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What Is Socket 6?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Socket 6 is a central processing unit (CPU) socket that semiconductor company Intel Corporation started manufacturing around the late 1980s and early 1990s for its CPUs, or microprocessors. It is notable for being the last CPU socket that Intel produced for accommodating its 486-generation computer chips. Socket 6's appearance during the last years of production or prominence of the 486-generation chip chiefly contributed to its lack of popularity in the semiconductor market.

Each Socket 6 uses a form of integrated circuit packaging named plastic pin grid array (PPGA). This means that it consisted of a plastic square with uniformly arranged rows of pins, four rows combining for a total of 235 pins, located on its bottom side. Like other CPU sockets, it functions as the housing structure of the processor on the computer's motherboard. This role entails electrically connecting the chip with the motherboard for data transfer. Socket 6 in particular uses a zero insertion force (ZIF) design for enabling users to remove or plug in the CPUs in a secure manner instead of causing any defects.

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The CPUs that Intel used for this particular socket was the Intel 80486 microprocessor, which the company had introduced in 1989 and is notable for being the first Intel chip to contain up to a million processing transistors. Intel also used Socket 6 for a CPU brand called Pentium OverDrive, which it debuted in 1993 as a motherboard upgrade. Socket 6 supports Intel CPUs that have a data transfer speed range of 60 to 66 million transfers per second (MT/s). Additionally, it operates on 3.3 volts (V).

The Socket 6 is considered a slightly revised version of Socket 3. This CPU socket adhered to the PPGA form factor and ZIF design. Some of them, however, follow the low insertion force (LIF) design instead of ZIF, which means that they did not offer as much protection from damage via CPU insertion. Despite this disadvantage, Socket 3 has two more pins and accommodates a wider array of microprocessors than Socket 6. Its data transfer speed range is 25 to 83 MT/s, while its operational voltages are 3.3V and 5V.

Unfortunately, Socket 6 failed to garner widespread use in the computer technology industry. It arrived at a time when Intel was phasing out its 80486 processors; the company halted production completely in 2007. As a result, motherboard manufacturers believed it was unnecessary to revise the designs of their products to accommodate the socket if the processors it was designed for were already on their way out.

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