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A motherboard is the main printed circuit board in a computer

that contains the central processing unit, appropriate
coprocessor and support chips, device controllers, memory, and
also expansion slots to give access to the computer’s internal
bus. The motherboard is the PCs center of activity. All devices
in a computer are in some way connected to the motherboard.

• After CPU, motherboard is the second most important

component in the system and therefore, it definitely
needs special attention.

• The design of a motherboard is dependent on the type
of CPU and mainly oriented around the chipset present

• The motherboard features decide the system

performance to a great extent, upgrade potential, etc.

• As there are numerous types of processors, there are

different types of motherboards as well.

• The classification is usually done on the basis of types

of CPU sockets carried by these boards.

Functions of Motherboard
• Motherboard provides a substrate upon which other
components of a system such as CPU, RAM, ROM, Chipset,
and Expansion Slots can reside.

• Motherboard provides the electrical connection between

various components in the system.

• Motherboard provides interface for various add-on cards

such as 3D graphics cards, NIC, Sound cards, etc. through
various expansion slots such as PCI, ISA, AGP, etc.

• Motherboard provides the necessary interface with a host

of I/O devices. E.g., on-board IDE or SCSI interface for
hard-disks, CD-ROM drives etc.

• They also provide other traditional I/O connectors such as

PS/2interface, RS232 serial COM ports, Bi-directional
parallel port (LPT), Joystick connection through game port,
floppy disk interface, etc.

• The battery driven RTC chip on the motherboard stores

CMOS setup information.

• They provide IR port, CNR slot, IEEE 1394, USB for
attaching emerging high-speed serial devices.

Components of a Motherboard
There are various components of a motherboard which fixed
together into a single unit leads to the proper functioning of a

(1) Chips: The active devices on the motherboard are

gathered together in chips. These are tiny electronic circuits
which are crammed with transistors.

(2)Socket: These are holders, which have been soldered to the

motherboard. The sockets are built to exactly match a card or a

(3) Plugs, Connectors, and Ports: The motherboard also
contains a number of inputs and outputs, to which various
equipment can be connected. Most ports (also called I/O ports)
can be seen where they end in a connector at the back of the
PC. These are:

• Ports for the keyboard and mouse.

• Serial ports, the parallel port, and USB ports.

Sockets for speakers/microphone etc.

Motherboard Form Factors
A motherboard form factor just describes the dimensions or
size of the motherboard and what the layout of the

motherboard components is. It is important to understand the
different motherboard form factors, because you cannot take
any motherboard and place it in a computer case. You must put
an ATX board in an ATX case.

Since the beginning of PCs, the following types of motherboard

Form Factors appeared in the market:

• Active and Passive Backplane.

• Full size AT

• Mini or Baby AT



• Mini-ATX


Active and Passive Backplane:

• In Passive Backplane, PC‘s major Motherboard
components such as processor, memory chips, support
circuitry, etc. are not placed on a single board; rather
they are placed on a expansion boards plugged into
slots of another board.

• Allow easy upgrade of entire system.

• Active Backplane contain all typical components found

on a typical motherboard except the Processor and the
components which are directly attached to the
processor such as cache memory, system clock, etc.

• Backplane systems didn’t gain much popularity.

Active and Passive Backplane

Full Size AT:

• Released in 1984.

• 12 Inches Wide and 13.8 Inches in length.

• Can fit into full size tower or desktop.

• Provision for 8 expansion slots.

• No uniform standard followed in component layout.

• Some older AT motherboards do not contain any

onboard I/O ports and contained I/O ports in the form of
Pin Headers.

Full Size AT

Baby AT:
• 8.66 inches wide and 13 inches long.
• Compatible with almost every type of case.
• Mounting in newer Baby-AT boards.
• Problem full length expansion cards.

Baby AT

• 8.66 inches wide and 13 inches long.

• Developed for Slimline or Low Profile cases used by some

branded manufactures.

• Western Digital first introduced this form factor in some of
their systems.

• Single Slot motherboards and Riser cards.

• Built in video and I/O connectors.

• Limited Upgradability and poor cooling.


• Released by Intel in 1995.

• The latest Pentium 4 motherboards are based on ATX

version 2.3.

• 9.6 inches wide and 12 inches long.

• Integrated I/O port connectors.

• Better clearance for expansion cards.

• Proper positioning of CPU and Memory.

• Dust and Dirt control.

• Smaller length of internal I/O connector cables.

• Lower manufacturing costs.

