A computers motherboard (also known as Mainboard) is the most essential component of any computer. Its the part of the computer that contains all the micro-chips and attached cards that make the computer function. Motherboards can come in all different sizes so you need to watch out for that when it comes to buying a case to fit it.
The motherboards chip set forms the computers logic system, It usually contains two parts called "bridges", First is the North Bridge, second is the south bridge. Both opposite each other they help link up CPU to the rest of the system.
A Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) controls the more basic functions of allowing the computers hardware and software to communicate with each other at a low level. The BIOS contains three major functions:
- POST - Power on Self Test
- Setup - Allows the user to configure the BIOS
- Bootstrap - boot to a different operating system
All the computers Hardware and software is tested and configured the second you turn on your PC (called POST).
Tthe Northbridge handles communication between the CPU, RAM, AGP and PCI Express, Due to different CPU's requiring different signalling, the Northbridge will usually only allow one or two CPU's and one type of RAM.
I/O Panel referres to the back panel of the Motherboard containing all the Ports, Here are a few types of ports found on the I/O Panel:
PS/2 Mouse and Keyboard Port
PS/2 ports where introduced in 1987, replacing the older serial port. The interface used for each port is basicalyl the same however they are not interchangable due to the difference in commands used for each port. PS/2 ports are slowly dieing out due to the release of USB keyboards and mice.
Like the PS/2 port, Serial ports are slowly been replaced by USB and Firewire Ports, Serial ports are used Serial Mice, Macintosh Networking, Bar Code Scanners, GPS recieves and LED/LCd text display.
The S/PDIF port allows the computer to connect to digital audio devices for example Home Theaters and Surround Sound
Serial ATA Port
Serial ATA Ports are most commonly used to connect to storage devices such as Hard Drives.
IEE 1394 Port
IEE1394 ports, also know as FireWire ports is simply a high speed data transfer output. Developed by apple in 1995, Firewire was soon to become the next big thing in communications. The US Army used FireWire in some of there aircrafts due to the light weight design.
USB is one of the most common ports used today, it can be used to connect to the internet, connect your mice and keyboar, MP3 players and Mobile Phones. USB gadgets have also been produced, these include Keyboard Hoovers, Fans, Big Red buttons and much more stupid but fun products.
RJ45 LAN Port
RJ45 Ports are used to connect to a network and the internet. The connection going through an average RJ45 cable varies due to the length of the cable.
There are 2 main types of Audio ports; Output (speakers), Input (Microphone) . Other ports have also been created to accept devices such as electrical music keyboard.
Wi-Fi Antenna In
This port allows the user to attach a Wi-Fi arrial for wireless internet.