Computer Lingo

Just like most other areas of our lives the computer field has lots of abbreviations and shorthand so lets get you familiar with computer lingo. Once you learn the proper names of everything the lingo becomes pretty easy to pick up on.

BLU-RAY – Blu-Ray Disc (official abbreviation BD) is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The disc diameter is 120 mm and disc thickness 1.2 mm plastic optical disc, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-Ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs (50 GB), the norm for feature-length video discs. Triple layer discs (100 GB) and quadruple layers (128 GB) are available for BD-XL Blu-Ray re-writer drives. Currently movie production companies have not utilized the triple or quadruple layer discs, most consumer owned Blu-Ray players will not be able to read the additional layers, while newer Blu-ray players may require a firmware update to play the triple and quadruple sized discs.

The first Blu-Ray Disc prototypes were unveiled in October 2000, and the first prototype player was released in April 2003 in Japan. After that, it continued to be developed until its official release in June 2006.

The name Blu-Ray Disc refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.

Blu-ray Disc was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group representing makers of consumer electronics, computer hardware, and motion pictures. As of June 2009, more than 1,500 Blu-Ray Disc titles were available in Australia and the United Kingdom, with 2,500 in the United States and Canada. In Japan, as of July 2010, more than 3,300 titles have been released.

During the high definition optical disc format war, Blu-ray Disc competed with the HD DVD format. Toshiba, the main company that supported HD DVD, conceded in February 2008, releasing their own Blu-Ray Disc player in late 2009.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Blu-ray Disc
Wikipedia: Ultra Blu-ray Disc

CD – The Compact Disc (also known as a CD) is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage (CD-ROM), write-once audio and data storage (CD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW), Video Compact Discs (VCD), Super Video Compact Discs (SVCD), PhotoCD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced CD. Audio CDs and audio CD players have been commercially available since October 1982.

Standard CDs have a diameter of 120 millimetres (4.7 in) and can hold up to 80 minutes of uncompressed audio (700 MB of data). The Mini CD has various diameters ranging from 60 to 80 millimetres (2.4 to 3.1 in); they are sometimes used for CD singles, storing up to 24 minutes of audio or delivering device drivers.

CD-ROMs and CD-Rs remain widely used technologies in the computer industry. The CD and its extensions are successful: in 2004, worldwide sales of CD audio, CD-ROM, and CD-R reached about 30 billion discs. By 2007, 200 billion CDs had been sold worldwide. Compact Discs are increasingly being replaced or supplemented by other forms of digital distribution and storage, such as downloading and flash drives, with audio CD sales dropping nearly 50% from their peak in 2000.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: CD

CHIPSET – A chipset is usually designed to work with a specific family of microprocessors. Because it controls communications between the processor and external devices, the chipset plays a crucial role in determining system performance.

In computing, the term chipset is commonly used to refer to a set of specialized chips on a computer’s motherboard or an expansion card. In personal computers, the first chipset for the IBM PC AT was the NEAT chipset by Chips and Technologies for the Intel 80286 CPU.

In home computers, game consoles and arcade game hardware of the 1980s and 1990s, the term chipset was used for the custom audio and graphics chips. Examples include the Commodore Amiga’s Original Chip Set or SEGA’s System 16 chipset.

Based on Intel Pentium-class microprocessors, the term chipset often refers to a specific pair of chips on the motherboard: the northbridge and the southbridge. The northbridge links the CPU to very high-speed devices, especially main memory and graphics controllers, and the southbridge connects to lower-speed peripheral buses (such as PCI or ISA). In many modern chipsets, the southbridge actually contains some on-chip integrated peripherals, such as Ethernet, USB, and audio devices.

The manufacturer of a chipset often is independent from the manufacturer of the motherboard. Current manufacturers of chipsets for x86 motherboards include NVIDIA, AMD, VIA Technologies, SiS, Intel and Broadcom. Apple computers and Unix workstations have traditionally used custom-designed chipsets. Some server manufacturers also develop custom chipsets for their products.

In the 1980s, Chips and Technologies, founded by Gordon Campbell, pioneered the manufacturing of chipsets for PC-compatible computers. Computer systems produced since then often share commonly used chipsets, even across widely disparate computing specialties. For example, the NCR 53C9x, a low-cost chipset implementing a SCSI interface to storage devices, could be found in Unix machines such as the MIPS Magnum, embedded devices, and personal computers.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Chipset
Wikipedia: Intel Chipset History

COMPUTER – A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem.

Conventionally a computer consists of some form of memory for data storage, at least one element that carries out arithmetic and logic operations, and a sequencing and control element that can change the order of operations based on the information that is stored. Peripheral devices allow information to be entered from an external source, and allow the results of operations to be sent out.

