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Parts of a Motherboard and Their Function

Updated on March 22, 2017
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Patrick is a dedicated technology writer who wishes to make the world better by informing individuals who seek more knowledge.

The Parts of a Computer Motherboard

Some of the major components of a motherboard.
Some of the major components of a motherboard.

The main printed circuit board in a computer is known as the motherboard. Other names for this central computer unit are system board, main board, or printed wired board (PWB). The motherboard is sometimes shortened to Mobo.

Numerous major components, crucial for the functioning of the computer, are attached to the motherboard. These include the processor, memory, and expansion slots. The motherboard connects directly or indirectly to every part of the PC.

The type of motherboard installed in a PC has a great effect on a computer's system speed and expansion capabilities.

Major Motherboard Components and Their Functions

A labeled ASRock K7VT4A Pro Mainboard.
A labeled ASRock K7VT4A Pro Mainboard. | Source

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Also known as the microprocessor or the processor, the CPU is the computer's brain. It is responsible for fetching, decoding, and executing program instructions as well as performing mathematical and logical calculations.

The processor chip is identified by the processor type and the manufacturer. This information is usually inscribed on the chip itself. For example, Intel 386, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) 386, Cyrix 486, Pentium MMX, Intel Core 2Duo, or iCore7.

If the processor chip is not on the motherboard, you can identify the processor socket as socket 1 to Socket 8, LGA 775 among others. This can help you identify the processor that fits in the socket. For example, a 486DX processor fits into Socket 3.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Random Access Memory, or RAM, usually refers to computer chips that temporarily store dynamic data to enhance computer performance while you are working.

In other words, it is the working place of your computer, where active programs and data are loaded so that any time time the processor requires them, it doesn't have to fetch them from the hard disk.

Random access memory is volatile, meaning it loses its contents once power is turned off. This is different from non-volatile memory, such as hard disks and flash memory, which do not require a power source to retain data.

When a computer shuts down properly, all data located in RAM is returned back to permanent storage on the hard drive or flash drive. At the next boot-up, RAM begins to fill with programs automatically loaded at startup, a process called booting. Later on, the user opens other files and programs that are still loaded in the memory.

Basic Input/Output System (BIOS)

BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. BIOS is a "read only" memory, which consists of low-level software that controls the system hardware and acts as an interface between the operating system and the hardware. Most people know the term BIOS by another name—device drivers, or just drivers. BIOS is essentially the link between the computer hardware and software in a system.

All motherboards include a small block of Read Only Memory (ROM) which is separate from the main system memory used for loading and running software. On PCs, the BIOS contains all the code required to control the keyboard, display screen, disk drives, serial communications, and a number of miscellaneous functions.

The system BIOS is a ROM chip on the motherboard used during the startup routine (boot process) to check out the system and prepare to run the hardware. The BIOS is stored on a ROM chip because ROM retains information even when no power is being supplied to the computer.

Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Random Access Memory (CMOS RAM)

A CMOS battery.
A CMOS battery.

Motherboards also include a small separate block of memory made from CMOS RAM chips which is kept alive by a battery (known as a CMOS battery) even when the PC’s power is off. This prevents reconfiguration when the PC is powered on.

CMOS devices require very little power to operate.

The CMOS RAM is used to store basic Information about the PC’s configuration for instance:-

  • Floppy disk and hard disk drive types
  • Information about CPU
  • RAM size
  • Date and time
  • Serial and parallel port information
  • Plug and Play information
  • Power Saving settings

Other Important data kept in CMOS memory is the time and date, which is updated by a Real Time Clock (RTC).

Cache Memory

L2 cache on an old motherboard.
L2 cache on an old motherboard.

Cache memory is a small block of high-speed memory (RAM) that enhances PC performance by pre-loading information from the (relatively slow) main memory and passing it to the processor on demand.

Most CPUs have an internal cache memory (built into the processor) which is referred to as Level 1 or primary cache memory. This can be supplemented by external cache memory fitted on the motherboard. This is the Level 2 or secondary cache.

In modern computers, Levels 1 and 2 cache memory are built into the processor die. If a third cache is implemented outside the die, it is referred to as the Level 3 (L3) cache.

