IT - Glossary of Terms & Acronyms

Some more detailed terms and acronyms for the systems specialists and hardware gurus.

A/D converter = analog to digital converter

abort = systems for stopping a program after start but prior to completion, could be generated by errors; by user intervention with the hardware; hardware/software/environmental conditions; particular unfriendly or un-requested or un-required results/achievements/outcomes; etc.

absolute address = an actual location inside the memory board or chip; see relative address

accelerator board = add-in circuit board that replaces the main processor with a higher-performance processor, allowing upgrade of system without requiring new peripherals

access = one system is allowed to obtain information from another

access bandwidth = provide information to the user using a dynamic bandwidth so different users in the system receive information and services at the bandwidth their local system requires

access concentrator = a device that efficiently forwards data, handling incoming calls for a network point of presence (POP) In general, an access concentrator supports dial-in modem calls, ISDN connections, nailed-up links, frame relay traffic, and multi-protocol routing

access control = the management of permissions and restrictions for users attempting to login to a computer or network often employing user profile

access mechanism = in a floppy or hard disk drive, the component that positions the read/write head over the surface of the disk, so that data can be read from or written to the disk

access rate = the data rate of the user access channel

access router = an access device with built-in basic routing protocol support, specifically designed to allow remote LAN access to corporate backbone networks. Not designed to replace backbone routers or to build backbone networks

access server = any RAS device that enables multiple remote users to access a network

access time = the period of time between a request for information from disk or memory, and the information arriving at the requesting device; See Memory access time; See disk access time

ACK = acknowledge character

acknowledge character (ACK) = recipient system acknowledges receipt of information with an ACK and, if sending system receives an ACK, more information can be sent

ADA = high level programming language

adaptor = an inter-device device; a device that changes the relationship between two other devices; e.g. gender-changer

address = a location address assigned to data at the moment of storage in order to enable retrieval

ALGOL = ALGOrithmic (high level programming) Language

algorithm = a set of instructions or actions necessary to achieve a particular outcome or resolution

analog signal = signal transmitted as a wave

ALU = arithmetic logic unit

APL = a programming language

ACPI = Advanced Configuration (and) Power Interface

ACPI Hardware = Computer hardware with the features necessary to support operating system power management and with the interfaces to those features described using the Description Tables as specified in Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Specification

ACPI Machine Language = Pseudocode for a virtual machine supported by an ACPI-compatible operating system and in which ACPI control methods are written. The AML encoding definition is provided in section 16 of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Specification

ADSL = asymmetric digital subscriber line

ANSI = American National Standards Institute: a membership organization that coordinates the development of US voluntary national standards in both the private and public sector

APL = a programming language

architecture = the design of a computer system based on the type of programs that will run and the number of programs that run concurrently; usually defined by the international standards adopted that allow all hardware devices and all applications in the system to speak to each other

arithmetic logic unit (ALU) = part of CPU; decoding, problem solving and logical tasking

AS = Australian Standards

AS/NZS = Australian Standards and New Zealand Standards combined publication

ASCII = American Standard Code (for) Information Interchange

Australian Standards = SAI

assembler = program for converting assembly language into machine language; See compiler

assembly language = a language used for writing programs

asynchronous transmission = bit by bit

back side bus (BSB) = standard bus for transferring information from the cache to the CPU for processing; see FSB

bad sector = an area in storage (on, say, a hard disk or floppy disk) that that has been isolated by an operating system as inaccessible because it cannot be used to store data due to a manufacturing defect or accidental damage resulting from use

bad track table = a list of bad sectors

bandwidth = in a channel, the difference between the highest and the lowest frequencies available for transmission in any given available range; megabits or megabytes per second; See baseband; see broadband

banner = a separator page printed between each print job

baseband mode = in a channel where the entire bandwidth is devoted to a single data signal; see broadband mode

BASIC = Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (simple programming language)

baud = a measure of data-transmission speed; originally used to measure the speed of telegraph equipment, it now usually refers to the data-transmission speed of a modem or other serial device

baud rate = the number of changes (from 0 to 1 or vice-versa) per second on an asynchronous communications channel; bits per second

BDSL = business-grade digital subscriber line

benchmark = agreed standard result against which equipment is to be tested

benchmark test = test product against agreed benchmark

best practice = formulas and procedures that have proven successful in practice, identified by general international acceptance. In the IT world, best practice often refers to software development methodologies widely accepted internationally

best practice policy = policy written for and adopted by the company (usually based on and involving the adoption of international best practice)

beta testing = a testing of software in the field before market release to identify any existing bugs in the program

binary code = a standard for numbers to represent the signs, symbols, letters and words of ordinary human language

BIOS = Basic Input Output System

BIOS = a set of permanent instructions, stored at a specific address in non-volatile ROM, that enable the computer's hardware and operating system to communicate with application programs and peripheral devices such as hard disks, printers, and video adapters. All programs can access these instructions to perform their basic I/O functions

BIOS enumerator = responsible in a non-ACPI Plug and Play system for identifying all hardware devices on the motherboard

BIOS extensions = extensions to the main BIOS that enables the computer to work with add-on devices such as hard disk controllers and EGA or VGA adapters

BIOS parameter block (BPB) = a part of the boot record contained on every formatted disk, that contains information about the disk's physical characteristics. This information includes the version number of the operating system used to format the disk, the number of bytes per sector, the number of sectors per cluster, per track, and per disk, an is provided for use by device drivers

bit = Binary digiT; the smallest unit in a binary system; on-off; 0-1 ; not in and of itself meaningful but when combined in a meaningful array (a byte) forms the basis of all information in a binary system

bitmap = representation of characters or graphics by individual pixels arranged in rows (horizontal) and columns (vertical); each pixel represented by either 1 bit (simple black and white) or up to 32 bits (high-definition colour)

bit-mapped font = a set of characters in a specific style and size, in which each character is defined by a pattern of dots. The computer must keep a complete set of bitmaps for every font you use on your system, and these bitmaps can consume large amounts of disk space.

bit-mapped graphic = a graphic, created using a paint program like MacPaint or PC Paintbrush, composed of a series of dots, or pixels, rather than a set of lines or vectors.

bit specifications = the number of colours or levels of grey that can be displayed at one time. Controlled by the amount of memory in the computer's graphics controller card. An 8-bit controller can display 256 colours or levels of grey; a 16-bit controller, 64,000 colours; and a 24-bit controller, 16.8 million colours.

bits per inch (bpi) = the number of bits that can be written along one inch of a track

bits per pixel (bpp) = the number of bits used to represent the colour value of each pixel in a digitized image; a standard measure of clarity of image

bits per second (bps) = a measure of information transmitted during a data transfer; a standard measure of the speed of operation of equipment such as a data bus or a modem

block = a fixed unit in memory or storage; 512 bytes

boot = a procedure that automatically loads an operating system into memory, usually from a hard disk. A set of constructions contained in ROM begin executing, first running a series of power-on self tests (POST) to check that devices such as hard disks are in working order, then locating and loading the operating system, and finally, passing control of the computer over to that operating system.

bootable disk = a disk capable of booting the system; that is, causing the system to automatically load and start the operating system

boot drive = the drive that the operating system first loads from. (Usually A: or C:). Normally, a PC will try to boot from the A: drive (the floppy drive.) If there is no disk in that drive, it will boot from the C: drive (the hard drive.)

boot record = that part of a formatted disk containing the operating system loading program, along with other basic info needed by the computer when it starts running.

