An A-Z guide to computing

Jan 14, 2006
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An A-Z guide to computing
So what do the world of buzz words and acronyms can really mean?.
ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. It works by splitting your existing telephone line signal into two, one for voice and the other for data. Your ordinary telephone line is transformed in to an extremely fast Internet connection. ADSL currently runs 9 times faster than a regular 56K modem. (See also broadband).

AMD Sempron
The AMD Sempron™ processor offers the performance you need for day-to-day computing. Whether it's emailing friends and family, surfing the Web, viewing photos, or getting work done, AMD technology makes it fast and easy.

AMD Athlon 64
It's not just about email, Web browsing and word processing anymore. The AMD Athlon™ 64 processor gives you full-throttle performance to go wherever your digital world takes you. Whether you're watching videos, ripping and playing music, or playing games, AMD64 performance helps you to fully enjoy any multimedia experience with a "you are there" reality.

AMD Athlon 64 X2
This is AMD’s dual core processor, basically meaning two processors in one. This allows you to use two applications simultaneously without slowing down the performance of your PC. Dual core processors increase performance by up to 80% of that of a single core processor.

AMD Athlon 64 FX
Your intense applications and 3D games demand the most out of your processor. AMD Athlon™ 64 FX processors fulfil that demand with leading-edge performance, an integrated memory controller, dual-core technology, and fast HyperTransport™ technology. Stress your system—run the latest 3-D games and multi-threaded applications at jaw-dropping speed.

Anti-virus software consists of computer programs that attempt to identify, thwart and remove computer viruses from your PC. Viruses are usually sent to your PC by email or through Internet downloads. (See also software)

bps stands for bits per second. Data speed is measured in bits, and bps is simply the rate at which one bit can be carried. This is normally expressed in thousands, Kbps, or millions, Mbps.

Bluetooth uses a secure short-range radio frequency to transfer data wirelessly between mobile phones, PCs, notebooks and other peripherals. (Please note Bluetooth is for short range wireless connection only).

Broadband is a high speed Internet connection, which is 20 times faster than traditional dial up at a 1Mbps. Broadband is provided by your ISP through ADSL or cable modems. (See also ISP).

Burn is the term used when describing copying CDs or DVDs onto blank discs to make copies.

Byte is a unit of measure for digital information. In computers it can be used to measure a variety of units of storage and does not necessarily relate to any one type of storage. A single Byte is made up of 8 ‘bits’.

CD ROM / DVD ROM drives
CD/DVD drives allow you to watch and listen to CDs or DVDs on your PC. CDs and DVDs can also be used as portable storage. By saving your work to a CD or DVD you can access it on any PC with a compatible CD/DVD drive.

CD/-RW or DVD/RW means Re-Writer. This allows you to copy the information from one CD/DVD and ‘burn’ it onto a writable CD/DVD, duplicating the information, known as copying a CD/DVD. CD-RW or DVD/RW discs can be copied onto as many times as you like, a CD-R or DVD-R disc can only be copied onto once.

Your computer cache is its short term memory. It is a memory area where frequently accessed data can be stored so you can find it quickly. The more cache available in a computer’s processor the better, as more short-term information can be stored. So a computer with a 2MB cache will be able to store many more documents in its short term memory than one with a 1 MB cache.

DDR stands for Double Data Rate and is a type of memory. The more memory you have in your PC the more programs and applications your PC will be able to run at the same time. Therefore a PC with 1GB memory will be able to access more documents, downloads etc than a computer with 512GB of memory. This will mean the more memory the faster your PC will run, meaning less frustrating waiting time. (See also memory)

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 and has additional features built into it to allow for increased system performance.

Copying information from the Internet in to your PC is called downloading.

Dual Core refers to new processor technology in which two independent processors run as one. This allows you to use two applications simultaneously without slowing down the performance of your PC. Dual core processors increase performance by up to 80% of that of a single core processor. Therefore a dual core processor is better than single core processor.

External Hard Drive
Working the same as your hard drive, an external hard drive simply plugs in using a USB port and allows you to store all your files, documents, pictures etc onto a drive that sits outside your PC. You can then simply unplug your hard drive and use it on any PC you like, transferring the data. There is nothing more frustrating than losing your data if your PC should malfunction, an external hard drive is a great way to ensure you don’t lose vital document, letters and photo’s.

