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PartsofaMotherboardandTheirFunction

ThePartsofaComputerMotherboard

Someofthemajorcomponentsofamotherboard.

Themainprintedcircuitboardinacomputerisknownasthemotherboard.Othernamesforthiscentral
computerunitaresystemboard,mainboard,orprintedwiredboard(PWB).Motherboardissometimes
shortenedtoMobo.
Numerousmajorcomponents,crucialinthefunctioningofthecomputer,areattachedtothemotherboard.
Theseincludetheprocessor,memory,andexpansionslots.Themotherboardconnectsdirectlyorindirectlyto
everypartofthePC.
ThetypeofmotherboardinstalledinaPChasagreateffectonacomputer'ssystemspeedandexpansion
capabilities.

MajorMotherboardComponentsandTheirFunctions

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AlabeledASRockK7VT4AProMainboard.|Source

CentralProcessingUnit(CPU)
Alsoknownasthemicroprocessorortheprocessor,theCPUisthecomputer'sbrain.Itisresponsiblefor
fetching,decoding,andexecutingprograminstructionsaswellasperformingmathematicalandlogical
calculations.
Theprocessorchipisidentifiedbytheprocessortypeandthemanufacturer.Thisinformationisusually
inscribedonthechipitself.Forexample,Intel386,AdvancedMicroDevices(AMD)386,Cyrix486,Pentium
MMX,IntelCore2Duo,oriCore7.
Iftheprocessorchipisnotonthemotherboard,youcanidentifytheprocessorsocketassocket1toSocket8,
LGA775amongothers.Thiscanhelpyouidentifytheprocessorthatfitsinthesocket.Forexample,a486DX
processorfitsintoSocket3.

RandomAccessMemory
(RAM)
RandomAccessMemory,orRAM,usuallyreferstocomputerchipsthattemporarilystoredynamicdatato
enhancecomputerperformancewhileyouareworking.
Inotherwords,itistheworkingplaceofyourcomputer,whereactiveprogramsanddataareloadedsothat
anytimetimetheprocessorrequiresthem,itdoesn'thavetofetchthemfromtheharddisk.
Randomaccessmemoryisvolatile,meaningitlosesitscontentsoncepoweristurnedoff.Thisisdifferentfrom
nonvolatilememory,suchasharddisksandflashmemory,whichdonotrequireapowersourcetoretaindata.
Whenacomputershutsdownproperly,alldatalocatedinRAMisreturnedbacktopermanentstorageonthe
harddriveorflashdrive.Atthenextbootup,RAMbeginstofillwithprogramsautomaticallyloadedatstartup,a
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processcalledbooting.Lateron,theuseropensotherfilesandprogramsthatarestillloadedinthememory.

BasicInput/OutputSystem
(BIOS)
BIOSstandsforBasicInput/OutputSystem.BIOSisa"readonly"memory,whichconsistsoflowlevelsoftware
thatcontrolsthesystemhardwareandactsasaninterfacebetweentheoperatingsystemandthehardware.
MostpeopleknowthetermBIOSbyanothernamedevicedrivers,orjustdrivers.BIOSisessentiallythelink
betweenthecomputerhardwareandsoftwareinasystem.
AllmotherboardsincludeasmallblockofReadOnlyMemory(ROM)whichisseparatefromthemainsystem
memoryusedforloadingandrunningsoftware.OnPCs,theBIOScontainsallthecoderequiredtocontrolthe
keyboard,displayscreen,diskdrives,serialcommunications,andanumberofmiscellaneousfunctions.
ThesystemBIOSisaROMchiponthemotherboardusedduringthestartuproutine(bootprocess)tocheck
outthesystemandpreparetorunthehardware.TheBIOSisstoredonaROMchipbecauseROMretains
informationevenwhennopowerisbeingsuppliedtothecomputer.

ComplimentaryMetalOxide
SemiconductorRandom
AccessMemory(CMOSRAM)

ACMOSbattery.

MotherboardsalsoincludeasmallseparateblockofmemorymadefromCMOSRAMchipswhichiskeptalive
byabattery(knownasaCMOSbattery)evenwhenthePCspowerisoff.Thispreventsreconfigurationwhen
thePCispoweredon.
CMOSdevicesrequireverylittlepowertooperate.
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TheCMOSRAMisusedtostorebasicInformationaboutthePCsconfigurationforinstance:
Floppydiskandharddiskdrivetypes
InformationaboutCPU
RAMsize
Dateandtime
Serialandparallelportinformation
PlugandPlayinformation
PowerSavingsettings
OtherImportantdatakeptinCMOSmemoryisthetimeanddate,whichisupdatedbyaRealTimeClock(RTC).

