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ABC of electronics terms

Click on the first letter of the electronic term you're looking for:
0..9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

(To find chips for distinct functions, see the functional pages.)


Macintosh based software

local MacIntosh based Compilers
local MacIntosh based Linux part 1
local MacIntosh based Linux part 2
local MacIntosh based PCB* software Very up to date Mac* cross assembler. Supports many processors.

Magnetic terms At Coiltronics


(Micro* Controller Unit)

A MCU is a MPU combined with peripherals that is supposed to be embedded into some product.

A traditional MPU only has a processor inside and is meant to be combined with bus chips and peripheral chips to form a computer.

A MCU has a simple processor and a lot of on-chip system glue and peripherals.

Why? It's because MCU's are meant to be used in appliances like microwave ovens, washing machines, toys and whetever. In these applications cost is very important and the more parts that are already included into the MCU save part costs, PCB* size costs and debugging costs.

For building a serious computer the MPU will have to be state of the art and has no spare room for peripherals so they are added in seperate chips.

Of course there are always cross-over products. Some heavy applications used a real MPU and some PC's like the Philips' 'Yes:' and Tandy/RadioShack's first PC's used the 80186 or 80188 which are actually MCU's. MPU's are also sometimes used embedded in products.

See also:

local MCU compendium FAQ in text MCU Primer FAQ MCU Primer FAQ in text example for what a microcontroller is versus a microprocessor


title order at Amazon USA price indication
Art of Designing Embedded Systems, the ISBN: 0750698691 $40
Art of Programming Embedded Systems, the ISBN: 0122748808 $90
C Programming for Embedded Systems ISBN: 1929629044 $25
Debugging Embedded Microprocessor Systems ISBN: 0750699906 $30
Embedded Microprocessor Systems: Real World Design ISBN: 075067234X $35
Embedded Software Primer, an ISBN: 020161569X $40
Embedded Systems Building Blocks : Complete and Ready-To-Use Modules in C ISBN: 0879306041 $50
Embedded Systems Design ISBN: 0750632372 $50
Handbook of Microcontrollers ISBN: 0079137164 $45
Microcontroller Idea Book, the ISBN: 0965081907 $32
Programming Embedded Systems in C and C ++ ISBN: 1565923545 $24


Where Manufacturer Hewlett-Packard

Medical Design Medical Design (by VerticalNet)

Melody chips

Chips that generate tunes consisting of separate tones.

local Melody chips

See also Sound, Sound Card and Voice.

Memory Testing

When you distrust your memory or want to check your memory when starting up a system.

local Memory tests Article: Software based memory testing

Testing Semiconductor Memories - Theory and Practice

A.J. van de Goor
John Wiley and Sons, 605 Third Avenue, New York, NR 10158-0012
ISBN: 0471925861
This book contains all of the standard testing methods and analysis techniques for testing memory.


Making very small machines out of silicon Formerly the MEMS* services of Alcatel Optronics Netherlands Dream Team - Nano* SuperComputer MEMS* Technology Applications Center Microengineering intro Physik Instrumente (PI) Piezo- and Nanopositioning Technology Homepage Sean Morgan's Nanotechnology Pages Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Forum: MEMS* in general. Discussions about polysilicon sensors, actuators, and microstructures. bulk and surface micromachining technologies. fabrication process. physical principles.


title order at Amazon USA price indication
Art of Microelectronic Systems ISBN: 1568810318 $50
Materials Science of Microelectromechanical Systems (Mems*) Devices ISBN: 1558994521 $85
Microrobotic Manipulation: Design and Control Methodologies ISBN: 9810241518 $44
Silicon Micromachining ISBN: 052159054X $105

See also

See also Microsystems (second next item) and Nanotechnology.

Microprocessor How it works


Microsystems are mechanical devices produced on silicon using normal wafer fabrication techniques i.e. lithography, etch etc.
These should be the devices created by Microengineering, I would think...
They are made for example by PB Technik of Switzerland, who produce wafers that are supplied to manufacturers. They don't have a WWW site yet, email John Dunn <> for more details.


