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A raw processor chip is very small and fragile, and for this reason it is extremely difficult to make connections to it and easy to damage it. With one exception, chips are not placed into motherboards in their raw form, but rather after having been packaged in a material that protects them, allows them to dissipate heat properly, and has connectors of a standard size and shape. This allows motherboards to be made in a more standardized fashion without having to worry about the internal physical structure of the chip. The structure of the packaging is linked inextricably to the socket or slot that the processor uses to interface to the motherboard.
Packaging has evolved over time from humble beginnings, responding to design needs as processors have grown larger and more complex. This section looks at the various packaging styles used in PC processors.