• 11.2 inches in length and 8.2 inches wide.

• More cost-effective.

• Can fit into both ATX and mini-ATX cabinets


• Quickly replaceable motherboards.

• Larger size processors and memory modules.

• Backplane flexibility.

• Additional features such as built-in multimedia solutions,

video playback, extended audio, etc.

Comparison of Common Form Factors

Style Width Length Cases Power Where Found

(Inches) (Inches)

Full AT 12 11-13 Full Tower /AT Style PC-AT 286/386


Baby AT 8.66 10-13 ALL butAT Style PC-AT 286/386/486


ATX 12 9.6 ATX ATX Current PCs

Mini-ATX 11.2 8.2 ATX ATX Current PCs

LPX 9 11-13 AT AT Old Retail PCs

Mini-LPX 8-9 10-11 AT AT Old Retail PCs

NLX 8-9 10-13.6 ATX ATX New Retail PCs

The Chipset is the glue that connects the microprocessor to the
rest of the motherboard and therefore to the rest of the
computer. On a PC, it consists of two basic parts -- the
Northbridge and the Southbridge. All of the various
components of the computer communicate with the CPU
through the chipset.

Chipset History
• At one time, multiple, smaller controller chips performed
different types of functions.

• There was a separate chip (often more than one) for each
function: controlling the cache, performing direct memory
access (DMA), handling interrupts, transferring data over
the I/O bus, etc.

• Over time these chips were integrated to form a single set

of chips, or chipset that implements the various control
features on the motherboard.

What is Chipset?
• A chipset is just a set of chips

• Logic circuits that are the intelligence of the


• Controlling data transfers between the processor, cache,

system buses, and peripherals—basically everything
inside the computer.

• A highly integrated circuit used to perform a set of


• The term “chipset” is also used to refer to the main
processing circuitry on many video cards.

Chipset Features and Functions

Chipset processor support:

• A chipset is designed to work with certain set of


• Most chipsets support one “class” or generation of


• Processor speed support is also controlled by chipsets as

faster processors require chipset control circuitry capable
of handling them.

• Some chipsets are capable of supporting more than one


Chipset Cache support:

• Chipset determines how much secondary cache (L2) is


• Determines secondary cache type support like

asynchronous, synchronous burst & pipeline burst.

• Secondary cache write policy – Write back or Write

• Controls the maximum amount of memory the system

can cache.

Chipset Memory Support :

• The chipset dictates the maximum amount of RAM that

you can have on the system.

• The chipset controls the type of RAM that can be used. It

determines whether our motherboard can have EDO,

• Error correction logic is provided as part of the memory

control circuits of the chipset. A chipset supports either
parity, ECC or both. Some of the desktop does not
support any of the above logic.

Chipset Timing and Flow control:

• One of the chipset’s most important functions is

controlling memory reads and writes, and transfers to the
local bus (usually PCI and/or AGP) by the processor.

• The chipset performs address decoding.

• Cache and memory data transfer to and from the


• The chipset controls the flow information from the local

bus (PCI) to memory as well as from PCI directly to

• Responsible for managing memory system timing –

reducing the processor wait state and inserting wait states
wherever necessary to ensure that the processor is not
going ahead of memory.

• Auto detection of memory.

Peripheral and I/O Bus control:

• The chipset controls the various types of buses (PCI, AGP,

ISA etc.) and transfers information to and from them and
the processor and memory.

• The chipset dictates what types of buses the system can


• The chipset has bus bridges to connect together the

different bus types that it controls.

• The chipset integrates the IDE/ATA Hard disk controller.

The data transfer rate of the IDE devices depends on the

• Direct Memory Access and Bus Mastering of PCI devices is

provided by the chipset.

• The interrupt controller provides the means by which I/O

devices request attention from the processor to deal with
data transfers. This work is performed by Interrupt
controllers which are integrated in the chipset.

• USB support (USB controller) is implemented as part of the


• Plug and Play – is a specification which enables device to

have their system resource usage (IRQ, DMA) set

Power Management support:

• Most recent chipsets support a group of features that work

together to reduce the amount of power used by the PC
during idle periods.

• There are a number of different protocols that works

together to make power management work like Energy
Star, APM, DPMS, SMM, ACPI etc.