Wave with a wavelenght of about a micro* meter (?).
They are being used in microwave ovens and for cellular phones. Conference in Germany Merrimac Industries RF and microwave design by Jordan Strundjev


Serial in-device communication methods.

See Microwire.


Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

local MIDI for the 6811
local MIDI for the PIC MIDI interface

See also: Musical instrument.


Very expensive military processor, prices starting at $5000!
Pure 16 bit processor (ad+da) but very reliable and radiation hardend etc...

local More compiler? compiler? Compiler? Press releases and data from CPU tTechnology

MIL-STD-883 The Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) maintains this standard.

See also JAN qualified.

Date:    19990727
From:    Ian King
Subject: Re: Leftover RTX2000 Chips

At 10:45 pm 7/25/99 -0400, you wrote:

Ian King wrote:
The reason a DSP* chip is unlikely to replace the RTX2010RH in space applications is that the cost of certification is astronomical. If they ever do I can guarantee you you won't be ably to buy one for $10!

What certification might that be?

Derrick Shearer

You can't just package up your dies into ceramic packages and sell them as Rad-tol. Xilinx mentions the XQ4000X Series Certified to MIL-PRF-38535 Appendix A QML.

An example of Rad-tol fpga* costs is from Actel. Per piece pricing in 50-unit volume for MIL-STD-883 Class B devices in the 208-pin package is A54SX16 - $1,040 and A54SX32 - $1,872. In the same volume, the 208-pin package RadTolerant devices are RT54SX16 - $1,530 and RT54SX32 - $2,600

Ian - More info at Actel


Mega* Instructions Per Second

By cynics also called: 'Most Ignorable Parameter for Speed'
This is a unit to express Processor Speed in.
When you know what you're looking at it's a nice indication of processor speed, but it's indeed not a term like miles per hour that even laymen can use.

local BogoMips comparison between processors


Minimal Instruction Set Computing

local More on this site Site by Richard S. Westmoreland Maker of the F21 microprocessor
local See also


Where Manufacturer Murata Raytheon

Mitsumi CD-ROM interface

The early CD-ROM players had their own interface cards: Mitsumi, Panasonic and Sony. Later sound cards integrated all those busses and still later the IDE interface was used.
The Mitsumi CD-ROM interface

See also ATAPI and IDE.

Mobile phone

Also called a cell phone (in the USA) or portable phone.


Modulator (and) demodulator

Used to send computer data over an analogue connection like a telephone line.


local Modem* chips
local More the V.90 standard the K56Flex standard 56k course for students More about the Hayes command set How modems work On Resources for news:comp.dcom.modems At Yahoo RP56D/SP ROCKWELL data sheet


Modem* (not modem* chip) makers
Where Manufacturer AT&T Computerline (Victory) Conexant, used to be Rockwell Dynalink Hayes Hayes Europe ICP Landis (Hayes and Microcom) Lucent, used to be AT&T Microcom Multitech PCTel (sells softmodem software it seems) Philips Rockwell, now called Conexant Allied Data Technologies, TRON, Tornado, Trident Tron Netherlands US Robotics (bought by 3Com)

Cermetek makes FCC approved, ready-to-use modem* modules.


See Video.

Monitor and Debugger

NoICE (use a search engine!) Remote debugger for 6502, 6809, 6811, 80196, 8051, 8096, TMS370, Z8, Z80

Moore, Gordon

Gordon Moore was the founder of Intel, who formulated the 'Law of Moore' which says that the capacity and speed of semiconductors will double every constant amount of time. For the number of transistors on a microchip it doubles about every 18 months since 1965. Article from Scientific American



The main printed circuit board (PCB*) in a PC.