CacheMemory

L2cacheonanoldmotherboard.

Cachememoryisasmallblockofhighspeedmemory(RAM)thatenhancesPCperformancebypreloading
informationfromthe(relativelyslow)mainmemoryandpassingittotheprocessorondemand.
MostCPUshaveaninternalcachememory(builtintotheprocessor)whichisreferredtoasLevel1orprimary
cachememory.Thiscanbesupplementedbyexternalcachememoryfittedonthemotherboard.Thisisthe
Level2orsecondarycache.
Inmoderncomputers,Levels1and2cachememoryarebuiltintotheprocessordie.Ifathirdcacheis
implementedoutsidethedie,itisreferredtoastheLevel3(L3)cache.

ExpansionBus
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PCIslots.

Anexpansionbusisaninput/outputpathwayfromtheCPUtoperipheraldevicesanditistypicallymadeupofa
seriesofslotsonthemotherboard.Expansionboards(cards)plugintothebus.PCIisthemostcommon
expansionbusinaPCandotherhardwareplatforms.Busescarrysignalssuchasdata,memoryaddresses,
power,andcontrolsignalsfromcomponenttocomponent.OthertypesofbusesincludeISAandEISA.
ExpansionbusesenhancethePCscapabilitiesbyallowinguserstoaddmissingfeaturesintheircomputersby
slottingadaptercardsintoexpansionslots.

Chipsets
AchipsetisagroupofsmallcircuitsthatcoordinatetheflowofdatatoandfromaPC'skeycomponents.These
keycomponentsincludetheCPUitself,themainmemory,thesecondarycache,andanydevicessituatedon
thebuses.AchipsetalsocontrolsdataflowtoandfromharddisksandotherdevicesconnectedtotheIDE
channels.
Acomputerhasgottwomainchipsets:
TheNorthBridge(alsocalledthememorycontroller)isinchargeofcontrollingtransfersbetweenthe
processorandtheRAM,whichiswhyitislocatedphysicallyneartheprocessor.Itissometimescalledthe
GMCH,forGraphicandMemoryControllerHub.
TheSouthBridge(alsocalledtheinput/outputcontrollerorexpansioncontroller)handlescommunications
betweenslowerperipheraldevices.ItisalsocalledtheICH(I/OControllerHub).Theterm"bridge"is
generallyusedtodesignateacomponentwhichconnectstwobuses.
ChipsetmanufacturersincludeSIS,VIA,ALI,andOPTI.

CPUClock

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TheCPUclocksynchronizestheoperationofallpartsofthePCandprovidesthebasictimingsignalforthe
CPU.Usingaquartzcrystal,theCPUclockbreatheslifeintothemicroprocessorbyfeedingitaconstantflowof
pulses.
Forexample,a200MHzCPUreceives200millionpulsespersecondfromtheclock.A2GHzCPUgetstwo
billionpulsespersecond.Similarly,inanycommunicationsdeviceaclockmaybeusedtosynchronizethedata
pulsesbetweensenderandreceiver.
A"realtimeclock,"alsocalledthe"systemclock,"keepstrackofthetimeofdayandmakesthisdataavailable
tothesoftware.A"timesharingclock"interruptstheCPUatregularintervalsandallowstheoperatingsystem
todivideitstimebetweenactiveusersand/orapplications.

SwitchesandJumpers
DIP(DualInlinePackage)switchesaresmallelectronicswitchesfoundonthecircuitboardthatcanbe
turnedonoroffjustlikeanormalswitch.Theyareverysmallandsoareusuallyflippedwithapointed
object,suchasthetipofascrewdriver,abentpaperclip,orapentop.TakecarewhencleaningnearDIP
switches,assomesolventsmaydestroythem.Dipswitchesareobsoleteandyouwillnotfindthemin
modernsystems.
Jumperpinsaresmallprotrudingpinsonthemotherboard.Ajumpercaporbridgeisusedtoconnector
shortapairofjumperpins.Whenthebridgeisconnectedtoanytwopins,viaashortinglink,itcompletes
thecircuitandacertainconfigurationhasbeenachieved.
Jumpercapsaremetalbridgesthatcloseanelectricalcircuit.Typically,ajumperconsistsofaplasticplug
thatfitsoverapairofprotrudingpins.Jumpersaresometimesusedtoconfigureexpansionboards.By
placingajumperplugoveradifferentsetofpins,youcanchangeaboard'sparameters.
NOTE:YoucancheckthejumperpinsandjumpercapatthebackofanIDEharddiskandaCD/DVD
ROM/Writer.

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