Hardware Secrets

Home | Camera | Case | CE | Cooling | CPU | Input | Memory | Mobile | Motherboard | Networking | Power | Storage | Video | Other
Content
Articles
Editorial
First Look
Gabriel’s Blog
News
Reviews
Tutorials
Main Menu
About Us
Awarded Products
Datasheets
Dictionary
Download
Drivers
Facebook
Forums
Links
Manufacturer Finder
Newsletter
On The Web
RSS Feed
Test Your Skills
Twitter
Newsletter
Subscribe today!
Search



Recommended
Upgrading and Repairing PCs (21st Edition)
Upgrading and Repairing PCs (21st Edition), by Scott Mueller (Que Publishing), starting at $33.88
Home » Motherboard
Everything You Need to Know About Chipsets
Author: Gabriel Torres
Type: Tutorials Last Updated: August 2, 2012
Page: 2 of 4
The North Bridge

The north bridge chip, also called MCH (Memory Controller Hub), is connect directly to the CPU and has basically the following functions:

  • Memory controller (if available)
  • PCI Express controller (if available)
  • AGP bus controller (if available)
  • Interface for data transfer with the south bridge chip

Current Intel CPUs have an integrated memory controller and an integrated PCI Express controller, meaning that these CPUs have an integrated north bridge chip; therefore, they don’t require this chip on the motherboard. See Figure 3. CPUs from AMD have an integrated memory controller but don’t have an integrated PCI Express controller. Because of that, CPUs from AMD still require an external north bridge chip with this component. AMD says its processors have an “integrated north bridge,” but what the company really means is that the CPUs have an integrated memory controller. This creates much confusion. Several users don’t understand why motherboards for AMD processors have a north bridge chip if the CPU manufacturer says the CPU has an integrated north bridge chip.

Chipset
click to enlarge
Figure 3: Chipset configuration with current Intel CPUs

Chipset
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Chipset configuration with current AMD CPUs

With older CPUs that don’t have an integrated memory controller, the system will follow the diagram presented in Figure 5. With older CPUs, since the memory controller is located inside the external north bridge chip, this chip plays an important role in the computer’s performance. One chipset may have a better memory controller and present higher performance. Nowadays, however, since the memory controller is embedded in the CPU, there is almost no performance difference between different chipsets.

Chipset
click to enlarge
Figure 5: North bridge with CPUs without an integrated memory controller

The PCI Express controller embedded in the north bridge chip or in the CPU may provide several lanes. The most common configuration is for it to provide 16 lanes, allowing the motherboard to have one PCI Express x16 slot or two PCI Express x16 slots, each working at x8. Additional PCI Express lanes required to connect the other slots and devices available on the motherboard are provided by the south bridge chip. High-end PCI Express controllers usually provide more than 16 lanes, allowing the motherboard manufacturer to either provide more PCI Express x16 slots for video cards or allow the connection of other slots and devices directly to the north bridge chip or CPU.

The connection between the north bridge and the south bridge is accomplished through a bus. Initially, the PCI bus was used, but later it was replaced by a dedicated bus. We will explain more about this later.

« Previous |  Page 2 of 4  | Next »
Print Version | Send to Friend | Bookmark Article | Comments (0)

Related Content
  • The Intel Z68 Chipset and What It Means To You
  • ECS Z77H2-AX Motherboard
  • Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard
  • ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE Motherboard
  • ASUS P8Z77-V PRO Motherboard

  • RSSLatest News
    LUXA2 Releases New P1-PRO Battery Power Pack
    October 1, 2013 - 7:23 AM PST
    MSI unveils GP70 and GP60 Laptops
    September 30, 2013 - 7:23 AM PST
    AMD Unveils Next-Generation Radeon Graphics Cards
    September 27, 2013 - 5:33 AM PST
    Genius Introduces Energy Mouse in North America
    September 27, 2013 - 5:32 AM PST
    Apple Updates iMac
    September 25, 2013 - 5:27 AM PST
    .:: More News ::.




    2004-13, Hardware Secrets, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Advertising | Legal Information | Privacy Policy
    All times are Pacific Standard Time (PST, GMT -08:00)