Expansion Slots
The most visible parts of any motherboard are the expansion
slots. These look like small plastic slots, usually from 3 to 11
inches long and approximately 1⁄2 inch wide. As their name
suggests, these slots are used to install various devices in the
computer to expand its capabilities. Some expansion devices
that might be installed in these slots include video, network,
sound, and disk interface cards.
If you look at the motherboard in your computer, you will more
than likely see one of the main types of expansion slots used in
computers today:


• PCIe




Each type differs in appearance and function. In this section,

we will cover how to visually identify the different expansion
slots on the motherboard.

ISA Expansion Slots:

If you have a computer made before 1997, chances are the

motherboard has a few Industry Standard Architecture (ISA)
expansion slots. They’re easily recognizable because they are
usually black and have two parts: one shorter and one longer.
Computers made after 1997 generally include a few ISA slots
for backward compatibility with old expansion cards (although
most computers are phasing them out in favor of PCI).

ISA expansion slots

PCI Expansion Slots:

Most computers made today contain primarily Peripheral

Component Interconnect (PCI) slots. They are easily
recognizable because they are short (around 3 inches long) and
usually white. PCI slots can usually be found in any computer
that has a Pentium-class processor or higher.

PCI Expansion Slots

PCIe Expansion Slots:

The newest expansion slot architecture that is being used by

motherboards is PCI Express (PCIe). It was designed to be a
replacement for AGP and PCI. It has the capability of being
faster than AGP while maintaining the flexibility of PCI. And
motherboards with PCIe will have regular PCI slots for backward
compatibility with PCI.

PCIe Expansion Slots

AGP Expansion Slots:

Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) slots are very popular for video
card use. In the past, if you wanted to use a high-speed,
accelerated 3D graphics video card, you had to install the card
into an existing PCI or ISA slot. AGP slots were designed to be a
direct connection between the video circuitry and the PC’s
memory. They are also easily recognizable because they are
usually brown, are located right next to the PCI slots on the
motherboard, and are shorter than the PCI slots.

AGP Expansion Slots

There are seven different speed levels for PCIe, and they
are designated 1X, 2X, 4X, 8X, 12X, 16X, and 32X. These
designations roughly correspond to similarly designated AGP
speeds. The slots for PCIe are a bit harder to identify than other
expansion slot types because the slot size corresponds to its
speed. For example, the 1X slot is extremely short (less than an
inch). The slots get longer in proportion to the speed; the
longer the slot, the higher the speed.
The reason for this stems from the PCIe concept of lanes, which
are the multiplied units of communication between any two
PCIe components and are directly related to physical wiring on
the bus. Because all PCIe communications are made up of
unidirectional coupling between devices, each PCIe card

negotiates for the best mutually supported number of lanes
with each communications partner.

AMR Expansion Slots:

As is always the case, Intel and other manufacturers are
constantly looking for ways to improve the production process.
One lengthy process that would often slow down the production
of motherboards with integrated analog I/O functions was FCC
certification. The manufacturers developed a way of separating
the analog circuitry, for example, modem and analog audio,
onto its own card. This allowed the analog circuitry to be
separately certified (it was its own expansion card), thus
reducing time for FCC certification.
This slot and riser card technology was known as the Audio
Modem Riser, or AMR. AMR’s 46-pin slots were once fairly
common on many Intel motherboards, but technologies
including CNR and Advanced Communications Riser (ACR) are
edging out AMR. In addition and despite FCC concerns,
integrated components still appear to be enjoying the most
success comparatively.

An AMR slot

CNR Expansion Slots:

The Communications and Networking Riser (CNR) slots that can
be found on some Intel motherboards are a replacement for
Intel’s AMR slots. Essentially, these 60-pin slots allow a
motherboard manufacturer to implement a motherboard
chipset with certain integrated features. Then, if the built-in
features of that chipset need to be enhanced (by adding Dolby
Digital Surround to a standard sound chipset, for example), a

CNR riser card could be added to enhance the onboard
capabilities. Additional advantages of CNR over AMR include
networking support, Plug and Play compatibility, support for
hardware acceleration (as opposed to CPU control only), and no
need to lose a competing PCI slot unless the CNR slot is in use.

A processor is the logic circuitry that responds to and
processes the basic instructions that drive a computer. The
term processor has generally replaced the term central
processing unit (CPU). The processor in a personal computer or
embedded in small devices is often called a microprocessor.

The “brain” of any computer is the central processing unit

(CPU). This component does all the calculations and performs
90 percent of all the functions of a computer.
• From the 2MHz Intel 4004 launched in 1971 to the mind
boggling 2 GHz Pentium 4 in 2002 from the same
company-the Microprocessor technology has come
across a long way over these thirty years.

