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real-time clock (RTC)

Contributor(s): Niki Ladoulis

A real-time clock (RTC) is a battery-powered clock that is included in a microchip in a computer motherboard. This microchip is usually separate from the microprocessor and other chips and is often referred to simply as "the CMOS" (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor). A small memory on this microchip stores system description or setup values - including current time values stored by the real-time clock. The time values are for the year, month, date, hours, minutes, and seconds. When the computer is turned on, the Basic Input-Output Operating System (BIOS) that is stored in the computer's read-only memory (ROM) microchip reads the current time from the memory in the chip with the real-time clock.

This was last updated in April 2005

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