A computer’s processing unit executes series of instructions that make it read, manipulate and then store data. Conditional instructions change the sequence of instructions as a function of the current state of the machine or its environment.

The first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century (1940–1945). Originally, they were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs).

Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space. Simple computers are small enough to fit into mobile devices, and mobile computers can be powered by small batteries. Personal computers in their various forms are icons of the Information Age and are what most people think of as “computers”. However, the embedded computers found in many devices from mp3 players to fighter aircraft and from toys to industrial robots are the most numerous.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Computer

DESKTOP COMPUTER – A desktop computer is a personal computer (PC) in a form intended for regular use at a single location, as opposed to a mobile laptop or portable computer.

Desktop and tower computers are two different styles of computer case that use desk space in varying ways. Desktop computers are designed to lay flat on the desk, while towers stand upright.

Prior to the widespread use of microprocessors, a computer that could fit on a desk was considered remarkably small. “Desktop” indicates a horizontally-oriented computer case usually intended to have the display screen placed on top to save space on the desktop. Most modern desktop computers have separate screens and keyboards.

Tower cases are sometimes incorrectly called desktop computers as some will locate them on a desk instead of on the floor under the desk. Cases intended for home theater PC systems are usually considered to be desktop cases in both senses, regardless of orientation and placement.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Desktop Computer

DVD – DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

Pre-recorded DVDs are mass-produced using molding machines that physically stamp data onto the DVD. Such discs are known as DVD-ROM, because data can only be read and not written nor erased. Blank recordable DVDs (DVD-R and DVD+R) can be recorded once using a DVD recorder and then function as a DVD-ROM. Rewritable DVDs (DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM) can be recorded and erased multiple times.

DVDs are used in DVD-Video consumer digital video format and in DVD-Audio consumer digital audio format, as well as for authoring AVCHD discs. DVDs containing other types of information may be referred to as DVD data discs.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: DVD

DOCKING STATION – A Docking station or port replicator or dock provides a simplified way of “plugging-in” an electronic device such as a laptop computer to common peripherals. Because a wide range of dockable devices–from mobile telephones to wireless mice–have different connectors, power signaling, and uses, docks are not standardized and are therefore often designed with a specific make and model of a device in mind.

A dock can allow some laptop computers to become a substitute for a desktop computer, without sacrificing the mobile computing functionality of the machine. Portable computers can dock and undock hot, cold or standby, depending on the capabilities of the system. In a cold dock or undock, one completely shuts the computer down before docking/undocking. In a hot dock or undock, the computer remains running when docked/undocked. Standby docking or undocking, an intermediate style used in some designs, allows the computer to be docked/undocked while powered on, but requires that it be placed into a sleep mode prior to docking/undocking.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Docking Station

ETHERNET – Ethernet is a family of frame-based computer networking technologies for local area networks (LAN). It defines a number of wiring and signaling standards for the Physical Layer of the standard networking model as well as a common addressing format and a variety of Media Access Control procedures at the lower part of the Data Link Layer.

Ethernet has been commercially available since around 1980, largely replacing competing wired LAN standards. Most common are Ethernet over twisted pair to connect end systems, and fiber optic versions for site backbones. It is standardized as IEEE 802.3.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Ethernet

FAST ETHERNET – In computer networking, Fast Ethernet is a collective term for a number of Ethernet standards that carry traffic at the nominal rate of 100 Mbit/s, against the original Ethernet speed of 10 Mbit/s. Of the fast Ethernet standards 100BASE-TX is by far the most common and is supported by the vast majority of Ethernet hardware currently produced. Fast Ethernet was introduced in 1995 and remained the fastest version of Ethernet for three years before being superseded by gigabit Ethernet.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Fast Ethernet

FIBER OPTICS – An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of very pure glass (silica) not much wider than a human hair that acts as a waveguide, or “light pipe”, to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of optical fibers is known as fiber optics. Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than other forms of communication. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss and are also immune to electromagnetic interference. Fibers are also used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so they can be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in tight spaces. Specially designed fibers are used for a variety of other applications, including sensors and fiber lasers.

Optical fiber typically consists of a transparent core surrounded by a transparent cladding material with a lower index of refraction. Light is kept in the core by total internal reflection. This causes the fiber to act as a waveguide. Fibers that support many propagation paths or transverse modes are called multi-mode fibers (MMF), while those that only support a single mode are called single-mode fibers (SMF). Multi-mode fibers generally have a larger core diameter, and are used for short-distance communication links and for applications where high power must be transmitted. Single-mode fibers are used for most communication links longer than 1,050 meters (3,440 ft).

