Electrical devices contain integrated circuits (ICs) which are installed onto a printed circuit board (PCB). IC sockets are connectors which allow ICs to be fitted and removed easily. The socket is mounted onto the board and houses the chip. Unlike soldering, which is permanent, IC sockets are important as they enable you to remove or interchange the components without damaging them. This also protects the IC from potential heat damage caused by soldering.
Programmable chips and microcontrollers are a great example where IC sockets are used. They allow for easy removal for testing, programming or replacement. This enables you to choose and test the right chip for the application, replace any failures in the circuit or upgrade a device when required.
Types of IC Socket
- DIL Sockets (Dual-in-line) have two parallel rows of pins, available in various numbers to match the relevant IC and are normally very cost-effective. A larger socket can be created by placing two smaller ones together, end-to-end, e.g. two 8 pins become 16-pin.
- SIL Sockets (Single in-line) has a single line of pins and is frequently used in smaller applications like resistor arrays or boards with short lead pins, such as a desktop computer. There are many different sizes and types available.
- DIMM Sockets (Dual In-line Memory Module). Random Access Memory (RAM) can be easily installed in computers or laptops using DIMM sockets. These are important components that help to ensure reliable connectivity. They have two separate rows of electrical contacts or pins on either side. It's a general rule that the more pins the higher the RAM it supports. There are various pin sizes available.
- SIMM Sockets (Single In-line Memory Module). These have a single row of pins which connect memory modules to circuit boards. They are space-saving and can be installed at predetermined angles with positive polarisation to prevent memory modules from being inserted incorrectly. They are used mainly in older computers dating from the 1980s to late 1990s. Available in various sizes and number of pins.
SMD and Through Hole Mount
IC sockets are mounted onto PCBs by surface mount (SMD) or though hole mounting. This refers to the pins on the socket and how they attach to the board. SMD sockets are attached to the surface of the PCB, while through hole sockets are pushed through holes in the PCB.
What are package types?
IC sockets are designed for a specific package type. This refers to the package of the IC, which in an industry standard size, and its pins. Examples of package type include: