Computer Hardware:
     • Tools, Static & Cleaning
     • Form Factor
     • PC Case & Fans
     • Motherboard
     • Processor (CPU)
     • Power Supply Unit
     • RAM
     • Hard Drive
     • Solid State Drive
     • Optical Drive
     • Floppy Disk Drive
     • Graphics Card
     • Sound Card
     • Network Card
     • Computer Monitor
     • Keyboard & Mouse
     • Laptop / Netbook
     • Building a Computer
     • Overclocking

Operating System & Backup:
     • Operating System
     • Drivers
     • Windows Tools
     • User Accounts
     • Backup
     • Windows 10

Internet & Network:
     • Internet
     • Wi-fi or Cable
     • Improve Broadband Speed
     • Network Computers

Computer Peripherals:
     • Printer
     • Scanner
     • External Hard Drive
     • USB Flash Drive

Computer Security:
     • Anti-virus
     • Anti-Spyware
     • Phishing
     • Firewall

Common PC Problems:
     • Slow Computer
     • Hardware Failure
     • Software Failure
     • Printing Problems

     • Windows Shortcuts
     • Glossary of Terms
     • HTML Colour Picker
     • Number Base Converter

Motherboard Chipset

The chipset is an integral part of the motherboard and cannot be upgraded or replaced. The type of CPU that can be used on your motherboard is determined by the chipset as well as the CPU socket. The type and amount of RAM is also dependant on the chipset.

Traditionally, the chipset has consisted of a Northbridge or Memory Controller Hub (MCH) microchip , and a Southbridge or I/O Controller Hub (ICH) microchip.

Chipset - Northbridge and Southbridge.

The Northbridge microchip operates at a very fast speed and is connected to the CPU via the Front Side Bus (FSB), the RAM via an integrated Memory Controller, and Graphics (AGP or PCIe) which is why the chip is usually found on the motherboard with a heatsink attached to keep it cool. The Northbridge then connects to the slower Southbridge microchip which handles the Drives (IDE or SATA), PCI expansion ports, USB ports, BIOS support, and other I/O devices. See diagram above.

Chipset - Memory Controller on CPU.

Since the introduction of the newer AMD 64 CPU in 2003 and more recently the Intel Nehalem CPU in 2008, the Memory Controller has moved from the Northbridge to the CPU which significantly improves performance as the CPU can access the RAM directly. The CPU connects to the I/O Hub (IOH) via the Intel QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) or the AMD HyperTransport (HT) bus and the IOH connects to the Southbridge (ICH) via the Intel Direct Media Interface (DMI) or AMD Unified Media Interface (UMI). See diagram above.

Chipset - Memory Controller & PCIe on CPU.

More recently the AMD Fusion and Intel Sandybridge CPUs which were both introduced in 2011 have an integrated Memory Controller and Graphics (PCIe) which allows the CPU to access the RAM and Graphics (PCIe) directly without having to go through a Northbridge chip. In fact, the Northbridge chip is now integrated into the CPU. The CPU then accesses the Chipset (Southbridge) via the Intel Direct Media Interface (DMI) or AMD Unified Media Interface (UMI). See diagram above.

Having the Memory Controller and Graphics (PCIe) integrated into the CPU reduces latency and increases performance but the type and amount of RAM as well as the speed of the Graphics (PCIe) is now dependant on the CPU rather than the chipset. This means for instance that if a newer memory technology becomes available then a new CPU has to be designed to be compatible.