modems, a modem can switch to answer mode after placing
(originating) a call."
Asynchronous "Communication between computers at irregular intervals. To handle this kind of communication, the modem adds
Communication start and stop bits to each character it sends. The start bit lets the receiving computer know when a new character
has started. The stop bit indicates the end of the character."
AT Command Set "The set of industry-standard commands, developed by Hayes, used to control the modem. Most modems are
"Hayes compatible"."
ATM "Asynchronous Transfer Mode: a network technology for both LANs and WANs based on transferring data in cells
or packets of a fixed size that supports real-time voice and video as well as data. The topology uses a connection-
oriented technique similar to the analogue telephone system, maintaining a connection for the duration of a
Auto Answer "The modem automatically answers the phone after a certain number of rings. This is in contrast to manual
answering, where a person sends an AT command to the modem to cause the modem to answer a ringing
Auto-Reliable Mode "The modem automatically negotiates with the remote modem for a connection, determines whether or not it can
use error control and data compression during a transmission, and determines which error control and data
compression protocol it can use."
Automatic Dialling "The modem automatically dials the telephone. This is in contrast to manual dialling, where a person dials the
AWG "American Wire Gauge: a standard measuring gauge for certain conductors, including copper. The higher the AWG
number the thinner the wire. The origins of the gauge lie in the number of times the wire was run through a wire
machine to reduce its diameter. Thus a 24-guage wire was thinner than an 18-guage wire because it had been run
through a wire machine 6 more times."
B Channel "This is an ISDN communication channel that bears or carries voice, circuit or packet conversations. The B-channel
is the fundamental component of ISDN interfaces. It carries 64,000 bits per seconds in either direction."
BABT "British Approval Board for Telecommunications: any modem used in the UK must have this approval. A green
circle indicates BABT approval, a red triangle means it has not been approved."
BACP "Bandwidth Allocation Control Protocol: a protocol that works in conjunction with Multilink PPP to manage
bandwidth dynamically. BACP lets two devices negotiate adding or subtracting bandwidth as needed."
Baseband "Characteristic of a network technology where only one carrier frequency is used and all the available bandwidth is
used for each transmission. Ethernet is an example of a baseband network. It is sometimes referred to as
Narrowband. Contrast with Broadband."
Baud Rate "The number of symbols transmitted per second. This is not always the same as the bps rate (see also BPS), because
a given symbol, or baud, may have more than one bit."
BISYNC "BInary SYNChronous: a major category of synchronous communications protocols, developed by IBM and used
in mainframe networks. Bisync communications require that both sending and receiving devices are synchronised
before transmission of data is started. Contrast with asynchronous transmission."
Bit/s "Bits Per Second: the speed at which data travels over a communications circuit. For example, a modem that
operates at 2400 bits per second can transfer 2400 binary digits each second. A character normally consists of seven
or eight of these binary digits, plus the start and stop bits that separate the character from other transmitted
Bluetooth "Refers to a short-range radio technology aimed at simplifying communications among Net devices and between
devices and the Internet. It also aims to simplify data synchronisation between Net devices and other computers.
Bluetooth's founding members include Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba."
BRI "Basic-Rate Interface: the basic ISDN setup, consisting of two 64 Kbit/s B-channels (bearer channels), which carry
data and voice in both directions, and one 16 Kbit/s D-channel, which carries call-control information. See also
Bridge "A device that operates at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI reference model and whose function is to connect
and pass packets of information between two network segments."
Broadband "Refers to any communications channel with a bandwidth greater than a voice-grade (4 kHz) and generally implies
a transmission system that splits the available bandwidth into separate channels to use concurrently. Also referred to
as Wideband. Contrast with Baseband."
Cable Modem "A modem that uses part of the capacity of the local cable system to transmit data rather than TV channels to the
home. It works much like a Local Area Network. Unlike the typical cable system, where TV signals can only be
broadcast to the home, information is allowed to be transmitted in both directions."
CAP "Carrierless Amplitude Phase: a multilevel multiphase encoding method and one of the two main modulation
methods that can be used with ADSL technology. CAP uses frequency modulation techniques for sending signals
over standard copper twisted-copper wire, giving data bit combinations a form of both amplitude and phase. Unlike
DMT, CAP uses the whole frequency range from 4KHz up to 1.1MHz as a single channel. It is used in the
V.32/V.32bis modem communication standard."
Carrier "The base signal used to transmit data across a telephone line. The modem modulates this signal (alters its
frequency or phase) to encode the data to be transmitted."
CCITT "Consultative Committee for International Telephone and Telegraph: an international standards organisation
dedicated to creating communications protocols that will enable global compatibility for the transmission of voice,
data, and video across all computing and telecommunications equipment. Changed its name to the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 1993."
CDMA "Code Division Multiple Access: a technology for digital transmission of radio signals that uses digital encoding
and spread-spectrum RF techniques to let multiple users share the same RF channel. In CDMA, a frequency is
divided using codes, rather than in time or through frequency separation."
CDPD "Cellular Digital Packet Data: a wireless communications protocol - widely used by law enforcement agencies -
which enables users to transmit packets of data over the cellular network using a portable computing device and a
CDPD modem."
Clear To Send "CTS: an RS-232C signal that tells the computer it can start sending information. See also Request To Send (RTS)."
Client-Server "A network architecture in which each computer or process on the network is either a "client" or a "server". Servers
are powerful computers or processes dedicated to managing disk drives (file servers), printers (print servers), or
network traffic (network servers ). Clients are typically PCs or workstations on which users run applications.
Contrast Peer-to-peer."
CO "Central Office: a facility that serves local telephone subscribers. In the CO, subscribers' lines are joined to
switching equipment that allows them to connect to each other for both local and long distance calls."
Coaxial Cable "Cable consisting of a hollow outer cylindrical conductor that surrounds a single inner wire conductor. Two types of
coaxial cable are currently used in LANs: 50-ohm cable, which is used for digital signalling, and 75-ohm cable,
which is used for analogue signalling and high-speed digital signalling."
Collision "The situation that occurs when two or more devices attempt to send a signal along the same channel at the same
time. The result of a collision is generally a garbled message. All computer networks require some sort of
mechanism to either prevent collisions altogether or to recover from collisions when they do occur."
Command Mode "One of the two operating modes of the modem, sometimes called local mode or terminal mode. In command
mode, the modem interprets any information it receives from the local computer (or terminal) as modem
commands. It tries to perform the commands sent to it, and it returns result codes indicating the results of the
commands. See also On-Line Mode."
Comms Software "A program that sets up a modem and provides a user interface to the various modem functions."
Configuration Profile "The current operating characteristics of a modem, stored in its S-registers. Whenever a modem command to
change one of the operational characteristics (such as setting the volume control or turning the speaker on or off) is
issued, the modem changes the values in the S-registers to reflect the changes."
CSMA/CD "Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection: the media access mechanism used by Ethernet and IEEE
802.3 wherein devices ready to transmit data first check the channel for a carrier. If no carrier is sensed for a
specific period of time, a device can transmit. If two devices transmit at once, a collision occurs and is detected by
all colliding devices. This collision subsequently delays retransmissions from those devices for some random length
of time."
D-Channel "This is an ISDN communication channel used for sending information between the ISDN equipment and the ISDN
central office switch. The D-channel can also carry "user" packet data at rates up to 9.6 Kilobits."
Data Carrier Detect "DCD: an RS-232C signal that indicates the modem is receiving a carrier signal from a remote modem."
Data Compression "The encoding of text or data so that it takes up less space (fewer bits). CCITT V.42bis and MNP Class 5 are two
different data compression protocols. Data compression allows a modem to transmit more information in a shorter
period of time and thus increases its data throughput. Decompression by a receiver reverses the process."
Data Set Ready "DSR: an RS-232Ccircuit that is activated to let a DCE know when a DTE is ready to send or receive data."
Data Terminal Ready "DTR: an RS-232C signal that tells the modem the local computer (or terminal) is ready for data transmission."
DCE "Data circuit terminating equipment: a device used to connect two DTEs over a network. A modem is a DCE."
Dial Modifiers "AT commands that instruct the modem in dialling the telephone. Dial modifiers specify things like whether to use
pulse or tone dialling, when and how long to pause between numbers, and whether to dial a stored number."
Digital "A method of signal representation by turning a voltage on or off. Each on or off state represents a binary 1 or 0,
respectively. Unlike analogue signals, digital signals can be repeatedly regenerated without introducing noise or
distortion. See also Analogue."
DirecTV "A satellite television provider, offering Internet access by satellite dish."
DMT "Discrete MulitiTone: one of the two main modulation methods that can be used with ADSL technology. DMT
divides the frequency spectrum supported by standard copper twisted-pair wire into 256 sub-frequencies from
64Khz to 1.1MHz. Each sub-frequency is an independent channel and has it own stream of signals. See also CAP."
DOCSV "Data Over Circuit-Switched Voice: an ISDN adapter feature that allows data to be sent over a B-channel normally
provisioned for voice, avoiding per-minute tariffs often applied to ISDN data calls."
DSSS "Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum: one of two types of spread spectrum radio (the other being FHSS) that
continuously change frequencies or signal patterns. DSSS multiplies the data bits by a very fast pseudo-random bit
pattern that "spreads" the data into a large coded stream that takes the full bandwidth of the channel."
DTE "Data terminal equipment: an end device on a communications circuit, such as a computer terminal or PC."
Duplex "The way modems exchange data: half duplex or full duplex. With half duplex transmissions, only one modem can
send data at a time. Full duplex transmissions allow both modems to send data simultaneously."
E1 "A four-wire European telephone company standard that carries data at 2.048 Mbit/s. The European-equivalent of a
US T1 line."
