Sunday, September 25, 2016 Headlines & Global News

A closer look into AMD’s AM4 Socket

Earlier this month, AMD has officially launched the AM4 Socket. The platform upgrade will be forward-compatible with the company’s Bristol Ridge-based APUs and the Zen-based Summit Ridge products.

By Brian Ang | Sep 23, 2016 03:57 AM EDT

The AM4 Socket's Potential
TAIWAN - JUNE 02: Visitors look at motherboards and chipsets at the AMD booth during the Computex Technology Expo in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday, June, 2, 2009. Computex Taipei, the largest computer exhibition in Asia, runs from June 2-6. (Photo : Maurice Tsai/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


AMD has officially revealed the Socket AM4 earlier this month. The launching is a significant one for the company considering that its next generation central processing units (CPU) will be compatible with its other products going forward.

Previously, AMD has split its enthusiast-targeted FX CPU items onto the AM3+ platform and its value-oriented mainstream A-Series accelerated processing unit (APU) parts onto the FM2+ base. Now, with both the socket and the chipset being adaptive, users who will purchase Bristol Ridge-based APU systems can easily upgrade to the more powerful Zen-based Summit Ridge parts when available.

The introduction of the AM4 is in preparation for AMD's forthcoming developments. The company is focused on setting up Zen cores inside the CPUs first. This includes the FX series and the servers SKUs. The mobility-based Zen parts together with the APUs will be out in 2017 while the desktop processors will be arriving later this year. When the FX processors hit the market, the AM4 platform will support the next generation computers and accelerated processing units, replacing the AM3/AM3+ base along the way.

Compared to the technical details of the platform, which include the DDR4 memory support, the PCI Express Gen. 3.0, the USB 3.1 Gen. 2, the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and the SATA Express, AMD has been low-key about discussing the mechanical aspects of the AM4 Socket.

The AM4 boasts a 41% increase in pin count with 1,331 contacts. This is the first time that a pin-grid array (PGA) zero-insertion force (ZIF) socket has provided a lot of pins. Although AMD has somewhat jumped back into the past, the use of the PGA format has its advantages. It should be noted that rival Intel is currently utilizing the higher contact count land-grid array (LGA) design which moves pins from the processor into the socket. However, in contrast to the PGA ones, LGA sockets are notorious for bending pins by incautious handling or processor installation.

Considering that the AM4 is a major upgrade on AMD's motherboard, the installation of new coolers comes as no surprise. A change in the cooler mounting layout has rendered the AM3 coolers useless.



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