Glossary

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Terms and abbreviations commonly used by CHIPsters. Many of the terms have a general meaning. In the descriptions below, their meanings as related to CHIP are emphasized.

See the CHIP documentation for a list of common terminal (shell) commands.



A

  • A8 - model of CHIP's Allwinner CPU device.
  • Allwinner - company that produces CHIP's main CPU device.
  • ARM - the architecture of CHIP's main CPU. Specifically, CHIP uses the Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 SOC (System On a Chip).

B

Bananas - this term has evolved to mean giving somebody, usually a fellow community member, something extra. Like a tip, but more personal. For example, if a community member invests his/her time assembling a board and only expects you to pay for materials, you might "buy some bananas" for him/her, paying for more than was requested.

C

  • Composite - CHIPsters mean a form of video signalling, "Composite Video", which was used by older televisions sets. CHIP supports composite video output natively, without an add-on adapter. This is as opposed to VGA, which is a common interface to computer monitors, and HDMI, which is a newer interface to both televisions and computer monitors, especially larged-sized ones.
  • CSI - a set of 8 high-speed GPIO lines that connect directly to CHIP's main CPU. (See also XIO.)

D

E

F

  • Fel - a mode of CHIP operation in which it will accept the download of a new operating system. The act of downloading the operating system is called "flashing". A jumper is typically used to put CHIP into Fel mode; see CHIP documentation for more information, but note that as of this writing, that doc calls pin 7 "UBOOT", but on production CHIPs it is labeled "FEL".
  • Flash (n) - computer memory which retains data even when power is turned off. CHIP organizes its flash memory like a hard disk drive.
  • Flash (v) - when used as a verb, "flash" means to write data to flash memory. CHIPsters typically mean writing the entire operating system to the flash disk.

G

  • GND - Short for "Ground". The zero reference point for measuring voltage. In general electrical usage, it can mean "earth ground", but with electronic circuits (especially digital), it refers to the "minus" of the power circuit. When doing hardware hacking, it is very common to use the GND. Because of that, CHIP's headers have several pins labeled "GND"; they are all interconnected and equivalent.
  • GPIO - General Purpose Input/Output. These are electrical connections (often called "lines" or "pins") that can be used by CHIP to connect to simple kinds of peripherals, such as buttons and switches (inputs) and LEDs and relays (outputs). CHIP has multiple classes of GPIO, among them being "XIO" and "CSI".

H

  • Hacker space - a location, typically stocked with tools and equipment, where hackers meet to hack (see "hacking" below). A hacker space might be as informal as a person's garage, or as sophisticated as a university laboratory. The term "hacker space" can also be used to refer collectively to the group of people who commonly use the space. In this usage, it might be an informal group of friends, or it might be a formal club with membership dues.
  • Hacking - although sometimes used in a negative sense to refer to using a computer to gain unauthorized (and often illegal) access to other computers, an older and positive meaning of hacking is simply to use technology or materials in creative and possibly unexpected ways to achieve outcomes that weren't originally intended. Hacking might be as simple as drilling a hole in a plastic case to provide a convenient place to store a stylus when not in use. Or it might be as complicated as writing a new driver module to allow a computer to work with a peripheral that the computer's designers did not plan for. The term "maker" has arisen partly to avoid the negative connotation of hacking (there are more "maker" magazines than "hacker" magazines), but "hacking" remains the more commonly-used term.
  • Header - one of the two black 40-pin female connectors (U13 and U14) which are mounted on either side of the CHIP board. Although CHIP's headers are "female" connectors, people often refer to individual connections as "pins". The headers are used to expose for external connection various CHIP board lines, such as power, GPIO, serial communication, etc. The header connections allow insertion of wires and pins (and sometimes even thin bent paper clips).

I

  • I2C (typically pronounced "eye-squared-see") - a type of serial communications bus used by CHIP (and many other types of computers) to connect peripheral devices to the main CPU. It is low-cost, but not extremely high speed. Thus, for example, accessing the "XIO" input/output pins is relatively slow since they interface to a device which is connected via I2C, whereas the "CSI" input/output pins are much faster since they interface directly to the main CPU. For more information, see this introduction.

J

K

L

M

N

  • NAND - generally a type of logic circuit, CHIPsters generally are referring to the flash memory on CHIP. CHIP's flash memory is of the NAND type.
  • NTC - Next Thing Co. The company which designed and sells the CHIP single-board computer.

O

P

Q

R

S

  • Shell - strictly speaking, the shell is a Unix program which prompts the user for Unix commands and executes them. CHIPsters often refer to a terminal window as the "shell", and refer to Unix commands as "shell commands". See CHIP's documentation for common shell commands.
  • Script - a program written in a high-level language called a scripting language. The most common kinds of scripts are: Shell (or Bash) scripts, Python scripts, Perl scripts, and Ruby scripts, but there are many others.
  • Shield - an accessory circuit board which is designed to fit onto the CHIP board.
  • SOC - System On a Chip. General term for any large scale integrated circuit which contains both CPU and various peripherals. CHIP's processor device is an SOC given that it has an ARM CPU, RAM memory, plus circuitry to interface to flash, USB, video output, serial lines, audio, and LCD displays.
  • Sysfs - a "virtual file system" which provides software access to low-level resources on CHIP. For example, the virtual file system /sys/class/gpio provides access to CHIP's GPIO lines. See this StackExchange for some general information on Sysfs.

T

U

V

  • VCC (sometimes Vcc) - the (usually) positive voltage used to power a digital circuit. Since CHIP has a variety of circuits, there are multiple VCCs on CHIP: 5 volts, 3.3 volts, and 1.8 volts.
  • VNC - a standard program (actually class of programs) which allows one computer's GUI console to be displayed and operated on another computer's GUI console over a network. Essentially the same thing as "remote desktop".

W

X

  • XIO - a set of 8 low-speed GPIO lines that connect to CHIP's main CPU via I2C bus. (See also CSI.)

Y

Z