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Digital Networking 101

9 Oct, 2001 By: Richard Paul imageSource

Digital Networking 101



Document Technology Channel has recognized that the incorporation of computer
services is a vital component of any plans for systemic business growth. By
providing computer and network system support, companies are differentiating
their business profile from just document service providers to true technology


we mentioned last month, we will thoroughly cover the various topics and issues
surrounding integrated systems in this column; however, before we move into the
details of how a system works and how to maintain it, we need to make sure
everyone is on the same page. It may not be exciting to go through a bunch of
definitions, but in an industry filled with acronyms, this is vital!


terms and acronyms such as CPU, Firewalls, USB, LANs and TCP/IP standards are
not as confusing as they seem, once you know what they stand for and how they
affect you. In no time, you’ll be rattling these terms off to impress
customers, and using them in your daily work. To give you the nitty-gritty on
these terms, we have put together the following glossary to help you learn the
industry lingo and to keep on hand for future reference.


won’t be quizzed on these, but keep this list handy as we move into our topic
next month, which will explain how a networked system works. See you then.






Accelerated Graphics Port is an expansion bus specifically for the video card.


large motherboard form factor, often used in older desktops.


The shape and layout of most modern full-size desktop and tower PC motherboards.
It’s a smaller, more efficient design than AT, with disk drive cable
connectors nearer to the drive bays and the CPU closer to the power supply and
cooling fan. Subsets of this include NLX, LPX, and MicroATX. An ATX-type machine
can turn itself off after selecting shut down in Windows 95/98/NT/2000.


Also known as IDE, a disk drive implementation that integrates the controller on
the disk drive itself. It supports one or two hard drives per controller (most
ATX motherboards have 2 IDE controllers onboard, allowing 4 total IDE devices).


An enhanced version of the ATA IDE interface that supports 66MB/sec.


Enhanced versions of the ATA IDE interface that support 33MB/sec. and 66MB/sec.,


an enhanced version of the ATA IDE interface that supports 100MB/sec.


Basic Input/Output System. Built-in software that contains your computer's most
basic instructions on how the operating system communicates with hardware. Your
BIOS runs at startup, configures devices, and then boots the Operating System.
The BIOS is stored on a separate ROM chip, not your hard drive, and can be
updated (this is called “flashing the BIOS”).


An electrical pathway over which the components inside a computer communicate
with each other (AGP bus, PCI bus, etc.).


Pronounced ‘cash’, it is dedicated memory that is used to speed up your
computer. You computer stores recently used data in the cache, and checks here
first when it needs data again. When data is found in the cache, it is much
faster than accessing it from the hard drive or RAM. Basically, the larger the
cache, the greater the performance.


Central Processing Unit. Another term for a microprocessor chip.


Cathode Ray Tube. A CRT works by passing an electron beam across the screen,
onto to a field of phosphorous dots, which light up and define the image you


A type Dual Inline Memory Module. The type of RAM used most commonly on
today’s systems. It comes in 100 and 133 mhz variations (PC100 / PC133). A
DIMM is a memory module that allows dual 32-bit memory paths forming a single
64-bit path. Before DIMMs, RAM modules came in SIMMs (Single Inline Memory
Modules), which provided a single 32-bit path. With most SIMM motherboards,
memory modules needed to be installed in pairs. DIMMs can be installed


Direct Memory Access. A method used to speed up data transfers between
peripherals (such as hard drives) and RAM. DMA avoids the delays imposed by the
CPU's data-flow regulation, accessing RAM directly.


Dots per inch. It is also known as resolution.


An interface (also known as IEEE 1394) that allows data transfer rates up to
200Mbps, the ability to add and remove devices without powering them down first,
and the ability daisy-chain up to 63 devices with cable lengths up to 14 feet.


Software embedded into a chip. Motherboards, video cards, network cards, etc.
use firmware. The BIOS is a type of firmware.


Writing software to firmware. Commonly “flashed” items include the BIOS in
your motherboard, video card, etc.


Hot Swappable:
The ability to add, and remove devices to a computer while it is running and
have the operating system automatically recognize the change.


Integrated Drive Electronics. A disk drive implementation that integrates the
controller on the disk drive itself. It supports one or two hard drives per
controller (most ATX motherboards have 2 IDE controllers onboard, allowing 4
total IDE devices).


Interrupt Request Line. Most devices in a PC are assigned an IRQ, and except in
rare cases, no two devices can be assigned the same IRQ. A computer may
malfunction or lock up when there is a conflict with an IRQ.


Industry Standard Architecture. Designed in the early days of the PC, the ISA
bus runs at from 8MHz to 10MHz with a maximum throughput of 8MB a second.


L1 cache:
Level 1 cache. Also called the primary cache, it is a memory cache built into
the microprocessor, and is used to speed up the computer (see cache).


L2 cache:
Level 2 cache. Also called the secondary cache, it is a memory cache that is
external to the microprocessor, although more and more microprocessors are
including L2 caches into their architectures.


Optical Character Recognition. Generally refers to converting data from a
scanned image into text that you can edit.


Original Equipment Manufacturer. Companies that take the raw components and make
a final product for consumers to buy. It usually refers to the company that'll
make the part (for example HP, IBM, Sony, etc.), but technically can also be a
company that buys the components and assembles computer systems, adding value (a


Printed Circuit Board. A thin plate on which chips and other electronic
components are placed. Motherboards, video cards, network cards - they're all


Peripheral Component Interface. A 32/64-bit expansion slot/bus interface that is
an improvement over the older ISA bus. It can run at clock speeds of 33 or 66
MHz and yields a throughput rate of 133 MBps.


