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AMD 101: Chipsets and Sockets

AMD Chipsets and Sockets 101

General, Graphics, Hardware, Industry


Whenever you purchase a computer, deciding which CPU it has is often a very big consideration. What many people forget about, especially in desktops, is the motherboard capabilities that could limit your CPUs performance. This leads to the introduction of the Chipset and Socket for your motherboard. Both of these key components require some consideration, but many people are swamped with the abundance of knowledge from everyone. Here, we have broken it down for you to help you learn the basics and help you make that ultimate CPU decision.

 

CPU vs. Chipset vs. Socket

Really quick, let’s recap what each of these components are and what they do. The chipset and socket are located on the motherboard of your computer. A chipset is similar to the subconscious of the brain. You don’t really see it because it is underneath the socket, and it handles communication between computer components like the CPU to the rest of the motherboard. The socket is the pin grid array (PGA) that the CPU plugs into. It is essentially the female end of a plug. The CPU is the central processing unit, and is the final piece of the puzzle. It is responsible for your computer being able to actually do its job. All three of these pieces have to work in conjunction with each other in order to work efficiently.

When you are purchasing a CPU, you HAVE to pay attention to what kind of chipset and socket that your motherboard has. The chipset will dictate which CPU the motherboard can take, and so will the socket. If the CPU you purchase is not compatible with the socket, you will not be able to correctly install the CPU onto your motherboard.

AMD CPU

AMD Sockets

At the time of writing this, AMD has 3 sockets available on the market that work with current CPUs. Each of these sockets have different configurations for pins, and can handle different CPUs and APUs. Knowing some of the differences of these sockets will help to determine which kind of CPU you are looking for, and which ones you aren’t. Below are the sockets that support current marketed CPUs, and a little bit about them.

Socket CPUs Supported # of Pins Benefits
AM3+ AM3 Processors; Bulldozer architecture 942 Improved power regulation; Handles faster processors
FM2+ Kaveri APUs; Steamroller architecture 906 Supports APU units; On-die GPU
AM1 Athlon and Sempron APUs 721 Extremely Budget Friendly

 

AMD Chipsets

Although the socket is important in determining which CPU to buy, the chipset is equally pertinent. Since it is the subconscious, poorly selecting a chipset could limit the processing power of your computer, which would be a waste of money. A chipset has two main components to it, a Northbridge and a Southbridge. The Northbridge deals with the interfaces that require the greatest performance (RAM, PCI-E, CPU, etc.). The Southbridge handles more of the slower interfaces such as the USB, BIOS, and PCI. Over the last few generations, AMD has integrated the CPU die with some of the Northbridge functions.

AMD has two series of Chipsets on the market right now, the A-Series, and the 9-Series. The A-Series is designed more for APU’s, whereas the 9-Series is a step above the average for normal CPUs.

 

The A-Series:

These are the specs from the A-Series line up. The A85X, A75, and A55 fall under the FM2 sockets (an older version of the FM2+). The other four fall under the FM2+ socket.

 

14 (4)14 (4)14 (0)14 (4)14 (4)10 (2)14 (0)

CHIPSET BRAND A85X A75 A55 A88X A78 A68H A58
PCI EXPRESS® 1×16 / 2×8 1×16 1×16 1×16 / 2×8 1×16 1×16 1×16
SATA III 8 (8) 6 (6) 6 (0) 8 (8) 6 (6) 4 (4) 6 (0)
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10 0, 1, 10
RAID DRIVER Promise Promise Promise Dot Hill Dot Hill Dot Hill Dot Hill

 

The 9-Series:

These are the 9-Series Graphics Cards. There are only four available, but they offer some of newest technologies for your PC experience.

  990FX Chipset 990X Chipset 980G Chipset 970 Chipset
GRAPHICS Not Included
Up to 4 slots for Graphics Upgrade
Not Included
Up to 2 slots for Graphics Upgrade
ATI Radeon™ HD 4250
Support for DirectX 10.1
1 slot for Graphics Upgrade
Not Included
One slot for Graphics Upgrade
CPU COMPATIBILITY AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™ II, AMD FX AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™ II, AMD FX AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™ II, AMD FX AMD Athlon™ II, AMD Phenom™ II, AMD FX
MEMORY SUPPORT AM3+ socket motherboards support DDR3 AM3+ socket motherboards support DDR3 AM3+ socket motherboards support DDR3 AM3+ socket motherboards support DDR3
PCI EXPRESS® PCI Express® 2.0 PCI Express® 2.0 PCI Express® 2.0 PCI Express® 2.0
USB Up to 14 USB 2.0 Up to 14 USB 2.0 Up to 14 USB 2.0 Up to 14 USB 2.0
SATA Supports SATA 6Gb/s devices Supports SATA 6Gb/s devices Supports SATA 6Gb/s devices

 

 

 
AMD has long been in the CPU race, and it realized the importance of maintaining up to date corresponding hardware. Now equipped with this basic knowledge of AMD’s chipsets and sockets, you can go forth and choose your CPU responsibly.


Hey Tech World! I'm a marketing intern at AVADirect and I love learning about the newest technology out there! When I am not working, I really love reading, drawing, and most certainly food (of all kinds)!

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