This document provides an overview of personal computer motherboards.
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Sunday, October 20, 2013 5:12 PM
Types And Styles
In the technology world and computing industry there are typically one of three types of motherboard designs implemented in any desktop computer system. Earlier times called for the Baby AT motherboard form factor which is now considered obsolete hardware. The standard today is the ATX form factor. The form factor of any motherboard acts as a guidance system for how it should be designed and defines the type of hardware that can be added to a system.
Older Versus Newer Motherboard Design Types
On older motherboards discrete components including slot connectors, DIP sockets, ZIF sockets, SIMM memory modules were soldered directly on the board itself and extra functionality came from added expansion cards that plugged into Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) based expansion slots.
At present day new motherboards are designed with the same functionality but are more expandable and upgradable.
During the Pentium I era, storage devices including hard disk drives and floppy disk drives connected to the motherboard through a seperate expansion card. The invention of the Pentium II based processor eliminated this requirement allowing the design of a hard disk and floppy disk connector to be included on the motherboard directly.
Today, PCI has become the industry standard for most internal expansion cards, and components like the serial and parellel ports have been designed on the motherboard directly without the need for additional expansion cards to be installed. The invention of USB technologies made it possible to theroetcially hook up 127 external devices to any equipped motherboard.
In the technology world and motherboard industry, there are typically one of two types of motherboard designs implemented in any particular motherboard. Earlier times called for the Baby AT motherboard format factor, while the standard at present day is the ATX form factor. The form factor of any motherboard acts as a guidance system for how it should be designed.
There are a large number of differences between AT and ATX style motherboard's. The most notable differences are sizes and shapes.
The earliest style Baby AT motherboards had very large dimensions with approximately 9 inches occupying the width, and 10 inches occupying the length. Most motherboards of these types were used in older 80286, 80386, and 80486 based personal computer systems. Most Pentium I and some Pentium II based systems were based on this design as well. Although this design set the standard for most AT based motherboards, it was quickly phased out by the ATX form factor, a far more advanced style of motherboard design, as it was the actual ATX form factor that permitted all connectors (including serial port, parallel port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, and on newer motherboards, sound, game, and network connectors) to be incorporated into the board design itself. The AT form factor normally required separate interface cables to be attached to the motherboard, which further added to the clutter inside the actual tower. The ATX form factor eliminated this element and offered a much more cleaner design.