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An Overview of the Function of a Motherboard

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/29/2009

This article provides an overview of the critical function of a motherboard in a computer system.

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    The function of a motherboard is indispensable for the operation of any computer system. Motherboards are the primary hardware component on a computer, and perform a number of critical tasks. Following is an overview of the function of the motherboard.

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    Components' Hub

    A primary function of the motherboard is to serve as the base upon which a computer’s components are built. The motherboard is, in essence, a hub that houses a number of essential components such as the Central Processing Unit (CPU), system memory (RAM) and graphics card. The typical computer is designed with these components built onto the motherboard.

    Computer Circuitry

    The motherboard is the computer’s main circuit board, bearing all the basic circuitry and components that are required for the computer to function. It has electrical pathways called buses, which enable data to be relayed to the different computer components as well as between them.

    Data Traffic

    The motherboard serves as a communications hub for all of the components that are attached to it directly or indirectly. It is responsible for managing the traffic of information within the computer system, which it does by means of the motherboard chipset. The function of the motherboard chipset is to direct the flow of data that the computer components require or acquire.

    BIOS

    The motherboard has a built-in Read Only Memory (ROM), which is separate from the PC’s RAM and which contains the computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). A key function of the BIOS is to manage the boot-up process when you power your computer on, and load your operating system.

    Peripherals

    The motherboard allows for the use of external components and devices, which greatly increases the versatility of a computer system. These include printers, keyboard devices, audio jacks, external hard drives and game controllers. These peripherals can be connected to the computer by plugging them directly into the motherboard by means of external ports, sockets and connectors, which are built into it.

    Note: motherboards are also used in a variety of electronic devices, such as televisions, which must perform complicated processes to operate. They fulfill similar functions in these devices.