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Current motherboards have a socket that accepts the processor. Pins in the processor drop into the motherboard processor socket. The motherboard socket must match the socket type and design used by the processor (in other words, when choosing a motherboard, make sure it matches the processor you will use). Some motherboards support multiple processors and will have a socket for each processor.
The motherboard contains slots for different types of memory. Memory modules must be compatible with the type supported by the motherboard, the total memory capacity, and the processor and chipset support.
Expansion slots allow you to add features to your computer by inserting expansion cards into the available slots. There are a number of different standard expansion slots including: Industry Standard Architecture (ISA)Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
Many motherboards include onboard devices (such as network cards, audio cards, video cards, or USB and Firewire connections). Selecting a motherboard with onboard devices is typically cheaper than buying separate expansion cards for each feature. However, the quality of these onboard devices might not be as high as the quality you could get from devices through expansion cards.
A faceplate fits over the motherboard's ports to secure them and protect the motherboard from dust and debris. There are standard connectors for onboard I/O components that don't require expansion cards. These connectors typically include the following: PS/2 mouse and keyboard portsUSB portsSerial ports (COM 1, 2, 3, and 4)Parallel ports (LPT 1 and 2)Mic in, line in, line out connectorsMIDI/Game port
Onboard internal connectors
There are a number of connectors for components such as power supply, fans, and LED lights. In addition, many motherboards provide additional ports, such as USB or Infrared, by attaching adapter cards to the motherboard connectors (also called headers). These connectors are often labeled on the surface of the motherboard.
The BIOS chip is firmware (hardware hard-coded with software) attached to the motherboard and is essential in booting the computer.
The CMOS battery supplies power to the CMOS to retain system settings used by the BIOS during system boot.
The chipset is a group of chips that facilitate communication between the processor, memory components, and peripheral devices. The chipset controls the bus speed and also power management features. Chipsets are usually attached to the motherboard and are non-upgradeable. Most modern chipsets consist of the following: The northbridge chip provides control for main and cache memory, the front side bus, and the AGP and PCIe graphics. The northbridge is closest to the CPU. The northbridge dictates the CPU and memory type supported by the motherboard. On some motherboards, the northbridge chip includes an integrated graphic processor. The northbridge often has a heat sink and sometimes a fan, especially if it includes built-in video.The southbridge chip provides the real time clock, controls power management, and provides the controllers for the PCI bus and USB devices. There are two other important chipsets on a motherboard: the keyboard controller and the I/O controller.Recent developments for the chipset include:Combining north- and southbridge functions into a single chipset. Moving the memory controller from the northbridge to the CPU itself to improve memory access by the CPU.
- Jumpers are electrical connection points that can be set to control devices and functions attached to the motherboard. Some functions controlled by jumpers are:
- Clearing the CMOS password
- Clearing the CMOS settings
- Setting the CPU bus speed on the motherboard
- Enabling or disabling onboard components
Many functions previously performed by jumpers can now be configured in the CMOS or are configured automatically.
When selecting and working with motherboards, a good place for information is the motherboard documentation. Most motherboard documentation includes a diagram of the motherboard that identifies the components listed above and details any jumper settings. If you are missing the motherboard documentation, check the manufacturer's Web site.
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)
- PCI supports a 32- or 64-bit I/O bus providing compatibility with both 486 and Pentium machines.
- This bus is processor independent (the CPU and the PCI bus can process concurrently).
- PCI is plug-and-play, meaning that newly installed devices can be detected and configured automatically.
- PCI buses are most commonly used for devices such as sound cards, modems, network cards, and storage device controllers.
PCI slots are typically white.
Small form factor computers, such as laptops or micro-ATX systems, might include a mini-PCI slot. Mini-PCI devices are small cards with either 100- or 124-pins. A typical use for a mini-PCI slot is to add internal cards (such as wireless cards) to laptops.
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe)
PCI Express (PCIe) is a next generation I/O bus architecture. Rather than a shared bus, each PCIe slot links to a switch which prioritizes and routes data through a point-to-point dedicated connection and provides a serial full-duplex method of transmission.
- Basic PCIe provides one lane for transmission (x1), at a transfer rate of 2.5 Gbps. It can also provide multiple transmission lanes (x2, x4, x8, x16, x32).
- In addition to greatly increased speed,
- PCIe offers higher quality service. PCIe is backwards compatible and allows legacy PCI technology to be run in the same system (i.e. you can have both PCIe and PCI buses in the same system).
- PCIe buses are most commonly used for video cards in modern computer systems, although nearly any other device can be designed for a PCIe slot
Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
AGP is similar to PCI, but designed specifically for graphics support. Motherboards that provide AGP support have a single AGP slot. AGP is commonly used for video cards in modern computer systems, but is being replaced by PCIe. AGP slots are typically brown.
Audio/Modem Riser (AMR)
A riser card is not a bus, but rather a card that attaches to the motherboard and allows inserting additional cards (called daughter cards). AMR slots typically provide sound or modem functions.
Communications Network Riser (CNR)
CNR is a riser card slot (not a bus) that allows for inserting networking, wireless communication, sound, or modem functions.
What is the function that is not associated with the CNR
What expansion bus is best for high-speed, high-resolution, three-dimensional graphics?
What expansion bus is most commonly used for devices such as sound cards, modems, and network cards?
What type of cards are attached to the motherboard and have expansion cards plugged into them instead of the motherboard?
What is the function of the chipset on the motherboard?
Facilitate communication between the processor, memory components, and peripheral devices.
What is the advantage of purchasing a computer with video and audio integrated into the motherboard?
Lower overall system cost
List two functions associated with the AMR riser card?
What is the component that is necessary to save system settings when you power off the computer?
What is inserted in an AMR slot to provide sound functions?
What expansion buses are most commonly used for video cards in modern computer systems?
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