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Aim: To study MOTHERBOARD.


A motherboard is the central or primary printed circuit board (PCB) making up a

complex electronic system, such as a modern computer. It is also known as a mainboard,
baseboard, system board, planar board, or, on Apple computers, a logic board, and is
sometimes abbreviated casually as mobo.
Most motherboards produced today are designed for so-called IBM-compatible
computers, which held over 96% of the global personal computer market in 2005.[2]
Motherboards for IBM-compatible computers are specifically covered in the PC
motherboard article.
A motherboard, like a backplane, provides the electrical connections by which the
other components of the system communicate, but unlike a backplane also contains the
central processing unit and other subsystems such as real time clock, and some peripheral
A typical desktop computer is built with the microprocessor, main memory, and
other essential components on the motherboard. Other components such as external
storage, controllers for video display and sound, and peripheral devices are typically
attached to the motherboard via edge connectors and cables, although in modern
computers it is increasingly common to integrate these "peripherals" into the


Prior to the advent of the microprocessor, a computer was usually built in a card-cage
case or mainframe with components connected by a backplane consisting of a set of slots
themselves connected with wires; in very old designs the wires were discrete connections
between card connector pins, but printed-circuit boards soon became the standard
practice. The central processing unit, memory and peripherals were housed on individual
printed circuit boards which plugged into the backplane.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, it became economical to move an increasing
number of peripheral functions onto the motherboard (see above). In the late 1980s,
motherboards began to include single ICs (called Super I/O chips) capable of supporting
a set of low-speed peripherals: keyboard, mouse, floppy disk drive, serial ports, and
parallel ports. As of the late 1990s, many personal computer motherboards support a full
range of audio, video, storage, and networking functions without the need for any
expansion cards at all; higher-end systems for 3D gaming and computer graphics
typically retain only the graphics card as a separate component.
The early pioneers of motherboard manufacturing were Micronics, Mylex, AMI, DTK,
Hauppauge, Orchid Technology, Elitegroup, DFI, and a number of Taiwan-based
Popular personal computers such as the Apple II and IBM PC had published
schematic diagrams and other documentation which permitted rapid reverse-engineering
and third-party replacement motherboards. Usually intended for building new computers
compatible with the exemplars, many motherboards offered additional performance or
other features and were used to upgrade the manufacturer's original equipment.

Bootstrapping using the BIOS:

Motherboards contain some non-volatile memory to initialize the system and load an
operating system from some external peripheral device. Microcomputers such as the
Apple II and IBM PC used read-only memory chips, mounted in sockets on the
motherboard. At power up the central processor would load its program counter with the
address of the boot ROM and start executing ROM instructions displaying system
information on the screen and running memory checks, which would in turn start loading
memory from an external or peripheral device (disk drive) if one isn't available then the
computer can perform tasks from other memory stores or displays an error message
depending on the model and design of the computer and version of the bios.
Most modern motherboard designs use a BIOS, stored in a EEPROM chips
oldered to the motherboard, to bootstrap the motherboard. (Socketed BIOS chips are
widely used, also.) By booting the motherboard, the memory, circuitry, and peripherals
are tested and configured. This process is known as a Power On Self Testor POST. Errors
during POST result in POST error codes, ranging from simple audible beeps from the
speaker to complex diagnostic messages displayed on the video monitor. The
BIOS often requires configuration settings to be stored on the motherboard. Since
configuration settings must be easily edited, these settings are often stored in non-volatile
RAM (NVRAM) rather than in some sort of read-only memory (ROM). When a user
makes configuration changes or alters the date and time of the computer, this small
NVRAM circuit stores the data. Typically, a small, long-lasting battery (e.g. a lithium
coin cell CR2032) is used to keep the NVRAM "refreshed" for many years. Therefore, a
failing battery on a motherboard will produce the symptoms of a computer that cannot
determine the correct date and time, nor remember what hardware configuration the user
has selected. The BIOS itself is unaffected by the status of the battery.
When IBM first introduced the PC in the 1980s, imitations were quite common.
(The physical parts which made up the motherboard were trivial to acquire.) However,
the imitations were never successful until the IBM ROM BIOS was legally copied. To
understand why copying the BIOS was an important step, consider that the BIOS
contained vital instructions which interacted with peripherals. Without these software
instructions in the BIOS, a PC would not function properly. (In most modern computer
operating systems, the BIOS is bypassed for most hardware functions, but in the 1980s,
the BIOS served many vital low-level functions.)
So when Compaq Computer Corp. spent US$1 million to clone the IBM BIOS
using reverse engineering, they became an elite computer manufacturer of IBM PC
Clones. Phoenix Technology soon matched their feat and began reselling BIOSs to other
clone makers. It has been noted that Microsoft was more than happy to license the
operating system (DOS), and IBM was more than happy to sue companies that violated
the copyright of their BIOS. But by documenting and publicizing the reverse engineering
of the BIOS, Compaq and Phoenix were legally competing with IBM using their own
copyrighted BIOS.
Once the bootstrapping of the computer's peripherals are complete, the BIOS will
normally pass control to another set of instructions stored on a bootable device.
Devices which are normally used to boot a computer:

• floppy drive

• network controller

• CD-ROM drive

• DVD-ROM drive

• SCSI hard drive

• IDE, EIDE, or SATA hard drive

• External USB memory storage device

Any of the above devices can be stored with machine code instructions to
load an operating system or a program.

