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 motherboard manufacturers should be able to provide the consumer with information about the type of products compatible with the motherboard.
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 of the motherboard. 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 of motherboards 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.
Full AT: It is 12 inches wide and 11 inches long. Earlier, it had a complication due to it's inability to access some items on the motherboard as the drive bays hung over the motherboard. Due to this, it was very difficult in installing and troubleshooting the components on the motherboard. 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.
Baby AT: This type was 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 an Full AT board. It consisted of a combination of SA/EISA and PCI slots and also had a plug and play BIOS.
ATX: This type of motherboard 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 shutdown the system. Cards inserted into the bus systems do not cover the whole processor and so 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.