Next Previous Contents

12. Glossary

Some commonly used abbreviations and their meanings:


ROM is "built-in" computer memory containing data that normally can only be read, not written to. ROM contains the programming that allows your computer to be "booted up" or regenerated each time you turn it on. Unlike a computer's random access memory (RAM), the data in ROM is not lost when the computer power is turned off. The ROM is sustained by a small long-life battery in your computer.


PROM (programmable read-only memory) is read-only memory (ROM) that can be modified once by a user. PROM is a way of allowing a user to tailor a microcode program using a special machine called a PROM programmer. This machine supplies an electrical current to specific cells in the ROM that effectively blows a fuse in them. The process is known as burning the PROM. Since this process leaves no margin for error, most ROM chips designed to be modified by users use erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) or electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM).


EPROM (erasable programmable read-only memory) is programmable read-only memory (PROM) that can be erased and re-used. Erasure is caused by shining an intense ultraviolet light through a window that is designed into the memory chip. (Although ordinary room lighting does not contain enough ultraviolet light to cause erasure, bright sunlight can cause erasure. For this reason, the window is usually covered with a label when not installed in the computer.)


EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) is user-modifiable read-only memory (ROM) that can be erased and reprogrammed (written to) repeatedly through the application of higher than normal electrical voltage. Unlike EPROM chips, EEPROMs do not need to be removed from the computer to be modified. However, an EEPROM chip has to be erased and reprogrammed in its entirety, not selectively. It also has a limited life - that is, the number of times it can be reprogrammed is limited to tens or hundreds of thousands of times. In an EEPROM that is frequently reprogrammed while the computer is in use, the life of the EEPROM can be an important design consideration.

Next Previous Contents