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What Is Socket a?

By Andy Josiah
Updated May 17, 2024
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Socket A is a central processing unit (CPU) socket that semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices introduced in 2000 for several of its processors. It is also known as Socket 462, named after the number of pin holes the component has. Socket A measures about 2.2 inches (5.59 centimeters) in length and 2.6 inches (6.55 cm) in width. AMD produced the 462-pin compatible socket until around 2003 or 2004, when it debuted Socket 754 and Socket 939, respectively.

This particular AMD socket, like several other CPU sockets, uses a form factor called pin grid array (PGA). This means that its 462 pin holes are arranged in an orderly fashion on a square-shaped structure. Socket A comes in either of two PGA variants. With ceramic pin grid array (CPGA), the socket is made of ceramic. The organic pin grid array (OPGA) method involves the structure being made out of organic plastic.

As a CPU socket, Socket A is designed to keep the processor in place on the computer's motherboard. Also, it allows the user to insert and remove the processor without causing damage to it. Many Socket As use zero insertion force (ZIF), which means that no force at all is required for CPU insertion and extraction. This is enabled by a lever in the socket, which reduces the length of Socket A to 2.06 inches (5.24 cm).

Socket A is best known for providing support to AMD's then-premier Athlon family of CPUs, particularly members of the third generation of production—the XP/MP division—that began to appear in 2001. AMD, however, also used the socket for its now-discontinued budget-oriented Duron line, which debuted in 2000, and the Sempron line that succeeded it in 2004. Additionally, Socket A can also be found with the Geode NX, which is a system-on-a-chip CPU geared toward the embedded computer technology market.

Operating at a voltage range of 1 to 2.05 volts, Socket A supports AMD processors that have a data transfer speed of 200, 266, 333 or 400 megahertz (MHz). This unit of measurement translates into 200, 266, 333 and 400 million transfers per second (MT/s), respectively. The die surface of the CPU, when positioned within the socket, must adhere to a set of AMD maximum load limits that comprise a dynamic force of 445 newtons (100 pounds-force) and static force of 133 newtons (30 pounds-force). At the die edge, the dynamic and static force must be 44 newtons (10 pounds-force).

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