EDGE "Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution: a technology that gives GSM and TDMA similar capacity to handle services
for 3G. EDGE was developed to enable the transmission of large amounts of data at rates of 384 Kbit/s."
EIRP "The Effective Isotropic Radiated Power of a transmitter (uplink) is the power that the transmitter appears to have if
the transmitter was an isotropic radiator, i.e., if it radiated equally in all directions. By virtue of the gain of a radio
antenna, dish, radio telescope or optical telescope, a beam is formed that preferentially transmits the energy in one
direction. The EIRP is given by the product of the gain and the transmitter power."
EPP "Enhanced Parallel Port: a parallel port that conforms to the EPP standard developed by the IEEE 1284 standards
committee. The EPP specification transforms a parallel port into an expansion bus that can handle up to 64 disk
drives, tape drives, CD-ROM drives, and other mass-storage devices."
Error Control "The encoding of text or data so that a receiving modem can detect and sometimes correct errors in data
transmissions. LAPM and MNP classes 1 through 4 are two different error control protocols."
Escape Sequence "A sequence of three characters (normally "+++") that switches the modem from the on-line mode to the command
mode without breaking the telephone connection."
Ethernet "Developed by Xerox, Digital and Intel (IEEE 802.3) , this is the most widely used LAN access method. Normally,
all stations on a segment share the total bandwidth, which is either 10 Mbit/s (Ethernet), 100 Mbit/s (Fast Ethernet)
or 1000 Mbit/s (Gigabit Ethernet). With switched Ethernet, each sender and receiver pair have the full bandwidth."
ETSI "European Telecommunications Standards Institute: a non-profit membership organisation founded in 1988,
dedicated to standardising telecommunications throughout Europe. It promotes worldwide standards, and its efforts
are co-ordinated with the ITU."
FCC "Federal Communications Commission: the U.S. Government agency that supervises, licenses, and regulates
electronic and electromagnetic transmission standards."
FDDI "Fibre Distributed Data Interface: an ANSI standard token passing network that uses optical fibre cabling and
transmits at 100 Mbit/s up to two kilometres. Typically used as backbones for wide area networks (WANs)."
FDMA "Frequency Division Multiple Access: a mobile communications technique in which radio spectrum is divided into
frequency bands."
FHSS "Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum: a radio transmission method that continuously changes the Center
frequency of a conventional carrier several times per second according to a pseudo-random set of channels, thereby
making illegal monitoring extremely difficult, if not impossible. See also DSSS."
FIFO "First In-First Out: a storage method that retrieves the item stored for the longest time. See also LIFO."
Firewall "A firewall provides a buffer - implemented either in hardware or software, or combination of both - that resides
between an internal network and the Internet. It can be configured to allow only specific kinds of messages from
the Internet to pass to the internal network, thereby protecting it from intruders or hackers who might try to use the
Internet to break into those systems."
Flash ROM "A type of memory used for firmware in modems and other digital devices. Unlike conventional ROM (read-only
memory), flash ROM can be erased and reprogrammed, making it possible to update a product's firmware without
re-placing memory chips."
Flow Control "The mechanism that regulates the flow of data between two devices. Modems typically have two methods of flow
control software flow control (XON/XOFF) and hardware flow control (CTS/RTS)."
FSK "Frequency Shift Keying: a data transmission technique that blends a data signal into a carrier by varying
(modulating) the frequency of the carrier."
FTP "File Transfer Protocol: a set of rules that allows two computers to communicate with each other as a file transfer is
carried out."
Full-Duplex "Usually used in reference to communications channels or devices. Means that data can be simultaneously sent and
received. Also used to escribe a soundcard's ability to record and playback digital audio simultaneously."
Gateway "A hardware bridge device that serves as a junction between two different types of network and that contains the
necessary protocol translation software to enable them to exchange information."
Gigabit Ethernet "The latest version of Ethernet. It offers 1 Gbit/sec raw bandwidth - 100 times faster than the original Ethernet - yet
is compatible with existing Ethernets, because it uses the same CSMA/ CD and Media Access Control (MAC)
GPRS "General Packet Radio Service: an enhancement for GSM and TDMA core networks that introduces packet data
transmission. GPRS uses radio spectrum very efficiently and provides users with "always on" connectivity and
greater bandwidth."
GPS "Global Positioning System: refers to satellite-based radio positioning systems that provide 24 hour three-
dimensional position, velocity and time information to suitably equipped users anywhere on or near the surface of
the Earth (and sometimes off the earth). GPS technology is used in a wide range of applications, including
maritime, environmental, navigational, tracking and monitoring."
GSM "Global System for Mobile Communications: first introduced in 1991, GSM is the largest digital mobile standard in
use today. Implemented in 400MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz frequency bands."
Guard Time "A period of time during which the modem must not receive characters. The escape sequence has a guard time to
ensure that data sent from a remote modem isn't interpreted as an escape sequence."
Half-Duplex "Data transmission in 2 directions, but only 1 direction at a time."
