Data Dictionary - W


  • Warm Boot
  • Winchester Disk
  • Word-Addressable Processor
  • Write-Back Cache


Warm Boot
A system restart that does not involve turning on the power and waiting for the computer to check itself and its devices. A warm boot typically means loading or reloading the computer’s operating system. On IBM and compatible personal computers, the user can perform a warm boot by using the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination. On Apple Macintosh computers, the user can request a warm boot with the Restart command on the Special menu.

Winchester Disk
An early IBM name for a hard disk. The term is derived from IBM’s internal code name for the first hard disk that stored 30 megabytes(MB) and has a 30-millisecond access time, reminding its inventors of a Windcheater. 30 caliber rifle known as a “.30-30.”

Word-Addressable Processor
A processor that cannot access an individual byte of memory but can access only a larger unit. In order to perform operations on an individual byte, the processor must read and write memory in the larger unit. For example, a word-addressable processor might read a word (two bytes) from memory at one time, add a value to only one of the bytes, and then write the word back to memory.

Write-Back Cache
Also known as write-behind cache or simply write cache. A form of temporary storage in which data is held, or cached, for a short time in memory before being written to disk for permanent storage. Caching improves system performance in general by reducing the number of times the computer must go through the relatively slow process of reading from and writing to disk. Although a write-back cache adds nothing to efficiency in terms of disk reads, it can improve efficiency by “stockpiling” disk writes, typically keeping them in memory until a specified amount of time has passed, until a lull in system activity allows the information to be written to disk with minimal impact on performance, or (to prevent loss of data) until the computer is rebooted.

Pronounced “wizzywig.” Acronym for “What you see is what you get.” A display method that shows documents and graphics characters on the screen, as they will appear when printed, WYSIWYG attempts to duplicate print output as closely as possible but is not always exact. Some programs, for example, can display italics, boldface, and graphics characters on the screen, but only in a predetermined type size. Other programs, particularly on computers such as Apple Macintosh, can display fonts, font sizes, and graphical images that closely approximate those in the printed version. Regardless of a program’s capabilities, however, WYSIWYG requires display hardware capable of operating in graphics mode rather than in text mode.

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