QUESTION: What is a RIP?
ANSWER: RIP stands for "Raster Image Processor." A RIP is a device or a software program that converts page-description-language code to the raster format required by the print engine in a printer or imagesetter. (The print engine is the machinery that actually makes marks on a page.)
For some printing devices, the RIP is stored on a circuit board that is inside the printer. This is true of many if not most desktop printers.
For other printing devices, the RIP is a software module or collection of software modules that runs on a computer that is attached to the printing device. This is the case with high-end digital printers and digital presses.
When you're reading information about printers and RIPs on this Web site, you'll sometimes see the term printer/RIP. We've done things this way to cover both of the situations described above.
For more information, see What is rasterization?