Computer Science - Glossary Of Terms

Computer System
A combination of hardware and software components that allow input, processing and output of data
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The physical components that make up a computer
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The programs that run on a computer system
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Input devices
Hardware that takes real-world analogue data and converts it into a digital form which can be stored on a computer.
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Output devices
Hardware that presents the results of processing to the user or to acutators that perform a task automatically. They use digital data from a computer and produce it in a form that is understandable or useful.
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storage device
Hardware that is used to store files long term and is non-volatile.
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What does Reliability mean in computing?
How much you can depend on the computer system being there when you need it.
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What does Availability mean in computing?
The proportion of time that a system is operational.
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What does MTBF stand for?
Mean Time Between Failure
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What does Robust mean in computing?
A system that is resilient to failure
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What is a Fault-tolerant?
Computer systems where redundant componments stop a single failure bringing the whole system down.
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What is Redundancy?
Where spare parts are built into a computer system
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What is a CPU?
The central processing unit that contains the processor, main memory and cache
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What is Main Memory/RAM?
Memory in the CPU that is used to temporarily store programs whilst they are running and the data used by these programs.
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What is the Processor?
The component in the computer that fetches, decodes and executes instructions.
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What is Cache?
High speed memory in the CPU that is used to store a copy of frequently used instructions and data.
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What is Clock Speed?
The clock speed is how many instructions per second the processor can execute. This is measured in Hertz or cycles per second.
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What is Level 1 Cache?
Cache that is on the processor chip
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What is level 2/3 Cache?
Cache that is on the motherboard and not on the processor.
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What are System Buses?
The circuits/internal wiring that connects together the components within the CPU.
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What is the Fetch-Execute Cycle?
The process by which a program is run: Instructions are stored in main memory, fetched by the processor one at a time, decoded and then executed.
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What is a Dual-Core or Quad Core?
A CPU that contains multiple processing components (Cores) that can operate independently to process more than one task at a time.
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What is RAM?
Random Access Memory: a type of memory that is read-write and volatile. Used for Main Memory.
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What is ROM?
Read-Only Memory: memory that is hard-coded at the time of manufacture. Stores the startup programs, called the bootstrap loader.
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What is a bootstrap loader?
The first program that is loaded into main memory from the ROM when a computer is switched on. This will load the operating system from secondary storage.
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What is volatile memory?
Memory that loses its contents when the power is switched off, e.g. main memory.
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What is Non-Volatile Memory
Memory that does not lose its contents when the power is switched off, e.g. hard disk.
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What is Secondary Memory?
Long term, non volatile storage media such as hard disks and tapes.
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What is Virtual Memory?
Part of the hard disk that is configured to behave as an extension to the main memory.
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What is Magnetic Media?
Secondary storage such as hard disks and tapes.
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What is Optical Media?
Secondary storage such as CDs and DVDs that are read using lasers.
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What is Solid State/Flash Memory?
Secondary storage that has no moving parts. Used in memory sticks, cameras and phones.
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What is a Pen Drive?
A USB Memory Stick
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What is EEPROM?
Electronically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. A Chip made up of gold transistors, each of which can be set to the value 1 0r 0. This type of memory is used in flash memory.
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Card 2




The physical components that make up a computer

Card 3




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Card 4


Input devices


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Output devices


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