Joining lengths of optical fiber is more complex than joining electrical wire or cable. The ends of the fibers must be carefully cleaved, and then spliced together either mechanically or by fusing them together with heat. Special optical fiber connectors for removable connections are also available.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Fiber-Optic Communication
Wikipedia: Optical Fiber

FIRMWARE – In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a term often used to denote the fixed, usually rather small, programs and/or data structures that internally control various electronic devices. Typical examples of devices containing firmware range from end-user products such as remote controls or calculators, through computer parts and devices like hard disks, keyboards, TFT screens or memory cards, all the way to scientific instrumentation and industrial robotics. Also more complex consumer devices, such as mobile phones, digital cameras, synthesizers, etc., contain firmware to enable the device’s basic operation as well as implementing higher-level functions.

There are no strict boundaries between firmware and software, as both are quite loose descriptive terms. However, the term firmware was originally coined in order to contrast to higher level software which could be changed without replacing a hardware component, and firmware is typically involved with very basic low-level operations without which a device would be completely non-functional. Firmware is also a relative term, as most embedded devices contain firmware at more than one level. Subsystems such as CPUs, flash chips, communication controllers, LCD modules, and so on, have their own (usually fixed) program code and/or microcode, regarded as “part of the hardware” by the higher-level(s) firmware.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Firmware

GIGABIT ETHERNET – Gigabit Ethernet (GbE or 1 GigE) is a term describing various technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second (1,000,000,000 bits per second), as defined by the IEEE 802.3-2008 standard. It came into use beginning in 1999, gradually supplanting Fast Ethernet in wired local networks since it was ten times faster. The cables and equipment are very similar to previous standards, and as of 2011 are very common and economical.

Half-duplex gigabit links connected through hubs are allowed by the specification but in the marketplace full-duplex with switches is normal.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Gigabit Ethernet

HOME THEATER COMPUTER (MEDIA CENTER PC) – A Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Media Center appliance is a convergence device that combines some or all the capabilities of a personal computer with a software application that supports video, photo, and music playback, and sometimes digital video recorder and time shifting functionality. In recent years, other types of consumer electronics, including gaming systems and dedicated media devices have crossed over to manage video and music content. The term “media center” also refers to specialized application software designed to run on standard personal computer.

An HTPC and other convergence devices integrate many or all components of a home theater into a single unit co-located with a home entertainment system. An HTPC system typically has a remote control and the software interface normally has a 10-foot user interface design so that it can be comfortably viewed at typical television viewing distances. An HTPC can either be purchased pre-configured with the required hardware and software needed to add television programming to the PC, or can be pieced together out of discrete components as is commonly done with software based HTPC setups.

Since 2007 digital media receiver software have been incorporated into consumer electronics through software or hardware changes including gaming systems, blu-ray players, televisions, or solid state set top boxes. The increased availability of specialized devices, coupled with the availability of paid and free digital content, has reduced the need to adapt multipurpose (and more costly) personal computers.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Home Theater Computer

KERNEL (WINDOWS) – In computing, the kernel is the main component of most computer operating systems; it is a bridge between applications and the actual data processing done at the hardware level. The kernel’s responsibilities include managing the system’s resources (the communication between hardware and software components). Usually as a basic component of an operating system, a kernel can provide the lowest-level abstraction layer for the resources (especially processors and I/O devices) that application software must control to perform its function. It typically makes these facilities available to application processes through inter-process communication mechanisms and system calls.

Operating system tasks are done differently by different kernels, depending on their design and implementation. While monolithic kernels execute all the operating system code in the same address space to increase the performance of the system, microkernels run most of the operating system services in user space as servers, aiming to improve maintainability and modularity of the operating system. A range of possibilities exists between these two extremes.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Kernel

LAPTOP – A laptop (notebook) is a personal computer for mobile use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device (a touchpad, also known as a trackpad, and/or a pointing stick) and speakers into a single unit. A laptop is powered by mains electricity via an AC adapter, and can be used away from an outlet using a rechargeable battery. A laptop battery in new condition typically stores enough energy to run the laptop for three to five hours, depending on the computer usage, configuration and power management settings. When the laptop is plugged into the mains, the battery charges, whether or not the computer is running. Yet as it ages the battery’s energy storage will progressively dissipate to lasting only a few minutes.

Portable computers, originally monochrome CRT-based and developing into the modern laptop, were originally considered to be a small niche market, mostly for specialized field applications such as the military, accountants and sales representatives. As portable computers became smaller, lighter, cheaper, more powerful and as screens became larger and of better quality, laptops became very widely used for all sorts of purposes.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Laptop

MASTER BOOT RECORD – A master boot record (MBR) is a type of boot sector popularized by the IBM Personal Computer. It consists of a sequence of 512 bytes located at the first sector of a data storage device such as a hard disk. MBRs are usually placed on storage devices intended for use with IBM PC-compatible systems.