HDLC "High-level Data Link Control: An ISO communications protocol used in X.25 packet switching networks. The
HDLC protocol embeds information in a data frame that allows devices to control data flow and correct errors at
the data link layer."
HomePNA "Home Phoneline Networking Alliance: an association of industry-leading companies working together to ensure
adoption of a single, unified phoneline networking standard and the development of a range of interoperable home
networking solutions."
HomeRF "Home Radio Frequency: a wireless personal area network (PAN) technology from the HomeRF Working Group,
founded in 1998 by Compaq, IBM, HP and others. HomeRF uses the Shared Wireless Access Protocol (SWAP) and
provides an open standard for short-range transmission of digital voice and data between mobile devices (laptops,
PDAs, phones) and desktop devices."
HSCSD "High Speed Circuit Switched Data: the final evolution of circuit switched data within the GSM environment.
HSCSD enables the transmission of data over a GSM link at speeds of up to 57.6kbit/s. This is achieved by
cocatenating consecutive GSM timeslots, each of which is capable of supporting 14.4kbit/s. Up to four GSM
timeslots are needed for the transmission of HSCSD."
HSDPA "High Speed Downlink Packet Access; a packet based data service feature of the WCDMA standard which provides
UMTS networks with an upgrade path that allows data transmission over a 5MHz bandwidth WCDMA downlink of
up to 8-10Mbit/s (and more than 20Mbit/s for MIMO systems)."
Hub "A common connection point for devices in a network. Often used to describe the device that serves as the centre of
a star-topology network."
IMT-2000 "International Mobile Telecommunications-2000: an ITU initiative to define a standards framework for 3G mobile
systems providing access - by means of one or more radio links - to a wide range of telecommunications services
supported by the fixed telecommunication networks (e.g. PSTN/ISDN/IP) and to other services which are specific
to mobile users."
IrDA "Infrared Data Association: a standard for transmitting data via infrared light. IrDA ports enable the transfer of data
between IrDA devices such as computers and printers without using a cable."
ISDN "Integrated Services Digital Network: the CCITT standard that defines a completely digital
telephone/telecommunications network which carries voice, data, and video over existing telephone network
infrastructure. ISDN provides two 64 Kbit/s channels, which can be combined or used independently for both voice
and data. It is designed to provide a single interface for hooking up a phone, fax machine, PC, etc."
ISP "Internet Service Provider: a company that provides access to the Internet. For a monthly fee, subscribers are
provided with the necessary software, a username, password and access phone number. Using a modem or ISDN
terminal adapter they can then log on to the Internet, browse and download from the WWW and send and receive e-
mail. An amount of free Web space is generally provided, allowing the subscriber to create a Web site and thereby
have a presence on the Web."
ITU "International Telecommunications Union: the United Nations agency for telecommunications. The ITU combines
the standards-setting activities of the predecessor organisations formerly called the International Telegraph and
Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT) and the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR), being
charged with establishing and co-ordinating standards for electronic communications worldwide."
K56flex "A protocol, jointly developed by Lucent Technologies and Rockwell International Corp., to achieve 56 Kbit/s
modem transmissions over ordinary phone lines. K56flex allows downloads at up to 56 Kbit/s; uploads are limited
to the normal V.34 speed of 33.6 Kbit/s. See also X2."
Kbit/s "Kilobits Per Second: a measure of data transfer speed. Modems, for example, are measured in Kbit/s. Note that
one Kbit/s is 1,000 bits per second, whereas a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes. Data transfer rates are measured using the
decimal meaning of K whereas data storage is measured using the powers-of-2 meaning of K. This measure is often
expressed as "Kbps". However, this is also sometimes used to mean "Kilobytes per second" (as well as the the more
common "KBps"). To avoid confusion the PC Technology Guide uses "Kbit/s" throughout."
LAN "Local Area Network: a computer network technology designed to connect computers separated by a short distance.
The local group of linked computers are generally connected to a single, shared server."
LAPM "Link Access Procedure For Modems: one of the two protocols specified by V.42. LAPM provides error control
when a modem is communicating with another modem that supports LAPM."
LIFO "Last In First Out: a queuing method in which the next item to be retrieved is the item most recently placed in the
queue. See also FIFO."
Line Noise "Random signal disturbances that sometimes occur over telephone lines. Noise can disrupt communications and
corrupt the transmitted data. The ratio of the usable signal to unusable noise on a communications link is referred to
as the signal-to-noise ratio. Fibre optic cables are far less susceptible to noise than metal wire cables."
Local Loop "The lines between a customer and the telephone company's central office, often called the "last mile." Local loops
use copper-based telephone wire."
Loop Qualification "This is a test done by the phone company to make sure the customer is within the maximum ISDN distance of
18,000 feet from the central office that services that customer."
Loopback Test "Diagnostic test where characters that are sent to the modem are immediately sent back from the modem so the
computer can compare the characters sent with the characters received."