Expansion Bus

PCI slots.
PCI slots.

An expansion bus is an input/output pathway from the CPU to peripheral devices and it is typically made up of a series of slots on the motherboard. Expansion boards (cards) plug into the bus. PCI is the most common expansion bus in a PC and other hardware platforms. Buses carry signals such as data, memory addresses, power, and control signals from component to component. Other types of buses include ISA and EISA.

Expansion buses enhance the PCs capabilities by allowing users to add missing features in their computers by slotting adapter cards into expansion slots.

Chipsets

A chipset is a group of small circuits that coordinate the flow of data to and from a PC's key components. These key components include the CPU itself, the main memory, the secondary cache, and any devices situated on the buses. A chipset also controls data flow to and from hard disks and other devices connected to the IDE channels.

A computer has got two main chipsets:

  • The NorthBridge (also called the memory controller) is in charge of controlling transfers between the processor and the RAM, which is why it is located physically near the processor. It is sometimes called the GMCH, for Graphic and Memory Controller Hub.
  • The SouthBridge (also called the input/output controller or expansion controller) handles communications between slower peripheral devices. It is also called the ICH (I/O Controller Hub). The term "bridge" is generally used to designate a component which connects two buses.

Chipset manufacturers include SIS, VIA, ALI, and OPTI.

CPU Clock

The CPU clock synchronizes the operation of all parts of the PC and provides the basic timing signal for the CPU. Using a quartz crystal, the CPU clock breathes life into the microprocessor by feeding it a constant flow of pulses.

For example, a 200 MHz CPU receives 200 million pulses per second from the clock. A 2 GHz CPU gets two billion pulses per second. Similarly, in any communications device a clock may be used to synchronize the data pulses between sender and receiver.

A "real-time clock," also called the "system clock," keeps track of the time of day and makes this data available to the software. A "time-sharing clock" interrupts the CPU at regular intervals and allows the operating system to divide its time between active users and/or applications.

Switches and Jumpers

  • DIP (Dual In-line Package) switches are small electronic switches found on the circuit board that can be turned on or off just like a normal switch. They are very small and so are usually flipped with a pointed object, such as the tip of a screwdriver, a bent paper clip, or a pen top. Take care when cleaning near DIP switches, as some solvents may destroy them. Dip switches are obsolete and you will not find them in modern systems.
  • Jumper pins are small protruding pins on the motherboard. A jumper cap or bridge is used to connect or short a pair of jumper pins. When the bridge is connected to any two pins, via a shorting link, it completes the circuit and a certain configuration has been achieved.
  • Jumper caps are metal bridges that close an electrical circuit. Typically, a jumper consists of a plastic plug that fits over a pair of protruding pins. Jumpers are sometimes used to configure expansion boards. By placing a jumper plug over a different set of pins, you can change a board's parameters.

NOTE: You can check the jumper pins and jumper cap at the back of an IDE hard disk and a CD/DVD ROM/Writer.

Parts of a Motherboard

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    • profile image

      Anndrew Nyongesa 9 days ago

      good information indeed!!

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      Patrick Kamau 5 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome poorna

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      Patrick Kamau 6 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks Jean Karlo Rocher for the visit.

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      Jean Karlo Rocher 6 weeks ago

      I don't have any comments

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      Patrick Kamau 6 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are much welcome EDWARD MULATI WEKALAO. Thanks

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      EDWARD MULATI WEKALAO 6 weeks ago

      thank you for the response it added vast understanding to my informational need.i appreciate.

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      Patrick Kamau 8 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi Arnelgwapo, After creating your chart, right click on it and change the way Excel treats empty cells. To do this: Right click the chart and choose Select Data, Click Hidden and Empty Cells. Select how you want to show empty cells.

      You can also check this article for more information https://turbofuture.com/computers/How-to-get-Excel...

    • profile image

      arnelgwapo 8 weeks ago

      How to Get Excel 2007 and 2010 to Ignore Empty Cells in a Chart or Graph

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      Patrick Kamau 8 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi Magenta, it is easy to join hubpages, you can use my referal tracker https://hubpages.com/my/earnings/tracker/pkk

      or simply go to HubPages site and create account.

