CPU interfaces – motherboard slots and sockets for AMD and Intel processors

The PC’s ability to evolve many different interfaces allowing the connection of many different classes of add-on component and peripheral device has been one of the principal reasons for its success. The key to this has been standardisation, which has promoted competition and, in turn, technical innovation. The heart of a PC system – the processor – is no different in this respect than any other component or device. Intel’s policy in the early 1990s of producing OverDrive CPUs that were actually designed for upgrade purposes required that the interface by which they were connected to the motherboard be standardised. A consequence of this is that it enabled rival manufacturers to design and develop processors that would work in the same system. The rest is history. In essence, a CPU is a flat square sliver of silicon with circuits etched on its surface. This chip is linked to connector pins and the whole contraption encased some form of packaging – either ceramic or plastic – with pins running along the flat underside or along one edge. The CPU package is connected to a motherboard via some form of CPU interface, either a slot or a socket. For many years the socket style of CPU was dominant. Then both major PC chip manufacturers switched to a slot style of interface. After a relatively short period of time they both changed their minds and the socket was back in favour! The older 386, 486, classic Pentium and Pentium MMX processors came in a flat square package with an array of pins on the underside – called Pin Grid Array (PGA) –...

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