The backbone of all motherboards is undoubtedly the chipset, which performs an ever-increasing number of jobs. A chipset is nothing but a set of chips around which a motherboard is built. They aid the processor in communicating with the outside world. To understand this, let’s compare a chipset to a human body.
The coordinator for all functions in the body is the brain. This is equivalent of the processor on a motherboard. The brain needs other parts of the body to interact with the external world. This includes the eyes to see, mouth to speak and taste, ears to hear, nose to smell and breathe, limbs to walk around and feel other objects. Similarly, a chipset lets the CPU interact with the outside world, external as well as internal to the motherboard. There’s an AGP controller to which you can connect a display adapter to view all the data (eyes). There’s a PCI controller that lets you connect various other devices such as a sound card (talk, hear). This chip also controls the hard disk and memory. Similarly, there’s another chip that controls all the ports such as USB, parallel, DIN, PS/2, etc.
Chipsets are available from various manufacturers. They differ in the amount of functionality they can provide. It’s up to the motherboard manufacturer to include some or all functionalities when using these chipsets. For example, a manufacturer may not provide USB functionality, although a chipset might support it. To understand this, we’ve given a comparison chart of the most popular chipsets and the features they support.