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      Magenta Kumar 8 weeks ago

      Thank you for nice information about CPU and Motherboard

    • profile image

      alburnas mutua 2 months ago

      thanks for the information it was helpful

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      Stephen 2 months ago

      This is good

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      kirdip 2 months ago

      great informtion ...as i am student of class "10" of technical and it sector,,,,it really helped me in my exams and solvings the problems of parts of mother board....

    • profile image

      Young_imran 3 months ago

      Good and fyn.. We really appreciate this site, GOD bless U

    • profile image

      SYEDGanih was here 3 months ago

      Really nice

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      sam 3 months ago

      Soo helpful

    • profile image

      bittu Choudhary 4 months ago

      Very very helpful for us, I can't explain

      Thanks a lot

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      capstran ngeti 4 months ago

      It really interesting

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      karan modi 4 months ago

      really....nice ...

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      JONATHAN J-STAR 4 months ago

      WOW!THIS IS VERY HELPFUL

    • profile image

      eddy 4 months ago

      its very interesting and helpful

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      5 months ago

      Thanks for this good job

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      Moksha Jain 5 months ago

      It is very helpful and NYC to project

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      Zebby 5 months ago

      Thanks so much Kamau, great stuff! I am doing A+ just started with Components of motherboard, your work was very helpful

      keep up the good job

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      Maven udom 5 months ago

      thanks a lot for the inspiation

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      Patrick Kamau 5 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are much welcome Linslot sumo David and thanks for the visit. All the best.

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      mamadou barry 7 months ago

      thank you for the informtion

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      Bahath 7 months ago

      I'm glad to see this lesson.

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      Welles Dark 7 months ago

      Thanks

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      xx 8 months ago

      its really a helpful notes

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      jinsigoshal 8 months ago

      it's good but need more information about other parts also

    • profile image

      bank 8 months ago

      am a computer science student on industrial training feeling my log book i was to rite a report on motherboard and bios and here i am so good to be here thanks bro God will make you bigeer

    • profile image

      Atom 8 months ago

      I am doing a repot on motherboards and this is very helpful

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      Unknown 8 months ago

      thank you for helping me =)

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      Happy 9 months ago

      Thanks Patt

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      Enayat 9 months ago

      thanks for this article

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      Hans 9 months ago

      Great. Thank you very much Patrick.

      BR from Berlin.

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      kunjan 9 months ago

      thank you patric..................

    • profile image

      muhammed fairooz 9 months ago

      it is very helpful

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      gurinder singh saini 9 months ago

      Good this is very helpful for me

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      sajan varpe 10 months ago

      thank you

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      ZEUS 10 months ago

      nice patkay ^+^ thank you

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      mitz 10 months ago

      nice one ya

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      manisha 10 months ago

      it's good-but need more information about other parts also

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      Emmanuel 11 months ago

      Thanks, may God give you More Grace, found this piece useful

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      Num Chucks 11 months ago

      its nice bro .. good job

    • profile image

      Hitlar 11 months ago

      Thank you for this

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      mercy ruto 12 months ago

      Thanks a lot for sharing that much with us its beneficial to me.keep on sharing knowledge with IT guys.

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      @Christian 12 months ago

      This video is amazing now I can show this to my teacher she will give me A+ thanks Patrick :).

    • profile image

      rex ryan balaquinto 12 months ago

      its so nice that i learn about the parts and function of motherboard

    • profile image

      kkl 13 months ago

      great help for me ..thank you

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 14 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You can scan your external hard drive with a good antivirus program. Make sure that the antivirus is up to date so that it can be able to detect all the viruses.

    • profile image

      Garth Schroeder 14 months ago

      how can i safely remove a virus from my external hardrive without deleting my files

    • profile image

      rahul R 14 months ago

      this articles was amazing!!!!!

      thank you

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      JAMES 14 months ago

      Thanks so much for your detailed information!!!!!It has helped me so much as an I.C.T. student.....

    • profile image

      rock rakesh 15 months ago

      this part is very important

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      ELsa 15 months ago

      i got lots of help from here..!!thank you.!

