• The motherboard is the main circuit board of a computer.
  • EVERYTHING in a computer system is connected to it!!!
  • Produced in a variety of sizes (a.k.a. form factor)


  • The following are components that are typically connected to a motherboard
  • CPU
  • Hard Drive
  • Optical Drive (DVD, CD, etc)þ
  • RAM
  • Video Card
  • Power supply
  • A motherboard contains the following slots, sockets, and connectors for components
  • Exercise: What components are typically connected to each slot or port?
    • PCI expansion slot
    • AGP video slot
    • IDE socket
    • Primary and secondary
    • RAM slot
    • Processor socket (for CPU)
    • The chipset is the “glue” that connects the CPU to the rest of the motherboard.
    • consists of two parts: the north bridge and the south bridge
    • North bridge
    • Memory controller hub
    • Handles communication between CPU and memory
    • South bridge
    • I/O controller hub
    • Handles communications between CPU and I/O devices


  • Basic Input/Output System
  • BIOS is a built-in software (code built into a chip) that operates the basic functions of a computer
  • BIOS contains all the code required to control the keyboard, display screen, disk drives, serial communications, and a number of miscellaneous functions

Other Important Specifications

  • CPU Socket – slot that the houses the CPU in a computer system.
  • Each socket is meant to house specific types of CPU’s and may not be compatible with others

CPU Central Processing Unit

  • Central Processing Unit
  • The CPU or Central Processing Unit
  • The part of a computer that interprets and executes instructions.
  • It’s the “brains” of the computer.
  • The socket type of the motherboard and CPU MUST match!!!


  • One hertz: is a one cycle per second


  • 1 kilohertz (KHz) = 10241 hertz
  • 1 megahertz (MHz) = 10242 hertz
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) = 10243 hertz
    • Specifications
    • Socket type
    • The physical connection between the motherboard and CPU
    • The slot where the CPU is attached to the motherboard
    • E.g. socket LGA775, socket 478,….
    • Clock rate
    • Measured in cycles per second (hertz)
    • E.g. megahertz, gigahertz
    • FSB (Front Side Bus)
    • Bus
    • A circuit that connects one part of the motherboard to another
    • The more data a bus can handle at one time, the faster it allows information to travel.
    • The speed of the bus is measured in megahertz
    • FSB is a subsystem that carries data from the CPU to motherboard (north bridge)


  • Temporary storage for data that is accessed frequently.
  • Frequently accessed data is copied into cache
  • Copied Data can be accessed once stored in cache instead of accessing original data (which tends to take more time).
  • Measured in bytes (e.g. megabytes)
  • Used in CPU, motherboard, internet browsers

Types of CPUs

  • Current processor is the Intel Core 2 which is the 8th generation of CPU from the x86 architecture
  • Core 2 replaces the Pentium 4 CPU’s
  • Core 2 consists of three models
  • Core 2 duo – a single chip containing 2 distinct processors that work simultaneously
  • Core Quad – a single chip containing 4 distinct processors
  • Core Extreme – duo or quad with a higher processor and bus speed designed for servers and high-end workstations
  • AMD
  • Sempron – 32-bit CPU’s marketed towards the value market
  • Athlon 64 – the first 64-bit CPU targeted towards the average consumer
  • Athlon 64 XP  – AMD’s first dual core processor which contains two Athlon 64 Cores in a single chip

Power Supply Unit

  • Supplies electricity to components in a computer system
  • Converts AC (general purpose) to low voltage DC used by the system
  • typical voltages supplied are:
  • 3.3 volts (digital circuits)
  • 5 volts (digital circuits)
  • 12 volts (motors, fans)

Graphics Processing Unit

  • Translates image data from the computer into a format that can be displayed by the monitor
  • Performs calculations related to producing an image (This requires memory!)
  • Each motherboard supports only a limited range of video card formats


  • used by the computer to record and play audio by converting analog sound into digital information and back again.
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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