BPB = BIOS parameter block

bpi = bits per inch

bpp = bits per pixel

bps = bits per second

bridge = a device that enables you to link two networks together. Bridges are smart enough to know which computers are on which side of the bridge, so they only allow those messages that need to get to the other side to cross the bridge. This device improves performance on both sides of the bridge. There are also bridges within the PC: see northbridge and southbridge

broadband mode = in a channel where the bandwidth of a medium is used to carry several independent signals; cable TV is an example of broadband signalling; See baseband mode

broadband network = in communications, a technique for transmitting a large amount of information, including voice, data, and video, over long distances. The transmission capacity is divided into several distinct channels that can be used concurrently, normally by using frequency-division multiplexing, and these individual channels are protected from each other by guard channels of unused frequencies. A broadband network can operate at speeds of up to 20 megabits per second, and is based on the same technology used by cable television.

brouter = a device that combines the attributes of a bridge and a router. A brouter can route one or more specific protocols, such as TCP/IP, and bridge all others.

browser = an application program used to explore the Internet

BSB = back side bus

BSI = British Standards Institute; UK Standards body; now BSI National Standards

bug = error in program; may cause system crash or error in results

bus = subsystem for transferring information around the computer and to peripherals

bus = a type of network topology in which network nodes are strung out along a single run of cable called a segment. 10base2 and LocalTalk networks use a bus topology. Bus also refers to the row of expansion slots within your computer.

button = word or icon on screen which, when you click on it, will automatically execute a command or program

byte = BinarY digiT Eight a meaningful array of 8 bits or 32 bits of information

c = centi-

cable = twisted pair; coaxial; fibre-optic

cache = an extra area in memory for storing information allowing quick access

CAD = computer-aided design

CAI = computer-aided instruction

CAM = computer-aided manufacture

CALL = computer-aided language learning

CANCEL = a particular type of abort; user intervention often using a button

capacity = maximum storage in bytes

CD = compact disk

CD-ROM = compact disk (read only memory)

CD-R = compact disk - record (write once)

CD-RW = compact disk - read-write (rewritable)

cell = area in memory containing one unit (or word) of information

centi- (c) = one-hundredth; 10-2

channel = a path for the transfer of information between two devices; could be one direction (print channel) or two direction (network channel, transmission channel)

chassis = framework holding the motherboard, expansion cards, disk drives

chip = See silicon chip

circuit = a closed carrier of electrical current on a motherboard, printed circuit board or silicon chip

CISC = Complex Instruction Set Computer; See RISC

code = a standard for signs and symbols to represent letters and words; See binary code; See source code; See machine code

comms (vernacular) = communications

compact disk (CD) = a plastic disk used to store computer information

compiler = a program that changes source code into machine code

compliant environment = an environment tested against a particular standard

compliant platform = the main system, language or model tested against a particular standard

CPI = characters per inch

CPS = characters per second

CPU = central processing unit

CRT = cathode ray tube

Ctrl = control key; special key on the keyboard used to modify commands originating from the keyboard

crash = computer ceases to operate

cursor = special character on the VDU to assist the user in the use of interactive commands available on the VDU using the mouse

d = deci-

D = deka-

dat = data; extension to filename indicating standard data format

DAT = Dynamic Address Translator

data = information contained in a formal array allowing use, analysis, transformation and reporting

database = information store; usually containing data in fields contained in individual records contained within the database

DBMS = database management system

DDR = Double Data Rate

debug = remove bug from program

deci- (d) = one-tenth; 10-1

default = instead of installing an application with empty fields and installation options undecided, requiring all fields to be filled and all settings to be chosen by installing operator before the application can be used, default data is entered and default settings are decided upon (based on most likely choice) allowing the application to be used immediately upon installation

deka- (D) = ten; 101

demodulator = a device to change an analog signal into a digital signal

desktop = a graphic user interface providing easy access for the user to available applications, information and devices

device = a separate machine linked to the system

device driver = a program that dictates how the system deals with a particular device

DIF = data interchange format

digital signal = signal transmitted as a series of on/off impulses


disk access time = the time it takes to place the read/write heads over the requested data (hard disk access time could be 18 milliseconds or less)

Double Data Rate (DDR) = RAM in some video cards

dpi = dots per inch

DRAM = Dynamic Random Access Memory

DVD = digital video disk; also known as digital versatile disk

DVD = digital video disk (read only)

