Everything You Need To Know About IC Sockets

Everything You Need To Know About IC Sockets

IC socket source Freepik

As long as your line of work involves building products using integrated circuits, you should always have the right information about IC sockets. Take time to know what they are and what they are used for.  With the correct knowledge or information, you will be in a perfect position to make the right decision when it comes to buying IC sockers. In this article, we are going to break down all the details that you should know about IC sockets.

What is an IC socket?

An IC socket, which is also known as an integrated circuit socket or simply a chip socket is a physical device that is designed to give an IC maximum physical and mechanical support. Probably you know that ICs are small electronic circuits containing several electronic components. They are delicate and sensitive.

IC sockets are used to enhance the stability and safety of the sockets. As long as the socket is there, you will be able to handle an IC with maximum confidence. This is to imply that the primary use of the IC socket is to protect the chip. They also come in handy when handling ICs, especially when doing the insertion and removal of chips from their devices.

Types of IC sockets

There are different types of IC sockets in the market. They come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. Usually, each socket is designed to meet the requirements of a specific integrated circuit.  Chip circuits are grouped depending on several physical and structural properties such as number of pins, arrangement of pins, and even the materials used. Here are some of the main types that you should know:

  • Dual In-line package (DIP) sockets: These are ranked as the most common types of chip socket. The name ‘dual’ is derived from the fact that They have two parallel rows of pins, a configuration that makes them match the structural configuration of DIP chips
  • Single In-line Package: These chip sockets have a single line of pins that match with the arrangement of the single-line chips.
  • Plastic Leaded Chip Carrier (PLCC) Sockets: These chips are square-shaped and have pins on all sides of the socket. They are perfectly designed for the surface mount chips. And are connected to J-shaped leads.
  • BGA Socket (Ball Grid Array): These are sockets that are designed to be used with solder balls. This means that you will not use lead to connect the socket to the chip.
  • PGA (Pin Grid Array): As the name suggests, these sockets are perfectly designed for the chips whose pins are arranged in a grid array.
  • Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) Sockets: ZIF socketsare designed in a way that they rely on levers for the placement of a chip. Using a lever, you can insert and remove the chip in a socket easily.

Image of ZIF socket: source Wiki

Image of ZIF socket: source Wiki

So, which type of chip socket should I use?  Your choice will mainly depend on the specifications of your chip. As you can see, the pins on the above sockets are arranged to fit straight into the holes of their respective chips.

What are chip sockets made of?

One of the key factors that you should focus on when buying chi sockets is the material or make. The material will determine the strength, reliability, and even suitability of the socket. In most IC sockets, the body is made of plastic while the contacts are made of metals.

High-grade plastic materials are used because of their capacity to provide protection and at the same time, they are lightweight. To be precise, thermoplastic compounds such as PPS are the most preferred plastic materials for IC sockets. They can withstand high temperatures and at the same time have excellent electrical insulation properties.

The metal contacts that are used must be good conductors of electricity. Commonly used metal materials include copper, bronze, and even phosphor. Other than excellent conductivity, these metals are highly flexible and can make perfect contact with IC pins. However, there are also high-grade IC sockets that have gold-plated contacts instead of average copper metals. The purpose of the gold plating is to protect the contact from corrosion and enhance the conductivity property of the contact.

Advantages of IC sockets

Why should I use sockets on my chip? Here are some of the top reasons:

  • Maximum protection: With the socket, you can be sure of the security and protection of your IC chip. The IC will be well-shielded from physical threats, especially when you are handling it.
  • Maximum flexibility; There are many different ways in which sockets enhance the flexibility and versatility of integrated circuits. First, they make it easy to try out ICs with different prototype circuits. You can easily swap a chip with another one in an electric circuit.
  • Easy to handle: The sockets make it easy to handle the IC chips. This is important when carrying out repair and maintenance activities. You can easily replace damaged chips with new ones.
  • Cost-saving: The use of IC sockets has a direct impact on the cost of chips in different ways. First, by protecting the ICs, a socket reduces the cost of maintaining chips due to breakages. Cost reduction is also due to the ease of repairing and troubleshooting the IC.

What are the disadvantages of IC sockets?

Even though IC sockets are of great importance in integrated circuits, they also come with some forms of inconveniences. First, they tend to affect the size of the chip. Including a socket can easily increase the dimensions of the integrated circuit. This can be a major issue, especially in applications where size is a major factor.

Introducing an IC socket can increase the contact resistance of the integrated circuit. This is possible mainly because of the increased height caused by the socket.  A higher contact resistance is likely to cause a degradation in the performance of the chip.


I am sure with this information; you can make smart decisions when it comes to choosing IC sockets. Pay attention to all the key features that we have highlighted such as type, material, and compatibility. When it comes to buying IC sockets for your application, ensure that you get them from reliable chip socket suppliers and distributors in China.

Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Kevin Chen

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