Hewlett-Packard's Printer Control Language is the most popular language used to
communicate with printers.


Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Portable device
standard most commonly used in notebook PCs for such things as modems, hard
drives and RAM. Now more commonly known as PC card. PCMCIA Type II calls for a
maximum thickness of 5.5mm.


Redundant Array of Independent Disks. RAIDs are stacks of hard disk drives
usually found in servers. RAID is used to protect data by configuring the drives
redundantly (called mirroring), or for significant increased performance by
configuring multiple drives to work in parallel (called data striping).


Refresh rate:
The rate at which a monitor redraws the image on its screen; measured in hertz
(Hz). Refresh rates below 75Hz (75 redraws per second) typically create a
flickering effect, which causes eyestrain.


Windows' mass database of hardware and environmental configuration information.
Your hardware and software constantly refer to the Registry to know where to go
and what to do.


A device that connects any number of LANs. Routers receive the packets of
data (such as e-mail messages and web pages) and forward them toward their


Single Inline Memory Module. A RAM module that provides a single 32-bit path
(see DIMM).


A Slocket is an adapter card that allows newer Socket 370 CPUs to be used on
older motherboards that accept Slot 1 CPUs.


Slot 1:
The interface that attaches Intel's Pentium II CPUs to motherboards. The Slot 1
package replaces the Socket 7 and Socket 8 form factors used by previous Pentium
processors. Slot 1 accepts a microprocessor packaged as a Single Edge Contact
(SEC) cartridge. A motherboard can have one or two Slot 1s. It currently runs at
66MHz or 100MHz.


Slot A: The interface that
attaches AMD K7 CPUs to motherboards. Almost identical physically to Intel's
Slot 1, it accepts a daughtercard that in turn contains the processor and Level
2 (L2) cache. It's not electrically compatible with Slot 1, however.


Socket 7:
The interface that attaches some AMD and all Pentium CPUs, except the Pentium
Pro (Socket 8) and Pentium II (Slot 1). Intel has decided to phase out Socket 7
and replace it with Slot 1. It currently runs at 66MHz.


Socket 370:The
interface that attaches Intel Pentium III and Celeron CPUs to motherboards.
Socket 370 is replacing Slot 1 on many newer motherboards.


Ultra ATA/66:
Ultra Direct Memory Access. The fastest IDE protocol for connecting hard drives
and removable storage devices. The UltraATA/66 bus has a total bandwidth of
66MB/sec. It's also known as Ultra DMA/66 and UDMA/66.


Ultra DMA:
Ultra Direct Memory Access. A protocol for connecting IDE hard drives and
removable storage devices, and is capable of 33Mbps throughput.


Universal Serial Bus. A single USB port can be used to connect up to 127
peripheral devices, such as mice, modems, and keyboards. USB also supports
Plug-and-Play installation and hot plugging, and supports data transfer rates of
12 Mbps.


VGA refers to your computer monitor. An NTSC monitor refers to your television


The standard for 56K modems.


Wide Area Network. A private computer network that spans large distances, up to
global industry.




Category # Cable:
The rating placed on network cable to explain how fast a cable can transmit
data. Cat-5 is the most common, and can be used for speeds up to 100Mbps (100


A networking protocol that uses twisted-pair, coaxial, and optical fiber
cabling. IT supports 1,024 nodes at 10Mbps throughput, and the Fast Ethernet
protocol increases throughput speed to 100Mbps.


A system that isolates a network (such as an internal corporate intranet) from
the rest of the Internet, permitting only specific data to pass in and out.


A common connection point for devices in a network. Hubs have a number of ports,
which determine how many devices can connect to the network via this hub. Unless
the hub contains switching, all connected computers must contain the same types
of connections: either 10BaseT or 100BaseT.


IP address:
A unique identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network. The Internet
and many corporate networks use TCP/IP.


Local Area Network. A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most
LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings, although multiple
LANs can be connected together.


Network Interface Card. A shortened term that refers to network adapters.


Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. These are international
standards that govern how computers can send information over data networks. The
Internet is an example of a network that uses TCP/IP.


The original version of the IEEE 802.3u standard that allows data to be
transmitted at a speeds of 10Mbps using twisted-pair telephone cable.


Also called Fast Ethernet. This is a high-speed version of the IEEE 802.3u
standard that allows data to be transmitted at speeds of 100Mbps.




Small Computer System Interface. Pronounced “Scuzzy.” A high-speed interface
that allows up to seven peripheral devices to be linked to a single controller.
It comes standard on most Macintosh, but requires an expansion board, or host
adapter, in most PCs.


Uses an 8-bit bus, a 25-pin connector, and supports data rates of 4 MBps.


Same as SCSI-1 but uses a 50-pin connector instead of a 25-pin connector. This
is what most people mean when they refer to plain SCSI.


Wide SCSI:
Uses a wider cable (168 cable lines to 68 pins) to support 16-bit transfers.


Fast SCSI:
Uses an 8-bit bus, but doubles the clock rate to support data rates of 10 MBps.


Fast Wide SCSI:
Uses a 16-bit bus and supports data rates of 20 MBps.


Ultra SCSI:
Uses an 8-bit bus, and supports data rates of 20 MBps.


Uses a 16-bit bus and supports data rates of 40 MBps. It is also called Ultra
Wide SCSI.


Ultra2 SCSI:
Uses an 8-bit bus and supports data rates of 40 MBps.


Wide Ultra2 SCSI:
Uses a 16-bit bus and supports data rates of 80 MBps.


Advanced SCSI Programmer's Interface. It defines how software communicates with
SCSI host adapters.

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