What Is Socket 8?

Socket 8 is a central processing unit (CPU) slot invented by Intel that, unlike many other CPU connectors, had only two CPU releases under its belt. This socket did some things that were not conventional for other sockets at the time of its release. Unlike other sockets, it used a rectangular shape and had a different type of pin grid, the pins being connectors that allow the CPU to install to the computer. It was phased out in favor of the slot 1 CPU connector.

Most sockets and CPU connectors have a range of official CPU releases. The socket 8 had only two official CPUs — the Pentium Pro and Pentium II Overdrive — released before it was phased out. These were released in 1995 and 1998, respectively, and neither CPU did well in sales compared to other Intel and competitors’ CPUs. This was primarily the result of poor integration with 16-bit coding, which was used often during this period.

CPU connectors are made almost exclusively as a square, but the socket 8 did not use this shape. Instead, the socket 8 was made as a rectangle to allow more pinhole contacts to be placed on the pin grid. Contacts interface with the CPU pins, so the CPU can communicate with the computer. The 8 connector was built to accommodate 387 pins. Common to other CPU sockets, the 8 connector used zero insertion force (ZIF) so CPUs could connect without being snapped into place.

The pin grid arrangement was also different from other CPU connectors. Most connectors have the pinholes facing one way. Socket 8 had half of its pins facing one direction, while the other half faced another. This allowed more contacts to be placed on the connector, making the socket smaller and the use of space more efficient. While this was different from most connectors, it did not offer any distinct advantages other than saving space.

The front side bus (FSB) speed of socket 8 was from 60 to 66 megahertz (MHz). Front side bus refers to the amount of energy sent from the CPU to the memory control hub, the area where the memory is stored and used. Both CPUs for the 8 connector made use of the FSB speed by pushing it to its maximum.

Socket 8 was considered a failure in terms of sales and was replaced with the slot 1 connector. Slot 1 was first made in 1996 and officially succeeded the 8 connector in 1998. The other, more popular socket that was replaced by slot 1 at the same time was socket 7.