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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | The Motherboard | Motherboard Integrated Components ]

Processor Sockets or Slots

Of course, the motherboard has one or more sockets or slots to hold the processor(s). Single-processor motherboards are by far the most common, but dual processor and even quad processor boards are not hard to find. (Quad boards often use special, proprietary designs employing riser cards.) The type of socket or slot used dictates the type of processor (and in some cases the speed) that can be used by the motherboard. Not surprisingly, the standards for processor sockets and slots have been generally defined by Intel. See this discussion of processor sockets and slots, including which support which processors. Most older Intel processors, up to the Pentium Pro, use a square-shaped socket for the processor. The newest processors from Intel, starting with the Pentium II, are mounted on a daughterboard, which plugs into an SEC ("single-edge connector") slot to connect to the motherboard.

Note: With the invention of the SEC slot for the Pentium II, new motherboards are appearing that use just the one slot for either the Pentium II or the Pentium Pro. Of course the Pentium Pro uses a socket and not a slot, so these manufacturers create a daughterboard similar to the Pentium II's, that just contains a socket for the Pentium Pro chip. This gives great flexibility since either chip can then be used with the same motherboard.

Most modern motherboards that have a socket use the ZIF (zero insertion force) style socket, that allows the processor to be inserted or removed from the motherboard by using a lever that tightens or loosens the processor's pins in the socket. This is a vast improvement over the older style sockets, which required you to exert considerable force on the surface of a delicate (and expensive) processor, just to get it into the motherboard. (Getting it out was of course even harder!)

Next: Memory Sockets

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