A motherboard is the most important component of a computer. It is basically a circuit, which is flat and rectangular in shape. It consists of the computer's micro-processing chip with many components attached to it that plays a very important role in the operation of the computer.
It has many other names like main board, system board, and logic board and also 'mobo' as an abbreviation. It has many ports and slots which can be used by other computer peripherals. Components like RAM, CPU, hard disks, optical drives, disk drives, video and sound cards are all plugged into sockets on the motherboard, directly or via cables.
It functions crucially in the transfer of data and information to all the connected peripherals. It is also used in many other electronic devices such as televisions, mobile phones, clocks, and so on.
All motherboards may not be compatible with every peripheral. The manufacturers should be able to provide the consumer with information about the type of products compatible.
Some Basic Components on a Motherboard
The motherboard has Basic Input/ Output System (BIOS), a software initialized by the computer when it is turned on. The BIOS chip set is used in controlling the setup. There is a microprocessor 'socket' which gives you an idea of what type of CPU it uses.
It also houses a chipset that is the computer's logic system. The chipset generally consists of two parts that are known as 'north bridge' and 'south bridge' which connect the central processing unit to other parts in the system.
The real-time clock is also a part of the motherboard, that is a chip operated by a battery, which enables the computer to maintain the correct time and perform other simple functions.
Types of Motherboards
There are many types that depend on form factors like their dimension and size, and layout of the components on it. It is important to know all about their form factors before buying one, as you can't just install any motherboard in your computer system.
It is 12 inches wide and 11 inches long. Earlier, it had a complication due to its inability to access some items as the drive bays hung over the motherboard. Due to this, it was very difficult in installing and troubleshooting the components.
Another problem was, when the expansion cards were inserted into the systems, the whole processor was covered, which led to cooling problems because of insufficient ventilation to the chip.
This type has been widely used in recent years. It is 8.5 inches wide and 19 inches long. It can easily be distinguished as it has a DIN keyboard connector at the top-right corner. It was about 2/3rd of the size of a Full AT board. It consisted of a combination of SA/EISA and PCI slots and also had a plug and play BIOS.
It was built in order to support the Pentium II processor and the new AGP slot for video cards. It is 7.5 inches wide and 12 inches long. It consists of all IO ports that are directly connected to the board, which also included USB ports.
A new 100 MHz system bus was introduced in ATX motherboards that overtook old Pentium boards which ran on 60/66 MHz. It also included a soft power support that enabled the operating system to shut down the system. Cards inserted into the bus systems do not cover the whole processor and hence provide proper cooling to the motherboard.
Before purchasing a motherboard for your system, read reviews on the Internet, consider what all components it supports and finally buy it from a reputed retailer.