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What is a Socket? – Definition, Types, And More

What is a Socket? – Definition, Types, And More

Definition Socket

A socket is an area on the motherboard for the placement and connection of various electronic components.

Although its literal translation in English (socket) means plug, this word differentiates normal and ordinary plugs from the places provided for this purpose on the motherboard. A socket will thus be exclusively the support that an electronic component has to connect another on it. It may be using pins or contacts, but always electronically.

The most popular socket is the CPU or microprocessor socket. It is not the only one since there are also sockets for other components. However, these are usually familiar by other names for their differentiation, speaking then of slots.

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Open architecture and closed architecture

The sockets allow you to exchange the processor or the component without having to change the rest of the computer. It is what is called open architecture, in which the same board can serve as a support for several types of processors and can change without problems. The opposite is the so-called closed or proprietary architecture, in which the components welds, and therefore are not interchangeable.

Even in open architecture, each socket will only support a small range of processors, not all. Each processor family uses a different connection, different voltage and therefore needs a different socket. For example, Pentium IIs use a different socket than Pentium IIIs, and these of Pentium IVs. However, you can find adapters to put an old processor on a modern board, as long as they are from the same manufacturer. The world’s two largest chip producers are AMD and Intel. They use different socket technologies that are not very compatible with each other, preventing an AMD processor from mounting on a board that was not deliberate for it, and vice versa.

Pin sockets

Pin sockets are the most used technology of this type is the ZIF. ZIF comes from the Zero Insertion Force, which they created to prevent the pins from bending or damaging when inserting them. Depending on the connection system, we can talk about pin sockets or contacts (ex. : LGA). The difference is only that in the first one, the component attaches to the plate using pins. In contrast, in the second one, they place them simply so that they come into contact. As we have said, depending on the component that we want to integrate into the team, we will have different types. For example, sockets for RAM are typically 168 pins, while modern processors have hundreds or thousands of contacts. In addition to these pins, the sockets generally have accessory anchoring systems, and various accessory grooves or holes to mount optional systems (such as fans, adapters, cooling systems, etc.)

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