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What is a CPU socket for an industrial computer?

By ·Categories: Tech Explained·Published On: November 10th, 2021·4.6 min read·

We are often asked – what is a CPU socket and is it different on an industrial computer? A CPU socket for an industrial computer is the physical connection between a computer processor and an industrial grade motherboard. A CPU socket uses hundreds, or even thousands of metal pins as contact points to allow power and data to be passed between the CPU and the motherboard. 

The pins can be located either on the socket – in the case of LGA or Land Grid Array sockets, or on the CPU – known as Pin Grid Array, or PGA sockets. Some motherboards utilize Ball Grid Array, or BGA, connections which solder the processor directly to the motherboard, meaning they can’t be upgraded or replaced. Though less common, PGA sockets can still be found on some hardware, and BGA sockets were once quite popular for creating industrial hardware. That said, the vast majority of modern removable, or “socketed”, processors use LGA sockets.

Industrial Computer Processors

The differences between processor sockets

When creating or considering an industrial PC, it’s important to understand the differences between processor sockets. Not every available CPU will fit in every socket. And even if a given CPU does match up with a motherboard socket, it must also be compatible with the built-in chipset on the board (more on that in a moment). 

The two primary processor manufacturers, AMD® and Intel®, each have their own processor socket designs. Those sockets offer differing compatibility for chipsets and target different markets depending on user needs. Market classifications can be broadly defined as mainstream computing, high-end desktop (HEDT) and server grade. Regardless of the target market, any of these CPU sockets can be used in an industrial computer. The choice of socket for industrial devices comes down to the same decision point as consumer systems: what the system will be used for.

What is a computer chipset?

A computer chipset (also referred to as the Platform Controller Hub) helps to manage the flow of information between the motherboard and processor. The chipset enables the processor to focus on computing while the chipset handles all the nitty gritty tasks needed for the computer to run properly. If the CPU socket provides the various roads that data travels on, the chipset runs the traffic lights to tell data where to go. 

The chipset is a vital compatibility check for the components connected to a computer. If your memory, storage graphics card, or most relevantly your CPU, can’t communicate with the chipset, they won’t work on your system. As such, even if a CPU is compatible with a given socket, it must also be compatible with your motherboard’s chipset. 

Intel and AMD CPU socket for Industrial Computing

Both Intel and AMD utilize a range of different processor sockets to support their various CPU releases. Oftentimes the decision of the type of processor, socket and chipset combination to use comes down to the intended use of the processor, and the systems that will be designed around it. 

Here is a breakdown of many of the industrial CPU sockets from both Intel and AMD that are either currently available, will be available soon, or have been rumored to be on their way. We’ve also included the associated CPU generation, chipset compatibility and target market for each.

Manufacturer     Socket              CPU Compatibility          Chipset CompatibilityTarget Market
IntelLGA 11519th Gen Core/8th Gen CoreZ390/Z370/Q370/H370/
B365/B360/H310
Mainstream
IntelLGA 120011th Gen Core/10th Gen CoreZ490/H470/B460/H410Mainstream
IntelLGA 170012th Gen CoreTBDMainstream
IntelLGA 206610th Gen CoreX299HEDT
IntelLGA 36471st Gen Xeon SP/2nd Gen Xeon SPC620 seriesServer
IntelLGA 41893rd Gen Xeon SPC620 seriesServer
AMDsTRX4Ryzen Threadripper 3000TRX40HEDT
AMDTR4Ryzen Threadripper 2000/1000X399HEDT
AMDAM4Ryzen 5000/3000/2000/1000X570/X470/X370/B550/
B450/
B350/A320/X300/A300
Mainstream
AMDSP3EPYC 7001/7002/7003N/A – System on Chip SocketServer

What are the newest CPU sockets for industrial computers?

As you can see from the10th and 11th generation Core pro chart above, Intel is using their LGA 1200 socket for their current processors. This socket was released in 2020 for the launch of Intel’s 10th Gen, Comet Lake-S chips. 

For the upcoming 12th Generation Alder Lake processors, Intel will pivot to their new LGA 1700 socket. The socket has 500 more pins than its LGA 1200 predecessor, which it is intended to replace. Those additional pins allow the LGA 1700 socket to provide improved power delivery, additional pcie lanes and an increase in DMI bandwidth between the CPU and chipset. The LGA 1700 represents a major design change for Intel sockets, the first major change since the LGA 775 release in 2004.

As for AMD, their AM4 and SP3 sockets have accommodated their Ryzen and EPYClines, respectively, since their release in 2017. It’s worth noting that AMD’s EPYC CPUs are System on Chip (SoC) processors that don’t require a separate chipset (hence the N/A in the chart). On the Ryzen side, in a video celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Ryzen line, the company alluded to a new AMD processor socket that is on its way to support their upcoming Ryzen 6000 Series processors.

Which CPU Socket is best for your Industrial Computer Application? 

As we mentioned, your choice of socket will depend on a number of factors. If you’re working on an industrial project and have questions about which CPU is right for you, our team of Solution Specialists can help. Connect with them today to talk about what you have planned.

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About the Author: Darek Fanton

Darek is the Communications Manager at OnLogic. His passion for both journalism and technology has led him from the newsrooms of local papers to the manufacturing floor of IBM. His background in news gathering has him always on the lookout for the latest in emerging tech and the best ways to share that information with readers. In addition to his affinity for words, Darek is a music lover, juggler and huge fan of terrible jokes.
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