A chipset is a group of integrated circuits that work together. It may refer to the design of a single component or may describe the relationship of multiple components within a computer system. For example, the chipset of video card describes the design of the card, while a motherboard chipset describes its layout and the different components it supports.
Diagrams are often used to illustrate chipset designs. For example, a diagram of a video card chipset may contain the GPU, video RAM, and the PCI bus. It may also include lines and arrows that represent the circuitry between the components. Together, the components and circuitry make up the overall design of the chipset, and may also be called the architecture of the video card.
A motherboard chipset diagram may include components such as the CPU, RAM, video card, and I/O ports. A detailed diagram may also include lesser-known components, such as the northbridge, southbridge and frontside bus. Regardless of level of detail, all motherboard chipset diagrams include lines and arrows that visually describe the way data flows between the different components.
Most internal computer components are designed for a specific chipset. Therefore, if you decide to upgrade any internal hardware, it is important to know what type of chipset your computer uses. In many cases, a computer's chipset is synonymous with the chipset of the motherboard. Once you find out what chipset your motherboard uses, you can determine what components are compatible with your machine.