FSB stands for Front Side Bus. This is like a highway in your PC for information to travel on. The more FSB your computer has the faster information will be sent round it and so the faster it will work. This means that a computer with a 533MHz FSB will process information slower than a computer with an 800MHz FSB. The 800MHz FSB computer will also be able to process significantly more tasks at one time than the 533MHz FSB.

A firewall is a security system designed to protect a computer network from unauthorised access, especially via the Internet.

Firewire is a cable used to transfer information from two digital devices such as pictures from a digital camera to a PC, at high speed.

Flat Panel Monitors
or TFT as they also known- The next generation of monitors that are only 3 - 4 inches in depth that take up minimal space compared to the far bulkier CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors.

Graphics Card
The graphics card sits inside the computer and creates the images you see on the screen. The better the graphics card the better image quality you will receive. Graphics card also have their own RAM (memory). The more RAM the faster it will work. So in the case of games you need a higher RAM to play faster and more detailed games.

Hard Drive
The hard drive stores most of a computer's information including the operating system and your text documents, pictures, programs, etc. The capacity of a hard drive is measured in Gigabytes (GB). The larger the hard drive the more data, documents, pictures and files you will be able to store on it.

Intel Pentium 4
The Intel Pentium 4 processor family supporting Hyper-Threading Technology (HT Technology) delivers Intel's advanced, powerful processors for desktop PCs and entry-level workstations, which are based on the Intel NetBurst microarchitecture. The Pentium 4 processor is designed to deliver performance across applications and usages where end-users can truly appreciate and experience the performance. These applications include Internet audio and streaming video, image processing, video content creation, speech, 3D, CAD, games, multimedia, and multitasking user environments.

Intel Pentium D
With an Intel Pentium D processor-based PC featuring two full processing cores, you get the flexibility and performance to handle multimedia entertainment, digital photo editing, even multiple users, simultaneously. Your PC gets resources for multitasking, and you get to accomplish more while running multiple applications, such as editing video while downloading music.

Intel Core Duo
With its two execution cores, the Intel® Core™ Duo processor is optimized for multi-threaded applications and multitasking. You can simultaneously run multiple demanding applications - such as graphics-intensive games or serious number-crunching programs - while downloading music or running virus-scanning security programs in the background.

Intel Core 2 Duo
With Intel® Core™2 Duo desktop processor, you’ll experience revolutionary performance, unbelievable system responsiveness, and energy-efficiency second to none. And, you won’t have to slow down for virus scan, multiple compute intensive programs, or multimedia downloads—these desktop processors are up to 40 percent faster and over 40 percent more energy-efficient.

Intel Core 2 Extreme
It’s not about playing the game. It’s about dominating and winning the game. Designed for extreme power, the Intel Core 2 Extreme processor for desktop PCs features the latest arsenal of performance-rich technologies, including up to 4MB of shared L2 cache, and up to 1066 MHz Front Side Bus, so you’ve got the future of PC gaming now, and only from Intel

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. This is the company that provides you access to the Internet. ISPs provide local dial-up or broadband access from your computer to their computer network and their network connects you to the Internet.

LAN means Local Area Network and consists of two or more computers connected either by cables or wirelessly allowing them to share information.

Media Card Reader
A media card reader can be installed in to one of the drive bays of your PC or might be included already in your notebook PC. It allows you to slot a memory card straight in to your computer. So if you had a digital camera memory card you could use your card reader to get pictures from the card onto your PC with no cables or accessories.

The more memory you have in your PC the more programs and applications your PC will be able to run at the same time. Memory is measured in Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB). Therefore a PC with 1GB memory will be able to access more documents, downloads etc than a computer with 512 GB of memory. This will mean the more memory the faster your PC will run, meaning less frustrating waiting time. (See also DDR and DDR2).

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Home Edition is an updated version of the classic Windows interface and offers great functionality for traditional PC tasks.

Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition
Media Center Edition or MCE provides the advanced computing power of Windows XP Home and in addition allows you to enjoy your favourite entertainment on your PC - watch DVDs, watch and record TV (if the PC has a TV tuner), listen to music, share your digital photos and more, all through simple, easy to use menus at the touch of a single remote control.