MAC "Medium Access Control: general standard for the data link layer in the OSI Reference Model. The IEEE divides
this layer into two sub-layers - the logical link control (LLC) layer and the media access control (MAC) layer. The
MAC sub-layer is the lower of the two and is responsible for moving data packets to and from one Network
Interface Card (NIC) to another across a shared channel. It varies for different network types and is defined by the
IEEE 802 family of standards."
MAN "Metropolitan Area Network."
Manual Dialling "Dialling a remote modem from a telephone connected to the modem. This is in contrast to automatic dialling,
where the modem dials the number."
MAPI "Messaging Application Programming Interface: an API developed by Microsoft and other computer vendors that
provides Windows applications with an implementation-independent interface to various messaging systems."
Mbit/s "The measure of data transfer speed to mean 1 million bits per second. This is often expressed as "Mbps". But this
is also sometimes used to mean "Megabytes per second" (as well as the the more common "MBps"). To avoid
confusion the PC Technology Guide uses "Mbit/s" throughout."
Mid Span Repeater "A device that amplifies the signal coming or going to the central office. This device is necessary for ISDN service
if you are outside the 18,000 feet distance requirement from the central office."
MIMO "Multiple-in, multiple-out; an antenna technology for wireless communications that takes advantage of
multiplexing to increase bandwidth, range and transmission reliability by using multiple antennas at both the source
(transmitter) and the destination (receiver). "
MKK "Musen Kensa-kentei Kyokai: the Government of Japan's authorised radio terminal equipment inspection institute."
MNP "Microcom Networking Protocol: a series of standards, running from MNP Class 1 to MNP Class 10, designed to
improve communications between modems but now superseded by LAPM. They do not stand alone, but operate in
conjunction with other modem standards."
Modem "MOdulator/DEModulator: a modem transforms (modulates) digital information into an analogue signal that can be
sent across a telephone line. It also demodulates an analogue signal it receives from the telephone line, converting
the information contained in the signal back into digital information."
Modulation "Converting a data stream into sounds to be sent down a phone line. The opposite is demodulation. See also
MP "Multilink PPP: a protocol that allows the combination of both B-channels for a total of 128 Kbit/s using
synchronous PPP framing. Unlike the older hardware-based BONDING specification, MP is implemented in
software and requires only that the communications software support the protocol."
Multiplexer "A device that integrates serial digital waveforms into a single channel by partitioning the inputted data into
segments and combining them together into a bitstream."
Napster "Created in 1999, Napster is a controversial music indexing service that gives individuals access to one another's
MP3 files by creating a unique file-sharing system via the Internet."
NIC "Network Interface Card: a card that is installed in a computer system to provide network communication
capabilities to and from that computer."
Node "Endpoint of a network connection or a junction common to two or more lines in a network. Nodes can be
processors, controllers, or workstations. The term is often used generically to refer to any entity that can access a
network, and is frequently used interchangeably with device."
NOS "Network Operating System: an operating system that includes special functions for connecting computers and
devices into a local-area network (LAN). Some operating systems, such as UNIX and the Mac OS, have
networking functions built in. The term NOS, however, is generally reserved for software that enhances a basic
operating system by adding networking features."
OFDM "Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing: a wireless communications technology and modulation technique
that divides available spectrum into multiple radio frequency (RF) channels. In OFDM, a single transmitter
transmits on many different, independent frequencies, which typically results in a signal with high resistance to
Off-Hook "The condition of a telephone line that corresponds to picking up the telephone receiver. A modem creates an off-
hook condition when it tries to communicate on a telephone line."
OFTEL "The UK government regulator for telecommunications, first established in the mid-1980s to oversee the
introduction of competition in a market dominated by British Telecom."
On-Hook "The condition of a telephone line that corresponds to hanging up the telephone receiver. A modem creates an on-
hook condition to break its connection to a telephone line."
On-Line Mode "One of the two operating modes of the modem, also called data mode. In on-line mode, the modem interprets all
information sent to it as data. The only exception is the escape sequence (normally "+++"), which returns the
modem to command mode without breaking the connection."
OSI "Open System Interconnection: an ISO standard for worldwide communications that defines a framework for
implementing protocols in seven layers. Information is passed down through the layers until it is transmitted across
the network, where it is passed back up the stack to the application at the remote end."
PABX "Private Automatic Branch eXchange: an in-house telephone switching system that interconnects telephone
extensions to each other, as well as to the outside telephone network. Modern PBXs use all-digital methods for
switching and can often handle digital terminals and telephones along with analogue telephones."
Packet "A logical grouping of information that includes a header containing control information and (usually) user data.
Packets are most often used to refer to network layer units of data."
PAN "Personal Area Network: refers to the ability of small devices such as cellphones, pagers, PDAs, and wearable
computers to exchange data wirelessly within the physical limits of someone's personal space."
Parity "A data encoding scheme that computers (and terminals) use to check the validity of transmitted characters. This
scheme adds an extra bit to each character, which the transmitting computer sets or clears based on the type of
parity the computers agree to use (odd or even). For example, if the computers use even parity, the transmitting
computer sets or clears the parity bit so that there are an even number of bits set in each character it transmits. The
receiving computer checks each character and flags a parity error if any character has an odd number of bits set."
