Parts of a Motherboard and Their Function

Updated on August 22, 2018
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Patrick, a Computer Technician, is a dedicated 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 Computer Mother Board Explained

The main printed circuit board in a computer is known as the motherboard. Other names for this central computer unit are system board, mainboard, 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)

The Computer's Microprocessor

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)

The Computer Memory

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 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)

The 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)

Photo Showing the CMOS Battery

A CMOS Battery.
A CMOS Battery. | Source

The CMOS Battery

Motherboards also include a small separate block of memory made from CMOS RAM chips which are 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

The Level 2 Cache Memory on an Old Motherboard

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

The Computer Cache Memory

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.

The Expansion Buses

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

The Computer Chip-sets

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

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

The 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.

More Resources

If you are on the lookout for more resources about computers, you can buy this book CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide. This is a good book for those who want to know much more about computer hardware. I have used the book on numerous occasions and Mike Meyers never disappoints.

Parts of a Motherboard

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© 2011 Patrick Kamau

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    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      3 days ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are much welcome Niku Moni Boro. Keep reading even other works to gain more knowledge.

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      3 days ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks a lot Piper mcnutt for reading and commenting. I will surely try to add more information regarding the parts of the motherboard and their functions

    • profile image

      piper mcnutt 

      4 days ago

      very interesting but i think yo should include ALL OF THE INFORMATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Niku Moni Boro 

      4 days ago

      very nice ...thnks

    • profile image

      Ritu mehta 

      11 days ago

      Wow nice

    • profile image

      ETIEBET 

      12 days ago

      Nice

    • profile image

      fleen d,soza 

      2 weeks ago

      how to using for 20- atx power conectar

    • profile image

      Joryl De Perkiod 

      2 weeks ago

      wow magic

    • profile image

      md mirazul haque 

      3 weeks ago

      very nyc

    • profile image

      pc 

      3 weeks ago

      hi sweet

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      3 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      In a PC, graphics rendering originally took place in the CPU. Over time, functions were offloaded to separate circuits and then to GPUs either in separate cards, the PC's chipset or the CPU chip itself depending on the type of computer.

    • profile image

      Muzammal 

      4 weeks ago

      Where is GPU???

    • profile image

      MANOJ DUTTA 

      4 weeks ago

      Nice information. But I found it too long.....

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      5 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hello Peter, you can start by using the various parts of the motherboard that I have listed on this article.

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      5 weeks ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks, Sebusiso for appreciating the work in this article. I am glad you got what you wanted to know about different parts of the motherboard.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      5 weeks ago

      Thank you sir, blessing follow you.

      I need 15 internal device, location and their function

    • profile image

      Sebusiso 

      5 weeks ago

      Thanks a lot guys, I gained a lot. nice work indeed

    • profile image

      dfsFZsaF 

      5 weeks ago

      nice work

    • profile image

      adityw 

      6 weeks ago

      excellent by patrick

    • profile image

      jj 

      6 weeks ago

      fine

    • profile image

      Kajangcs 

      6 weeks ago

      Very informative.

    • profile image

      vickyaaaking 

      6 weeks ago

      Very nice

    • profile image

      ANDREI BRILLO 

      7 weeks ago

      IS NICE TO BE HERE IN THIS SITE

    • profile image

      Nitish kumar 

      7 weeks ago

      This is interesting...

    • profile image

      dommy Jazz 

      8 weeks ago

      good illustration of course, i have really benefited. keep this up.

    • profile image

      Jaylord James Trocio Dinawanao 

      8 weeks ago

      not bad

    • profile image

      oliveciara046 @gmail.com 

      2 months ago

      So interesting and useful

    • profile image

      soujanyakattajiwar@gmail.com 

      2 months ago

      I'm understanding the CHM concepts and motherboard parts........so nice nd good....thank you patrick kamau......

    • profile image

      rea 

      2 months ago

      nice and soo helpfull

    • profile image

      SedRick_lEaRnS 

      2 months ago

      Nice and its helpful

    • profile image

      OKAFOR JONATHAN 

      2 months ago

      NICE ONE....TOO UNDERSTANDABLE.....THANK YOU PATRICK.....GOD BLESS YOU

    • profile image

      Richard Cornell 

      2 months ago

      It was too long ago what you talked about was current, but as life goes on what was treasure once is now land fill. So will be all that you wrote about.

    • profile image

      aisha 

      2 months ago

      thanks for this

    • profile image

      ritik jain 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for mother bord diagram

    • profile image

      surendran 

      2 months ago

      mother board

    • profile image

      Mustapha S Charles 

      2 months ago

      Subject understood, but is there any PC that has an optional operating system as alternative? as i just had from some one that it is there.

    • profile image

      manjare 

      3 months ago

      very very very nice

    • profile image

      robinson 

      3 months ago

      It gave the much needed info

    • profile image

      suraj mishra 

      3 months ago

      Very nice

    • profile image

      sammy 

      3 months ago

      It's nice bro very helpful

    • profile image

      Deepak singh 

      4 months ago

      Very good

    • profile image

      komalpreet 

      4 months ago

      very easy function. good

    • profile image

      Nana Kofi Arhin 

      4 months ago

      Wow, there was nothing left out to explain, good work done, simple and very clear

    • profile image

      Eunice 

      5 months ago

      Well explained. Thanks

    • profile image

      priya 

      5 months ago

      wow superb explaination of motherboard by showing practical way ... thanks patrick for tthis video .

