• 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.


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