The motherboard’s chipset – the north and south bridges
Reputable ATX motherboards use the best chipsets. Equivalent to the conductor in an orchestra, these vital components run the show. Without them nothing would work.
The performance of a motherboard and its features are mostly determined by its chipset, which usually consists of two chips – a north bridge and a south bridge.
The north bridge chip of the chipset is often kept cool by a passive (no fan) heatsink, or by a heatsink and fan unit, because it links and has control over the high-speed components – the processor, the video card, the RAM – and also links to the south bridge chip, which links to the north bridge chip and to the slower components – the IDE (on older motherboards), SATA and PCI buses and communications and input devices.
There are hundreds of motherboards available at any one time, but only a relatively small number of chipsets that provide their core functionality.
Different motherboards that use the same chipsets offer similar performance and features, but the difference between chipsets can be quite marked, with those motherboards that offer the best performance and features usually being the most expensive from manufacturers such as Asus, MSI, ECS, Foxconn and Gigabyte.
The manufacturers of motherboards use new chipsets made by chipset manufacturers, such as VIA, Intel, ALi, and SiS, for every motherboard they bring out these days, so I am not going to provide any examples here. If you know the make and model of a motherboard, you can download the user manual from its manufacturer’s site. It contains all of the technical information about the motherboard, including information on the chipset.
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