What Is a Socket 7 Motherboard?

Andy Josiah

A Socket 7 motherboard is a motherboard that has a central processing unit (CPU) socket called Socket 7. This particular component was released in 1994 by semiconductor company Intel Corporation for its Pentium CPUs, or processors. Socket 7, however, is also compatible with some chips from Intel’s main competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). As of May 2011, Socket 7 is the only CPU socket that is compatible with CPUs from more than one semiconductor company, thus making it unparalleled in popularity in the history of Pentium motherboards.

A dual core CPU mounted to a motherboard.
A dual core CPU mounted to a motherboard.

Also known as the main board, the motherboard is responsible for housing several of a computer’s crucial components. This includes the CPU socket, which connects the processor with the motherboard for data transmission. It also provides physical support for the CPU so that it does not get damaged, particularly when a user inserts or removes it.

SDRAM chips can accept more than one write command at a time.
SDRAM chips can accept more than one write command at a time.

The Socket 7 motherboard mainly supports Intel Pentium processors within the data transfer speed range or 50MHz to 66 MHz. The Pentium-compatible processors also happen to have a processing speed range of 75MHz to 200MHz. Intel also extended compatibility to Pentium chips with the MMX single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) instruction set that it introduced in 1996, plus the ill-fated OverDrive versions of the brand. In the same year that MMX debuted, AMD released its K5 CPUs, which was also compatible, and its successor, 1997’s K6, shared the MMX instruction set with Intel’s Pentium.

Other components that the Socket 7 motherboard contains include synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM) slots for the computer’s system memory; input/outputs (I/Os) such as PS/2 connectors for the keyboard and mouse; a headphone jack; and accelerated graphics port and peripheral component interconnect slots for expansion cards. Also included are chipsets, which facilitate the interaction of the processor, system memory and I/Os, among other components. This includes the audio driver for sound, Ethernet adapter for wired networking, and graphics controller for video and graphics capabilities.

The semiconductor industry began to phase out the Socket 7 motherboard when Intel introduced the Socket 8 in 1995. This CPU socket had 66 more pin contacts and was made for the Intel Pentium Pro, which was an extension of the original Pentium. The end of the Socket 7 motherboard came with the advent of the next generation of Pentium chips, the Pentium II, for which Intel devised Slot 1. Some computer product companies, however, still make the Socket 7 motherboard. They include Taiwan-based ASUSTeK Computer Incorporated (ASUS) and Micro-Star International Co., Ltd. (MSI).

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