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Short for super input/output or Super I/O, SIO is anintegrated circuit on a computer motherboard that handles the slower and less prominent input/output devices shown below. When the Super input/output was first introduced in the late 1980’s it was found on an expansion card, later this chip was embedded into the motherboard and communicated over theISA bus. As ISA began to no longer be used with computers SIO communicated over the PCI bus. Today, super I/O communicates through the Southbridge and is still used with computers to support older legacy devices.


Computer devices handled by the Super I/O

  • Floppy disk controlle: Short for Floppy Disk Controller, FDC is a controller used to interface the floppy disk drive with the computer.
  • Game port
  • Infrared: Method of transferring data without the use of wires. A common example of an infrared (Ir) device is a TV remote. However, infrared is also used with computers with devices such as a cordlesskeyboard or mouse. The picture is an example of the Nintendo Wiiremote and a good example of an infrared device.
  • Intrusion detection: Short for Intrusion Detection System, IDS is a security measure that notifies an administrator when a system policy is being violated. Such violations may include the unauthorized opening of a hardware device, or a network resource being used without permission. For example, a corporate computer may be equipped with an IDS system that sounds an alarm and alerts the IT staff. IDS is helpful for companies concerned about employees opening a computer and stealing internal components such as RAM or installing something that should not be on in the computer.
  • Keyboard and mouse (non-USB)
  • Parallel port
  • Real-time clock (RTC): Short for real-time clock, RTC is an integrated circuit on a computer’s motherboardthat is powered by the CMOS battery. The RTC provides an accurate date and time, in addition to allowing a computer to regulate the timing and speed of all of its functions.
  • Serial port (UART)
  • Temperature sensor and fan speed


[bs_icon name=”glyphicon glyphicon-warning-sign”] Note: Some newer chipsets are combining the Southbridge and Super I/O chips into a single chip and referring to this chip as the Super Southbridge chip. Some manufacturers such as NVIDIA and SiS have even combined the Northbridge, Southbridge, and Super I/O into a single chip.


How do I know what IC is the Super I/O on my motherboard?

Identifying the Super I/O on your motherboard is often easy if you look for an integrated circuit that is labeled with a company’s name that manufacturers Super I/O chips. Some common Super I/O manufacturers are Fintek, ITE, National Semiconductor, Nuvoton, SMSC, VIA, and Winbond.


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