PCM "Pulse Coded Modulation: a technique for converting an analogue signal with an infinite number of possible values
into discrete binary digital words that have a finite number of values. The waveform is sampled, then the sample is
quantised into PCM codes. PCM is a digitisation technique used by the CCITT V.90 standard , not a universally
accepted standard in its own right."
PCS "Personal Communications Services: the collective term for US mobile telephone services in the 1900MHz
frequency band."
PDC "Personal Digital Cellular: a Japanese standard for digital mobile telephony in the 800MHz and 1500MHz bands."
Peer-to-Peer "A network architecture in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. Contrast Client-
PM "Phase Modulation: a data transmission technique that blends a data signal into a carrier by varying (modulating)
the phase of the carrier."
POTS "Plain Old Telephone Service: the basic analogue (nondigital) telephone service - standard single line telephones,
telephone lines, and access to the public switched network. There are no added features, such as call waiting or call
forwarding, with POTS."
PPP "Point to Point Protocol: a protocol that allows a computer to connect to the Internet through a dial-in connection
and enjoy most of the benefits of a direct connection; including the ability to run graphical front ends such as
Internet Browsers. PPP is generally considered superior to SLIP, because it features error detection, data
compression, and other elements of modern communications protocols that SLIP lacks."
PRI "Primary-Rate Interface: the enhanced ISDN setup, consisting of 23 B-channels (30 in Europe) and one D-channel.
See also BRI."
PSK "Phase Shift Keying: a data transmission technique that blends a data signal into a carrier by varying (modulating)
the phase of the carrier by a certain number of degrees for each succeeding signal."
PSTN "Public Switched Telephone Network: refers to the international telephone system based on copper wires carrying
analogue voice data. This is in contrast to newer telephone networks base on digital technologies, such as ISDN and
Pulse Dialling "A method of dialling the telephone where the modem sends pulses (which you hear through the handset as clicks)
to represent the telephone numbers (one pulse for a one, two pulses for a two, etc.). Pulse dialling is normally
associated with rotary-dial phones. See also Tone Dialling."
QAM "Quadrature Amplitude Modulation: modulation technique used by high speed modems combining amplitude and
phase modulation of the data signal. QAM generates four bits out of one baud. For example, a 600 baud line (600
shifts in the signal per second) can effectively transmit 2,400 bit/s using the technique."
Quantisation "The process of representing a voltage with a discrete binary digital number. Approximating an infinite valued
signal with a finite number system introduces an error called quantisation error or noise."
RADIUS "Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service protocol: a client/server security protocol that allows network
managers to reduce the risk of distributing security information across many devices by centralising authentication
and permission attributes in a single server. "
RADSL "Rate Adaptive Digital Subscriber Line: an implementation of ADSL that automatically adjusts the connection
speed on start up to adjust for the quality of the telephone line, thereby allowing the service to function over longer
distances than does ordinary ADSL."
Reliable Connection "A connection between two modems where they communicate using an error control protocol (such as LAPM or
Request To Send "RTS: an RS-232C signal that requests the modem to send data. It initiates any data transmission between the
computer (or terminal) and the modem. It is answered by a Clear To Send (CTS) signal."
RF "Radio Frequency: the range of electromagnetic frequencies above the audio range and below visible light. All
broadcast transmission, from AM radio to satellites, falls into this range, which is between 30KHz and 300GHz."
RJ11 "A common jack type most often used for connecting analogue phones, modems and fax machines to a
communications line."
RJ45 "The most commonly used connection standard in networks. Its connector looks almost identical to a standard
telephone jack, only slightly bigger. Twisted pair cabling is used - comprising two independently insulated wires
twisted around each other. One wire carries the data while the other wire is grounded and absorbs any signal
interference. This can come in unshielded (UTP) and shielded (STP) versions. Nodes are connected individually to
the network, so if one connection fails, the rest of the network can continue to operate."
Router "A device that operates at the network layer (Layer 3) of the OSI reference model and whose function is to use one
or more metrics to determine the optimal path along which network traffic should be forwarded. Routers forward
packets from one network to another based on network layer information. Occasionally referred to as "gateway" -
although this definition of gateway is somewhat outdated."
RS-232 "A standardised connection system for connecting a device to the serial port of a computer or terminal. This is the
recommended standard of the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) for exchanging information between DTE
(such as computers) and DCE (such as modems)."
S-Registers "The RAM in a modem that is used to store its current configuration profile (operating characteristics)."
SAN "Storage Area Network: a high-speed special-purpose network that interconnects different kinds of data storage
devices - such as tape libraries and disk arrays- with associated data servers on behalf of a larger network of users."
SDLC "Synchronous Data Link Control: Proposed by IBM in the 1970's, SDLC is the primary data link protocol used in
their SNA networks. It is a bit-oriented synchronous protocol that is a subset of the HDLC protocol."
