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Super I/O Controller Functions
The Super I/O controller is a single chip that, much like the system chipset, performs many functions that used to take several pieces of hardware in the past. This standardizes and simplifies the design, and thus reduces cost. The Super I/O chip typically is responsible for controlling the slower-speed, mundane peripherals found in every PC. Since these devices have been mostly standardized, they are virtually the same on every PC and it is easier to integrate these into a commodity chip instead of worrying about them for each motherboard design.
The major functions of the Super I/O controller chip are:
Newer PCs sometimes integrate the functions even more, and include in the Super I/O chip not only the functions above but also the real-time clock, keyboard controller, and in some cases even the IDE hard disk controllers. It is far more common to find IDE controllers implement through the system chipset, however, especially in newer systems.
National Semiconductor makes a large number of these chips, and they can sometimes be identified by looking for their name or logo on the surface of the chip.
Note: On older PCs there is
no super I/O controller chip; the interfaces to the serial and parallel ports, and the
floppy disk drives, are provided by an I/O controller card (which often also controlled
the hard disk drives).