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What Is a Server Motherboard?

A dual core CPU mounted to a motherboard.
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  • Written By: Bev Miller
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2014
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A server motherboard, also known as a main board, multiprocessor board or system board, hosts the vital characteristics of a computing system. These characteristics include the memory capacity, the processor speed and expansion capability. It differs from a regular desktop or home computer motherboard in that it has features that can coordinate a network of computers. The server motherboard links with other computers over a network and enables these to interact. It requires a greater capacity for processing and work, and it has many enhanced options to accommodate those needs.

It is intimately connected with the type of computers it is supporting, so a server motherboard can't be considered a standalone element within the system, largely because of compatibility issues. For example, one of the main elements of the server motherboard is called a chipset, which is a couple of primary chips that do the most important functions of the server motherboard. As a case in point, some brands of computers can be supported only by chipsets made by the same company. Chipsets can determine things such as memory type, memory channels, memory speed and memory capacity. Some processors have these same memory functions controlled within the actual computer processor itself, rather than the server motherboard, so some brands will have a configuration that is different from those of other brands.

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Another key factor is the type of work the motherboard will be supporting, in terms of power and speed required for memory capacity. Servers usually require a lot of processing power to handle running multiple computers. Server motherboards have a range of memory slots available to meet heavy performance demands as needed. There are dual central processing unit (CPU) socket motherboards and quad-CPU socket motherboards to accommodate increasingly higher processing power and memory needs. Power users of the higher-end systems usually include high-volume number crunchers such as astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and huge financial institutions.

As computing power and memory needs increase, a server motherboard must have a corresponding number of slots for expansion and stabilization of the system overall. Server motherboards have many choices and options for accomplishing this goal. Choosing from among the many server motherboard options can be difficult, but one can determine the relative power and speed needed for the system, and the wide array of options can be negotiated accordingly.

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