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Arithmetic Logic Unit

The component of the processor chip that handles most of the mathematical calculations and logical reasoning needed to execute an instruction


Mapping that takes common characters in American English and maps them to number so that they can be represented on a computer. For example, "A" maps to the decimal number 65 or the byte 01000001

Bay (Internal or External)

Mounting point within a computer chassis where components such as a hard drive, cd rom, or dvd player can be placed


Move data from one component (memory, processor, expansion card) to another


Smallest practical unit of computer memory


Small chunk of extremely high speed memory that is placed between the processor and main memory in order to help speed up some tasks

Control Unit

Responsible for fetching an instruction into the registers within a processor and analyzing that instruction to determine what needs to be done

CMOS Memory

Indicates that the memory is manufactured from components that require very little power to remain energized and retain the memory's contents

Expansion Card/ Adapter Card

Circuit board onto which chips have been arranged so that the board can perform a desired task

Heat Sink

Cools the processor

Machine Cycle

The sequence of steps that a processor undertakes for each instruction.
1. fetches the instruction from RAM Memory
2. decodes the instruction in the control unit
3. executes the instruction often using the ALU
4. stores the results back into RAM memory

Volatile Memory

Memory that must be continually re-energized by the computer in order to hold its contents


The main circuit board in a computer that connects together all of the individual components that comprise the system unit

Parallel Processing

A computer problem that is solved by using multiple processors functioning together at the same time


Allows modern computers to perform more work while working at slower system clock speeds

Power Supply

Contains a transformer that takes outlet AC power and converts it into DC power for use by components such as the hard drives and processor

RAM Memory

Volatile memory that is used by the computer to store instructions for running programs and any data currently needed by those programs


Small high speed memory locations within a computer processor that are used to hold data for whatever instructions the processor is currently executing

ROM Memory

The memory in question that is non-volatile and cannot be changed under normal use

System Clock/ Clock Speed

The pace at which the computer processes information is regulated


A coding scheme similar to ASCII that attempts to represent characters in most of the world's languages using 2bytes for each one

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