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The AMD Socket A CPU Explained

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/1/2009

There are many different types of central processing unit – CPU – for the many different motherboard architectures available on the market. This article looks at the Socket A (also known as Socket 462) CPU from AMD.

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    Socket A and Socket 462 Explained

    Socket A (central processing unit – the processor in your PCs motherboard) from AMD is the configuration given to a family of CPUs whose design sees them utilize 462 pins. As a result Socket A CPUs are also known as Socket 462.

    Most popular among this range of processors are the Athlon and Duron CPUs – however the Sempron, Mobile Athlon 4, Geode NX, Mobile Athlon XP-M and Mobile Duron are among the ten or so devices that utilize the Socket A configuration. There are no Socket A CPUs from Intel – as such owners of Socket A motherboards must use Athlon processors.

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    Socket A - A New Age of CPUs

    The AMD Athlon Thunderbird Socket A was introduced to the components market in 2000 as a challenger to both Intel’s Pentium III and Pentium 4 CPUs. AMD had considerable success with the first Socket A processor, the AMD Athlon Thunderbird, which outperformed both Pentium III and Pentium 4 devices.

    The impact of AMD’s Athlon Thunderbird on the CPU market resulted in Intel upping their game with the second wave of Pentium 4 processors and saw the beginning of a continuing rivalry between the two CPU manufacturers that has seen each gain a strong and loyal following.

    It was the release of the AMD Athlon Thunderbird that saw the beginning of the CPU wars. With a viable alternative to Intel, many disgruntled users and manufacturers opted to use the AMD architecture in place of Intel hardware. The effects of this can still be felt today – AMD’s presence in the PC CPU market has introduced a much-needed element of competition which both companies thrive on.

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    AMD Socket A - Still Packs a Punch

    Although production of the AMD Socket A processors was discontinued in 2005 (in favor of AMD’s Socket 754 CPU which had superior processing power) they can still be bought either individually or as part of a pre-built system.

    Online retailers and auction sites such as eBay are good places to pickup a Socket A CPU, with an AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 266MHz 256KB Socket A processor currently retailing for as little as $10 – considerably less that the $250 price tag when that model was released!

    Socket A processors and compatible motherboards are a great solution for anyone wishing to build a low-cost PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista.