A dual socket motherboard is a board designed with two sockets for use by a Central Processing Unit (CPU), allowing two CPUs to be used on a single board simultaneously. This essentially means that such a motherboard has the potential for twice the processing power as any single socket motherboard. The reality of this potential, however, is still somewhat imperfect and restricted by other limitations that prevent such a motherboard from actually producing twice the processing power. A this type of motherboard is often used for servers or other machines that require a great deal of processing power, such as high-powered gaming computers and machines used to render movies or computer graphics.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages inherent to utilizing a dual socket motherboard, rather than a standard single socket board. One of the major advantages of such a board is the ability to use two CPUs simultaneously. The CPU in a computer is the processor that controls all of the applications and software being utilized by that computer. With the second slot on dual socket motherboard, two CPUs can be used together, effectively doubling the processing power of that computer.
This is in addition to the fact that more and more CPUs are being designed with multiple cores, such as dual core or quad core CPUs, which act like multiple CPUs within a single chip. The problem with using multiple CPUs on these types of motherboard, however, is that current software and hardware architecture cannot necessarily utilize all of the potential processing power. A dual core CPU, for example, is not actually twice the power of a single core CPU of otherwise equal specifications, but closer to one-and-one-half the power of the single core. Similarly, a dual socket motherboard cannot necessarily take full advantage of the second CPU on the board, and software run on that computer may also not fully utilize the additional power.
A dual socket motherboard can also be quite a bit more expensive than standard motherboards. There are also issues with the size of such motherboards, as they cannot always fit within a standard computer tower. The dual sockets on the board may also prevent the inclusion of additional slots for memory of other hardware on the board. Cooling of such a powerful system can also be problematic and require water cooling to compensate for the additional heat produced by two CPUs.
A dual socket motherboard is typically used for powerful machines that need far more processing power than most home computers. Servers, for example, can utilize these motherboards to provide faster speeds for multiple users and usually have cases larger than standard computer cases. A group of machines can also be networked together to provide processing for rendering out computer animation or digital films, and these render farms can utilize such motherboards as well.