printed circuit board
<hardware> (PCB) A thin board to which electronic components are fixed by
solder. Component leads and integrated circuit pins may pass through holes
("vias") in the board or they may be surface mounted, in which case no holes are
required (though they may still be used to connect different layers).
The simplest kind of PCB has components and wires on one side and
interconnections (the printed circuit) on the other. PCBs may have components
mounted on both sides and may have many internal layers, allowing more
connections to fit in the same board area. Boards with internal conductor layers
usually have "plated-through holes" to improve the electrical connection to the
The connections are metal strips (usually copper). The pattern of connections is
often produced using photo-resist and acid etching. Boards, especially those for
high frequency circuits such as modern microprocessors, usually have one or more
"ground planes" and "power planes" which are large areas of copper for greater
current carrying ability.
A computer or other electronic system might be built from several PCBs, e.g.
processor, memory, graphics controller, disk controller etc. These boards might
all plug into a motherboard or backplane or be connected by a ribbon cable.
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