A motherboard is one of the most essential part of a computer system. It holds together many of the crucial components of a computer, including the central Processing Unit (CPU), Memory, and connectors for input devices and output devices.
The base of a motherboard consists of a very firm sheet of non-conductive material, typically some sort of rigid plastic. Thin layers of copper or Aluminium foil referred to as trees, are printed onto this sheet. These traces are very narrow and form the circuits between the various components. In addition to circuits, a motherboard contains a number of sockets and slots to connect the other component.
If you were to open up your computer and take out the motherboard, you would probably get pretty confused about all the different parts.
To understand how computers work, you do not need to know every single part of the motherboard. However, it is good to know some of the most important parts and how the motherboard connects the various parts of a computer system together.
Some of the typical parts of motherboard are described here.
The actual CPU is directly soldered onto this socket. Since high speed CPUs generate a lot of heat, there are heat sinks and mounting points for fans right next to the CPU socket.
A power connector to distribute power to the CPU and other components.
Slots for the system's main memory, typically in the form of DRAM chips.
A chip forms an interface between the CPU, the main memory and other components. On many types of motherboards this is referred to as the North bridge. This chip also contains a large heat sink.
A second chip controls the input and output (I/O) functions. It is not directly connected to the CPU but to the north bridge. this input/output controller is referred to as the southbridge. The northbridge and southbridge combined are referred to as the chipset.
Several connectors, which provide the physical interface between input and output devices and the motherboard. the southbridge handles these connections.
Slots for one or more hard drives to store files. The most common types of connections are integrated drive electronics (IDE) and serial advanced technology attachment (SATA).
A Read only memory (ROM) chip, which contains the firmware, or startup instructions for the computer system. This is also called as the BIOS.
A slot for a video or graphics card. there are a number of different types of slots, including accelerated graphics port (AGP) and peripheral component interconnect Express (PCIe).
Additional slots to connect hardware in the form of peripheral component interconnect (PCI) slots.