    • profile image

      Lisah Charuma 

      5 months ago

      Very beneficial.... Simple, short and precise, just what i was looking for.... Thanx

    • profile image

      Manjula SN 

      5 months ago

      Hey dude, Thank you for giving very good informations.

    • profile image

      cristan what is the meaning of AGP? 

      5 months ago

      wahats is the meaning of PCI and SATA?

    • profile image

      Hardip Jogi 

      5 months ago

      Great info everything is explained very nicely easy to understand it helped so much cleared all my doubts. Thanks

    • profile image

      gagiya 

      5 months ago

      practically better and nice

    • profile image

      NOORYLAIN 

      5 months ago

      I LIKE THIS...BECAUSE IT WAS IN FULL DETAIL

    • profile image

      chidimma miracle 

      6 months ago

      i needed the combined functions of the mother board.

    • profile image

      lallu kumar yadav 

      6 months ago

      very nice

    • profile image

      Tadiwa Moyo 

      6 months ago

      Thanks your notes are really beneficial

    • profile image

      jayrosedelapena@gmail.com 

      6 months ago

      I really like it! Its very detailed. It really helps me a lot for my tomorrows exam for NCII.Thank you for this @Patrick. Wish me luck!

    • profile image

      Anisha 

      6 months ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Snehal 

      6 months ago

      Very nice

    • profile image

      spartelous 

      6 months ago

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      Husain Ali 

      6 months ago

      Very useful nice

    • profile image

      Al 

      6 months ago

      fantastic site

    • profile image

      Pandit Abhishek Pandey 

      7 months ago

      Fantastic video

    • profile image

      iftikhar 

      7 months ago

      can we connect CCTV camera directly in mainbord of computer. or analog video source . and in which points we do that in computer hardware ?? is this possible??

    • profile image

      Martin Seth 

      7 months ago

      Thank you Patrick even though am still going to go through the process but the information was of great help .God bless.

    • profile image

      Aiku Samoka 

      7 months ago

      I found this Useful !

    • profile image

      insider 

      7 months ago

      No, no, no. I needed the PCI in this!

    • profile image

      David Ngobi 

      7 months ago

      The article is so informative, precise and concise, thank you so much!

    • profile image

      gaurav 

      8 months ago

      It is so informative & I got job for reading this article......so thank you so much

    • profile image

      kritika 

      8 months ago

      Awesome!!

    • profile image

      Gabriel 

      8 months ago

      Thanks i have got what i was looking ...i got knowledge about the c system

    • profile image

      Tasawar Iqbal 

      8 months ago

      Very informative and interesting. . . . . .

    • profile image

      machaah 

      8 months ago

      i am happy to see what i was looking for in this website

    • profile image

      nano 

      8 months ago

      superb video

    • profile image

      sheela 

      8 months ago

      it was soo helpful

    • profile image

      leela 

      8 months ago

      nice video......

    • profile image

      islok kumar 

      8 months ago

      this is great

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      8 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hey sardar, what information were you looking for?

    • profile image

      sardar 

      8 months ago

      no information about what i was looking

    • profile image

      sssamuel 

      9 months ago

      Nice write up.

      Helped me in my assignments

    • profile image

      yuvraj kalaskar 

      9 months ago

      im very happy for this blog it gives good informaton I'll score 10 pointer

    • profile image

      gladys 

      9 months ago

      good for computer system servicing study helps me alot thanks..

    • profile image

      samtie 

      9 months ago

      thanx so much

    • profile image

      ANESU 

      9 months ago

      This site is so helpful ,

    • profile image

      Muhammad Zaheer 

      10 months ago

      Best topic coverage. Good and very informative...

    • profile image

      Motisagar 

      10 months ago

      Really It's bro.. Thank you

    • profile image

      The Under Taker 

      10 months ago

      Really Good Job Patrick...

    • profile image

      julius 

      10 months ago

      thanks so much for simplifying to us the parts of motherboard and their functions keep it up

    • profile image

      Quentin 

      10 months ago

      Very Good Info Good Job could you make a website for other parts of the PC.

    • profile image

      Kalpana 

      11 months ago

      wonderful

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      11 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome BUNUNU and thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      KA'AFAR MUSA BUNUNU 

      11 months ago

      thanks for this assistant

    • profile image

      Anndrew Nyongesa 

      11 months ago

      good information indeed!!

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      12 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are welcome poorna

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      12 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks Jean Karlo Rocher for the visit.

    • profile image

      Jean Karlo Rocher 

      12 months ago

      I don't have any comments

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      12 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are much welcome EDWARD MULATI WEKALAO. Thanks

    • profile image

      EDWARD MULATI WEKALAO 

      12 months ago

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

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      13 months 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 

      13 months ago

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

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      13 months 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.

    • profile image

      Magenta Kumar 

      13 months ago

      Thank you for nice information about CPU and Motherboard

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