The MBR may be used for one or more of the following:

— Holding a partition table which describes the partitions of a storage device. In this context the boot sector may also be known as a partition sector.

— Bootstrapping an operating system. The BIOS built into a PC-compatible computer loads the MBR from the storage device and passes execution to machine code instructions at the beginning of the MBR.

— Uniquely identifying individual disk media, with a 32-bit disk signature, even though it may never be used by the operating system.

As a result of the broad popularity of PC compatible computers, the MBR format is widely used, to the extent of being supported by computer operating systems in addition to other pre-existing or cross-platform standards for bootstrapping and partitioning.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Master Boot Record

NETBOOK – Netbooks are a category of small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop computers.

At their inception in late 2007 as smaller notebooks optimized for low weight and low cost — netbooks omitted certain features (e.g., the optical drive), featured smaller screens and keyboards, and offered reduced computing power when compared to a full-sized laptop. Over the course of their evolution, netbooks have ranged in size from below 5″ screen diagonal to 12″. A typical weight is 1 kg (2–3 pounds). Often significantly less expensive than other laptops, by mid-2009, some wireless data carriers began to offer netbooks to users “free of charge”, with an extended service contract purchase.

In the short period since their appearance, netbooks have grown in size and features, now converging with new smaller, lighter notebooks and subnotebooks. By August 2009, when comparing a Dell netbook to a Dell notebook, CNET called netbooks “nothing more than smaller, cheaper notebooks,” noting, “the specs are so similar that the average shopper would likely be confused as to why one is better than the other,” and “the only conclusion is that there really is no distinction between the devices.” Initially offered with compact versions of Linux or the end-of-lifed Windows XP, netbooks now typically use Windows 7 Starter which Microsoft sells at a lower price but restricts to lower spec hardware.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Netbook

NORTHBRIDGE – The northbridge has historically been one of the two chips in the core logic chipset on a PC motherboard, the other being the southbridge. Increasingly these functions have migrated to the CPU chip itself, beginning with memory and graphics controllers. In Intel “Sandy Bridge” CPU designs introduced in 2011, all of the functions of the northbridge reside on the chip itself. When the separate northbridge is employed in older Intel systems it is named memory controller hub (MCH) or integrated memory controller (IMCH) if equipped with an integrated VGA.

Separating the chipset into the northbridge and southbridge is common, although in some instances the northbridge and southbridge functions were combined onto one die when design complexity and fabrication processes permitted it.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Northbridge

PCI EXPRESS (PCIe) – PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), officially abbreviated as PCIe, is a computer expansion card standard designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards. PCIe has numerous improvements over the aforementioned bus standards, including higher maximum system bus throughput, lower I/O pin count and smaller physical footprint, better performance-scaling for bus devices, a more detailed error detection and reporting mechanism, and native hot plug functionality. More recent revisions of the PCIe standard support hardware I/O virtualization.

The PCIe electrical interface is also used in a variety of other standards, most notably ExpressCard, a laptop expansion card interface.

Format specifications are maintained and developed by the PCI-SIG (PCI Special Interest Group), a group of more than 900 companies that also maintain the Conventional PCI specifications. PCIe 3.0 is the latest standard for expansion cards that is available on mainstream personal computers.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: PCIe

RUGGED COMPUTER – A rugged (or ruggedized, but also ruggedised) computer is a computer specifically designed to reliably operate in harsh usage environments and conditions, such as strong vibrations, extreme temperatures and wet or dusty conditions. They are designed from inception for the type of rough use typified by these conditions; commercial units upgraded for this purpose make poor substitutes. In general, ruggedized and hardened computers share the same design robustness and frequently these terms are interchangeable.

Rugged laptops, tablet PCs and PDAs are used most frequently by construction and utility workers, emergency services, and military personnel, but are being used in the agricultural industries and by individuals for recreational activities, as well, such as hunting or geocaching.

For more information visit:

Rugged Computer

SERIAL ATA (SATA, SATA Express & eSATA) – Serial ATA (SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is a computer bus interface for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives and optical drives. Serial ATA was designed to replace the older ATA (AT Attachment) standard (also known as EIDE), offering several advantages over the older parallel ATA (PATA) interface: reduced cable-bulk and cost (7 conductors versus 40), native hot swapping, faster data transfer through higher signalling rates, and more efficient transfer through an (optional) I/O queuing protocol.

SATA host-adapters and devices communicate via a high-speed serial cable over two pairs of conductors. In contrast, parallel ATA (the redesignation for the legacy ATA specifications) used a 16-bit wide data bus with many additional support and control signals, all operating at much lower frequency. To ensure backward compatibility with legacy ATA software and applications, SATA uses the same basic ATA and ATAPI command-set as legacy ATA devices.

As of 2009, SATA has replaced parallel ATA in most shipping consumer desktop and laptop computers, and is expected to eventually replace PATA in embedded applications where space and cost are important factors. SATA’s market share in the desktop PC market was 99% in 2008. PATA remains widely used in industrial and embedded applications that use CompactFlash storage, though even here, the next CFast storage standard will be based on SATA.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: SATA
Wikipedia: SATA Express
Wikipedia: eSATA

SOUTHBRIDGE – The southbridge is one of the two chips in the core logic chipset on a personal computer (PC) motherboard, the other being the northbridge. The southbridge typically implements the “slower” capabilities of the motherboard in a northbridge/southbridge chipset computer architecture. In Intel chipset systems the southbridge is named Input/Output Controller Hub (ICH).

The southbridge can usually be distinguished from the northbridge by not being directly connected to the CPU. Rather, the northbridge ties the southbridge to the CPU. Through the use of controller integrated channel circuitry, the northbridge can directly link signals from the I/O units to the CPU for data control and access.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Southbridge

TABLET – A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen. It often uses an onscreen virtual keyboard or a digital pen rather than a physical keyboard.

The term may also apply to a tablet PC, a “convertible” notebook computer whose keyboard is attached to the touch screen by a swivel joint or slide joint so that the screen may lie with its back upon the keyboard, covering it and exposing only the screen for touch operation.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Tablet Computer
Wikipedia: Tablet Personal Computer

THUNDERBOLT – Thunderbolt (originally codenamed Light Peak) is an interface for connecting peripheral devices to a computer via an expansion bus. Thunderbolt was developed by Intel and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple Inc. It was introduced commercially on Apple’s updated MacBook Pro lineup on February 24, 2011, using the same port and connector as Mini DisplayPort. Though initially registered with Apple Inc., full rights of the Thunderbolt technology trademark belong to Intel Corp., and subsequently led to the transfer of the registration.

Thunderbolt essentially combines PCI Express and DisplayPort into a new serial data interface that can be carried over longer and less costly cables. Because PCI Express is widely supported by device vendors and built into most of Intel’s modern chipsets, Thunderbolt can be added to existing products with relative ease. Thunderbolt driver chips fold the data from these two sources together, and split them back apart again for consumption within the devices. This makes the system backward compatible with existing DisplayPort hardware upstream of the driver.

The interface was originally intended to run on an optical physical layer using components and flexible optical fiber cabling developed by Intel partners and at Intel’s Silicon Photonics lab. The Intel technology at the time was marketed under the name Light Peak, today (2011) referred to as Silicon Photonics Link. However, conventional copper wiring turned out to be able to furnish the desired 10 Gb/s Thunderbolt bandwidth at lower cost. Later versions of Thunderbolt are still planned to introduce an optical physical layer based on Intel silicon photonics technology.

The Intel and Apple implementation of the port adapter folds PCI Express and DisplayPort data together, allowing both to be carried over the same cable at the same time. A single Thunderbolt port supports hubs as well as a daisy chain of up to seven Thunderbolt devices; up to two of these devices may be high-resolution displays using DisplayPort.

Apple sells existing DisplayPort adapters for DVI, dual-link DVI, HDMI, and VGA output from the Thunderbolt port, showing broad compatibility.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Thunderbolt

ULTRABOOK – is an Intel specification and trademark for a line of high-end subnotebook computers featuring reduced bulk without compromising battery life. Ultrabooks use low-power Intel Core processors, solid-state drives, and a unibody chassis to help meet these criteria. Due to their limited size, Ultrabooks typically omit common laptop features such as optical disc drives and Ethernet ports. The name “Ultrabook” represents a portmanteau of the words “ultraportable” and “notebook”.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Ultrabook

USB – USB (Universal Serial Bus) is an industry standard which defines the cables, connectors and protocols used for connection, communication and power supply between computers and electronic devices.

USB was designed to standardise the connection of computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, digital cameras, printers, portable media players, disk drives and network adapters to personal computers, both to communicate and to supply electric power, but it has become commonplace on other devices such as smartphones, PDAs and video game consoles. USB has effectively replaced a variety of earlier interfaces such as serial and parallel ports, as well as separate power chargers for portable devices.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: USB