memory mapping — The process by which the computer assigns memory addresses to physical locations at start-up. Devices and software can then identify
information that the processor can access.
memory module — A small circuit board containing memory chips, which connects to the system board.
MHz — megahertz — A measure of frequency that equals 1 million cycles per second. The speeds for computer processors, buses, and interfaces are often
measured in MHz.
modem — A device that allows your computer to communicate with other computers over analog telephone lines. Three types of modems include: external, PC
Card, and internal. You typically use your modem to connect to the Internet and exchange e-mail.
module bay — A bay that supports devices such as optical drives, a second battery, or a Dell TravelLite™ module.
monitor — The high-resolution TV-like device that displays computer output.
mouse — A pointing device that controls the movement of the cursor on your screen. Typically you roll the mouse over a hard, flat surface to move the pointer
or cursor on your screen.
ms — millisecond — A measure of time that equals one thousandth of a second. Access times of storage devices are often measured in ms.
network adapter — A chip that provides network capabilities. A computer may include a network adapter on its system board, or it may contain a PC Card with
an adapter on it. A network adapter is also referred to as a NIC (network interface controller).
NIC — See network adapter.
notification area — The section of the Windows taskbar that contains icons for providing quick access to programs and computer functions, such as the clock,
volume control, and print status. Also referred to as system tray.
ns — nanosecond — A measure of time that equals one billionth of a second.
NVRAM — nonvolatile random access memory — A type of memory that stores data when the computer is turned off or loses its external power source. NVRAM
is used for maintaining computer configuration information such as date, time, and other system setup options that you can set.
optical drive — A drive that uses optical technology to read or write data from CDs, DVDs, or DVD+RWs. Example of optical drives include CD drives, DVD
drives, CD-RW drives, and CD-RW/DVD combo drives.
parallel connector — An I/O port often used to connect a parallel printer to your computer. Also referred to as an LPT port.
partition — A physical storage area on a hard drive that is assigned to one or more logical storage areas known as logical drives. Each partition can contain
multiple logical drives.
PC Card — A removable I/O card adhering to the PCMCIA standard. Modems and network adapters are common types of PC Cards.
PCI — peripheral component interconnect — PCI is a local bus that supports 32-and 64-bit data paths, providing a high-speed data path between the
processor and devices such as video, drives, and networks.
and devices such as video, drives, and networks.
PCI Express — A modification to the PCI interface that boosts the data transfer rate between the processor and the devices attached to it. PCI Express can
transfer data at speeds from 250 MB/sec to 4 GB/sec. If the PCI Express chip set and the device are capable of different speeds, they will operate at the
PCMCIA — Personal Computer Memory Card International Association — The organization that establishes standards for PC Cards.
PIN — personal identification number — A sequence of numerals and/or letters used to restrict unauthorized access to computer networks and other secure
PIO — programmed input/output — A method of transferring data between two devices through the processor as part of the data path.
pixel — A single point on a display screen. Pixels are arranged in rows and columns to create an image. A video resolution, such as 800 x 600, is expressed as
the number of pixels across by the number of pixels up and down.
Plug-and-Play — The ability of the computer to automatically configure devices. Plug and Play provides automatic installation, configuration, and compatibility
with existing hardware if the BIOS, operating system, and all devices are Plug and Play compliant.
POST — power-on self-test — Diagnostics programs, loaded automatically by the BIOS, that perform basic tests on the major computer components, such as
memory, hard drives, and video. If no problems are detected during POST, the computer continues the start-up.
processor — A computer chip that interprets and executes program instructions. Sometimes the processor is referred to as the CPU (central processing unit).
program — Any software that processes data for you, including spreadsheet, word processor, database, and game packages. Programs require an operating
system to run.