In the current age of technology, the motherboard is arguably one of the most commonly recognized computer components. Often pictured as a green, square circuit board panel, this device, in tandem with a few other main components, allows modern computer systems to accomplish specific calculations and tasks on behalf of various industries. From aircraft avionics systems to your desktop at home, a computer is typically made up of the same four components— motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), hard drive, and a random-access Memory (RAM) module.
The CPU operates as the “brains” of a computer system. It handles detailed, complex processing and organizes data that is exchanged within a computer’s central unit. Its main job is to direct components on the motherboard to access data stored in the hard drive or RAM, and process said data according to the task it needs to perform. If you’ve ever heard the term “dual-core” processor, which is a commonly used type of CPU, this term refers to the number of cache cores that a computer system is utilizing within its CPU. Cache units allow the CPU to speed up it's processing by “caching” information that is pulled from the RAM or hard drive. The CPU is a binary system and can only exchange this data on a separate data bus and address bus. In simpler terms, the address bus knows where to find information within the RAM or hard drive duplicators and sends it back to the core processor via the data bus.
A motherboard acts similarly to a “central nervous system”, as it is a centralized location that links the entire information network within a central unit. The motherboard works directly with a CPU to process data and channel the data through a printed circuit that is connected to controls within the system. Most contain over 30 components, all of which operate at the same MHz thanks to an internalized quartz clock that is installed on the motherboard. This clock ensures all information exchanged between components is transmitted at the same digital pulse rate, regardless of the pre-existing MHz of every separate component. The parts achieve this through a multiplying device, which adjusts the MHz of the component to that of the quartz oscillator.
The hard drive and RAM operate as long-term and short-term memory storage devices. Both save data, but in different ways and for different purposes. A hard drive saves data that needs to be used on a long-term basis, including operating systems, installed programs, personal files, etc. Commonly used hard drives include the solid-state drive (SSD), classical, and external.
RAM modules can contain a number of RAM chips, which store temporary data while the computer is operating. It only stores memory temporarily— when the computer turns off, RAM data is completely wiped. This unit is particularly useful because it helps speed up information processing during high data events such as imagery or GPS navigation tracking system. If you had to reload each aspect of an entire map every time a vehicle moved by tapping into the hard drive instead of the RAM, it would take much longer to update a navigation system.
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