Explained: What is Motherboard? How Does It Work? What Are Its Types & Components


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A motherboard is a quintessential part of any electronic equipment. Be it a smartphone, laptops, computer, or even as small as an electrical toothbrush. The size of the motherboard varies from device to device, for instance, a smartphone motherboard will be as small as a person’s palm, whereas a computer motherboard will be slightly bigger.

Explained: What is Motherboard? How Does It Work? What Are Its Types

The motherboard is nothing but a PCB (printed circuit board) and it is called the main circuit board as well. It connects and helps to communicate between various parts of an electronic device and also houses the majority of components, such as processor and memory.

A typical computer motherboard will have input and output units. An input unit could be as simple as a USB-A port, whereas an output port could be a headphone jack or an HDMI port. It gets the name “motherboard” as most of the components are connected to that unit, which makes the PCB act as a mother to all the other components.

Major Components Of A Motherboard

As mentioned before, the motherboard acts as a hub to all the other electronic components. A motherboard attached to a computer will have components like RAM, Storage, CPU, GPU, network card, capacitors, audio card, video card, and many more.

A desktop computer motherboard will have modular ports, allowing them to upgrade these components over time. However, a modern device like a laptop or a smartphone will have these components sorted to the PCB. In the second case, the device consumes less power and offers a higher value-value-for money proposition. If one of the components goes haywire, then the entire motherboard has to be replaced, which is again an expensive affair.

Types Of Motherboard

Motherboards vary in size. Depending on the application, it could be as small as a grain of rice and a supercomputer will have a motherboard that will be as big as a room. Due to the advancement in technology, motherboards have come a long way. Today’s 1-inch sized motherboard can do all the operations and to do the same we might need a 20-inch motherboard a few decades ago.

Coming to the computer motherboards, these can be classified based on the size or form factor. ATX motherboard is a motherboard generally used in large towers and it usually comes with a single CPU socket and dual GPU lanes based on PCI-E technology.

Then comes micro ATX, which will be slightly smaller in size. Similarly, mini ATX motherboards are used in compact PCs. Lastly, nano ATX and pico ATX motherboards are also available in the market, which are mostly used in pre-built PCs.

How Motherboards Works

Motherboards act as a hub to the remaining components and they send and receive information using an electrical signal. The data is transferred using data buses and it will be in a computer language (1 and 0). When a motherboard receives a signal from one component, it processes it and converts it into the language that the other component understands. Do note that, all this happens in a fraction of seconds and there will be almost no lag between input and output on most of the modern systems.

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