Serial Port "The circuits and connector that facilitate communication between a computer and serial devices such as printers,
modems, plotters, mice, and custom laboratory equipment. On a PC, this socket is a DB-9 or DB-25 male
connector. It is a full-duplex device, using separate lines for transmitting and receiving data at the same time.
Maximum throughput is 115.2 Kbit/s. Also called a COM or communications port."
Shannon's Law "Defines the relationship between the maximum throughput in any given channel to the presence of noise."
SLIP "Serial Line Internet Protocol: a protocol that allows a computer to connect to the Internet through a connection and
enjoy most of the benefits of a direct connection, including the ability to run graphical front ends such as Internet
Browsers. SLIP is also used to run TCP/IP over phone lines. See also PPP."
SMDS "Switched Multimegabit Data Service: a high-speed, switched data communications service offered by telephone
companies for interconnecting separate local area networks (LANs) into a single wide area network (WAN). Prior
to SMDS's arrival in 1995, the only way to connect LANs was through a dedicated private line. SMDS is becoming
an increasingly attractive alternative because it is more flexible and usually more economical."
SNA "Systems Network Architecture: a mainframe network topology introduced by IBM in 1974. Originally designed as
a centralised architecture with a host computer controlling many terminals, SNA has evolved over the years so that
it now also supports peer-to-peer networks of workstations. SNA incorporates data protocols, network interface
cards and just about every facet of communication."
SNR "Signal-to-Noise Ratio: a measure of link performance arrived at by dividing signal power by noise power.
Typically measured in decibels. The higher the ratio, the clearer the connection."
Start/Stop Bits "The bits at the beginning and end of a data block when using asynchronous data transmission. See also
Asynchronous Communication."
STP "Shielded Twisted Pair: telephone wire that is wrapped in a metal sheath to eliminate external interference. See also
Switch "A device that operates at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI reference model and whose function is to filter
and forward packets of information according to their destination address."
Switched Ethernet "An Ethernet network that runs through a high-speed switch. Changing to switched Ethernet means replacing the
Ethernet hub with a switch. As a result the full bandwidth - 10 Mbit/s for Ethernet or 100 Mbit/s for Fast Ethernet -
is made available to each sender and receiver pair."
T1 "A four-wire USA telephone company standard that carries data at 1.544Mbit/s. The US-equivalent of a European
E1 line."
TCP/IP "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol: a set of communication protocols developed by the U.S.
Department of Defense that allows dissimilar computers to share information over a network. TCP checks for lost
packets, puts the data from multiple packets into the correct order and requests that missing or damaged packets be
TDM "Time Division Multiplexing: a data communications technique that interleaves separate data streams into one high-
speed transmission by assigning each stream a different time slice in a set. The receiving end then divides the single
stream back into its original constituent signals."
TDMA "Time Division Multiple Access: a mobile communications technique in which a radio frequency channel is divided
into time slots, each of which lasts for a fraction of a second. TDMA divides a 30KHz channel into six time slots
that are allocated in pairs, resulting in three usable TDMA channels. Any given conversation can use one or more of
every third time slot on an ongoing basis during a call."
Token Ring "A local area network (LAN) technology developed by IBM (IEEE 802.5). Packets are conveyed between network
end stations by a token moving continuously around a closed ring that uses twisted wire cable to connect nodes."
Tone Dialling "One of two methods of dialling the telephone. (The other is pulse dialling.) With tone dialling, the modem sends
tones of different frequencies to represent the telephone numbers. Tone dialling is normally associated with push-
button (touch-tone) phones and is also called Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) dialling."
Topology "The pattern of interconnection between nodes in a communications network."
Transceiver "a term used to describe a combination of transmitter and receiver. In the context of networking, a transceiver is an
electronic interface or adapter between the Ethernet coaxial cable and the drop cable that attaches to network
devices to provide the drive, reception, and collision detection between physical network media."
Twisted Pair "Two insulated wires, usually copper, twisted together and often bound into a common sheath to form multi-pair
cables. In ISDN, these cables are the basic path between a subscriber's terminal or telephone and the PBX or the
central office."
UART "Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter: the chip that drives a serial port. IBM chose the National INS8250,
better known simply as "the 8250", for the serial ports in its original PC. The subsequent 16550 UART provided
support for speeds of 9,600 bps and greater."
UMTS "Universal Mobile Telecommunications System: a 3G standard, being developed under the auspices of ETSI, and
intended mainly for the evolution of GSM networks."
USB "Universal Serial Bus: Intel's standard for attaching peripherals to PCs. Designed for low to medium data
throughput, it should remove the need to install many devices internally once it gains widespread acceptance. The
original 1995 USB1.1 standard supports a rate of 12 MBit/s, the subsequent USB2.0 standard up to 480 Mbit/s."
