All vital internal components of a computer system are connected to a flat, rectangular circuit board known as the computer motherboard. If the CPU is known as the “brains” of a computer, the motherboard can be thought of as the “heart.” In computer terminology, the motherboard is also called the logic board, mainboard, or system board. It is commonly abbreviated as “mobo” or MB.
While a motherboard does not boost the speed of a computer, it is one of the most essential parts of a computer because it links all components that allow a computer system to function. If you are purchasing a barebone system, it will always come with a motherboard which serves as the spine or backbone upon which other computer components can be attached.
Most of a computer's internal components are plugged directly onto the motherboard via sockets or slots. A motherboard may contain an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) that can be used to attach an AGP video card, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slots for PCI video cards and network cards, and Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) interfaces for hard drives and optical drives. The computer motherboard also contains several ports for external peripherals like the monitor, printer, keyboard, mouse, speakers and removable devices.
A computer component may be built into the motherboard. Some examples are integrated sound cards, graphics cards or Network Interface Cards (NIC). A built-in computer component may be disabled in favor of a more powerful version.
In particular, the computer motherboard contains a socket that can accommodate a particular type of CPU. Some motherboards can only support AMD CPUs while others are only compatible with Intel processors. There is yet no motherboard that can support all types of CPUs.
The computer motherboard also contains a north bridge chipset and a south bridge chipset. The north bridge links the hard disk drive and RAM to the motherboard while the south bridge connects other computer components like the video cards and sound cards to the motherboard.
Additionally, the motherboard has a Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) chip that checks computer hardware like the power supply unit and the hard disk drives for malfunctions. After performing its hardware check, the BIOS chip powers up the computer CPU. When you boot up your PC, the BIOS is the first program run by the computer before bringing you to Windows or your favored operating system.
The computer motherboard also includes a real-time battery-operated clock chip that determines time. This is the reason why they can still tell time correctly even if they have not seen any use in weeks or months.
Simply put, the motherboard serves as a hub where the CPU, RAM, hard disk drive, optical drive, graphics card, sound card and other computer hardware can meet and mingle!