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HARDWARE - Motherboards and Systems Cards

Technical Resources

Find out about motherboards ( including improving performance), system cards (graphics, sound, video, multimedia, serial port cards, and more), bios, buses and memory upgrades

BIOS | Buses | Flash Memory | Graphics Cards | I/O Controllers | Memory Management | Memory Upgrades | Motherboards | Multimedia Cards | RS232 | Sound Cards | System Cards | Universal Serial Bus | Video Cards | Video Editing Cards |

  Technical Resources  News  Manufacturers  Events
  Where to buy  Where to get help  Books  Magazines

 The BIOS (Thomas Pabst)
  "The performance of the mainboard is highly depending on the memory timing you adjust in your BIOS setup. The settings you are able to change and the different values however differ a whole lot from chipset to chipset and from BIOS to BIOS. Some BIOSes hardly leave it up to you to tune up your system, others give you almost too many settings to choose from and some BIOSes adjust the memory timing very well after you only had to choose the DRAM speed."
 BIOS Setup Information Guide (
  Covers general BIOS information, how-to guides, identifying a motherboard/mainboard, and information about BIOS upgrades for different manufacturers
 BIOS Windows98/95 Computer Drivers Support (Drivers HeadQuarters)
 Intel Desktop Board BIOS Upgrades (Intel)
  "Desktop Boards manufactured by Intel incorporate the system BIOS in a Flash memory component. Flash BIOS allows easy upgrades without the need to replace an EPROM component. The upgrade utility fits on a floppy diskette and provides the capability to save, verify, and update the system BIOS. The upgrade utility also provides the capability to install alternate languages for BIOS messages and the SETUP utility. The upgrade utility can be run from a hard drive or a network drive, but no memory managers can be installed during upgrades."
 Phoenix Technologies BIOS FAQ
  Phoenix Technologies Ltd., which has merged with Award Software, develops custom BIOS's and other custom software products for manufacturers. These manufacturers then modify the software to fit the particular requirements of their product lines. This FAQ deals with many of the problems you may have to contend with.
 Wim's BIOS Page (Wim Bervoets)
  "The BIOS is built-in software that determines what a computer can do without accessing programs from a disk. On PCs, the BIOS contains all the code required to control the keyboard, display screen, disk drives, serial communications, and a number of miscellaneous functions. The BIOS is typically placed on a ROM chip that comes with the computer (it is often called a ROM BIOS). This ensures that the BIOS will always be available and will not be damaged by disk failures. It also makes it possible for a computer to boot itself. Because RAM is faster than ROM, though, many computer manufacturers design systems so that the BIOS is copied from ROM to RAM each time the computer is booted. This is known as shadowing. Most modern PCs have a flash BIOS, which means that the BIOS has been recorded on a flash memory chip, which can be updated if necessary."
 1394 Serial Bus (Texas Instruments Incorporated)
 Buses - an introduction (PC Webopedia)
  "A collection of wires through which data is transmitted from one part of a computer to another. You can think of a bus as a highway on which data travels within a computer. When used in reference to personal computers, the term bus usually refers to internal bus. This is a bus that connects all the internal computer components to the CPU and main memory. There's also an expansion bus that enables expansion boards to access the CPU and memory. All buses consist of two parts -- an address bus and a data bus. The data bus transfers actual data whereas the address bus transfers information about where the data should go."
 STD 32 Home Page (STD 32 Manufacturer's Group)
  The STD 32 Bus combines a small, industrial strength architecture with the functionality and performance of today's high-end personal computers. This versatile 32-bit scalable computer is the right choice for demanding real-time control and data aquisition applications where system size and cost are important priorities. PC software capability and a large supply of industrial I/O make STD 32 an ideal choice for embedded industrial applications.
 Terms and definitions - Buses (PC Webopedia)
