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Parts of the Motherboard

Once you open the computer's case, you will see a mass of wires, data cables, and circuit boards, in addition to the power supply, internal speaker, floppy, CD-ROM, and hard drives. If you are going to be upgrading your computer's motherboard, it is best to first familiarize yourself with the basic components on the motherboard. There should have been a manual that came with your computer that explains these components, but if you don't have this information, click on this link to see the basic components of a motherboard.

Installing Adapter Cards

The installation of an adapter card, such as a sound card, extra serial or parallel port card, video card, network card, etc. can either be real easy or real difficult. In some cases, you simply plug the card into the computer and you're done, in other cases you have to change the default jumper settings that the card has to allow it to coexist with the other components in your computer. The jumper settings that may or may not be on the adapter card that you are going to install are I/O Base Address (IOBA), Direct Memory Access Channel (DMA), Memory Base Address (MBA), and the Interrupt Request Level (IRQ). The majority of the time, these jumpers are preset at the factory and do not have to be changed, but occasionally you do need to make some minor adjustments to get the card to work properly.

I/O Base Address is an address which is located in the computer's memory and is used as a point of reference to identify an adapter card. The I/O Base Address must be unique and not overlap the address space of any other device in the computer. Since there are so many addresses available this generally does not need to be changed.

Direct Memory Access Channel is usually a number ranging from 0 to 3 or 0 to 7 depending on the type of adapter card. The DMA is used by the computer to speed up input/output operations to and from the computer's memory by avoiding the microprocessor. There aren't many devices that use a DMA channel other than some controller cards and a few other types of devices, so it is unlikely that you would have to adjust this if it is on the adapter card that you are installing.

Memory Base Address marks the start of an adapter card's built-in memory within the memory address space of the computer. Each device in the computer must have a unique MBA and the preset address for the card usually does not need to be changed.

Interrupt Request Level is used by a device to signal the computer that it needs to perform some task and is the most common problem associated with installing adapter cards. Most computers have 16 IRQ settings and just about everything in the computer needs to have its own unique IRQ level (video display, keyboard, modem, parallel ports, serial ports, etc.).


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