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What Is an LGA Socket?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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An LGA socket is a type of central processing unit (CPU) socket that uses the land grid array style of integrated circuit packaging. Several processors, or CPUs, possess pins that go into the socket’s pin holes to connect them with the motherboard. By contrast, the LGA socket has the pins, while the processor has the flat surface. The LGA socket is also known for having a comparatively high concentration of CPU contacts.

The PA-8000, which computer technology company Hewlett-Packard (HP) released in 1995 for its HP 9000 lineup of server and workstation computer systems, was the first computer chip designed for an LGA socket. The reduced instruction set computing (RISC)-based R10000 from semiconductor company MIPS Technologies, Inc. (MIPS) followed in 1996. The LGA socket concept, however, did not catch on until 2004, when another semiconductor company, Intel Corp., introduced the LGA 775.

Also known as Socket T, the LGA 775 was initially chiefly designed for some of the chips under Intel Pentium 4. This is the fourth iteration of the company’s then-flagship brand. Since then, the LGA 775 has been identified as accommodating some of the CPUs of Intel’s low-end Celeron; the server- and workstation-oriented Xeon; and the Core, which debuted in 2006 and soon replaced the Pentium as the company’s top-tier offering.

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Intel’s main competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), entered the LGA socket market in 2006 with the Socket F. Surpassing the LGA 775 with its 1,207 pins, AMD made it for some of its processor under its Opteron umbrella, which is the equivalent of the Intel Xeon and made its debut in the same year as the socket. Socket F is also used for the hardware enthusiast version of the 64-bit Athlon chip called the AMD Athlon 64 FX. The Socket T, or LGA 775, and Socket F remain two of the most popular LGA sockets.

A major reason for the growing popularity of the LGA socket during the mid-2000s and its eventual dominance at the end of the decade is because it contains far more contacts than previous integrated circuit packaging techniques. The previous main standard was the pin grid array (PGA), which, like LGA, had the pin contacts arranged in an orderly fashion on the socket. Intel introduced the first memorable PGA-based socket with the 169-pin contact Socket 1 in 1989. By the 1990s, PGA was the industry standard, and would remain so for a decade and a half until LGA successfully challenged its primacy.

As of May 2011, Intel has released other LGA sockets besides the LGA 775. They are the LGA 771, or Socket J, in 2006; LGA 1366, or Socket B, in 2008; and LGA 1156, or Socket H, in 2009. Intel will release the LGA 2011, also called Socket R, in late 2011. As for AMD, since the debut of Socket F, it has replaced it with another 1,207-pin Socket C32 in 2010. The 1,974-pin Socket G34 appeared later in the year.

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