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Processor and Motherboard Pins: What You Need to Know

Posted by Integrity Global on Mar 19th 2019

Processor and Motherboard Pins: What You Need to Know

Understanding Processor and Motherboard Pins

When it comes to installing hardware or replacement parts into your organization’s existing server system, some items are easier to work with than others. Older Dell server models, for instance, involve the use of a rail kit system (alternatively Ready Rails, Versa Rails, or Rapid Rails) in order to properly install the server. This is one example of a part installation that can be challenging or even confusing, and that’s why we wrote about it in a recent Dell Rail Kit blog.

But regardless of which manufacturer you’re working with, be it Intel, HPE, Dell, or any other, there’s one part in particular that can give IT professionals a headache. That’s right: we’re talking about the pins commonly found on processors or motherboards.

What’s so frustrating about processor pins? Is it really that difficult to install a processor? Keep reading to learn more.

The Different Types of Processor Pin Arrays

Before going any further, let’s take a moment to go over some basic terminology related to processor and motherboard pins. Essentially, there are three types of so-called “pin arrays” that you might come across when it comes to processors and/or motherboards:

Pin Grid Array (PGA): This refers to a pin array that’s physically located on the processor itself. The pins on the processor are then lined up with holes on the motherboard, and the processor pins are inserted into these holes.

Land Grid Array (LGA): As opposed to a Pin Grid Array, a Land Grid Array features pins that are attached to the motherboard itself. These pins line up with holes on the processor, and the processor is fitted onto the motherboard’s pins.

Ball Grid Array (BGA): This type of processor pin array doesn’t actually have pins at all. Instead, it features an array of small metal balls which are soldered in place. These are common on small devices such as phones and thin laptops.

Bent Processor Pins: the Biggest Problem With Motherboard and Processor Pins

Anyone who’s worked in IT for a while will tell you how frustrating it can be to install processors onto motherboards. Why? Because the pins in question can be extremely fragile. They’re very easy to bend. And once processor pins are bent, good luck lining them up with the holes in the motherboard (or vice versa, in the case of a Land Grid Array) and installing the processor correctly.

Of course, it’s sometimes possible to bend the pins in question back into place. If you’re just dealing with a couple of slightly bent pins, this may work. But if the pins are severely bent, they can snap off when you attempt to bend them back into place.

Unfortunately, it’s often the case that a CPU with bent pins has to be scrapped and replaced. The same goes for a motherboard with a Land Grid Array: bent pins can mean replacing the motherboard.

So why is it that manufacturers continue to produce parts with such a fragile (and simultaneously extremely important) component? The reason is inductance. The pins in question tend to act like inductors, meaning that they resist current changes such as shifts in power draw from the computer system. This can cause problematic processor behavior. But with enough pins placed in series, the amount of inductance and AC impedance goes down by roughly 100 times. As a result, power delivery is much smoother.

Installing a Processor Without Bending the Pins

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to install a processor without any bent pins, headaches, or frustration.

If you’re working with an HPE processor, you’ll find that newer HPE systems use a special blue retaining bracket and sliding socket in order to reduce the potential for user error. This can be extremely helpful, especially for those with less experience when it comes to processor installation.

Installing an Intel processor? You’ll find that Intel offers a helpful video guide to walk you through the necessary steps.

At the end of the day, though, you may end up needing to scrap a processor and purchase a replacement. If that’s the case, there’s no need to pay full price for brand new hardware. At Integrity Global Solutions, we stock a wide selection of used and refurbished Dell PowerEdge processors, Intel processors, HP processors, and more. Our team of experts inspects each and every processor to ensure that it meets the highest quality standards. Not sure what processor or motherboard you need for your system? Chat with us now or contact us for help.