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Processor Primer – Socket Basics and Resources for Compatibility

 

Our previous blog post covered the basics of upgrading your processor and the considerations. In this post, we'll discuss processor compatibility – there's no point in upgrading your server processor if you don't know the compatibility guidelines!

Processor Socket Basics

As we have seen with other hardware components, such as hard drives, RAM, PCIe card additions, and PSUs, there is a certain degree of universality between these components regardless of the manufacturers and models. For example, you can often carry over hard drives or RAM to a new system generation. This is not the case with server processors

Processors are unique from these other standardized components in that the processor socket on the motherboard is not driven by the server manufacturer but by the processor manufacturer. In other words, Intel and AMD – the two largest chip manufacturers – design their processors and then inform server manufacturers of the architecture needed to produce a system board with a compatible socket. In fact, what often initiates Dell and HPE to create a new generation of servers is the chip manufacturer producing a new and improved processor that requires a new and compatible system board.

Socket Terminology. What's LGA? Vs. PGA?

The processor's socket is the primary interface between the processor and the system board. Since each processor model has a unique quantity and arrangement of pins (or holes) to connect to the socket, the system board must be specific to that CPU architecture. 

Intel utilizes an LGA Socket Type (or 'Land Grid Array'). An LGA-type socket has the pins on the system board, and the corresponding holes are on the processor. AMD processors utilize a PGA socket (Pin Grid Array) – or, conversely, have the pins on the processor and the holes on the system board. For this reason, an Intel chip will never fit in an AMD-designed system board and vice-versa.

All of our processor listings note the socket supported and the server compatibility. Easy!

TECH FOOTNOTE – A THIRD SOCKET TYPE! There is a socket type called BGA (or Ball Grid Array). BGA sockets aren't sockets at all, as this is a scenario where the processor is permanently mounted or fused to the system board (making upgrades and replacements impossible). BGA sockets are seen primarily in mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops, where processor upgrades aren't generally considered.

Resources for Compatibility

At TechMikeNY, we almost exclusively deal with Intel-based systems (although, on occasion, we get AMD-based servers in our refurbishing pipeline). To that end, we're focusing on Intel Xeon processor compatibility – Xeon is Intel's product line for Enterprise-class hardware. 

Intel has a wealth of resources to determine compatibility:

How to Identify Your Intel Desktop Processor Socket

Sockets Supported by Intel Xeon Processors

Here are Xeon processor specs if you want a central resource to find processor speed and cores.

Finally, a comparison matrix below shows our most popular refurbished servers and their compatible Xeon processor version. 

Dell PowerEdge R420 Dell PowerEdge R620 Dell PowerEdge R720 Dell PowerEdge R820
Generation 12th Gen 12th Gen 12th Gen 12th Gen
Number of Sockets 2-socket 2-socket 2-socket 4-socket
Processor(s) Type Intel Xeon processor E5-2400 v1 and v2 product family Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v1 and v2 product family Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v1 and v2 product family

 

Intel Xeon processor E5-4600 v1 and v2 product family *4000 series processors MUST be used in PAIRS. 

 

Dell PowerEdge R430 Dell PowerEdge R630 Dell PowerEdge R730 Dell PowerEdge R830
Generation 13th Gen 13th Gen 13th Gen 13th Gen
Number of Sockets 2-socket 2-socket 2-socket 4-socket
Processor(s) Type Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v4 product family Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 and v4 product family Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 and v4 product family

 

Intel Xeon processor E5-4600 v4 product family *4000 series processors MUST be used in PAIRS. 

 

Dell PowerEdge R440 Dell PowerEdge R640 Dell PowerEdge R740 Dell PowerEdge R840
Generation 14th Gen 14th Gen 14th Gen 14th Gen
Number of Sockets 2-socket 2-socket 2-socket 4-socket
Processor(s) Type  2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, up to 24 cores per processor**  2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, up to 28 cores per processor**  2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, up to 28 cores per processor**

 

2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, up to 28 cores per processor**

 

*Since the R800-series is a 4-socket machine, the expectation is you will use all four processor sockets. That said, we've had success installing 2000-series processors in R800 Dell servers by installing in only two of the sockets.

**Intel changed its naming scheme in 2017. Instead of following the E3, E5, and E7 branding designations, the chips were given metallic names: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. We like this summary on why Intel made this change. Note that 14th Gen Dell and 10th Gen HPE servers take these Intel 2nd Generation Scalable processors with the metallic naming conventions.  

The above photo is a bird's eye view of the two sockets of an R420 server. This server takes Xeon E5-2400 v1 and v2 processors. Using the "Sockets Supported by Intel Processors" above, you can determine that this is an FCLGA1356 socket.  

Click on the image below to visit the TechMikeNY processor product page! We have a wide selection of Intel Xeon processors and list the server compatibility on each listing.

Final Thoughts

If you are new to Enterprise rack servers and intimidated by the idea of upgrading a processor, worry not! Just follow the compatibility guidelines, and don't forget to add fresh thermal paste!

And if you ever have any questions – processor compatibility or anything else tech-related! – don't hesitate to drop us a line at info@techmikeny.com.

 

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