  See this page for definition of these terms: 32-bit, Access.bus, ADB, address bus, AGP, AT bus, backside bus, burst mode, bus, bus mastering, CardBus, control bus, EIDE, EISA, expansion bus, external bus, Fibre Channel, frontside bus, HIPPI, hot plugging, I2C, I2O, IEEE 1394, Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) , bus, interface, local bus, Micro Channel Architecture (MCA), NuBus, PCI, PCMCIA, SCSI, system bus, USB, VL-Bus, VME bus, VSB
 VITA's VMEbus Product Directory
  Browse for VMEbus products by product function or by vendor
 VITA - The VMEbus Trade Assoc. for VME, PMC, PCI and other embedded products.
  "VITA, the VMEbus International Trade Association, is an incorporated, non-profit organization of vendors and users having a common market interest. Founded in 1984, VITA believes in and champions open system architectures as opposed to proprietary system architectures. VITA's activities are international in scope. The functions performed by VITA are technical, promotional and user related and are aimed at increasing the total market size, providing vendors additional market exposure and providing users with timely technical information. Today, VITA's mission includes not only promoting VMEbus, but promoting the very concept of open technology as embodied in the many standards currently under development within the VITA Standards Organization. Virtually all players in all markets from the smallest to the largest now use the word "open" in their company and product promotions. The VITA name is now synonymous with open systems."
 Web Sites involving IEEE1394 Technology
  The IEEE 1394 is a high-speed serial bus which provides an inexpensive non-proprietary high-speed method of interconnecting digital devices, and is therefore is a truly universal I/O connection. Its scalable architecture and flexible peer-to-peer topology make 1394 ideal for connecting devices from computers and hard drives, to digital audio and video hardware. Isochronous, just in time delivery, allows low-cost implementations of time-critical multimedia interfaces. (Gary Hoffman and Daniel Moore)
Flash Memory
 MultiMediaCard Association
  MultiMediaCards are a new standard in data storage providing small-size, high capacity storage and connectivity to handheld communication devices. MultiMediaCards take Flash and ROM technology one-step further by bringing removable solid state storage to portable smart phones, cellular phones and pagers. Storage capacities are available for 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 MB. MultiMediaCards will be supported by many microcontrollers on the market and up to 30 cards can be connected to a single bus.
Graphics Cards
 3D Graphics Cards for PC (Yasuyuki YANAGIDA)
  This page contains links to the Web pages on 3D graphics chips/cards for PC and PC systems with 3D graphics hardware.
 Buyers' Center: Graphics Cards - specifications and prices
 PC 3D Graphics Accelerator Cards FAQ
I/O Controllers
 Buyers' Center: IO Controllers - specifications and prices
 IEEE 1284 Parallel Port Standard (Warp Nine Engineering)
  The standard, "IEEE Std.1284-1994 Standard Signaling Method for a Bi-directional Parallel Peripheral Interface for Personal Computers", is for the parallel port what the Pentium processor is to the 286. The standard provides for high speed bi-directional communication between the PC and an external peripheral that can communicate 50 to 100 times faster that the original parallel port. It can do this and still be fully backward compatible with all existing parallel port peripherals and printers.
 PC's Parallel Port (Jan Axelson)
  A collection of files and links to material about the PC's parallel port, including ECP, EPP, bidirectional, and IEEE-1284 modes (and other I/O ports as well).
Memory Management
 Memory Management (Chris Lattner)
 The Memory Management Reference
Memory Upgrades
 Buyers' Center: Memory Chips - specifications and prices
Motherboards - Reviews, news and articles
  Lots of reviews of motherboards and system cards
 A Guide to PC Motherboards (
  Includes motherboard manuals, specifications and more
 Buyers' Center: Motherboards - specifications and prices
 Cache (SRAM) (
 The Computer Hardware Performance Site...overclocking, benchmarking, tweaking... (MaximumHardware)
  This site is about improving performance of your PCs
 Hard Overclocker's Page (Kyle Bennett)
  Guidance on getting the best out of chips
 HardwareCentral (
  Overclocking, SuperCooling, Reviews, Tutorials and Help -