DVD-R, +R = Digital Video Disk - Record (write once)

DVD-RW, +RW, RAM = Digital Video Disk - Read-Write (rewritable)

Dynamic Address Translator (DAT) = a hardware circuit that converts a virtual memory address into a real address

Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) = the most common RAM for PCs and workstations

E = exa-

EDI = Electronic Data Interchange

EFT = Electronic Funds Transfer

End User Testing = See UAT

EPROM = erasable programmable ROM

ESL = electronic system level

ethics dictionary = some important words for corporate ethics

ETL = Extract, Transform and Load

exa- (E) = ; 1018 or 260

flop = floating point

front side bus (FSB) = standard bus for transferring information from RAM to the CPU for processing; see BSB

FSB = front side bus

G = giga-

garbage = meaningless information, inappropriate information, information surplus to requirement or no longer required

GB = gigabyte = one billion (one thousand million) bytes (standard 1024 MB)

GDSN = Global Data Synchronisation Network (See GS1)

gender = one device links to another device using standard male and female links, i.e. where a male link is located inside the female device thereby making the connection

gender-bender (vernacular) = gender-changer

gender-changer = adaptor used to change the gender of a device, e.g. from male to female

GIF = graphics interchange format

giga- (G) = one billion; 109 or 230

GIGO = garbage in, garbage out

glossary = a list of words that have special meaning because of their context of use and an explanation of the special definitions assigned to them

graphical user interface (GUI) = an interface between the user of a terminal and the computer that communicates largely through the interaction of the user with graphics rather than the displaying of text and the input of text by the user

graphics interchange format (GIF) = (pronounced "jiff" or "giff") a bit-mapped graphics file

GS1 = global language of business

GUI = graphical user interface

h = hecto-


HDK = Hardware Developer's Kit

hecto- (h) = one hundred; 102

housekeeping = a standard application used regularly or periodically to clean out garbage data and perform other data-related functions

hundred = See hecto-

GIS = geographical information systems

I/O = in/out; input/output

ILS = Internet location servers

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) = a generalised WAN provided by telephone companies using existing telephone systems

internet = a large network made up of a number of smaller networks

Internet = one internet (now known as "the Internet") that has gained wide international acceptance and has adopted the generic name as its identifier

intranet = local network

intranet = (vernacular) "within the network"

IP-Address = a number made up of four elements each with three digits resulting in the numerical identification of every node in an IP network

IP = Internet protocol

IP = short for IP-address

iPOD = brand-name (personal portable digital audio player)

ISDN = Integrated Services Digital Network

ISO = International Organization for Standardization, Geneva; an organization that sets international standards

ISO 2383 = IT Vocabulary (34 Parts)

ISO 8859 = 8-bit single-byte coded graphic character sets

IT = information technology

ITIL = Information Technology Infrastructure Library

ITOL = Information Technology Online

ITSM = Information Technology Service Management

LAN = local area network

LCD = liquid crystal display

k = kilo-

K = kilo-

KB = kilobyte = 1,000 bytes (standard 1024 bytes)

Kbps = kilobits per second

kilo- (k) or (K) = one thousand; 103 or 210

? = micro-

m = milli-

M = mega-

machine code = code that has been transformed (by a compiler) into code that issues instructions to the computer

mainframe = an extremely large and costly computer requiring entire rooms of floor space supporting many users and running many programs simultaneously (e.g. IBM S370/3031). For a decade or more we have been told that the technology is obsolete, but mainframes are still a basic element of large platforms

MB = megabyte = 1,000 KB (standard 1024 KB)