• A microprocessor is an integrated circuit (IC) that

contains a complete CPU on a single chip.

• All the processors are backward compatible with 8086,

and therefore appropriately called as x86 processors.

• The original IBM PC design was based on CPUs

incorporating CISC architecture while its nearest rival,
the Apple Macs were designed on Motorola 680x0 and
IBM PowerPC processors features featuring RISC

• Though initially all x86 processors came with CISC
architecture, present day x86 processor architecture is
actually a perfect blending of RISC and CISC.

Working of CPU

The CPU is centrally located on the motherboard. Since the CPU

carries out a large share of the work in the computer, data pass
continually through it. The data come from the RAM and the
units (keyboard, drives etc.). After processing, the data is send
back to RAM and the units.

The CPU continually receives instructions to be executed. Each

instruction is a data processing order. The work itself consists
mostly of calculations and data transport:

Data have a path to the CPU. It is kind of a data expressway

called the system bus.

CISC and RISC instructions

CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer):

The first CPUs had a so called Complex Instruction Set

Computer (CISC). This means that the computer can
understand many and complex instructions. The X86 instruction

set, with its varying length from 8 to 120 bit, was originally
developed for the 8086 with its mere 29000 transistors.

RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer):

The RISC instructions are brief and the same length (for
example 32 bit long, as in Pentium Pro), and they process much
faster than CISC instructions. Therefore, RISC is used in all
newer CPUs. However, the problem is that the instructions
arrive at the CPU in 8086 format. Thus, they must be decoded
for every new CPU generation; the instruction set has been
expanded. The 386 came with 26 new instructions, the 486
with 6 new instructions, and Pentium with 8 new instructions.
These changes mean that some programs require at least a
386 or a Pentium processor to work.

Processor Generation and Families

Processor Generation Processor Families

First Generation (P1) i8086, i8088, NEC V-20

Second Generation (P2) i80286

Third Generation (P3) i80386SX, i80386DX

Fourth Generation (P4) i80486SX, i80486DX, i80486DX2,

i80486DX4, AMD 486DX4, AMD/Cyrix 586

Fifth Generation (P5) Intel Pentium, Pentium Overdrive, AMD K6,

Cyrix M-I/M-II

Sixth Generation (P6) Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Celeron, Pentium

III, Pentium IV, AMD K6-2, AMD K6-3, VIA
Cyrix III

Seventh Generation (P7) AMD Athlon, AMD Duron, AMD Opteron,
AMD Turium, Intel ItaniumI/ItaniumII

Inside a Modern Processor


• Internal Registers

• L1 Cache

• Control Unit


• Integer Execution Unit


• Branch Prediction Unit

• Virtual Memory Support

Processor Data Bus

• There are data busses both inside and outside the

• Usually by the term Data Bus we mean External Data


• Internal data bus width is largely determined by the

widths of the CPU Internal Registers.

• Each wire in the data bus carries one bit information.

Processor Address Bus

• The Front Side Bus: FSB is also known as the
Processor Bus, Memory Bus, or System Bus and

connects the CPU with the main memory and is used to
connect to other components within the computer.

• The FSB can range from speeds of 66 MHz, 133 MHz, 100
MHz, 266 MHz, 400 MHz, and up.

• The FSB speed can generally be set either using the

system BIOS or with jumpers located on the computer

• The address bus part of a host processor bus (FSB) or

memory bus physically consists of a set of wires that carry
the addressing information used to select a memory or
information used to select a memory or I/O port location to
which the data is being retrieved by the CPU.

• As with the data bus, each wire in the Address bus carries
a single bit of address information.

Backside Bus
• The back side bus is a special bus that allows
communication between the CPU and the l2 cache, which
is a device that offloads some specialized computing tasks
to make the CPU operate more quickly. Nothing besides
the cache and CPU are connected to the back side bus.

Processor Control Bus

• The control bus represents the different control signals
such as Memory and I/O Device Read, Memory Write,
DMA Hold, Interrupt, etc.

• Some Lines are output only, some lines are input only.

Processor numbers are based on a variety of features

may include the processor's underlying architecture,
front side bus, and clock speed

• Architecture: Basic design of a microprocessor. May
include process technology and/or other architectural

• Cache (MB/KB): A temporary storage area for frequently

accessed or recently accessed data. Having certain data
stored in a cache speeds up the operation of the
computer. Cache size is measured in megabytes (MB) or
kilobytes (KB).

