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What Is a Socket a Motherboard?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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A Socket A motherboard contains virtually all the connectors or interfaces of the computer as well as a type of central processing unit (CPU) socket called Socket A. Created by semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and debuting in 2000, Socket A is also known as Socket 462 because it has 462 pin holes, which serve as part of the support system for the personal computer (PC) processor. The socket is one of the many features of the Socket A motherboard, which functions as the PC’s “heart.”

Like other similarly designed components, the Socket A motherboard includes slots for the system memory and video/graphics cards, audio/video inputs, USB ports, and connectors for hard drive storage and CD/DVD drives. Socket A serves as the connector between the processor and the motherboard so that data transmission can take place. It also provides protection to the CPU, preventing it from possible damage when the user inserts or removes it.

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The motherboard’s socket has a length of around 2.2 inches (5.59 centimeters) and a width of about 2.6 inches (6.55 cm). The pin holes are arranged in an orderly fashion along its square-shaped structure; this is called a pin grid array (PGA). The Socket A motherboard falls under a PGA subcategory called organic pin grid array (OPGA), which means that it is made of organic plastic. Most Socket A motherboards adhere to the zero insertion force (ZIF) standard. This means that the user does not need to apply any force when placing the processor on the socket, or removing it.

Socket A motherboards are most commonly associated with supporting the XP/MP generation of Athlon chips from AMD. They are, however, also compatible with the Duron brand, which was AMD’s low-end line and introduced in the same year as Socket A. Compatibility was extended to the Sempron brand when it replaced Duron in 2004. The Socket A motherboard also supports the AMD Geode NX, which is AMD’s brand of system-on-a-chip CPUs for embedded computer systems.

There are certain specifications regarding the Socket A motherboard. The AMD processor it accommodates must have a data transmission speed of 200, 266, 333 or 400 megahertz (MHz), which means that it must be able to conduct 200, 266, 333 and 400 million transfers per second (MT/s), respectively. Also, the socket runs on a 1-to-2.05-volt (V) operational range.

By the end of 2004, AMD began to shift away from Socket A motherboards when it initiated the use of Sockets 754 and 939 for Athlon and Sempron chips. Computer component manufacturers, however, still make the component. The Socket A motherboard also retains its primacy with the Geode NX.

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