Mbps = Megabit per second

mega- (M) = one million; 106 or 220

megaflop = one million floating point calcs per second

megahertz (MHz) = one million cycles per second

megapixel (Mp) = one million pixels

memory = usually distinguished from storage; includes RAM, ROM, PROM and EPROM

memory access time = the time it takes to transfer a character from memory to or from the processor (RAM = 80 nanoseconds or less)

meta-data = data that describes other data. Card catalogues and handwritten indexes are a form of meta-data. Includes data dictionaries within a plan or a file in a system that provides information about each data element. Could include a repository set up purely for the purpose of understanding the nature of data. It may also refer to any descriptive item about data, such as a HTML meta-tag or a title field in a media file

metadata = see meta-data

MHz = megahertz

micro- (?) = one-millionth; 10-6

micro computer = PC

microprocessor = a single silicon chip containing a processor and memory

mid-range = a computer used for medium-sized networks; the processing power between a mainframe and a microcomputer. Also called a mini-computer

milli- (m) = one-thousandth; 10-3

million = See mega-

mini-computer = see mid-range

motherboard = the main printed circuit board in a computer containing the CPU, chipset, PCI bus slots, AGP slot, memory sockets and controller circuits for the keyboard, mouse, disks and printer. It may also have built-in controllers for modem, sound, display and network, obviating the need to plug in a card

MP-3 = digital audio file

MPS = MultiProcessing Specification (Intel)

MS = Microsoft

n = nano-

nano- (n) = 10-9

NDT = non-destructive testing

network = a group of computers, usually with a server, connected by a telecommunications link, that share information and resources, see LAN, WAN

non-volatile memory = memory that is not lost when the computer is turned off; e.g. ROM

none = see zero

northbridge = a bridge that links RAM to the CPU

NZS = New Zealand Standards

ONE = one of two basic elements in a binary system; could be ON in ON/OFF?; 1 in 0-1?; T in T/F?; YES in YES/NO?; + in +/-?; See also ZERO

P = peta-

PABX = private automated branch exchange

parallel interface = all bits of a unit of information (such as one byte) are sent at the same time; See serial interface

PC = personal computer

PC3200 =

PCI = Peripheral Component Interconnect

PCIe = PCI express

peta- (P) = ; 1015 or 250

PKI = public key infrastructure

platform = the main system, language or model upon which others rely

point of presence (POP) =

POP = point of presence

ppi = pixels per inch

private automated branch exchange (PABX) = call centre telephone network: multiple external lines to single call number to multiple internal lines

product information = detailed information describing a particular product

production control manual = manual containing all procedures used in the production process

PROM = programmable ROM

public key infrastructure (PKI) = a standard set of rules to enable users in an insecure network such as the Internet to exchange secure data (such as confidential information and money) using a public and a private digital cryptographic key produced simultaneously using the same algorithm by a third party trusted by the recipient (the certificating authority (CA)

RAM = random access memory

RAMDAC = Random Access Memory Digital-to-Analog converter

random access memory (RAM) = a volatile area of memory in which information is loaded allowing quick access at any time and in any order; see also SRAM

RAS = remote access server

RDF = Resource Description Framework

registering authority (RA) = see public key infrastructure (PKI)

relative address = a number that can be interpreted by the hardware system to locate information within the memory board or chip; see absolute address

release = solutions handed over for final user acceptance testing

remote access server (RAS) = any device that enables multiple remote users to access a network

RISC = Reduced Instruction Set Computer; See CISC

ROM = read only memory

SAI (also known as Australian Standards) = distributors of national and international standards in Australia

SCSI = small computer systems interface

SDRAM = synchronous dynamic RAM

serial interface = each bit of a unit of information (such as one byte) are sent one at a time; e.g. RS232; See parallel interface

server = key controlling computer in a network

server = key controlling application whose main job is to respond to the needs of other applications (clients)

SGRAM = synchronous graphics RAM

silicon chip = an integrated circuit is etched into a small piece of silicon

SIMM = single inline memory module

single inline memory module (SIMM) = a high-density DRAM package alternative consisting of several components connected to a single printed circuit board

SLDRAM = synchronous link dynamic random access memory

small computer systems interface (SCSI) = a standard method for the same connection to be used for other systems and peripheral devices

