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What Is Socket N?

By Andy Josiah
Updated May 17, 2024
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Introduced in 2000, Socket N is a central processing unit (CPU) socket from semiconductor processor Intel Corporation. It is, however, much better known as Socket 478. The more popular term refers to its number of pin holes, which are used for fitting in the CPU, or microprocessor, via its pins.

Socket N is similar to the other CPU sockets in that it is a square-shaped structure that serves to connect the CPU with the motherboard. This functions as the “heart” of the computer and contains many of its important components, such as system memory, expansion card slots, chipset, power connectors, audio jacks and video outputs. The 1.38-square inch (0.54-square centimeter) Socket N uses a type of design known as pin grid array (PGA). This denotes the arrangement of the pin holes in four neat rows on the socket.

With the Socket N, the microprocessor is installed in a way that the back of its die—the wafer of semiconductor material that contains its processing unit or units—is exposed for the introduction of a heatsink. This component is meant to reduce heat and thus promote the CPU’s power conservation. This variant of PGA is known as flip-chip pin grid array, often abbreviated as FC-PGA or FCPGA.

Intel Corporation introduced Socket N to directly compete with its main rival in the semiconductor market, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Intel’s main competitor had preceded it with the Socket A, which is also known as Socket 462. AMD mainly made the socket for some members of its then-premier Athlon family of microprocessors, which had entered its third generation of production.

Socket N has more pin holes than Socket A does. Like its AMD counterpart, it supports more than just its flagship consumer CPU, which was then the Intel Pentium 4. The company later added compatibility for its budget-oriented Celeron brand. Altogether, these chips have a processing speed range of 1.4 to 3.4 gigahertz. Regarding front-side bus speed, which is the rate of data transmission the computer chip has with the motherboard via the computer’s front-side bus interface, Socket N supports 400, 533 and 800 megahertz.

After a six-year production run, Intel launched the land grid array 775, better known as the LGA 775, in 2006. It was radically different from Socket N in that it had the pins instead of the pin holes, thus reversing the interaction between the socket and CPU. Also, the accommodations, numbering 775, outstripped that of the Socket N.

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