A Motherboard’s Function and Components


IBM sold its first personal computer in 1981 which was an impactful moment in computer motherboard history. It included a planar board, which featured an Intel 8088 central processing unit (CPU), built-in memory, and external input/ output (I/O). This was a huge upgrade compared to the previous motherboards— they were large and clunky. Creating compact and advanced motherboards allowed computers to become lighter and more sophisticated.

A motherboard is the main printed circuit board and allows all components of a system to communicate with each other. It is the common link between all of the components of an electronic system. Parts made by different manufacturers are not always compatible with every motherboard. A specific motherboard will support a single type of central processing unit (CPU) and different types of memory. Motherboards have become much more complex since their initial launch. Currently, these devices vary in design, cases, power supply, size, and compatibility.

There is a socket on motherboards that are used to hold the CPU. These vary on different motherboards and they each contain different configurations for the processor pins. The socket determines the processor’s physical packaging that can be installed, and the motherboard chipset determines the specific processor model that can be used with the motherboard. Since random access memory (RAM) is updated frequently, it is important to choose a motherboard with more RAM capacity than initially needed.

The form factor is the shape and layout of a computer motherboard. It determines where individual components can go and the shape of the computer’s case. For certain applications, there are standard cases and specific form factors are used to fit them. A chipset connects the microprocessor to the rest of the motherboard and transfers data from part to part while a bus is a circuit that joins the components of a motherboard to one another. High-quality buses can handle more data at one time. Expansion slots offer the ability to add additional components.

When deciding which motherboard to use, it is important to consider all of these factors. Choosing the wrong motherboard can become an expensive problem to fix.


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