Central Processing Unit Socket

What Does Central Processing Unit Socket Mean?

A CPU socket is a single connector between a microprocessor and motherboard. A CPU socket is a distinct mount used only for the CPU on the motherboard to ensure correct circuit chip insertion. It facilitates CPU access and prevents damage when a unit is inserted or removed. A CPU socket also has a lock to prevent CPU movement, and its design helps secure heat sink placement above the CPU.


Most PCs and a variety of server systems have CPU sockets. Some laptops and certain types of servers do not use a CPU socket but have a totally different processor style. Generally, CPU socket platforms are keyed for correct insertion.

A CPU socket is also known as a CPU slot.

Techopedia Explains Central Processing Unit Socket

Modern CPU sockets and processors are based on a pin grid array (PGA) architecture. PGA is a type of packaging used for integrated circuits (IC), such as a microprocessor. It is basically a square with pins that are organized below the packaging. Pins are spaced approximately 0.1 inches (2.54 mm) apart to cover a portion or entire underside of the package.

A CPU socket is shaped like a square or rectangle and made of durable and heat-resistant plastic and metal contacts for pins or lands, in addition to a metal latch or lever. Hundreds of tiny holes cover the plastic casing's surface, and the plastic color is usually light tan or burgundy, depending on the manufacturer.

Chips with high numbers of pin-outs often use land grid array (LGA) or zero insertion force (ZIF) sockets. LGA sockets apply firm force with a surface plate, and ZIF sockets apply compression force with a handle. Each method ensures that upon insertion, the pins are not damaged or broken.

A CPU socket is specifically designed for a particular CPU and is usually not interchangeable with other types of processors. In many cases, manufacturers classify sockets into groups. A socket may be identified on its side by a three-five digit ID number. The ID number ensures that the CPU uses the correct CPU socket.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.