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Chapter Summary

  • Important motherboard parts include the following: processor, RAM slots, RAM, expansion slots (PCI, PCI-X, PCIe, and AGP), and cooling devices.

  • Processors can be multi-core and contain very fast cache memory: L1 cache inside the processor and L2 cache outside the processor but inside the chip. Processors can also support L3 cache.

  • Intel processors use Hyper-Threading to make efficient use of processor time by the processor executing separate sets of instructions simultaneously.

  • Processors must be kept cool with fans and/or heat sinks. A thermal paste or pad is applied between a heat sink and a processor. Never turn the processor on without some type of thermal cooling.

  • The clock speed refers to the processor’s internal clock. This is not the same as the FSB or bus speed.

  • CPU throttling slows down the processor to prevent overheating.

  • PCI/PCI-X is a 32- and 64-bit parallel bus. PCI, PCI-X, and AGP have been replaced with the point-to-point serial PCIe bus.

  • PCIe slots have a specific number of bidirectional lanes that are the maximum a card can use. A PCIe adapter can fit in a slot of the same number of lanes or a slot that has the ability to process a higher number of lanes.

  • A chipset is one or more chips that coordinate communication between the processor and the rest of the motherboard. A chipset could have an MCH (north bridge) to coordinate between the CPU and some expansion slots as well as memory. The chipset can also have an ICH (south bridge) to coordinate between the CPU and the rest of the motherboard expansion slots and ports. The chipset dictates the maximum number and type of slots and ports on a motherboard. AMD and Intel have created technologies to address the slowness of the FSB: HyperTransport, QPI, and DMI.

  • An integrated GPU is on-die with the CPU and processes graphics-related functions.

  • When replacing a motherboard, ensure that the CPU socket and number/types of expansion slots are appropriate.

  • Active listening is an important skill for a technician. Don’t be distracted by people or technology, take notes, make good eye contact, and ask directed questions when appropriate.

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