In the modern computer, the motherboard or the primary circuit board (PCB), is the heart of the machine. It is solely responsible for ensuring that all the devices and components of the machine are connected to the microprocessor. The devices that the motherboard regulates are storage devices, hard disks, graphics cards and sound cards, amongst others. All these devices, without which the machine cannot function, are either inbuilt or are connected via slots or sockets.
Simply put, it is the motherboard that ensures that each of these components are powered properly and communicate with each other effectively. The first models that were invented had very few components, and the only things present on those motherboards were the processor and some basic slots to connect other devices. But today's machines have models containing a wide variety of features and tremendous potential for future upgrades.
What are the Parts of a Motherboard
Knowing the basics of these parts will help you solve many problems that may arise from time to time. The layout and the manner in which the various parts are placed is known as the form factor. The shape of the case of the computer is also decided by the form factor. To standardize the manner in which computers are assembled across the world, there are certain fixed models for deciding this form factor and most manufacturers adhere to these standards.
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Slot
Normally, the number of PCI slots on the motherboard could be anywhere between 1 and 6. The various peripherals like graphics cards, sound cards, ethernet cards, modems and DVD recorders are attached here, and the slots are 32 bit slots. PCI is a standard that has been around for almost two decades now, and a faster version of it known as PCI-E is also quite common today, and this allows the different computer components to be attached to the computer with ease.
Central Processing Unit (CPU) Socket
This socket is the home for your computer's processor. There are 2 types of sockets that are commonly used by the major processors (Intel and AMD), these are Pin Grid Array (PGA) and the Land Grid Array (LGA). The biggest advantage of these sockets is that they allow the simple swapping of processors inside a machine, and this allows computer users to really enhance the versatility of their computer.
Motherboard Battery Compartment
When you shut your system down, your data is stored using a battery on the motherboard. It is placed inside the battery compartment that is present on the surface of the board.
RAM slots (DIMM and SIMM)
These are the slots that hold the RAM chips of your computer. They are usually of two types, DIMM (Double Inline Memory Module) and SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module). Memory chips of different sizes can be attached here so as to increase the efficiency of the machine, and to make it more comfortable to work on multiple programs at a time.
The motherboard requires the power to function properly and this power supply comes from the main power connector. There are usually two main types of connectors; 20 + 4 pins (when there are two connectors on the same motherboard), and the 24 pins.
Apart from these components, the following are some peripherals that are specifically used for making connections with hardware devices. These connectors show up on the back panel of the computer, once the entire machine has been assembled and mounted.
Every motherboard contains two PS/2 connectors, one for the keyboard and one for the mouse. These are color coded ports (purple is for the keyboard and green is for the mouse) and have been around ever since computers showed up in the 80's. Today these ports are being edged out by USB ports, but they are still prevalent.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) Port
There are many of these ports across the back panel. They are used for connecting external devices like USB flash drives, external hard disks, iPods, MP3 players and cameras. Every computer has at least 2 such ports, and more of them are always welcome. The versatility that USB ports offer is truly unmatched in the realm of computers.
This port is mostly used to connect the devices that are used for gaming purposes. Gamepads, joysticks and other gaming accessories can be attached to the machine through this port and this flexibility is something that many users and gamers find highly useful.
This port is used to connect the computer monitor of the machine to the back panel. This is the primary connection between the monitor and the CPU itself, so there is no question of this part being absent in any desktop computer.
Sound Card Connector
Your sound devices like headphones and microphones are connected here. Most computers have built in sound cards, but some people also choose to attach an additional sound card so as to improve the functionality of the machine. The most common use of this connector is for multimedia purposes.
All these parts are now a standard requirement for every computer to function properly, and their popularity has slowly transformed them into a necessity for every single computer motherboard.