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What Is a Daughtercard?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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A daughtercard or daughterboard is a type of circuit board that gets added to an existing one. Its name is appropriate for its use, since it is connected to a “motherboard” or “main board.” The motherboard is the primary circuit board for a device. It is usually in the device as it is shipped from the factory. A daughtercard may be added later.

Some daughtercard designs are made so that engineers can add functionality to a device without requiring a lot more room inside its housing. These kinds of items are often called riser boards or risers. Some might also call them “mezzanine boards.”

Daughtercards are different from some other types of additional circuit boards that tech enthusiasts call “expansion cards.” In expansion cards, the circuit board is often plugged in through a gap in the housing of a computer or device. These expansion boards help to give a device more functionality, often for additional sound play or for better visuals on a high-tech monitor or screen.

In contrast to the way expansion boards are used, a daughtercard can be a more fundamental enhancement for a device. Adding a daughtercard often requires getting into the guts of a device. That’s why some users might hire a professional to install it. Companies that make an electronic device might offer a daughtercard as part of an essential upgrade that allows the product to be used in more various ways.

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With the rise of connective USB ports and other technology, it has become less necessary to upgrade devices with daughtercards or daughterboards. A lot of advanced use can be built into a wireless connection and “outsourced” to a remote server, rather than adding it physically into a desktop or laptop computer. However, some types of equipment might still get these kinds of additions as provided by the manufacturer. Computer and electronics makers choose the best ways of offering upgrades that they feel will match the needs and desires of their customer base. Since not a lot of laptop or computer users want to wrestle a daughtercard into an existing circuit board design, companies that sell to a consumer market will probably choose alternatives, or offer professional installation as a free service if they are offering a daughtercard as a way to upgrade a device.

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