SNA = Systems Network Architecture

SNMP = Simple Network Management Protocol

SoC = System-on-Chip

source code = a code that can be designed by and understood by the programmer; the source code needs to be translated into machine code by a compiler before it can be understood by the machine

southbridge = a bridge that links cache to the CPU

SRAM = static RAM

Standards Australia = SAI

static RAM (SRAM) = for users with special needs, the SRAM is not volatile so it is retained even when the computer is switched off

synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) = delivers bursts of data at high speeds using a synchronous interface

synchronous graphics RAM (SGRAM) = a single port DRAM designed for graphics hardware that requires high-speed throughput such as 3-D rendering and full-motion video

synchronous link dynamic RAM (SLDRAM) = a type of SDRAM that uses a multiplexed command bus allowing fewer pins to increase bandwidth and allow higher FSB speeds

system = a group of independent but interrelated elements, such as processes, hardware, software, facilities, people, an integrated composite that provides a the capability to satisfy a stated objective

system board = motherboard

T = tera-

ten = See deka-

tera- (T) = one trillion; 1012 or 240

topology =

trillion = See tera-

UHF = ultra high frequency

ultra high frequency (UHF) = transmission 300 - 3,000 MHz

unit = standard number of bytes; See word

URS = user requirements specification

user = an actual person making use of the application and data in a PC or at a workstation; often a member of a LAN or a WAN

user profile = each user has an individual profile that specifies to the access controller which network-attached resources are available to the user

VCM = virtual channel memory

VCR = video cassette recorder

VDU = visual display unit

VLSI = very large scale integration

VLSI = very large system integration

very high frequency (VHF) = 30 - 300 MHz

version number = standard system for change control over software

VGA = video graphics array

VHF = very high frequency

VHS = video home system

video graphics array (VGA) = a standard that dictates how information is displayed on a VDU

video RAM (VRAM) = DRAM with an on-board serial register/serial access memory designed for video applications

virtual channel memory (VCM) = memory architecture that is a variant of SDRAM, that has not been seen widespread adaptation

virtual memory (VM) = system memory that is simulated by the hard drive. When all the RAM is being used (for example if there are many programs open at the same time) the computer will swap data to the hard drive and back to give the impression that there is slightly more memory

volatile memory = memory that is lost when the computer is turned off; e.g. RAM

VRAM = Video RAM

wafer = a very thin slice of silicon from which silicon chips are cut

WAN = wide area network

wide area network (WAN) = a single network of server(s) and workstations, connected over large distances, often incorporating a series of LANs, often using telephone and/or satellite comms to achieve the network profile required to operate as a single system

WIMP = windows, icons, menus, pointers

window = a discrete area of the VDU that operates as a separate screen, holds information and which allows interaction with other windows

word = a standard group of bits dealt with by the computer as a single unit of information; a computer stores, retrieves and deals with a word as a single unit; most computers see 2 bytes as a word (16 bits) but there are 32 bit computers and others

workstation = a node on the LAN allowing access to the LAN by the user; started out as a mainframe limited function access device, not much more than a screen and a keyboard; now often performed by a PC or even a mini-computer with function and applications distributed to the user by their installation at the workstation only going to the server for common access data and services

WORM = write once, read many

X-ON/X-OFF = an asynchronous transmission control system

X-OFF = a system control character understood to indicate the end of transmission in an asynchronous system

X-ON = a system control character understood to indicate the start of transmission in an asynchronous system

X-Y = a system based on an array of co-ordinates on two dimensional axes

X-Y plotter = a smart printer that can understand co-ordinates on two dimensional axes and print the resultant factor as represented on graph paper

X-Y-Z = a system based on an array of co-ordinates on three dimensional axes

Y = yotta-

yotta- (Y) = ; 1024 or 280

Z = zetta-

zero = ; 100 or 20

ZERO = one of two basic elements in a binary system; could be OFF in ON/OFF?; 0 in 0-1?; F in T/F?; NO in YES/NO?; - in +/-?; See also ONE

zetta- (Z) = ; 1021 or 270

zoom = a command interpreted as to make the image larger on the VDU or in relation to the window or to make the window larger on the VDU

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