A motherboard is a complex printed circuit board (PCB), which is the main central
part of many electronic systems, particularly computers. They are alternately known
as mainboard, system board, or logic board (Apple Computers). It is a platform that
offers electrical connections through which other components of a computer
communicate, and also houses the central processing unit (CPU), generally referred
to as the brain of the computer.
Purpose of Motherboards
One of the major functions of a motherboard is to act as the "hub" to which other
computer devices connect. A board can come in many configurations to fit different
needs and budgets. At its most basic, it has several interfaces for necessary components
and numerous microchips that control computer startup. Many computer enthusiasts
favor one type of board over another and choose a manufacturer based on the firmware
installed on it or the types of hardware it supports.
Before the invention of microprocessors, computers were built into mainframes
with components which were connected by a backplane that had countless slots
for connecting wires. In old designs, wires were needed to connect card connector
pins but they soon became a thing of the past with the invention of PCBs. The
CPU, memory and other peripherals were all housed on this printed circuit board.
1967: The first floppy disk is created by IBM.
1970: The first microprocessor is released by Intel, called the 4004. Shortly after, Intel
announces the release of the first random-access memory (RAM), called the 1103.
1972: The invention of the compact disc.
1974: The 8080 microprocessor is released by Intel.
1975: Introduction of Apple I, (the company Apple Computer was founded by Steve
Wozniak and Steve Jobs) a device that consists of a motherboard, a keyboard, and a
1977: The first commercial network ARCNET is developed, where Apple II takes the
market by storm with the first personal computer that integrates the use of colored
1980: Paul Allen and Bill Gates are hired by IBM to create DOS. Microsoft in the same
year licenses UNIX and starts to develop a PC version called XENIX.
1987: Elitegroup Computer Systems Co. Ltd. is established in Taiwan and becomes the
largest supplier of motherboards in the world.
1989: AsusTek, one of Taiwan's top companies, starts manufacturing graphic cards.
1993: First International Computer Inc. becomes the largest motherboard manufacturer
in the world.
1997: Intel Corp. plans to add to its monopoly a microprocessor, by manufacturing
2000: ATI Technologies Inc. announces graphic cards technology, an advancement in
A processor, or "microprocessor," is a small chip that resides in computers and
other electronic devices. Its basic job is to receive input and provide the
appropriate output. While this may seem like a simple task, modern
processors can handle trillions of calculations per second.
Modern CPUs often include multiple processing cores, which work together
to process instructions. While these "cores" are contained in one physical
unit, they are actually individual processors. In fact, if you view your
computer's performance with a system monitoring utility like Windows Task
Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac OS X), you will see separate
graphs for each processor. Processors that include two cores are called dual-
core processors, while those with four cores are called quad-core processors.
Some high-end workstations contain multiple CPUs with multiple cores,
allowing a single machine to have eight, twelve, or even more processing
Moore's Law observes that the number of transistors on a chip doubles
every two years. Based on this law, the development of the computer
processors started in the year 1971. Let's take a look at the journey so
Today, computers are a part of our lifestyle, but the first computer that
was used was developed at the University of Pennsylvania in the year
1946! It had an ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And
Computer) processor. The reprogramming feature that is so extensively
used today, was introduced by Alan Turing and John von Neumann
with their teams. The von Neumann architecture is the basis of modern
From the development of the first microprocessor - Intel's 4004 to the
latest ones - the microprocessors have come a long way. Here, we look
into the story so far.
1971 - Intel 4004
» It was designed by Federico Faggin and Ted Hoff of Intel and Masatoshi Shima of
Busicom, and it was launched on November 15,1971.
» It consisted of 2300 transistors with pMOS technology.
» The total number of instructions were 46. The designed clock speed was 1 MHz while
only 740 kHz was achieved.
It was the first microprocessor and it was used in the Busicom 141-PF calculator.
1972 - Intel 8008
» Also known as MCS-8, it was launched in April 1972.
» It was developed by Victor Poor and Harry Pyle of CTC, and Ted Hoff, Faggin, Stanley
Mazor and Hal Feeney from Intel.
» It was made up of 3500 transistors. However, it was slower than its predecessor 4004.
» The clock speed was 0.5 MHz with the total number of instructions being 48.
For the first time it was used in personal computers, Micral and SCELBI.
1974 - Intel 8080
» Launched in April 1974, it was developed by Faggin, Mazor and Masatoshi Shima.
» The clock speed increased to 2 MHz, it was built on nMOS technology and used 6000 transistors.
» The major development was the separation of address (16-bit) and data (8-bit) bus. It also supported
It was used in the computers MITS Altair 8800 and IMSAI 8080. Space Invaders (arcade video game)
also used 8080 as the main processor.
1974 - Motorola 6800
» This processor developed by Motorola had no I/O ports.
» Memory-mapped input-output were used as I/Os.
» The clock speed was only 2 MHz with the instruction set consisting of 72 instructions.
» It was for the first time that HCF (Halt and Catch Fire) opcode was used, that made the processor
unresponsive to any interrupts till it was reset.
HCF is a self-test feature developed for the first time by Motorola.
1977 - Intel 8085
» Unlike the other processors developed so far, this one was also used as a microcontroller working on
» It was the first time that von Neumann architecture was used.
» It was built with 6500 transistors and used nMOS technology.
» The instruction set consisted of 256 instructions.
The radiation-hardened version was used in NASA and ESA space expeditions.
1978 - Intel 8086
» The designed clock speed was 10 MHz.
» The development team for architecture consisted of Stephen P. Morse and Bruce Ravenel. Logic was
designed by Jim McKevitt, John Bayliss, and William Pohlman was the project manager.