Mother board makers: Abit AMI (Amercian Megatrends, Inc.) Aopen ASUS Biostar Chaintech ECS EPoX, FIC, Gigabyte, MSI* (Micro* Star, Inc.?) PC Chips (BIOS reference: #S286-6181-101590-K8) QDI Computer Canada QDI Computer Group QDI Computer USA Shuttle Supermicro Transcend, Korea in English Transcend, Korea in Chinese Transcend, Netherlands in English Tyan

For a more complete list:

See also: At Computers Square Motherboard HomeWorld Motherboard seller Largest motherboard database on the Web BIOS and chipset information by Alle Metzlar Intel Intel


A device that converts energy in motion.

local Manufacturers Online training: Motor Control using PWM
Servo Motor Servo motor
Stepper Motor Stepper motor


local Mouse specs Linux HOWTO

PC Mouse Systems

Serial UART: 1200 baud*, data=8, start=1, parity=none
Mouse Protocol of Transmission

byte bit: 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
1 sync* 1 0 0 0 0 L M R 0=depressed button
2 dX x7 x6 x5 x4 x3 x2 x1 x0 bit 7 -> 0=pos, 1=neg
3 dY y7 y6 y5 y4 y3 y2 y1 y0
4 dX' x7 x6 x5 x4 x3 x2 x1 x0
5 dY' y7 y6 y5 y4 y3 y2 y1 y0


Microsoft Mouse

Serial UART: 1200 baud*, data=7, stop=1, parity=none
Mouse Protocol of Transmission (normal mode)

byte bit: 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
1 sync* 0 1 L R y7 y6 x7 x6 1=depressed button
2 dX 0 0 x5 x4 x3 x2 x1 x0 MSB-> 0=pos,1=neg
3 dY 0 0 y5 y4 y3 y2 y1 y0



A dedicated DSP* to decode the MP3 sound format is the MAS3507D from ITT.


Video compression method.

MPEG Chip Manufacturers


Microprocessor unit, also called microprocessor, processor or CPU.
It's a single chip (=monolithic) CPU.
In earlier days CPU's were complete PCB*'s with a whole range of (for example) Am2900 bit slice chips.

local More information per MPU family Microprocessors


title order at Amazon USA price indication
Surviving the Design of Microprocessor and Multimicroprocessor Systems ISBN: 0471357286 $105
Towards the Virtual Microprocessor ISBN: 0471956066 $125


Old bus by Intel, later adopted as IEEE standard. Still in use in the industry it seems.

local About the Multibus by Mark Sokos

Multi Tasking

An operating system is called multi tasking when it can run two or more programs at the same time. Unix is a good example of such an OS*, but OS*'s like MS Windows are slowly catching up. To run several tasks with each task fully separated from each other the computer needs to have a serious Memory Management Unit (MMU*), which is in the mean time common in serious processors The first Intel PC processor to have such an inbuild MMU* was the 80286 and it was indeed possible to run SCO/Unix (then still called Xenix for trademark reasons) on it.
Multi threading is a relatively new term and means that a single program can split itself and run twice, but the resources like data memory keep being shared. Each process has it's own stack though and the code is ran independently of the other process. When a conventional Unix task splits itself using a fork() system call both resulting processes have their own data space and generally communicate via a pipe. They share all opened files, but only one of them is supposed to stay using each of them.
With embedded controller processes the term multitasking is used more lightly and total task seperation is not required. Generally it's also just multi threading. Because one programmer generally writes all the programs he can insure that all code behaves well and pre emptive task switching (task switching without the concent of the running task) is not necessary. Handling an interrupt is already a primitive form of multitasking which happens asynchronously to the normal process, but it's not a real separated thread, because it doesn't have it's own stack. It's more like a randomly executed subroutine.
It's not really difficult to implement a simple task switching mechanism under these soft circumstances, but whenever the situation gets more complicated you may want to use an existing multi tasking system. There are a lot of commercial ones but also some free ones, like the MCX system that you can download from Motorola's site.

Musical instrument Michael Everett Burns

See also: MIDI.

Click on the first letter of the electronic term you're looking for:
0..9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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