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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices ]

System Buses

The components inside your computer talk to each other in various different ways. Most of the internal system components, including the processor, cache, memory, expansion cards and storage devices, talk to each other over one or more "buses".

A bus, in computer terms, is simply a channel over which information flows between two or more devices (technically, a bus with only two devices on it is considered by some a "port" instead of a bus). A bus normally has access points, or places into which a device can tap to become part of the bus, and devices on the bus can send to, and receive information from, other devices. The bus concept is rather common, both inside the PC and outside in the real world as well. In fact, your home telephone wiring is a bus: information flows through the wiring that goes through your house, and you can tap into the "bus" by installing a phone jack, plugging in the phone and picking it up. All the phones can share the "information" (voice) on the bus.

This whole section focuses specifically on the system I/O (input/output) buses, also called expansion buses. First the buses and their characteristics are discussed, and then the most common types of I/O buses found on the PC are described with details on their features.

Next: System Bus Functions and Features


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