This was first used in the microcomputer Mycron 2000.
1979 - Intel 8088
» 8088 was based on the new HMOS technology and was launched on 1 July.
» It came in 40-pin DIP as well as PLCC (plastic leaded chip carrier) package.
» However, the data path was only 8-bit. The designed frequency was 10 MHz.
The original IBM PC was based on 8088.
1987 - SPARC
» This processor was developed by Sun Microsystems.
» It had a clock speed of 40 MHz.
» It was made up of 1.8 million transistors with 256 IO pins.
Fujitsu's K Computer is ranked number 1 in the world's fastest 500 supercomputers as per TOP500 list
ratings. It used SPARC.
1991 - Am386
» This AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) processor had striking resemblance to the Intel 80386 version
» With a clock speed of 40 MHz and 32-bit data bus, the processor was a competitor to Intel.
The excellent performance of AMD's floating point unit made it the second best choice (after Intel) for
1993 - Pentium Processor
» The Pentium family started with the launch of the P5 processor.
» It came in two models - 510-pin version with 60 MHz clock speed and 567-pin version with a clock speed of
» Launched on March 22, it was built with 3.1 million transistors.
» This 32-bit processor was the most advanced processor used in many computers that were manufactured at
It was the first superscalar x86 microarchitecture that could execute two instructions simultaneously, thus
speeding up the processor and reducing computing time.
1995 - Pentium Pro
» This was the first processor of the Pentium II series.
» This latest entrant came in an unconventional MCM (ceramic multi-chip module) 387 pins packaging.
» With a clock speed of 200 MHz, it was built to run in quad as well as dual processor configurations.
» About 5.5 million transistors were used to build this processor.
» It did not have an MMX instruction set.
This processor was used in ASCI Red that delivered teraFLOP (one trillion floating-point operations in one
1997 - Pentium II
» Launched on 7 May, the Pentium II family had a vast range of processors to offer.
» The clock speed was increased gradually with every model launched to up to 450 MHz.
» Unlike the traditional processors, this one came in a slot or socket module. This made it easy for the
computer manufacturers to use it in a limited space.
» Various processors were launched under this family:
It had a removable heatsink/fan combination that reduced the problem of heat dissipation.
1999 - Pentium III
» This Pentium II successor was launched on 26 February.
» The advancement from the previous model was the addition of the SSE
instruction that accelerated the floating point calculations.
» On the similar lines as Pentium II, this processor was launched in Celeron
(Low-end version) and Xeon (High-end version).
» The list of processors under this family are:
Katmai: Clock speed of 450 MHz and uses 9.5 million transistors
Coppermine: Clock speed of up to 1 GHz
Coppermine T: Only Coppermine model with an integrated heatsink (IHS)
Tualatin: Clock speed up to 1.4 GHz and 0.13 µm process
PSN (Processor Serial Number) was introduced in the manufacturing process
that created the processor's unique identity, which was the first instance.
1999 - Athlon
» AMD launched Athlon on June 23. It was built using 37 million transistors and
achieved a clock speed of about 800 MHz.
» It was packaged in a unique PGA (Pin Grid Array) 453-pin packaging.
» Athlon was a legitimate competitor to Intel Pentium III because it was faster.
» It was the first processor to reach the speed of 1 GHz.
2000 - Pentium IV
» Intel's new single core processor family in the market was the Pentium IV processor that achieved a
clock speed between 1.3 GHz to 3.08 GHz.
» The 423-pin processor came in an OLGA (Organic Land Grid Array) and PPGA (Plastic Pin Grid
Array) type packaging.
» The processors under this family are:
Willamette: Clock speed of 1.4 and 1.5 GHz and 180 nm process
Northwood: Clock speed up to 2.2 GHz and 130 nm die
Pentium 4-M: Built for Mobile use with TDP of 35 watts
Mobile Pentium 4: Built for laptop use with increased bus speed of 33 MHz
Gallatin: Die of 130 nm and an added 2 MB level 3 cache
Prescott: Die of 90 nm and hyper-threading that speeds up processes such as video editing
Prescott 2M: Clock speed of 3.8 GHz and 90 nm process
Cedar Mill: Die of 65 nm
2003 - Pentium M
» This processor was a mobile single-core processor from Intel.
» It was designed with a clock speed of 2.26 GHz.
» Two processors were developed under this family, namely:
Banias: Clock speed of 1.7 GHz and TDP of 24.5 watts
Dothan: Die of 90 nm and clock speed of 2.1 GHz; TDP is reduced to 21 watts
This processor was used for the first time in Intel Carmel notebook under Centrino brand.
2006 - Core 2
» Intel Core 2 brand, launched on July 27, 2006, was also known as E6320.
» The clock speed was achieved up to 3.5 GHz.
» The processors launched under this family were single-core, dual-core and quad-
» The processor has been dropped from the price list since 2011.
» The processors under this brand for desktops are:
Conroe: Die of 65 nm (dual)
Allendale: Die of 65 nm (dual)
Wolfdale: Die of 45 nm (dual)
Conroe XE: Die of 65 nm (dual)
Allendale XE: Die of 65 nm (quad)
Wolfdale XE: Die of 45 nm (dual)
Kentsfield: Die of 65 nm (quad)
Yorkfield: Die of 45 nm (quad)
» The processors under this brand for laptops are:
Merom: Die of 65 nm (dual)
Penryn: Die of 45 nm (dual)
Merom XE: Die of 65 nm (dual)
Penryn XE: Die of 45 nm (quad and dual)
Merom-L: Die of 65 nm (single)
Penryn-L: Die of 45 nm (single)
The processor was capable of saving battery power by lowering the clock speed.