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Above is a diagram of a Motherboard and all its components. Because Motherboards all look different, here is a picture of a Playstation 3 game console Motherboard:


PS3_motherboard_7.jpg

The Motherboard is the part of the computer that contains the CPU (central processing unit) and the part of the computer that can be considered a relay station of information.




Definition: Dictionary.com defines a Motherboard as, "The main circuit board of a computer, usually containing the central processing unit and main system memory as well as circuitry that controls the disk drives, keyboard, monitor, and other peripheral devices." (Dictionary.com, 2002).

Standard Specifications: Motherboards can be categorized into types based on dimensions and motherboard socket types:

Types

Descriptions and Dimensions

ATX (Advanced Technology Extended)

Motherboards

Meant for Intel Processors; 12" long and 7.5" wide; 100MHz.

Full AT Motherboards

First type of Motherboard; 11" long and 12" wide; experienced problems

surrounding access to components and over-heating.

Baby AT Motherboards

Meant for Pentium processors; 10" long and 8.5" wide.

(Buzzle.com, 2011).

Most Common

Motherboard Socket Types

Description

Socket A (Socket 464)

Meant for AMD and Duron processors; 462 pins; 100-200MHz

Socket 370

Meant for Intel Pentium III and Celeron; 370 pins; also supports VIA Cyrix III and VIA C3 processors; bus speed 66-133MHz

Socket 378 (Socket N)

Meant for Pentium 4 processor; 478 pins; also supports Pentium 4EE and Intel Pentium M processors; bus speed 100-200MHz

Socket T (LGA 775)

Meant for Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel Xeon processors and also supports Celeron, Pentium 4, Pentium D, Celeron D, and Pentium XE processor; 775 pins; bus speed 1600MHz

Socket 939

Meant for AMD family of processors; 939 pins; bus speed 200-1000MHz

Socket AM3

One of the most recently developed; meant for AMD Phenom II and AMD Athlon II processors; 941 pins; bus speed 200-3200MHz

Socket H (LGA 1156)

Recent motherboard; meant for Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7 processors; 1156 pins;

(Buzzle.com, 2011).

The speed of a Motherboard is measured in MHz, as indicated in the above table, and different Motherboards have different speeds. MHz is short for Megahertz and one MHz is equal to one million Hertz also known as one million cycles per second. This unit is also converted into KHz (kilohertz), which is used to describe and measure bandwith, or how much information can be transferred over a connection. I understand bandwith (data transfer) as the speed of my internet, which I witness when I attempt to watch my TV shows online and I begin to notice grey hairs growing. (Holetsky, Harris, 2011). When buying a Motherboard it is important to recognize and understand the speed (MHz).

Along with the classifications of dimensions and socket types each Motherboard also has a different Package Type and each type is identified and described in the table below:

Package Type

Description

FC-LGAx (Flip Chip Land Grid Array)

Designed for LGA775, LGA1156 and LGA1366 sockets; processor die is on top of the substrate and on the

opposite side of the LAND contacts

FC-PGA2 (Flip Chip Pin Grid Array)

Designed for Pentium III and Intel Celeron processors; has IHS (Integrated Heat Sink)

FC-PGA (Flip Chip Pin Grid Array)

Designed for Pentium III and Intel Celeron processors; pins are arranged in way that allows for only one way

for the processor to the attached to the socket

OOI (OLGA - Organic Land Array

Grid

Designed for Pentium 4 processors; has IHS (Integrated Heat Sink)

PGA (Pin Grid Array)

Designed for Intel Xeon processor; has pins that are inserted into the socket; pins are arranged in way that

allows for only one way for the processor to the attached to the socket

PPGA (Plastic Pin Grid Array)

Designed for Intel Celeron processor; has pins that are inserted into the socket; pins are arranged in way that allows for only one way for the processor to the attached to the socket

S.E.C.C. (Single Edge Contact

Cartridge)

Designed for Intel Pentium II, Pentium II Xeon and Pentium III Xeon; connection to motherboard occurs when the

Cartridge is inserted into a slot; no pins - gold finger contacts; metal shell covers the top of the cartridge; contains

thermal plate (heat sink)

S.E.C.C.2

Designed for Pentium II and Pentium III processors; similar to the S.E.C.C. except it doesn't contain a thermal plate and there is less shelling around the cartridge

S.E.P (Single Edge Processor)

Designed for Intel Celeron processors; similar to S.E.C.C. and S.E.C.C.2 except there is no shelling

(Intel, 2004-2011).

