Kindly explain what does the word metal mean here?

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I am not even sure how to make a research. I guess it's some kind of metaphor here.

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    "Down to the metal" is an idiom, meaning details down to the mechanical/electrical features of whatever contraption is being discussed. Ie, in the above case there would presumably be details about the specific computers and their configurations that would be used in web operations. (In a different context it might mean actually discussing circuits and computer chips.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 14:01
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    The expression "big iron" is related in the sense of server rooms and datacenters. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_iron
    – user662852
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 14:46
  • Very similar to the idiom, "bare metal", indicating that you are at the lowest level, closest to the problem. You can think of this metaphor: stripping the paint on a car to the bare metal so that there are no foreign materials between the paint and the metal. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


Computers are made of metal. From the browser down to the metal refers to the software and the hardware involved.

  • Oh, I see. Thanx a lot Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 11:53

From a post on gamedev.net:

there was a time when "down to the metal" meant basically writing code for the raw hardware (with no OS or device drivers involved), and often with stuff written in a fair bit of assembler as well.

"Metal" refers to the physical hardware, trying to cut through the driver or operating system levels, i.e. low level CPU, graphics programming, real-time embedded systems. Some call themselves "down-to-the-metal C++ programmers".

It might be related to the expression: "pedal to the metal", where (gas) pedal is fully depressed to the car floor, providing as much speed as possible, which is one of the purposes of "to the metal" programming. Additional shades are given in Close To The Metal, referring to code limited to some hardware or security issues..

  • Editing was indeed a good idea @curiousdannii Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 14:02
  • I don't think it is related to "pedal to the metal". There "metal" just meant the metal floor and it was a nice rhyme. "Metal" in that context doesn't really make a lot of sense in "to the metal" programming, (even with the "speed" connection, which is... another topic). "Metal" in "down to the metal" or "bare metal" just refers to the more "raw" lower level parts of a system (hardware and such like you say), it's not a synonym for a "floor" ("pedal to the metal" was not a metaphor like "down to the metal" is).
    – Jason C
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 23:38
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    Per FOLDOC, the original phrase was "bare metal" and I think it's probably meant to make you think of machine parts that haven't been polished and painted yet.
    – zwol
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 3:11
  • @zwol Excellent FOLDOC reference, that made me discover the bare-metal restore acception, relating "bare metal" more precisely to hard drives. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 9:37
  • @Jason C Possibly. Yet the metaphor spreads with expressions like "pedal to bare metal", I have even seen a "bare-metal cloud" Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 9:43

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