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Jan's Computer Basics:

Processing: Motherboard

Here we see a diagram and a photo of a motherboard (or main circuit board).
This one is suitable for a Pentium CPU. Nothing has been plugged in or attached yet.

Dimm and Simm slots Keyboard plug Power connectors Dimm and Simm slots Connectors PCI slots ISA slots Processor socket Processor socket Dimm and Simm slots Keyboard plug Power connectors ISA slots PCI slots Connectors Processor socket ISA slots PCI slots Connectors Power connectors Keyboard plug

motherboard and diagram gif

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This is where the keyboard attaches, thru the back of the computer.


This is where the power supply connects to the motherboard.

SIMM slots

Memory slots

There are 4 short slots for SIMM memory.
This board has two long slots for a new kind of memory called DIMM DRAM.
This board can handle a maximum of 256 MB of memory.

From the manufacturer's description:

Two 168 pin DIMM DRAM slots (8/16/32/64 MB module)

Four 72 pin SIMM memory slots (4/8/16/32/64 MB module)

Supports maximum 256 MB with Fast Page/EDO/SDRAM DRAM

That's pretty scary stuff. Just keep such information handy for when someone who understands these things asks you about them.

PCI slots

This board has 4 slots for the newer PCI boards for peripherals like video cards, sound cards, internal modems, etc.


Here is where cables connect to the motherboard for things like hard drives, floppy drives, and CD-ROM drives.

ISA slots

This board has 3 slots for the older ISA/VESA boards for things like video cards, sound cards, internal modems, etc.

Processor socket

What is visible here is the place where the processor plugs into the motherboard. When the processor is installed, you still can't see it because on top of it is a heat sink and fan to keep the processor cool. Hot processors make mistakes or even melt important parts on the chip.

Different processors are different sizes. So the socket on the motherboard has to match the processor. Also, the circuits in the motherboard itself must be different for different processors.

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