Monitors are the part of your PC which shows you the text and images. There are a variety of monitors available to suit your needs. CRT – Cathode Ray Tube. This is the old style monitor which takes up a lot of space. TFT - New style monitors which are only about 4 cm thick. These save on space and look more stylish.

Mother board
The motherboard is the ‘heart’ of your PC. All the internal components of your PC are connected to the motherboard such as memory, hard drive and CPU

Optical Drive
The optical drive is a general term to cover CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, these are parts built into your computer on which you can play, copy and watch CDs or DVDs.

Optical Drive Speeds
The speed of a CD or DVD drive is normally stated in terms of multiples of the original speed of the original standard. Terms like "double speed" or "24x" refer to multiples of that original speed. Originally, CD-ROM drives had transfer rates of only 150KB/second, which was slow. Later developments in CD technology allowed the development of CD-ROM players that spun the CDs several times as fast; those models transferred at a 2x speed, (300KB/second), then later at 4x (600KB/second), and so on until today, where the newest CD-ROM drives can transfer up to 72x the original speed (10,800KB/second).

OS stands for Operating System, the most common of these is Windows. All other software that you may use on your computer runs off the operating system. Other software is known as applications, and your operating system software will enable these applications to work.
Jan 14, 2006
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A-Z of Computing

PCI Slots
PCI slots (Peripheral Component Interconnect) within your PC case allow you to add new cards in order o make your PC more powerful. Examples of these are network cards, sound cards and video (also known as graphics) cards. Most computers come with a number of spare PCI slots allowing you to future proof your PC by adding more memory, a faster video card etc.

Processors are the main component in your PC which determine how fast/well it will work. There are 3 main factors involved in deciding the speed of a processor, the GHz, Cache and the FSB.

Processors are measured in GHz and the faster the processor the faster your PC will run.

The Cache is your processors short term memory, the larger the Cache the faster the processor will run.

The FSB Front Side Bus determines how quickly information will run around your processor and so again the larger the FSB the faster the processor will run.

The PC you buy will contain either and Intel or AMD processor (see relevant processor)

Software tells the computer what you want it to do. Microsoft Works 8, Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 and Bullguard Internet Security are all examples of software that come with Evesham PCs. Software is needed to write documents, do video editing etc.

Sound card
Most computers come with a built in sound card and while this is fine for most users a separate sound card that can be fitted into a computers expansion slot offers better sound quality and added features for recording and creating digital music and sounds.

You need speakers to hear the sounds generated by your sound card. There are a wide variety of speakers available. Speakers are advertised as being 2.1, 4.1 etc, the 1 stands for the subwoofer and the 2,4 etc is how many speakers you will receive. If you wanted to achieve surround sound you can buy 5.1 or 6.1 and spread the speakers around the room.

TV Tuner Card
by adding a TV tuner card to your PC you can use it as a television! This will allow you to watch free to air analogue or digital television channels on your PC and also record programmes on to your hard disk to watch later. You can even rewind live TV.

USB Connector
USB means Universal Serial Bus. Products such as digital cameras, external hard dives and USB pen drives are usually connected to your PC by a USB connector. It is important to ensure your PC comes with enough USB connections to allow you to input all the devices you will use. Also known as USB ports these are usually found on the front and back of your PC.

Wireless Router
A wireless router is used if you want to set-up a wireless home network, share an Internet connection (two or more PCs using the Internet at the same time, viewing different pages), or use the Internet wirelessly from a single wireless enabled PC or notebook.


Crunchy Cat
Jun 1, 2006
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:thumb:This is a really useful post Feckit, lots of people come here to learn from scratch - as we've seen from some of the posts/introductions, and even the not-so-newbies can find themselves getting tripped-up by acronyms occasionally. So maybe the Powers That Be could consider making it easy for them to find by stickying it? (Hope nobody will mind the suggestion? If stickied, please just delete this post out of the way.):D


Feb 23, 2002
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Did you make this yourself feckit? It's a very handy terminology list for people just starting out :thumb:

If so I'll sticky it like Taffycat suggests :)
Jan 14, 2006
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Ian Cunningham said:
Did you make this yourself feckit? It's a very handy terminology list for people just starting out :thumb:

If so I'll sticky it like Taffycat suggests :)
Sadly not my own work, originaly taken from:
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