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 internal layers.

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.

Last updated: 1995-05-01

Nearby terms:

PRINTprinted circuit boardprinterPrinter Access Protocol

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