What Is a Socket a Mainboard?

Socket A mainboard is a term used for a motherboard that contains a 462-pin hole central processing unit (CPU) called Socket A, or Socket 462. This component is just one of the many important components that the motherboard provides as the “heart” of the personal computer (PC). These includes slots for system memory and graphics processor units (GPUs), audio and video connectors, interfaces for hard disk and CD/DVD drives, and Ethernet connectivity. Socket A mainboard not only makes it possible for the CPU, or processor, of the computer to connect with it for data transmission, it also keeps it secure to protect it from harm.

The manufacturing of the Socket A mainboard began in 2000, when semiconductor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) debuted the socket for use with its Athlon brand of CPUs. It is also compatible with Duron, which was AMD’s budget-oriented brand that debuted in the same year as the socket. When the Duron was discontinued in favor of Sempron in 2004, the Socket A mainboard retained its compatibility with the low-budget chips. It is also compatible with the AMD Geode NX, which is targeted at the embedded computer market.

Measuring approximately 2.6 inches (6.55 centimeters) in width and 2.2 inches (5.59 cm) in length, the socket on the Socket A mainboard has a pin grid array (PGA) layout, which means that its pin holes are arranged in an orderly, grid-like framework. The rows formed from this layout join to form a square that conforms to the socket’s structure, which is made of organic plastic. This is known as organic pin grid array (OPGA), which describes the material used to make the socket. A zero insertion force (ZIF) standard is applied so that users do not rely on any force to install or remove the processor.

The Socket A mainboard is not compatible with all AMD Athlon, Sempron, Duron or Geode processors. For instance, only Athlon chips of the 1500+ to 3200+ range of model numbers, which have a processing speed range of 1,000 to 2,333 megahertz (MHz), can work on Socket 462 motherboards. AMD set the operational voltage range of the Socket A at 1 to 2.05 volts (V).

Despite Socket A’s fall from prominence by 2004, when AMD had replaced it with Socket 754 and Socket 939, several computer technology manufacturers still make the Socket A mainboard. Many of them, such as major motherboard manufacturer Micro-Star International Co., Ltd (MSI), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd. subsidiary Foxconn, PC/mobile phone maker ASUSTeK Computer Incorporated (ASUS), and MiTAC International subsidiary Tyan Computer Corporation, are based in Taiwan. Also, the Socket A mainboard is still a main support for Geode NX chips.