Hardware Components

One of the great strengths of the PC architecture is that it is extensible, allowing a great variety of components to be added, thereby permitting the PC to perform functions its designers may never have envisioned. However, most PCs include a more-or-less standard set of components, including the following:


The motherboard, described in Chapter 3, is the heart of a PC. It serves as “Command Central” to coordinate the activities of the system. Its type largely determines system capabilities. Motherboards include the following components:


The chipset provides the intelligence of the motherboard, and determines which processors, memory, and other components the motherboard can use. Most chipsets are divided physically and logically into two components. The Northbridge controls cache and main memory and manages the host bus and PCI expansion bus (the various busses used in PCs are described in Chapter 3). The Southbridge manages the ISA bus, bridges the PCI and ISA busses, and incorporates a Super I/O controller, which provides serial and parallel ports, the IDE interface, and other I/O functions. Some recent chipsets, notably models from Intel, no longer use the old Northbridge/Southbridge terminology, although the functionality and division of tasks is similar. Other recent chipsets put all functions on one physical chip.

CPU slot(s) and/or socket(s)

The type of CPU slot or socket determines which processors the motherboard can use. The ...

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