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Glossary of Computer Terms

Glossary of Computer Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

The smallest unit of data in computing. Abbreviated as lowercase "b". It can be prefixed with a "K" (for kilo- 1,024 bits, or 2 to the 10th power) or "M" (for mega- 1,048,576 bits, or 1,024 x 1,024). Data transfer speeds are generally defined as kilo bits per second (such as 14.4 kbps).


A byte is 8 bits. Abbreviated as uppercase "B". The computer treats a byte as a single unit, usually referring to it as an octet or a word. Longer sequences of words are made up of 16 and 32 bits. Most operating systems report the size of a file as bytes. Thus, when trying to determine the numbe of bytes of data transferred across a connection in a specific unit of time, divide the data transfer speed by 8. For instance, if you have a 28.8 Kbps modem, you will transfer 3600 (28,800/8) bytes, or 3.6KB, per second. Of course, data transfer rates always assume optimum conditions, so actual performance may vary.


A description of the information-carrying capacity of a delivery system. It can apply to telephone or network wiring as well as system buses, radio frequency signals, and monitors. Bandwidth is most accurately measured in cycles per second, or hertz (Hz), which is the difference between the lowest and highest frequencies transmitted. But, bandwidth is often referred to in bits per second, such as the T3 backbone has a bandwidth of 45Mbps.


Basic Input/Output System The BIOS is what's coded into a PC's ROM to provide the basic instructions for controlling system hardware. The operating system and application programs both directly access BIOS routines to provide better compatibility for such functions as screen display. Some makers of add-in boards such as graphics accelerator cards provide their own BIOS modules that work in conjunction with (or replace) the BIOS on the system's motherboard.


Caches are storage areas used by your system or an application to retrieve data quickly. A Web browser's cache stores on your hard drive the documents and media as well as the URLs of Web sites you visit; that way, when you go back to the site, everything doesn't have to be downloaded all over again and the pages load much quicker. Most personal computers also use some form disk caching, which stores information you might need from your hard disk in RAM, which the processor can access faster than the hard disk.


Central Processing Unit. The heart and soul of a personal computer. Usually, it's the most powerful microprocessor used within a system. The Intel Pentium, Motorola 680x0 and the Power PC are trade names for the CPUs used in the PC, Mac and Power Mac respectively. Other leading CPUs are the MIPS and the DEC Alpha.


A record or list of the contents of a computer system. The information includes details about the processor type and speed, the amount of system memory, the amount of video memory, the capacity of hard drive storage, the type of additional drives included such as a floppy and a CD-ROM, the size of the monitor, and which operating system is installed such as Windows 95 or Windows NT.


Compact Disc - Read Only Memory. A compact disc used to store and play back computer data instead of digital audio. CD-ROMs can contain up to 650MB of data (though they often contain a lot less). CD-ROMs have become a favorite medium for installing programs, since they cost only slightly more to manufacture than floppy disks, and most major software applications come on at least five floppies. CD-ROMs are read using a CD-ROM drive.

CD-ROM Drive

A device used to read CD-ROMs. A CD-ROM Drive can be mounted internally or externally, and may use an IDE or SCSI interface. The speed of a CD-ROM is a measure of its data transfer rate and is a multiple of 150kbps. Thus a 2x transfers data at a rate of 300KB per second while a 6x transfers data at a rate of 900KB per second.


Cathode Ray Tube.The active component of monitors and TVs, the cathode ray tube is a big bell of glass with electron guns at one end and a viewing screen at the other.


Describes the actual type and model number of the CPU installed in a computer system, such as the NS PC87306 Super I/O Intel 4 30HX PCIset included in the Xediom Co27 and the Xediom Pt78 and the Intel Neptune included in the Xediom Kr36 Server. 


Scientific: Coballt is a tough, lustrous silver-white magnetic metallic element that is related to and occurs with iron and nickel and is used especially in alloys.
Xediom: When it's time to make the transition to a new level of affordable power computing, choose the XEDIOM Co 27. All the power and reliability users demand from a high-end desktop system, with a price tag you'd never expect.


A computer system which fits on on your desk. Usually the cabinet is oriented horizontally, and for space saving purposes a monitor can be placed on top. In a wnidowed operating system the Desktop is the primary area on your screen where program groups or icons can be found.

Docking Station

An option used with notebook and laptop computer systems to extend the functionality for use as a desktop system. The docking station allows pass through ports for the existing ports of the notebook or laptop as well as providing expansion slots to add additional peripherals.

Dot Matrix

Generally referring to a typr of printer. Dot matrix printers use a printhead with a group of 9, 18. or 24 rigid wires arranged in a vertical line. As the printhead moves across the paper, the wires strike the ribbon and the paper, creating a matrix of dots which form a letter.

Depot Warranty

Repair service provided when a products is return-shipped to Xediom. Customers must first contact Xediom Technical Support to report a problem and obtain a Repair Authorization Number (RAN). The product must be returned postage paid and customer assumes responsibility for insurance. Shipping charges are non-refundable. All systems must be returned in their original cartons with packing materials and must include a copy of the original invoice and Return Authorization Number. Repaired or replaced systems will be returned to customer in 10-14 working days. Exclusions: batteries, battery chargers, carrying cases, and mice.

Dual scan

Refers to a type of passive matrix display found in notebook and laptop computer systems. Each column or row of pixels in passive-matrix displays uses three transistors to control red, green, and blue signals. Dual-scan technology divides the screen into top and bottom halves. Each half is scanned simultaneously which produces higher contrast ratios and wider viewing angles than traditional passive-matrix displays. The XEDIOM Lite-TI22 comes standard with a dual scan display.


RAM, or Random Access Memory, normally comes in one of two types: Static RAM (SRAM) and Dynamic RAM (DRAM). SRAM is comparitively bulky and expensive compared to Dynamic RAM. DRAM takes up less chip space per bit than SRAM, and is thus cheaper.


Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM. With normal ROMs you have to replace the chip (or chips) when new BIOS instructions are introduced. With EEPROMs, a program instructs the chip's controller to remove the current code and then downloads new BIOS code into it. This means a manufacturer can easily distribute BIOS updates on floppy, for instance. This feature is also called flash BIOS, and is often used in devices like modems and graphics/video cards.


Extended Capabilities Port. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard developed the ECP specification to extend the speed of the parallel port and to provide two-way throughput. Like the supercharged EPP spec, ECP is fast and bidirectional, but it works a little better than EPP in a multitasking environment because of its use of direct memory access (DMA) and buffering.


Enhanced Parallel Port. Developed by Intel, Xircom, Zenith, and other companies, the EPP spec builds on the design of the parallel port, adding faster exchange andtwo-way communications. It has been used in laptops since mid-1991, where it has been in great demand because of the proliferation of hard disks, tape backup units, CD-ROM drives, and other mass-storage devices that use parallel ports.


Extended Data-Out RAM. This form of dynamic RAM speeds access to memory locations by working on the premise that the next time memory is accessed, it will be at a contiguous address in a contiguous chunk of hardware. This assumption speeds up memory access times by up to 10 percent over standard DRAM.


Floppy Disk Controller. The component within a computer system which controls the function of the floppy disk drive.


Floppy Disk Drive. Older systems used 5 1/4" disks in a soft plastic case. Most new systems include a compact drive which reads and writes high density 3 1/2" disks in a hard plastic case. The capacity of the disk is 1.44MB.

GSA Government Schedule



HyperText Transport Protocol. A communication protocol used by the World Wide Web. When you connect to a World Wide Web server, your computer use this protocol to transfer requests and the server use this protocol to transfer documents.

I/O Port

Input/Output Port. Any socket in the back of a computer used to connect to another piece of hardware.


Industry Standard Architecture. Referring to a type of slot found on the motherborad of a computer system. ISA is the bus design that has been used in most PCs since IBM released the PC/AT more than a decade ago.


Scientific: a colorless relatively inert gaseous element found in air at about one part per million and used especially in electronic lamps.
Xediom: the XEDIOM Kr 36 is the hidden force behind group computing. Perfect for a midsize workgroup that demands a machine capable of delivering high-performance multiprocessing. Comfortable on the budget. Scaleable and flexible to accommodate growth.


A modem is a device that converts computer data into sound that can be transmitted over phone lines. First used to send telegrams, early modems alternated between two different tones. This is called modulation, and the process of modulating (and demodulating at the receiving end) gave the modem its name.


Scientific: mercury is a heavy silver-white poisonous metallic element that is liqued at ordinary temperaturesand is used especially in scientific instruments.
Xediom: now you can hit the road with quicksilver speed, and you never have to leave any of your computing power and performance - even comfort - behind. We've combined an oversized screen with built-in sound and clear video to ensure that road-tested presentations come out with road-tested results.


MPEG, developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group, is a standard for compressing sound and movie files. The MPEG-1 standard streams video and sound data at 150 kilobits per second (kbps)--the same rate as a single-speed CD-ROM drive--which it manages by taking key frames of video and filling only the areas that change between the frames. MPEG files are usually smaller than QuickTime or Video for Windows files, though the quality isn't always as good.


A slim, lightweight, but full featured, portable computer system.

Pipeline Cache

Pipeline Burst Cache. This type of secondary cache is an advanced type of SRAM installed on the motherboard to boost computer performance. Pipeline burst SRAM is commonplace now in motherboard market, where it replaced the older Sync Burst cache, which works less efficiently with fast processors.


Scientific: a heavy, precious grayish white noncorroding ductile malleble metallic element that fuses with difficulty and is used especially in chemical ware and apparatus, as a catalyst, and in dental and jewelry alloys.
Xediom: the ultimate catalyst for maximum productivity comes in the shape of XEDIOM Pt 78. It's the minitower with a small footprint that makes a big impression. Designed to fit neatly by your desk, XEDIOM Pt 78 is built for speed, power and easy expansion.


Peripheral Component Interconnect. Referring to a type of slot found on the motherborad of Pentium based computer systems. Designed by Intel, the PCI bus offers a 32 bit path for improved performance, especially for performance critical components like video adapters and hard disk drive controllers.

Parallel Port

A 25-pin RS-232C connector. Theoretically eight times faster than serial ports, parallel ports are also called the printer ports, since that's the most common peripheral device attached to them (although you can get tape backup units, CD-ROM drives, scanners, and other devices in parallel port format these days).


Random Access Memory. Your computer should have as much RAM as you can afford if it's going to work efficiently. All computers use RAM in the same way; both programs and data are called up from permanent storage (usually a hard drive or floppy disk) and operate in RAM. In general, this means that the more RAM your system has, the better it will be able to process large programs and large amounts of data.


Small Computer System Interface. Pronounced "scuzzy" it is a standard and type of connection for attaching internal and external devices to a computer system. With SCSI, up to seven new devices can be added to your computer. It's a robust standard, and it's rendered even more so with its latest implementation, SCSI-2.


The business end of a client/server setup, a server is usually a computer that provides the information, files, Web pages, and other services to the client that logs on to it. (The word server is also used to describe the software and operating system designed to run server hardware.)


Single In-Line Memory Module. SIMMs are the most widespread form of RAM available. They're about 10cm by 2cm, and they sit in rows at either 90 degrees or 45 degrees to your motherboard. You can generally get them in 1MB to 32MB configurations.


Scientific: a silvery gray light strong metallic element found combined in ilenite and rutile and used especially in alloys (as steel) and combined in refractory materials and in coatings.
Xediom: when you demand strength and power on the road, and you don't want to be burdened with too much weight, then the XEDIOM Ti 22 is for you. Armed with a pentium processor and enough memory to run powerful decision support and presentation applications, the XEDIOM Ti 22 provides a no-comprommise solution for users on the go.


T1 is a term originated by AT&T for telephony that transfers digital signals at 1.544 megabits per second.


Video RAM. This type of RAM sits on the better class of graphics display adapters. Unlike its general-purpose cousin dynamic RAM (DRAM), VRAM has dual ports--a design that can read and write data at the same time and is thus faster than DRAM.


Xediom, the Element of Simplicity, combines the most popular and highly rated computing options and features to offer competitively priced, high performance Pentium notebooks, multimedia desktops, minitowers, and servers. Xediom offers its affordable, upgradable, Pentium PCs to the consumer, corporate and government markets. Purchase your next computer with ease.

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