• Front Side Bus: The connecting path between the

processor and other key components such as the memory
controller hub. FSB speed is measured in GHz or MHz

• Clock Speed: Speed of the processor's internal clock,

which dictates how fast the processor can process data.
Clock speed is usually measured in GHz (gigahertz, or
billions of pulses per second).

Hyper Threading (HT)

Hyper Threading is a new technology in Intel P4 processor to
increase the CPU performance to immense level.

Hyper Threading means

1 physical processor and 2 logical processor.

Normally More than one processor systems will give a high

performance than single processor. But introducing multiple
processors in a system involves high cost. HT is a solution
which is cost-effective and High-Performance.

See the video of HYPER-THREADING to understand about this


Processor Sockets
Socket Pins Pin Layout Voltage Supported Processors

Socket 1 169 17x17 PGA 5v 486 SX/SX2, DX/DX2, DX4 Overdrive

Socket 2 238 19x19 PGA 5v 486 SX/SX2, DX/DX2, DX4 Overdrive,

486 Pentium Overdrive

Socket 3 237 19x19 PGA 5v/3.3v 486 SX/SX2, DX/DX2, DX4, 486
Pentium Overdrive, AMD 5x86

Socket 4 273 21x21 PGA 5v Pentium 60/66, Overdrive

Socket 5 320 37x37 SPGA 3.3/3.5v Pentium 75-133, Overdrive

Socket 6 235 19x19 PGA 3.3v 486 DX4, 486 Pentium Overdrive

Socket 7 321 37x37 SPGA VRM Pentium 75-233+, MMX, Overdrive,

AMD K5/K6, Cyrix M1/II

Socket Number Pins Pin Layout Voltage Supported Processors

Socket 8 387 dual patternAuto VRM Pentium Pro


Socket 370 370 37x37 SPGA Auto VRM Celeron/Pentium III PPGA/FC-PGA

Slot A 242 Slot Auto VRM AMD Athlon PGA

Socket A 462 PGA Socket Auto VRM AMD Athlon/Duron SECC

(Socket 462)

Slot 1 (SC242) 242 Slot Auto VRM Pentium II/III, Celeron SECC

Slot 2 (SC330) 330 Slot Auto VRM Pentium II/III Xeon

Processor Packaging












Standardized Sockets and Slots
• Originally the purpose of providing a CPU socket on the
motherboard was just to provide a place to insert a
processor onto the motherboard.

• However over the last few years Intel and AMD, the two
major processor makers in the PC world, have defined
several socket interface standards for PC motherboards.

• These are standardized Socket and Slot specifications

to be used with matching processors that are
specifically designed for them.

Inserting a CPU
There are several types of CPU sockets available. Today
virtually all desktop PCs come with some variation of the SEC
packaging. Other CPUs are generally not worth upgrading and
may be one of two common types of package:

• Low-insertion-force (LIF)

• Zero-insertion-force (ZIF)

ZIF Socket with CPU Inverted

Computer Memory
The term computer memory refers to any form of electrical
storage device inside a computer. However, most often the
term refers to fast, temporary forms of storage. If the
processor needs to retrieve each and every piece of data
from the hard disk drive, the speed of the processor will
become considerable slow. But when the same piece of data
is stored in the computer memory, the processor can access
it more quickly. Most forms of memory are intended to store
data temporarily.

Types of Computer Memory
• Cache and registers



• FLASH Memory

• EMBEDED Memory

• OTPICAL Memory


• To cache is to set something aside, or to store for

anticipated use.

• Caching, in PC terms, is the holding of a recently or

frequently used code or data in a special memory
location for rapid retrieval.

• Speed is everything when it comes to computers.

• While working, the CPU is constantly requesting and

using information and

• Executing code. The closer the necessary data is to the

CPU, the faster the system can locate it and execute
the operation.

• High-speed memory chip generally used for caching is

called static RAM (SRAM).

L1 Cache:

• Starting with the 486 chips, a cache has been included

on every CPU. This original on-board cache is known as
the L1 (level 1) or internal cache.

• All commands for the processor go through the cache.

The cache stores a backlog of commands so that if
await state is encountered, the CPU can continue to
process using commands from the cache.

• Caching will store any code that has been read and
keep it available for

• The CPU to use. This eliminates the need to wait for

fetching of the data from DRAM.

• Registers

These are memory cells built right into the CPU that
contain specific data needed by the CPU, particularly the
arithmetic and logic unit (ALU).

L2 Cache:

• Additional cache can be added to most computers,

depending on the motherboard. This cache is mounted
directly on the motherboard, outside the CPU.

