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Network Chico Computer terms glossary

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RAID: "Redundant Array of Independent Disks" RAID is a method of storing data on multiple hard disks. When disks are arranged in a RAID configuration the computer sees them all as one large disk. However they operate much more efficiently than a single hard drive. Since the data is spread out over multiple disks the reading and writing operations can take place on multiple disks at once. This can speed up hard drive access time significantly. Multiple hard drives may not improve hard disk performance as much as multiple processors may enhance the CPU performance but it is based on a similar logic. The benefits of RAID come from a technique called "striping" which splits up the stored data among the available drives. The "stripes" of data are usually a couple of megabytes large and are interleaved between the drives. The striping system also increases the mean time between failure (MTBF) when reading data. This allows more data to be read accurately in a short period of time. The benefits of the RAID system are especially noticeable when storing large amounts of data. Many web hosting and Internet Service Providers use RAID to store data for their clients.

RAM: "Random Access Memory" RAM is pronounced like the male sheep. RAM is made up of small memory chips that are connected to the motherboard of your computer. Every time you open a program it gets loaded from the hard drive into the RAM. This is because reading data from the RAM is much faster than reading data from the hard drive. Running programs from the RAM of the computer allows them to function without any lag time. The more RAM your computer has the more data can be loaded from the hard drive into the RAM which can help speed up your computer. Adding RAM can be more beneficial to your computer's performance than upgrading the CPU.

RDRAM: "Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory" It is a type of RAM made by Rambus and is the fastest type of computer memory available. Typical SDRAM can transfer data at speeds up to 133 MHz while standard RDRAM can crank it up over 1 GHz. Though some motherboards can use RDRAM as system memory it is so fast most boards cannot fully benefit from the speed. Because of this RDRAM is typically used for video memory on graphics accelerator cards, for cache memory (located on the CPU), and for system memory in high-performance workstations and servers. An improvement to RDRAM called Direct Rambus (DRDRAM) allows for even faster data transfer rates. DRDRAM uses a 16-bit bus rather than the 8-bit bus DRAM uses which means it can handle 8 operations at once and can transfer data at a speeds of 1.6 GHz.

Registry: This is a database used by Microsoft Windows to store configuration information about the software installed on a computer. This information includes things like the desktop background, program settings, and file extension associations.

The Windows registry consists of the following six parts:

HKEY_User - contains the user information for each user of the system
HKEY_Current_User - has all the preferences for the current user
HKEY_Current_Configuration - stores settings for the display and printers
HKEY_Classes_Root - includes file associations and OLE information
HKEY_Local_Machine - has the settings for the hardware, operating system, and installed applications
HKEY_Dyn_Data - includes performance data

When you install a program it will usually write some data to the computer's registry. If you want to manually edit the registry for some reason you can use the "regedit.exe" program which comes with the Windows operating system. However you should not edit the registry if you don't know what you're doing because it could disable your computer. In XP you can use Start > Run > regedit

An entry for registry also appears in the security terms glossary.

Resolution: This term can describe either how many pixels a monitor can display or how fine a printer can print.

1. Monitors. A small monitor may have a resolution or 640 x 480, which means there are 640 pixels horizontally across the screen and 480 pixels vertically. Some other common monitor resolutions are 800 x 600, 1,024 x 768, and 1,280 x 1,024. The higher the resolution the more that can be displayed on the screen.

2. Printers. Printer resolution measures how fine a printer can print. This measurement is known as dots per inch, or "dpi." The greater the dpi the better the image clarity. Scanner resolution is also measured in dpi.

RGB: "Red-Green-Blue" It refers to the three hues of light (red, green, and blue) that can mix together to form any color. When the highest intensity of each color is mixed together white light is created. When each hue is set to zero intensity the result is black. TVs and computer monitors use RGB to create the colorful images you see on the screen. In print, however, the 4 colors cyan, yellow, magenta, and black (CYMK) are used to create color images.

RISC: "Reduced Instruction Set Computing"RISC is pronounced "risk." It is arguably the fastest and most efficient microprocessor technology available today. The RISC architecture is an improvement upon the CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) architecture used in the original Intel Pentium chips. In 1974 John Cocke of IBM Research was working on making a faster version of the CISC chip and came up with a design that significantly reduced the number of instructions need for performing computations. The new design was not only faster than the CISC architecture but the chips were also smaller and less expensive to manufacture. Motorola's PowerPC chips (such as the G5 in Power Macs) are the most widely used RISC-based chips. Intel has slowly been integrating RISC technology into its chips but they still are mostly CISC-based.

ROM: "Read-Only Memory." Do not confuse this term with RAM or a hard drive as many people already do. ROM is memory containing hardwired instructions that the computer uses when it boots up before the system software loads. In PCs the instructions are read from a small program in the ROM called the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).

Root: This computer term is commonly used in reference to a computer's directory structure. The root directory is the top-level directory of a file system. For example on a Windows-based PC "C:\" would be the root directory of the C drive. On a web server the root directory is usually designated by just a forward slash ("/ "). So, on a Unix system, you would type "cd /" (change directory to root) to go to the root directory. Root is also the name of the user who has complete administrative privileges on a Unix or Linux server. While most users can only access their own directory (i.e. "/www/users/~chico/") the root user can access any folder from the root directory down. This allows the root user to make system changes such as modifying the permissions of other users.

Router: This is a hardware device that routes data (hence the name) from a local area network (LAN) to another network connection. A router acts like a coin sorting machine allowing only authorized machines to connect to other computer systems. Most routers also keep log files about the local network activity and many have integrated firewalls.

RTF: "Rich Text Format" This is a file format standardized by Microsoft for creating formatted text files. Unlike a basic text file an RTF file can include information such as text style, size, and color. The nice thing about the RTF format is that it is a universal format meaning it can be read by nearly all word processors.

Runtime: When a program is running, or executing, it is said to be in runtime. The term is mostly used by software developers to specify when errors in a program occur. A "runtime error" is an error that happens while the program is executing. For example if a program told you that 2 + 2 was 5000 that would be a runtime error. A memory leak where the program sucks up excessive amounts of system memory is also a runtime error. The other major type of program error is a compile-time error where the application will not even compile into an executable program. Examples of compile-time errors are syntax errors in the program code and file linking errors.

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