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Memory modules on the motherboard containing microchips used to temporarily hold data and programs while the CPU processes both. Information in RAM is lost when the PC is turned off.
ROM (read–only memory)
Chips that contain programming code and cannot be erased.
S/PDIF (Sony–Philips Digital Interface) sound port
A sound port that connects to an external home theater audio system, providing digital output and the best signal quality.
Storage that is remote to the CPU and permanently holds data, even when the PC is turned off, such as a hard drive.
serial ATA (SATA)
An ATAPI cabling method that uses a narrower and more reliable cable than the 80–conductor cable. See also parallel ATA.
A male 9–pin or 25–pin port on a computer system used by slower I/O devices such as a mouse or modem. Data travels serially, one bit at a time, through the port. Serial ports are sometimes configured as COM1, COM2, COM3, or COM4.
Computer programs, or instructions to perform a specific task. Software may be BIOS, OSs, or applications software such as a wordprocessing or spreadsheet program.
solid state drive (SSD)
A hard drive that has no moving parts. Also see solid state device (SSD).
Part of system BIOS that is responsible for controlling the PC when it is first turned on. Startup BIOS gives control over to the OS once it is loaded.
BIOS located on the motherboard.
The bus between the CPU and memory on the motherboard. The bus frequency in documentation is called the system speed, such as 400 MHz. Also called the memory bus, front–side bus, local bus, or host bus.
A line on a bus that is dedicated to timing the activities of components connected to it. The system clock provides a continuous pulse that other devices use to time themselves.
A wire on a circuit board that connects two components or devices.
universal serial bus (USB) port
A type of port designed to make installation and configuration of I/O devices easy, providing room for as many as 127 devices daisy–chained together.
An interface card installed in the computer to control visual output on a monitor. Also called display adapter or graphics card.
Memory used by the video controller. The memory might be contained on a video card or be part of system memory. When part of system memory, the memory is dedicated by Windows to video.
Refers to a kind of RAM that is temporary, cannot hold data very long, and must be frequently refreshed.