 The High-Performance PC Guide (Chris Verr)
  Reviews and news aboput motherboards, system cards, etc
 Hong Kong Manufacturers - Product Index (Computer Sources )
 The Mainboard Benchmark Page (Thomas Pabst)
  "The most important thing to do for a motherboard is to transfer data as fast as possible from one device to the other. In particular this is the transfer process between CPU, L2 Cache, Main Memory and PCI Devices. Your CPU can be as fast as it wants, (but) as long as your M/B isn't able to get the data quickly from the memory or the graphics card to the CPU and vice versa, your computer will be as slow as a slower CPU in a fast M/B."
 MidWest Micro: On-line Manuals
  Links to hardware manuals for items used in MidWest Micro's PCs, including monitors, drives, modems, etc
 Motherbiard Makers (M.Fujie)
 Motherboard HomeWorld (
  This site covers motherboard basics, BIOS, buying secrets, how to build a PC, installation, manufacturers, news, product releases and reviews
 Terms and definitions - Motherboards (PC Webopedia)
  See this page for definition of these terms: ATX, backplane, BIOS, daughtercard, form factor, heat sink, LPX, motherboard, NLX, POST, printed circuit board, voltage regulator, VRM
 Tom's Motherboard Guide (Thomas Pabst )
  The motherboard is the foundation of any PC. All the critical subsystems, including the CPU, system chipset, memory, system I/O, expansion bus, and other critical components run directly off the motherboard. Likewise, the interconnections among these components are laid into the motherboard itself.
Multimedia Cards
 Compinfo Directory: Multimedia
 Compinfo Directory: Virtual Reality, VRML
 Links to RS232 pages (TAL Technologies)
  Links page to other RS232 hardware, Statistical software, LIMS software, Laboratory instrument manufacturers, balance manufacturers, gages manufacturers, caliper manufacturers, serial cables, RS232 multiplexers, RS232 boards..
Sound Cards
 Buyers' Center: Sound Cards - specifications and prices
 Sound Audio Card Drivers and Multimedia Devices Drivers (Drivers HeadQuarters)
System Cards
 Terms and definitions - Adapters (PC Webopedia)
  See this page for definition of these terms: accelerator board, adapter, add-in, add-on, board, card, daughtercard, DIP, driver, edge connector, expansion board, expansion slot, hot plugging, interrupt, on-board, PC card, printed circuit board, slot, sound card, television board
Universal Serial Bus
 allUSB - USB product news and information
  This site is a source of information about anything to do with the Universal Serial Bus technology
 Cypress: Universal Serial Bus (USB) (Cypress)
  "The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a universal peripheral connection specification for the PC. USB provides a uniform approach for developing products so they interoperate seamlessly through a one-size-fits-all plug and port connection."
 USB Organization
  For USB to work, your PC must have an Operating System that was built to understand USB. Most PCs now shipping feature such an operating system. You can tell if you have the USB-compliant version of Windows installed by using a free USB evaluation utility (revision 3.01) you can download directly from this site.
Video Cards
 Terms and definitions - Video Formats (PC Webopedia)
  See this page for definition of these terms: 3DO, ActiveMovie, AVI, CD-I (Compact Disc-Interactive), Cinepak, Common Intermediate Format, DirectX, DVD-Video, DVI, Indeo, motion-JPEG, MPEG, non-interlaced, QCIF, QuickTime, RealVideo, Texas Instruments Graphics Architecture (TIGA), TI 34010, VESA, Video for Windows, XGA
 Tom's Graphic Accelerator Guide (Thomas Pabst )
  "No single component of the PC is deploying as quickly right now as the graphics subsystem. Graphic chip companies such as NVidia, ATI and 3Dfx trump their own products with astonishing swiftness, releasing new chips that more than double the capabilities of the product released just six or nine months before. Behind the surge of new silicon: The emergence of 3D applications programming standards as well as games and applications that use them."
 Video Adapters and Monitors - Drivers (Drivers HeadQuarters)
Video Editing Cards
 Terms and definitions - Video (PC Webopedia)
  See this page for definition of these terms: ASF, digital video, digitize, fps, genlock, S-Video, sampling, streaming, television board, toaster, video, video capture, video editing, video overlay, VoD


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