The motherboard is the large circuit board
inside your computer's case. It's sometimes called the system
board, the logic board, the baseboard, or less commonly, the
planar board. Everything connected to your computer system,
plugs either directly or indirectly into the motherboard.
I'm sure everyone has heard the CPU, or Central
Processing Unit, referred to as the 'brain' of your computer.
Well, the CPU sits on the motherboard, and if it can be called
the brain of your computer then the motherboard is truly the
central nervous system. The motherboard contains the CPU, the
BIOS ROM chip (Basic Input/Output System), and the CMOS Setup
information. It has expansion slots for installing different
adapter cards like your video card, sound card, Network Interface
Card, and modem. This circuit board provides a connector for
the keyboard as well as housing the keyboard controller chip.
It has RAM slots for your system's Random Access Memory (SIMMs
or DIMMs), and provides the system's chipset, controllers, and
underlying circuitry (bus system) to tie everything together.
The motherboard, more or less, is your computer.
It defines your computer type, upgradeability, and expansion
Non-Integrated Motherboards have assemblies
such as the I/O Port connectors (serial and parallel ports),
hard drive connectors or paddle boards, floppy controllers and
connectors, joystick connections, etc. installed as expansion
boards. This takes up one or more of the motherboard's expansion
slots and reduces the amount of free space inside your computer's
case. Hence, the individual motherboard is relatively cheap
to produce but, because of the cost of manufacturing, testing,
and installing the expansion boards separately, there's an added
cost to the computer system. However, if something should go
wrong with the individual assemblies, such as a bent or broken
pin in a connector, or a defective controller chip etc., you
could repair the problem by replacing the individual expansion
card at a relatively minor cost.
Most of the older motherboards were Non-Integrated.
Some of the later 486 system boards began to integrate some
of these assemblies right onto the circuit board.
Integrated Motherboards have assemblies that are otherwise installed
as expansion boards, integrated or built right onto the board.
The serial and parallel ports, the IDE and floppy drive, and
joystick all connect directly to the motherboard. This is now
standard on any late model 486 and above. It tends to free up
some space inside the case and allows for better accessibility
and air flow. The systems are cheaper to produce because there's
less material involved, less installation, and testing can all
be done at the same time. They are more expensive to repair
because, if you end up with a controller failure or broken pin,
it means a new motherboard (and, of course, because of the added
assemblies, the motherboard can be more expensive than its non-integrated
counterpart). However, these particular integrated assemblies
are generally fairly stable and although problems can occur,
they tend to be fairly rare.
All in all, the integrated motherboard tends
to be a good thing as opposed to the 'Embedded Motherboard'.