Browse Definitions:
Definition

serial

Serial means one event at a time. It is usually contrasted with parallel, meaning more than one event happening at a time. In data transmission, the techniques of time division and space division are used, where time separates the transmission of individual bits of information sent serially and space (on multiple lines or paths) can be used to have multiple bits sent in parallel.

In the context of computer hardware and data transmission: serial connection, operation, and media usually indicate a simpler, slower operation and parallel indicates a faster operation. This indication doesn't always hold since a serial medium (for example, fiber optic cable) can be much faster than a slower medium that carries multiple signals in parallel.

On your PC, the printer is usually attached through a parallel interface and cable so that it will print faster. Your keyboard and mouse are one-way devices that only require a serial interface and line. Inside your computer, much of its circuitry supports bits being moved around in parallel.

Your computer modem uses one of your PC's serial connections or COM ports. Serial communication between your PC and the modem and other serial devices adheres to the RS-232C standard.

Conventional computers and their programs operate in a serial manner, with the computer reading a program and performing its instructions one after the other. However, some of today's computers have multiple processors and can perform instructions in parallel.

This was last updated in April 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • principle of least privilege (POLP)

    The principle of least privilege (POLP), an important concept in computer security, is the practice of limiting access rights for...

  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for identifying, authenticating and authorizing individuals or ...

  • zero-day (computer)

    A zero-day vulnerability, also known as a computer zero day, is a flaw in software, hardware or firmware that is unknown to the ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close