USB-IF "USB Implementers Forum: a non-profit corporation founded by the group of companies that developed the
Universal Serial Bus specification to provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of
USB technology. The Forum facilitates the development of high-quality compatible USB peripherals (devices), and
promotes the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing."
UTP "Unshielded Twisted-Pair: a four-pair wire medium used in a variety of networks. UTP does not require the fixed
spacing between connections that is necessary with coaxial-type connections. See also STP."
UTRAN "UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network: the name of the WCDMA radio network in UMTS."
V.34 "An ITU modem standard for data transmission at up to 33.6 Kbit/s. V.34 is the successor to several earlier ITU
standards, and most V.34 modems can interoperate with older, slower modems."
V.90 "An ITU's modem standard, agreed on 4 February 1998, which brought to an end a year-long 56 Kbit/s standards
battle between the rival proprietary X2 and K56Flex standards."
VBR "Variable Bit Rate: maximum throughput set in advance, but data not always sent evenly."
VoIP "Voice over IP: The technology used to transmit voice conversations over a data network using the Internet
Protocol. The data network involved might be the Internet itself, or a corporate intranet, or managed networks used
by local or long distance carriers and ISPs. The technique promises drastically reduced costs to carriers and
therefore prices to end users. Also referred to as IP Telephony."
VPN "A virtual private network is a private data network that makes use of the public telecommunication infrastructure
(typically the Internet), maintaining privacy through the use of a tunnelling protocol and security procedures. It can
be contrasted with a system of owned or leased lines that can only be used by one company, the idea of a VPN
being to afford the same capabilities but at a much reduced cost."
WAN "Wide Area Network: a geographically dispersed network formed by linking several computers or local area
networks (LANs) together over long distances, usually using leased long-distance lines. WANs can connect systems
across town, in different cities, or in different regions of the world."
WAP "Wireless Application Protocol: a protocol that enables Internet services to be delivered to small-screen mobile
devices. The application via which WAP-enabled devices access Web content is referred to as a "micro-browser"."
WCDMA "Wideband Code Division Multiple Access: a 3G wideband radio technique which makes highly efficient use of
radio spectrum and is capable of supporting data rates of up to 2 Mbit/s, sufficient to allow simultaneous access to
several voice, video and data services at once."
WECA "The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance is a non-profit international association formed in 1999 to certify
interoperability of wireless Local Area Network products based on IEEE 802.11 specification. "
WEP "Wired Equivalent Privacy data encryption is defined by the 802.11 standard to prevent access to the network by
"intruders" using similar wireless LAN equipment and capture of wireless LAN traffic through eavesdropping.
WEP allows the administrator to define a set of respective "Keys" for each wireless network user based on a "Key
String" passed through the WEP encryption algorithm. Access is denied by anyone who does not have an assigned
Wi-Fi "Branding that denotes products that have been certified as being interoperable. The scheme was originally operated
by WECA - the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance - and applied to products conforming to the IEEE 802.11b
wireless networking standard. WECA was subsequently renamed the Wi-Fi- Alliance and the brand applied also to
IEEE 802.11a products."
WiMAX "Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access: an implementation of the IEEE 802.16 standard, WiMAX
provides metropolitan area network connectivity at speeds of up to 75 Mbit/sec. WiMAX systems can be used to
transmit signal as far as 30 miles."
WLAN "Wireless LAN: a local area network that transmits over the air typically in an unlicensed frequency such as the
2.4GHz band. Wireless access points (base stations) are connected to an Ethernet hub or server and transmit a radio
frequency over an area of several hundred to a thousand feet which can penetrate walls and other non-metal
X.10 "A communications protocol for remote control of electrical devices designed for operation over standard
household electrical wiring. It transmits data using Amplitude Modulation. "
X.25 "An ITU standard for packet-switching networks approved in 1976, X.25 defines layers 1, 2, and 3 in the OSI
Reference Model. Such networks are widely used for point of sale (POS) terminals, credit card verifications and
automatic teller machine (ATM) transactions. New packet-switched networks employ frame relay and SMDS
technologies rather than X.25."
X2 "Technology developed by U.S. Robotics for achieving modem transmissions at close to 56 Kbit/s over ordinary
phone lines. See also K56flex."
xDSL "Digital Subscriber Line: it shares the same phone line that the telephone service uses, but because it uses a
different part of the phone line's bandwidth, it does not interfere with normal phone service. This is possible
because there is a significant amount of unused capacity in current phone wires. The technology will allow
subscribers to hook up DSL modems to a local Internet Service Provider (ISPs) and still be able to talk on the phone
- all using the same phone line. The "x" represents a variety of possible methods and information rates that can be
handled through DSL."
XON/XOFF "A way of controlling the flow of data between a modem and its host computer and between two modems, also
called software flow control. XON stands for "Transmitter On" and XOFF stands for "Transmitter Off". If the
modem receiving data needs time to process the data or do some other task, it sends an XOFF signal to the host
computer (or sending modem). The host computer (or sending modem) then waits until it receives an XON signal
before sending more data."