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      Patrick Kamau 16 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Well, well, I am moved by your response Linda and thanks a lot for reading and commenting. I am glad that you were able to grasp something about motherboards. Well I have to admit that I know 'something little' about computers and I have learnt that the best way to explain about computer and the jargon used is to make use of simple language. Thanks again and nice meeting you too.

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      Linda Robinson 16 months ago from Cicero, New York

      Wow Patrick what a tremendous hub, I really enjoyed it and have always wondered about this and you made what can be a rather dry technology information actually quite interesting, so much detail, easy to understand, super job. Fantastic writing, So nice meeting you Patrick, gee seems like you have a world of knowledge in this area. I look forward to reading many more of your hubs, And happy to be following you. Linda

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      Roman Temkin 16 months ago from New York

      This is very interesting stuff! I learned a lot reading this.

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      Patrick Kamau 21 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I am glad @anjali that this article helped you, thanks for the feedback.

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      anjali 21 months ago

      Thankyou very much....this article helped me a lot

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      Patrick Kamau 22 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @satollealry Thanks a lot for the visit and I am glad you enjoyed the contents here.

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      Patrick Kamau 22 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @Albaab Shaikh thanks for the visit and keep reading through my hubs and you will learn a lot. All the best in your class work.

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      Albaab Shaikh 23 months ago

      Thank you for this information

      I am a 9th grade student and i wanted to know more about pc

      Thanks for it

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      Patrick Kamau 23 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome @RAJ HCL and thanks for the visit and comment.

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      RAJ HCL 2 years ago

      thanks sir

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      satollealry 2 years ago

      I think this is interesting and do not see posted often. This is great information.

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      sruthi 2 years ago

      thank you patrick ............... good job...........

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      HARPREET 2 years ago

      NYC ONE

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      abdiwahab 2 years ago

      i would like to appreciate those provide this information clearly

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      Jaquihaca, Princess Diane A. 2 years ago

      Thanks for the info.. such a big help to us, students.

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      tncnv 2 years ago

      thank you for these infos XD

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      melchizedek 2 years ago

      what is tjhe advantage and advage if you are graduate in chs

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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I will try to improve on that but you should have specified what you wanted exactly @ Shin

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      Shin 2 years ago

      It doesn't have a complete info..still lacking some..

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      kyrosh 2 years ago

      awesome..

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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks @ashy you are welcome

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      @ashy 2 years ago

      nice....

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @hdmiguru, I am glad you liked the contents of this hub. Thanks a lot for the visit.

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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I am glad emmalex you did get something useful from this site, feel free to check for more.

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      emmalex 2 years ago

      I have to confess,this site is truly helpful

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      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      Wow - very technical but explained with love! Great hub!

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I have to agree with you TTGReviews that it is good to know how these individual parts work. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • TTGReviews profile image

      TTGReviews 2 years ago

      This is very helpful for me. Since I build computers, it is good to know how each of the devices work.

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      PATRICIA ANNE 2 years ago

      NO COMMENT

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      piolo P. 2 years ago

      nice one ;)

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      NYPHA LUMABAD 2 years ago

      Im iT student . so that very USEFUL for me . thanks Patkay

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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks TTGReviews I will check on that.

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      TTGReviews 2 years ago

      Nice explanation overall. It would be nice if you updated some of the socket information

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      merfred cabusas 2 years ago

      this is a nice page for student to search parts of computer

    • profile image

      miko 2 years ago

      nice tutorial for parts of motherboard very helpful to me...thanks....

    • profile image

      Lemreh 2 years ago

      Thanks for this site it helps a lot... :D

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      chelson 2 years ago

      hi sir, this is a good information.

      amazing! now i know..

    • Patkay profile image
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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      @AS9922 you are much welcome, thanks for the visit.

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      Patrick Kamau 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks @Dominic Goss I am glad you have learnt something new.

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      Dominic Goss 2 years ago

      This hub is excellent. I always thought BIOS and CMOS were the same thing.

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      AS9922 2 years ago

      FINE, LETS DO MORE, THANKS, KEEP IT UP.

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      swapnil 3 years ago

      nice inf.

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      Patrick Kamau 3 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome @ammu