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The number of bits stored in each addressable location in memory.

Arithmetic/logic unit (ALU)

The computer component that performs arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and logical operations (comparison of two values).


A small storage area in the CPU used to store intermediate values or special data.

Input Unit

A device that accepts data to be stored in memory.

Output Unit

A device that prints or otherwise displays data stored in memory or makes a permanent copy of information stored in memory or another device.

Control Unit

The computer component that controls the actions of the other components so as to execute instructions in sequence.

Instruction Register (IR)

The register that contains the instruction currently being executed.

Program Counter (PC)

The register that contains the address of the next instruction to be executed.


The central processing unit, a combination of the arithmetic/logic unit and the control unit; the "brain" of a computer that interprets and executes instructions.

Bus Width

The number of bits that can be transferred in parallel over the bus.

Cache Memory

A type of of small, high-speed memory used to hold frequently used data.


A technique that breaks an instruction into smaller steps that can be overlapped.


The main circuit board of a personal computer.


A concentric circle on the surface of a disk.


A section of a track.


The information stored in a sector.

Seek Time

The time it takes for the read/write head to get positioned over the specified track.


The time it takes for the specified sector to be in position under the read/write head.

Access Time

The time it takes for a block to start being read; the sum of seek time and latency.

Transfer Rate

The rate at which data moves from the disk to memory.


The set of concentric tracks on all surfaces.

Synchronous Processing

Multiple processors apply the same program in lock-step to multiple data sets.

Shared Memory Parallel Processor

The situation in which multiple processors share a global memory.

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