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Glossary of Computer Hardware Terms - The Letter P

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 12/30/2008

Definitions and explanations of common computer hardware and networking terms beginning with the letter P. Looking at such terms as Parity, PCMCIA, Peer-To-Peer and Proprietary.

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    The Letter P

    Parity

    An error-checking method that utilizes an extra bit that is sent to the receiving device to determine the validity of any given character.

    Partition

    A section of a hard disk that is essentially, entirely independent of the others. A hard drive can be split to be used by multiple operating systems, or, simply for separate and independent storage.

    PC Card (PCMCIA)

    PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Roughly credit-card sized, it is an expansion adapter for notebook and laptop PCs. They are removable modules that can be many different types of devices like memory, modems, network adapters, and hard disks.

    PCI - Peripheral Component Interconnect

    A bus specification standard that uses the system bus to increase the bus clock speed and takes advantage of the CPU's data path. PCI is the most common expansion slot type found in modern PCs, and a version of it, called PCI Express has replaced the AGP graphics slot.

    Peer-To-Peer

    A network type in which a computer acts as a client and a server by providing access to its resources to other computers, as well as accessing shared resources on other computers.

    Peripheral

    A computing device that is used as an attachment to the computer. These can consist of disk drives, printers, keyboards, and other devices.

    Pixel - Picture Element

    Refers to the tiny elements that make up a picture on a display screen.

    Plug and Play - PnP

    A hardware and software specification that allows devices that are connected to a PC to automatically configure themselves.

    Port

    A plug or socket that enables external devices to be attached to a computer. Can also refer to a logical address used by a processor for communications between the computer and various devices.

    Port Replicator

    A device used in mobile computing that plugs into the laptop and provides all the ports for connecting external devices. External devices can be left connected to the port replicator even when the mobile computer is removed from the device. Less complex than a docking station.

    POST - Power On Self Test

    A series of tests run by the computer when it is powered on. POST is loaded by the BIOS and tests multiple circuits and devices and reports its findings through a series of beeps that can be decoded using the manufacturers manual.

    Power Supply

    A component of a computer that transforms the electricity from the wall outlet from AC to DC so that it can be utilized safely by the computer. Appropriates the power to different voltage lines and ports, to provide power to the multiple components on the computer.

    Program

    A set of instructions or steps telling the computer how to handle a problem or task.

    Proprietary

    Anything invented by one company that uses components only available from that one company.

    Protocol

    A system of rules and procedures that govern communications between devices. Data format, readiness to receive or send, error detection, and error correction are just some of the procedures defined by protocols.