• The external cache is also called L2 (level 2) and is the

same as L1, but larger. L2 can also (on some
motherboards) be added or expanded.

L3 Cache:

• Tertiary (third) caches originated out of server

technology, where high-end systems use more than a
single processor.

• Initially an L-3 cache memory chips were built directly

into the North Bridge but now it comes built-in with the

• The capacitor can retain charge for a fraction of a
second, so DRAM requires an entire circuitry to keep
the capacitors charged. The process of recharging the
capacitors is known as refreshing.

• . Each transaction between the CPU and memory is

called a bus cycle

• Memory controller handles the movement of data to

and from the CPU and the system memory banks. The
memory controller is also responsible for the integrity of
the data as it is swapped in and out.

o Parity


Types of RAM
• Static RAM (SRAM):

• Dynamic RAM (DRAM):






• DDR2:



SRAM memory requires no refresh at all, it will maintain its

information so long as it has sufficient power to keep it. This is
due to the fact that internally, the SRAM component is made up
of flip-flop circuitry, which does not depend on refreshing.


The Dynamic RAM like SDRAM too consists of transistors, but it

has only a pair of transistor unlike four to six transistors in
SRAM. Another difference is that, DRAM stores each bit of data
in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit. Now a

capacitor leaks charge, because of which data is stored in a
DRAM for on it a tiny fractions of seconds before getting lost. To
overcome this problem, the DRAM needs to be refreshed
periodically. Because of periodic refreshing it gets its name as
“dynamic” and hence called Dynamic RAM (DRAM).

The DRAM is slower than SRAM, but the advantage is that it

requires less power is also inexpensive.


The Fast Page Mode DRAM (FPM DRAM) is slightly faster than
conventional DRAM. This is because of the fact that FPM DRAM
works by eliminating the need for a row address if data is
located in the row previously accessed. It is sometimes called
page mode memory.


Extended data-out DRAM (EDO RAM) is much faster version of

DRAM. Unlike conventional DRAM which can only access one
block of data at a time, EDO RAM usually start fetching the next
block of memory as soon as it sends the previous block to the
processor. It is about five percent faster than FPM. Maximum
transfer rate to L2 cache is approximately 264Mbps.


This type of memory synchronizes its input and output signals
with the incoming clock that is used in the system board. By
doing so, data transactions can continually take place with
each successive rising edge of the clock. SDRAM is about five
percent faster than EDO RAM and its transfer rate to L2 cache
is approximately 528 Mbps.


Double Data Rate SDRAM also known as DDR RAM is just like
SDRAM except that ia higher bandwidth, meaning greater
speed. This is achieved by transferring data on the up and
down tick of clock cycle. Maximum transfer rate to L2 cache is
approximately 1064 Mbps for 133 MHz


Rambus DRAM is a radical departure from the previous DRAM

architecture. It was designed by Rambus and uses a special
high-speed data bus called Rambus channel to transfer data
between memory and processor. RDRAM memory chips works
in parallel to achieve a data rate of 800 MHz or 1600 Mbps.


DDR2 is the recent version of DDR SDRAM. It offers new

features and functions that enable higher clock and data rate
operations. DDR2 transfer 64 bits of data twice every clock
cycle. However, a drawback of DDR2 is that it is not compatible
with the DDR SDRAM memory slots.


Video RAM is a type of RAM which can be read from and written
to at the same time. This is called dual-ported memory. On the
other hand DRAM is single ported, which means that the
memory can be written to and read from, but one at a time and
not simultaneously. VRAM is most commonly used on video
accelerator because it outperforms the other memory type by
being dual ported.

Flash Memory:

Flash Memory is used to quickly store data from electronic

devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players. Unlike DRAM
or SRAM, data written to flash memory doesn't require power to
maintain the stored contents.

Embedded Memory:

Embedded Memory is a small, dense format frequently used on

electronic devices with small form factors, such as PDAs and
cell phones. While limited in storage capacity when compared
with DRAM modules used on personal computers, embedded
memory plays a crucial role in many electronic devices due to
its small size.

Optical Memory:

In Optical Memory, data is stored on an optical medium (i.e.,

CD-ROM or DVD), and read with a laser beam. While not
currently practical for use in computer processing, optical
memory is an ideal solution for storing large quantities of data

very inexpensively, and more importantly, transporting that
data between computer devices.

• ROM is a nonvolatile memory that is installed by the
vendor of the computer during the process of
manufacturing the motherboard or secondary
components that need to retain the code when the
machine is turned off.

