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Stands for "Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor." This technology is typically used in making transistors. The "complementary" part of the term unfortunately does not mean these semiconductors are free. Instead, it refers to how they produce either a positive or negative charge. Because CMOS-based transistors only use one charge at a time, they run efficiently, using up very little power. This is because the charges can stay in one state for a long period of time, allowing the transistor to use little or no power except when needed.

Because of their wonderful efficiency, processors that use CMOS-based transistors can run at extremely high speeds without getting too hot and going up in flames. You may also find CMOS memory in your computer, which holds the date and time and other basic system settings. The low power consumption of CMOS allows the memory to be powered by a simple Lithium battery for many years.

Published: 2004

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Definition from the PC Glossary