Components And Functions:

The 2004 K7VT4A Pro motherboard by ASRock. The chipset on this board consists of
northbridge and southbridge chips.
The motherboard of a typical desktop consists of a large printed circuit
board. It holds electronic components and interconnects, as well as physical connectors
(sockets, slots, and headers) into which other computer components may be inserted or
Most motherboards include, at a minimum:

• sockets (or slots) in which one or more microprocessors (CPUs) are installed

• slots into which the system's main memory is installed (typically in the form of
DIMM modules containing DRAM chips)

• a chipset which forms an interface between the CPU's front-side bus, main
memory, and peripheral buses

• non-volatile memory chips (usually Flash ROM in modern motherboards)

containing the system's firmware or BIOS

• a clock generator which produces the system clock signal to synchronize the
various components

• slots for expansion cards (these interface to the system via the buses supported by
the chipset)

• power connectors and circuits, which receive electrical power from the computer
power supply and distribute it to the CPU, chipset, main memory, and expansion

The Octet Jaguar V motherboard from 1993. This board has 6 ISA slots but few onboard
peripherals, as evidenced by the lack of external connectors.
Additionally, nearly all motherboards include logic and connectors to support
commonly-used input devices, such as PS/2 connectors for a mouse and keyboard. Early
personal computers such as the Apple II or IBM PC included only this minimal peripheral
support on the motherboard. Occasionally video interface hardware was also integrated
into the motherboard; for example on the Apple II, and rarely on IBM-compatible
computers such as the IBM PC Jr. Additional peripherals such as disk controllers and
serial ports were provided as expansion cards. Given the high
thermal design power of high-speed computer CPUs and components, modern
motherboards nearly always include heatsinks and mounting points for fans to dissipate
excess heat.
Diagram of a modern motherboard, which supports many on-board peripheral
functions as well as several expansion slots.
With the steadily declining costs and size of integrated circuits, it is now possible
to include support for many peripherals on the motherboard. By combining many
functions on one PCB, the physical size and total cost of the system may be reduced.

Integrated peripherals:

For example, the ECS RS485M-M, a typical modern budget motherboard for computers
based on AMD processors, has on-board support for a very large range of peripherals:

• disk controllers for a floppy disk drive, up to 2 PATA drives, and up to 6 SATA
drives (including RAID 0/1 support)

• integrated ATI Radeon graphics controller supporting 2D and 3D graphics, with

VGA and TV output

• integrated sound card supporting 8-channel (7.1) audio and S/PDIF output

• fast Ethernet network controller for 10/100 Mbit networking

• USB 2.0 controller supporting up to 12 USB ports

• IrDA controller for infrared data communication (e.g. with an IrDA enabled
Cellular Phone or Printer)

• temperature, voltage, and fan-speed sensors that allow software to monitor the
health of computer components
Expansion cards to support all of these functions would have cost hundreds of dollars
even a decade ago, however as of April 2007 such highly-integrated motherboards are
available for as little as $30 in the USA.

Temperature and Reliability:

Motherboards are generally air cooled with heat sinks often mounted on larger chips,
such as the northbridge, in modern motherboards. Passive cooling, or a single fan
mounted on the power supply, was sufficient for many desktop computer CPUs until the
late 1990s; since then, most have required CPU fans mounted on their heatsinks, due to
rising clock speeds and power consumption. Most motherboards have connectors for
additional case fans as well. Newer motherboards have integrated temperature sensors to
detect motherboard and CPU temperatures, and controllable fan connectors which the
BIOS or operating system can use to regulate fan speed.
Some small form factor computers and home theater PCs designed for quiet and
energy-efficient operation boast fan-less designs. This typically requires the use of a low-
power CPU, as well as careful layout of the motherboard and other components to allow
for heat sink placement.
A 2003 study found that some spurious computer crashes and general reliability
issues, ranging from screen image distortions to I/O read/write errors, can be attributed
not to software or peripheral hardware but to aging capacitors on PC motherboards.
Ultimately this was shown to be the result of a faulty electrolyte formulation.
For more information on premature capacitor failure on PC motherboards, see
capacitor plague.
Motherboards use electrolytic capacitors to filter the DC power distributed around
the board. These capacitors age at a temperature-dependent rate, as their water based
electrolytes slowly evaporate. This can lead to loss of capacitance and subsequent
motherboard malfunctions due to voltage instabilities. While most capacitors are rated for
2000 hours of operation at 105 °C, their expected design life roughly doubles for every
10 °C below this. At 45 °C a lifetime of 15 years can be expected. This appears
reasonable for a computer motherboard, however many manufacturers have delivered
substandard capacitors, which significantly reduce this life expectancy. Inadequate case
cooling and elevated temperatures easily exacerbate this problem. It is possible, but
tedious and time-consuming, to find and replace failed capacitors on PC motherboards; it
is less expensive to buy a new motherboard than to pay for such a repair.