• With the use of ROM, information that is required to

start and run the computer cannot be lost or changed.

• ROM is used extensively to program operation of

computers, as well as devices like cameras and controls
for fuel injectors in modern cars.

• In Computers ROM generally holds instructions for

performing owner on Self Test (POST) routine, and the
BIOS information used to describe system configuration

Types of ROMs




A programmable read-only memory (PROM) or field

programmable read-only memory (FPROM) is a form of
digital memory. Such PROMs are used to store programs
permanently. They are frequently seen in computer games
or such products as electronic dictionaries, where PROMs for
different languages can be substituted.



An EPROM, or erasable programmable read-only memory, is

a type of computer memory chip that retains its data when
its power supply is switched off. In other words, it is non-
volatile normally used in electronic circuits. Once
programmed, an EPROM can be erased only by exposing it to
strong ultraviolet light.


EEPROM such as Flash memory (Electrically Erasable

Programmable Read-Only Memory) allow the entire ROM (or
selected banks of the ROM) to be electrically erased (flashed
back to zero) then written to without taking them out of the
computer (camera, MP3 player, etc.).

Flashing is much slower (milliseconds) than writing to RAM

(nanoseconds) (or reading from any ROM).

EPROMs are easily recognizable by the transparent window

in the top of the package, through which the silicon chip can
be seen, and which admits UV light during erasing.

Memory Packaging
Memory is available in various physical packaging. Roughly in
order of their appearance, the major types of packaging







Dual Inline Pin Package (DIP):

• Early versions of RAM were installed as single chips,

usually 1-bit-wide DIP (dual inline package)

• To upgrade or add memory, new chips had to be

individually installed on the motherboard (eight or nine
chips per row—nine chips if using parity). This could be
challenging, because each chip had 16 wires that needed
to be perfectly aligned before insertion into the base.

Single in-line Pin Package (SIPP):

• One of the first module forms of DRAM, the SIPP is a
printed circuit board with individual DRAM chips
mounted on it.

• A few 80286-based computers used (often non-

standard) memory modules like SIPP memory (single in-
line pin package).

• SIPP's 30 pins often bent or broke during installation,

which is why they were quickly replaced by SIMMs
which used contact plates rather than pins.

Single Inline Memory Module (SIMM):

• Used in personal computers.

• A 30-pin. The first variant of SIMMs has 30 pins and

provides 8 bits of data (9 bits in parity versions).

• SIMMs have 30 contacts in a single row along the lower


• A 30-pin SIMM can have as few as two or as many as

nine individual DRAM chips.

• The second variant of SIMMs—also called PS/2 has 72

pins and provides 32 bits of data (36 bits in parity

Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM):

• A DIMM or dual in-line memory module comprises a series

of random access memory integrated circuits.

• These modules are mounted on a printed circuit board and

designed for use in personal computers.

• DIMMs began to replace SIMMs (single in-line memory

modules) as the predominant type of memory module as
Intel's Pentium processors began to control the market.

• The main difference between SIMMs and DIMMs is that

SIMMs has a 32-bit data path, while DIMMs have a 64-bit
data path.

Small Outline DIMM (SODIMM):

• Small outline DIMM (SO-DIMM). Smaller version of the

DIMM, used in laptops. Comes in versions with 72 (32 bit),
144 (64 bit), 200 (72 bit) pins.

• SO-DIMMs are a smaller alternative to a DIMM, being

roughly half the size of regular DIMMs. As a result SO-
DIMMs are mainly utilized in laptops.

Rambus Inline Memory Module (RIMM):

• Direct Rambus DRAM or DRDRAM (sometimes just

called Rambus DRAM or RDRAM) is a type of
synchronous dynamic RAM, created by the Rambus

• The first PC motherboards with support for RDRAM

debuted in 1999. They supported PC800 RDRAM, which
operated at 800 MHz over a 16 bit bus using a 184 pin
RIMM form factor.

• High speed 1066, 800, 711 and 600 MHz RDRAM storage

• Overheating causes the problem of hanging.

Memory Allocation
• How the memory is allocated for use by the CPU is
called memory mapping

• It uses hexadecimal addresses to define ranges of


• The original processors developed by Intel were unable

to use more than 1 MB of RAM, and the original IBM PC
allowed only the first 640 KB of memory for direct use.

• MS-DOS applications were written to conform to this


• The first 640 KB was reserved for the operating system

and applications (designated as conventional memory).
The remaining 384 KB of RAM (designated as upper
memory) was earmarked for running the computer's
own housekeeping needs (BIOS, video RAM, ROM, and
so on).

