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the set of instructions that directs the hardware to accomplish a task


a computer's physical components (monitor, keyboard, memory chips, etc.)

binary number system

the number system that only uses the digits 0 and 1


a 1 or 0 in the binary number system


a group of 8 bits


central processing unit, processor, or microprocessor (the brain)


where cables or a wireless connection connects to the case


the primary input device of a computer


the visual device that displays the primary output of the computer


produces output on paper

hard copy

the "output on paper"

circuit board

a board that holds microchips and the circuitry that connects these chips

expansion cards

a type of circuit board

expansion slots

where expansion cards are installed on the motherboard


(complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) microchips that require less electricity and produce less heat than previous versions of microchips


(main board or system board) the largest and most important circuit board in the computer

peripheral device

a device that is not installed directly on the motherboard

parallel port

transmits data in parallel and is most often used by a printer

S/PDIF sound port

(Sony-Philips Digital Interface) connects to an external home theater audio system, providing digital output and the best signal quality


(universal serial bus) a slot that can be used by many different input/output devices
Ex: keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, etc.

primary storage

(memory) temporarily holds data and instructions while it is processing them

secondary storage

permanent storage
Ex: hard drive, CD, floppy disk, etc.


(random access memory) primary storage is provided by this device


(dual inline memory module) one of the three general types of modules, the most common type


designed by Rambus Inc.


(single inline memory module) an older outdated module


a kind of memory that is only temporary


a kind of memory that is permanent;


(read-only memory) a kind of nonvolatile memory

data path size

the width of a data bus


(front side bus) A.K.A. system bus, memory bus, host bus, local bus, or external bus

clock speed

a device works on a clock cycle or beat of the clock, these beats are called the clock speed


(hertz) one cycle per second


(megahertz) one million cycles per second


(gigahertz) one billion cycles per second


(basic input/output system) basic instructions that are stored on special ROM chips on the board


a software file

system BIOS

the BIOS used to manage simple devices

startup BIOS

the BIOS used to start the computer

CMOS setup

the BIOS that is used to change some settings on the motherboard


motherboard settings are stored in a small amount of RAM located on the firmware chip

flash ROM

the software stored on chips that can be overwritten by new software


(advanced configuration and power interface) a power-saving feature using standards developed by Intel, Microsoft, and Toshiba


(advanced power management) an older BIOS power management standard


(plug and play) a standard designed to make the installation of new hardware devices easier

serial port

transmits data serially, one bit follows the next

hard drive

a sealed case containing platters or disks that rotate at a high speed


a set of rules and standards that any tow entities use for communication

data bus

the parts of a the bus that we are most familiar with are the lines of the bus that are used for data

system clock

a system timer which is dedicated to timing the activities of the chips on the motherboard

power supply

the most important component of the computer's electrical system

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