The motherboard is the main PCB, or printed circuit board, inside an electronic device that connects all other components of the device together. This is most commonly found in PCs where the motherboard houses the CPU socket, RAM slots, PCIe slots, SATA connectors, M.2 connectors, etc. to connect components such as the CPU, RAM, GPU, HDD, SSD, and others.
Motherboards are also used in other electronic devices such as smartphones or tablets which have motherboards with components typically soldered on from the factory.
PC Motherboard Form Factors
Computer motherboards come in different sizes and shapes. The size and shape of a computer motherboard is called the “form factor”. There are many form factors out there so I will talk briefly on the most common form factors.
mATX (244×244 mm)
The microATX or mATX board is as its name implies, small. These boards are typically used in office machines or similar machines where space is tight. These boards typically are low to mid end boards and are not physcially able to offer the same amount of features as a standard ATX or E-ATX. These are also typically the motherboards found on big box computer vendors such as Dell or HP.
ATX (305×244 mm)
The ATX form factor is by far the most common motherboard form factor. This motherboard size typically covers most all mid to high range computers.
EATX (305×330 mm)
The ExtendedATX form factor or EATX form factor is one of the more rare types of form factors, but have been seen lately due to the introduction of SLI and Crossfire which allows users to utilize multiple graphics cards to enhance graphics performance. These motherboards are typically reserved for the high end and also carry a heavy price tag. They also require extra large cases to fit.
MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output. MU-MIMO is an optional wireless technology in 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and beyond that extends SU-MIMO, or Single-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output by allowing multiple MU-MIMO supported devices to simultaneously receive multiple data streams from a MU-MIMO supported router or access point.
A NAS, or Network Attached Storage, is a network attached, dedicated storage server which typically serves a Local Area Network (LAN). NAS devices range from a small unit designed for home use to a rack style unit used in enterprise environments.
NAS units are very beneficial for both the home and the business environment as it typically offers some sort of redundancy to protect the data housed within, offers some form of user security, and the ability for multiple users to easily access the data over a wide variety of protocols.
NIC, or Network Interface Controller, describes a component in the computer which allows it to communicate over a network. Early examples of NICs were generally in a expansion card form, which has also led the term NIC to also mean Network Interface Card. However, newer NICs are now typically chips integrated into the motherboard.
NKRO, or N-Key Rollover, is a feature of some high end keyboards that allows the keyboard to register an unlimited amount of simultaneous keyswitch actuations. This is typically a feature important to gamers as it allows them to do many different actions simultaneously.
NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express, a next generation controller interface specification designed for non-volatile memory such as Solid State Drives (SSD) using the PCIe bus.
Prior to the advent of NVMe, computer storage was primarily connected over the SATA bus which utilized the Advanced Host Controller Interface, or AHCI. AHCI was originally developed for HDDs back in the early 2000’s and while it performed well for HDDs, it was not well suited for SSDs which operate very differently when compared to HDDs.
- Parallel Operations – One of the biggest benefits of NVMe is that it allows up to 65,535 I/O queues per storage device and up to 64,000 commands to be issued to each I/O queue. This is significantly more I/O queues than compared to previous interface specifications which allows just a single queue with up to 32 commands per queue. When dealing with SSDs, which can process data much faster than HDDs, this allows the SSD to parallelize operations to greatly improve performance.
- Reduced Latency – NVMe also significantly reduces latency by optimizing the command issue and completion path for non-volatile memory based drives. On average, this provides over 50% latency reduction when compared to older interface specifications.
OEM is an acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer. As its name suggests, OEMs are companies that manufacture products for other companies that will typically re-brand the products and sell them. This is very common practice where companies with strong brand recognition would source products from other companies that either don’t have the same brand recognition or simply prefer to do business with other businesses only.
For example, power supplies are a product that companies commonly source from OEM manufacturers. While EVGA has an entire lineup of power supply offerings, all of these power supplies are manufactured by other companies such as Seasonic, Super Flower, and FSP. As such, Seasonic, Super Flower, and FSP can be referred to as OEM companies even though they also sell products under their own brand.
An online proxy, or web proxy, is a proxy service that is operated using the web browser. Online proxies are useful for improving privacy by keeping your IP address private or for bypassing simple firewall restrictions.
Generally, online proxies can be used by simply visiting the online proxy’s website which can then be used to access other websites on the internet. This is the greatest advantage to using an online proxy as there’s no software to install and no system settings to change.
While online proxies sound like they function similar to VPN services, there is however one important distinction. Online proxies do not provide any sort of encryption capability, so the data transferred can still be monitored whereas VPN services generally provide encryption capabilities so that the data transferred cannot be monitored. Further, online proxies only protect the web browser connection and offers no additional privacy for other services such as e-mail, gaming, torrents, etc.
Over-provisioning in SSDs is a method of maintaining SSD performance and increasing SSD endurance by either allocating a portion of NAND to be used as “swap space” when the drive is at capacity or as a replacement for degraded NAND cells.
Currently, consumer SSDs generally feature 7% over-provisioning while enterprise SSDs generally feature 28% over-provisioning. Some enterprise SSDs however, have been known to have over 50% over-provisioning for improved write endurance.
PAO stands for Process-Architecture-Optimization, a new acronym Intel coined when they changed processor development strategies in 2016 from their former Tick-Tock strategy which had been use since as far back as 2007.
Whereas the Tick-Tock strategy shrunk the node for every “tick” and the architecture was redesigned for every “tock”, the new PAO strategy for Intel shrinks the node for the process stage, redesigns the architecture in the architecture stage, and optimizes both the process and the architecture in the optimization stage. Whereas in Tick-Tock it meant just two processor generations for each design node, PAO means there will be three processor generation for every design node.