Memory Mapping:

• Conventional (base) memory

• Upper memory area (UMA)

• Expanded memory

(become obsolete nowadays)

• High memory area (HMA)

• Extended memory (XMS)

Conventional Memory:

• Conventional memory is the amount of RAM, typically

640 KB, addressable by an IBM PC or compatible
machine operating in real mode.

• Conventional memory is located in the area between 0

and 640 KB. Without the use of special techniques,
conventional memory

• is the only kind of RAM accessible in DOS mode and

DOS mode programs.

Upper Memory Area:

• The upper memory area (UMA), the memory block from
640 KB to 1024 KB, is designated for hardware use, such
as video RAM, BIOS, and memory-mapped hardware
drivers that are loaded into high memory.

Expanded Memory:

• Expanded memory can provide up to 32 MB of

additional memory, and because it is loaded from a 64-
KB section, it is below the 1-MB limit and therefore
recognizable by MS-DOS.

• MS-DOS applications must be specifically written to take

advantage of expanded memory.

• 80386 and newer processors can emulate expanded

memory by using memory managers such as

High Memory Area:

• An irregularity was found in the Intel chip architecture

that allowed MS-DOS to address the first 64 KB of
extended memory on machines with 80286 or faster
processors. This special area is called the high memory
area (HMA).

• A software driver called an A20 handler must be run to

allow the processor to access the HMA.

Extended Memory Specification (XMS):

• RAM above the 1-MB address is called extended


• With the introduction of the 80286 processor, memory

was addressable up to 16 MB. Starting with the

80386DX processor, memory was addressable up to 4
GB. Extended memory is

• Accessed through an extended memory manager


Shadow RAM:

• Many high-speed expansion boards use shadow RAM to

improve the performance of a computer. Shadow RAM
rewrites (or shadows) the contents of the ROM BIOS
and/or video BIOS into extended RAM (between the
640-KB boundary and 1 MB).

• This allows systems to operate faster when application

software calls any BIOS routines. In some cases, system
speed can be increased up to 400 percent.

Memory Errors: Detection and Correction
Almost all computers check every memory bit at system
startup to determine whether there are any memory errors.
There are two methods available to detect and correct the
memory errors. These are:

• Parity checking

• Error-correction code (ECC)

Parity Checking:

In parity checking, the computer manufactures add an extra bit

to each byte of memory. This additional bit is known as a parity
bit and is used to check the integrity of data contained in the
RAM. A parity bit can be either odd or even.

An even parity bit is set to 1 if the total count of 1s in the given

set of bits is odd (making total count of 1s including parity bit
to even). If the total count of 1s is even, the even parity bit is
set to 0. On the other hand, the odd parity bit is set to 1 if the
count of 1s in the given set of bit is even(making total count of
1s including parity bit to odd). If the total count of 1s is odd, the
odd parity bit is set to 0.

Whether it is an odd or even parity bit, the algorithm to

determine the memory error is same. The parity bit checks that
if a given byte of memory has the right number of binary zeros
and ones in it. If the count changes, your computer knows an
error occurred.

However, remember that parity checking is only an error

detection mechanism and not an error correction mechanism.
And because of not having any error correction mechanism, the
parity checking is rarely used in modern day memory modules.

Error-Correction Code (ECC):

A more sophisticated mechanism of error detection and also to
remove such memory errors is the error-correction code (ECC)
mechanism. The ECC mechanism works in conjunction with the
memory controller.

The ECC mechanism functions in the following way:

• When a data is stored in memory, the controller using ECC

mechanism calculates a code that describes the bit
sequence of the data to be stored in the memory. This
code is stored along with the unit of data.

• When the unit of data is requested for reading, the

memory controller again calculates the code for about-to-
be-read data using the original algorithm.

• The memory controller then compares the newly

generated code with the code generated when the data
was stored.

• If the codes match, the data is free of errors and is sent.

• If the codes don’t match, there is an error in the data that

is being read. The memory controller then determines the
missing or erroneous bits through the code comparison.

• The memory controller then corrects the erroneous data

using some kind of error correction algorithm built into

The ECC scheme requires extra bits per byte of storage to store
the code that contains the bit sequence of data to be stored or
to be read. ECC memory requires five extra bits to protect an 8-
bit byte, six to protect a 16-bit word, seven to protect a 32-bit
word, and eight to protect a 64-bit word.