Function: The Motherboard holds an important function because of its connection to those components of the computer that are of great importance. In order to understand the overall function of the Motherboard it is important to intially explore the functions of each component.


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1. IEEE 1394: also known as the Firewire. Basically the Firewire is a high performance relay station for digital and audio equipment to relay information/data. An example would be if you were to plug your camera into your PC to transfer pictures or videos, the Firewire would be the device that transferred the information from your camera to your PC.

2. PCI Express 16x slots: provides 16 slots or lanes for data transfer and is most commonly used for Graphics Cards.

3. PCI Express 1x slots: similar to the PCI Express 16x slots except this device only has 1 slot and is utilized for expansion cards that require less data/information transfer than Graphics Cards, such as TV tuners, Network Cards, and Sound Cards.

4. Chipset - North Bridge (includes heat sink): a series of integrated circuits built on to the board that provide specific functions. "The North Bridge Handles data for the AGP Port and the main memory which includes the FSB (Front side bus) ...North Bridge handles most of the very important tasks such as the connection between the CPU and main memory." (PantherProducts, 2006-2009).


5 + 8. ATX Power Connector: Pretty much self explanatory, these devices are the power connectors and the cable that connects comes from the PSU (Power Supply Unit).

6. CPU (Central Processing Unit) Socket: This is the same device as those discussed earlier, Motherboard Socket Types and the CPU Sockets are either PGA (Pin Grid Array) or LGA (Land Grid Array) packages. The PGA use a series of pins within the socket and the LGA uses a series of gold plated copper pads to make contact with the Motherboard.

7. DIMM slots (Double Inline Memory Module): this device is the most used memory types used today and they come in four different types, SDR (Single Data Rate), DDR (Double Data Rate), DDR2 and DDR3.

9. Motherboard Controls: this device, if available, allows direct control of the Motherboard using simple buttons. Items such as the power switch and passwords can be accessed directly from the Motherboard.

10. Chipset - South Bridge: controls items such as the PCI bus, onboard networks, sound chips, IDE and S-ATA buses.

11. Serial ATA Connector: connects your hard drive to your PC.

12. USB 2.0 Header: allows for the addion of optional cables for extra USB ports and they are provided with the computer.

13. Motherboard Battery: This battery is utilized mainly for those times that your computer is turned off and the Motherboard still needs power to keep vital information.


14. PCI Slot (Peripheral Component Interconnect): These devices are decreasing in number and usage and are being replaced by the PCI Express 1x slots identified above.

15. Floppy Drive Connector: Also quite self-explanatory, this device is used to connect the floppy disk drive to the Motherboard.

16. IDE Connctor (not on diagram): This device, although not shown on the above diagram, is used to connect items such as hard disks, CD and DVD Drives to the Motherboard.

17. BIOS Chip (Basic Input Output System): The device that contains the most vital information and it also informs the PC about the various things that the Motherboard supports. The BIOS must recognize and understand the different logics and methods from the CPU.

(PantherProducts, 2006-2009).

How Does it Affects the End User: Because the Motherboard is the soul of the computer and the jobs it has range across the board, it is incredibly important to understand the different components and the corresponding functions. The Motherboard controls, coordinates, and acts as a relay station for the other components of the computer and without this important device the computer wouldn't function, which would lead to a withdrawal from Solitaire and an inability to write Sociology homework (what a pity!).

Fun Fact!: The Hard Drive is not installed with and is not a part of the Motherboard. Hard Drives are installed seperately. (FunTrivia).


Resources utilized for this page:

XanTium. (2007). First Pictures of PS3 PAL COK-002 Motherboard [image]. Retrieved from http://www.ps3scene.com/news/archive/news-archive-18-3-2007.php
Motherboard1. (2011). What is a Motherboard? [image]. Retrieved from http://www.techiwarehouse.com/cat/13/Motherboard
Dictionary.com. (2002). Motherboards. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/motherboard
Buzzle.com. (2011). Computer Motherboard Types. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/computer-motherboard-types.html
Holetsky, S., Harris, B. (2003-2011). What is MHz? Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mhz.htm
Intel. (2004-2011). Processors: Package type guide (Desktop Processors). Retrieved from http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/cs-009863.htm
PantherProducts. (2006-2009). Understanding your Motherboard – Internal Components. Retrieved from http://www.pantherproducts.co.uk/Articles/Motherboard/Understanding%20your%20Motherboard.shtml
FunTrivia. Motherboards – Fun Facts. Retrieved from http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Motherboards-74430.html
Butterscotch. (2010). Learn About a Motherboard [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.5min.com/Video/Learn-About-a-Motherboard-249967599