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Motherboard and System Devices
The motherboard is, in many ways, the most important component in your computer (not the processor, even though the processor gets much more attention.) As mentioned in the Overview, if the processor is the brain of the computer, then the motherboard and its major components (the chipset, BIOS, cache, etc.) are the major systems that this brain uses to control the rest of the computer. Having a good understanding of how the motherboard and its contained subsystems works is probably the most critical part of getting a good understanding of how PCs work in general.
The motherboard plays an important role in the following important aspects of your computer system (notice how many there are here):
In this chapter of the Reference Guide are several large sections that deal with the various parts that make up a modern motherboard. Many people just consider all of these as part of the motherboard. Physically, the cache, BIOS chip and system buses are on the motherboard, but in terms of operation, I feel it makes more sense to discuss them as "separate but connected". In part this is because the actual location of some of these components could change without affecting their function much. Logically, they are all closely related.
Next: The Motherboard