Jargon: Wading through the alphabet soup of the computer hardware industry

Welcome to another episode of Jargon, the new show from Digital Trends that deciphers the complex jargon of various industries into words and concepts the rest of us understand. We’re live each week on Tuesdays with a different set of jargon from a different industry.

On this episode, host Myq Kaplan dives into the mysterious world of the acronyms that live inside your computer. Sean Cleveland, director of technical marketing at Nvidia, joins the discussion to lend his expertise at parsing the complicated capital letters that serve as shorthand for understanding today’s computer technology.

Join us as we dive into the following terms:

  • CPU – So what makes your computer tick? The Central Processing Unit, or CPU. “It’s the brains of the computer,” Cleveland says. “It’s the microprocessor inside.” The CPU is what runs your software applications and keeps your desktops, laptops, and phones doing what they need to do. But which CPU is right for you?
  • GPU – The GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, deals with, well, graphics. While the CPU is designed to run your software, the GPU features parallel architecture and has thousands of cores specialized to interpolate incredibly complex graphics. Cleveland walks us through how this works, and how to pick the right GPU for your needs.
  • RAM – From ROM to RAM, memory has always had memorable acronyms. But what exactly differentiates RAM from cache memory, or any of the other types of memory found in a modern computer? Cleveland helps us remember the purpose and importance of random access memory.
  • SSD vs. HDD – Drives, they are a changin’. The legacy technology of the standard HDD (hard disk drive) has been around for more than 60 years, which means it’s cheap, but also slow, loud, and heavy. We’ve now entered the world of the Solid-State Drive, which, as Cleveland points out, is smaller, faster, safer, …and more expensive.
  • USB – How long will the “universal” in “universal serial bus” be “universal”? How many times will we have to attempt inserting a USB drive only to have it be upside down? “USBs will stick around,” Cleveland assures us, and points out that the current USB-C interface has a symmetrical design so there is no wrong way up.

Join us on next week’s episode of Jargon as we dig into the world of jargon behind your televisions.

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