Computers, like all technology, evolve unstoppably. Many users decide to expand the capabilities of their equipment thanks to new internal components that expand or add improvements to the whole.
Inside a tower, if we focus on desktop computers, we find a motherboard with a multitude of different connectors, connectors that change every few years. Do you know what all of them and their functions are for? We are going to know the evolution of the most representative ones.
The socket or socket of the CPU
This internal connector is one of the least changed (not evolved) over the years. In essence it is the same: a socket, generally square, where the processor or CPU of the computer is coupled without any type of solder, simply depositing it on the corresponding electronic pins (they can go from 40 to more than 1300 pins) in a concrete and unique position.
CPU manufacturers are responsible for varying the connection technology of these sockets with the new models, as each motherboard is compatible with only one type of socket (generally). Above this socket we usually find a heat sink next to a fan so that when the temperature of the processor rises while working, it remains stable.
RAM Memory Slots
Other connectors that have evolved in their just measure have been the RAM slots. As with CPU sockets, these slots have only evolved in a contained way to give rise to new connectors compatible with new types of memory.
Currently DDR SDRAMs are used, either DDR 2 (obsolete), DDR3 (the current ones) or the new DDR4 memories that are beginning to be established. The main differences between these memory modules are the voltages used and the number of pins included.
In the DDR3 modules we find 240 pins while in the new DDR4 we find 280. There is only one way to insert them (easily deductible by the intermediate notch distance existing in the module itself).
RAM slots are usually separated by groups of two or by colors (if the board has more than two slots, of course). This means that they use dual-channel technology: by connecting a pair of equal RAMs to those connectors, those memories will be accessed simultaneously, increasing performance.
Connectors for hard disk or DVD players
The connectors of hard disks and disk drives have evolved remarkably over the years. Previously the queen of these connections was an ATA or IDE that had 40 pins and was able to transmit information at a speed of 166 MB/s and support two devices per connector, a master and a slave.
Today the ATA interface has disappeared to give way to the SATA interface, the current standard, with a much smaller connector size. The SATA interface achieves a data transfer rate of 600 MB/s (in its SATA III version) and allows “point-to-point” connections of only one device, although now we will be able to connect many more individual SATA devices to the same motherboard.
Buses or expansion slots: PCI, AGP and PCI Express
Over the years the motherboards have incorporated a large number of different buses. These buses are direct connections to the board circuit allowing extra chip circuits to be added to expand functions: sound cards, pickups, graphics cards, new connectors, etc. It is also true that they can remain unused without harming the normal operation of the computer.
In the nineties there were ISA slots, which gave way to the most measured PCI. The maximum transfer speed of a PCI slot was 133 MB/s. They are still valid today on some boards, but they are obsolete.
The need to avoid the bottlenecks caused in the PCI slots in the nineties when using graphics cards led to the creation of the AGP port (called port and not bus because you can only use one type of device in it) to which we could connect the new graphics cards. The AGP port was capable of transfer speeds of 2133 MB/s.
In the middle of the last decade, in 2004, appeared the new bus that has become the current standard displacing both PCI buses and AGP connectors, it is the PCI Express.
PCI Express has several different configurations: one-lane (x1), four-lane (x4), or 16-lane (x16). Each connector has a different size and is used for a different component depending on its power.
The x16 connectors are used for today’s graphics cards, which in PCI Express version 4.0 are capable of up to 31,508 GB/s transfer rate and the smaller x1 connectors.
Which are typically used to connect network cards or other less demanding peripherals, reach up to 1969.2 MB/s. The x4 connectors, of course, multiply the speed of x1 by 4 and are also used for specific peripherals such as network cards etc.