1.0 Hardware

1.9 Summarize the function and types of adapter cards

Expansion cards are printed circuit boards that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard, and are designed to add versatility and expand the functionality of a computer. Depending on the form factor of the motherboard and case, one to seven expansion cards can be added to a computer system. Over time, changes in technology have required design changes to accomodate. Each card must meet the same exacting standards as the expansion slot it will be installed into.

  • Video

    • PCI

      Peripheral Component Interconnect - Designed as a high-speed parallel video replacement for EISA, ISA, MCA and VESA. Early models supported a 32-bit bus at 33 MHz while later models offered support for a 64-bit bus at 100 MHz.

    • PCIe

      PCI Express - Extremely fast serial interface providing full-duplex communication. Current models use x16 (16 lanes) to connect directly with the MCH (Memory Controller Hub) offering up to 8 GB/s data transfer. Not all cards will fit into every expansion slot.

    • AGP

      Accelerated Graphics Port - Developed for use with high-speed parallel 3D accelerated video, essentially replacing the standard PCI format. Original design (1x) supported a 32-bit bus at 66 MHz with a maximum transfer rate of 266 MB/s and was suceeded by even faster models (2x, 4x, and 8x). Voltage requirements vary between models.

  • Multimedia

    • Sound card

      A sound card is an internal computer expansion card providing an audio input and output interface with connections for speakers, headphones, and microphone.

    • TV tuner cards

      Receives television signals through cable connections for viewing or recording television programming.

    • Capture cards

      Used to capture analog and S-Video formats. Some cards support digital video and HDMI in both standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD). Analog signals can be converted into digital media, recorded, used for video surveillance, or live streaming video.

  • I/O

    • SCSI

      Small Computer System Interface - Used for connecting and transferring data between internal or external SCSI devices often including storage devices or scanners. Still popular in some server applications.

    • Serial

      Provides additional serial connections.

    • USB

      Provides additional USB connections.

    • Parallel

      Provides additional parallel connections.

  • Communications

    • NIC

      Network Interface Controller (or Card) - Used to provide a physical connection to a computer network, available in Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Token Ring formats and operates on both Layer 1(physical) and Layer 2(data link) of the OSI model. Ethernet controllers are generally equipped with an RJ-45 connection and typically support maximum transfer rates of 10, 100 or 1000 Megabits per second.

    • Modem

      Short for modulator-demodulator, a modem is designed to communicate over telephone line by converting digital signals from your computer into analog signals for transmission and back again to digital for reception. Transfer rates are limited to 56 kbit/s download without compression.