Quite a number of devices require a specialized designed called a Passive Backplane. This is a system board where all of the components are attached using expansion cards. These components include the CPU, the chipset, and any other electronic components. This structural concept is used on a wide variety of devices from Point of Sale (POS) machines to high-end blade servers. Imagine the sort of server farm run by Amazon.com or eBay. These organizations cannot afford downtime for maintenance or malfunction of their servers. All server components must be easily switched out and hot swappable (components can be removed and replaced while the server is running). This can only be accomplished with this particular form factor. An A+ technician working in desktop support will not commonly encounter this form factor except perhaps if they are supporting POS machines but this design may become more common in the future.
Another new feature that is becoming more popular is motherboard support for Serial ATA (SATA) Hard Drives. Currently, most hard drives are known as PATA or Parallel ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) drives. The connector used by a typical hard drive to a motherboard is a parallel ribbon interface with a data transfer rate from 100 to 133 MB/sec. Although SATA drives have been available in the retail market since 2002, they have only just begun to appear as integrated hard drives in retail PC units. In addition, originally, a SATA drive could only be connected to a motherboard by the use of a conversion controller cards, most recently, motherboards are manufactured with both PATA and SATA interfaces on board. The interface for a SATA drive resembles that of a phone jack or network card. Due to the serial interface, the data transfer rate is higher than a standard parallel ATA, anywhere from 150 to 300 MB/sec. SATA drives come in a capacity range from 60 to 200 GB. They will replace eventually the Parallel ATA that has been the workhorse of hard drive design for over 15 years. This is a good time to become familiar with this particular HDD type and motherboard connector.
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