Do you remember the time when people had to deal with giant integrated circuits? Fortunately, we are now able to access smaller and more handy ICs. Small but impressive CPUs are built by the manufacturers with these tiny ICs, and they power some of the most powerful devices made today.
However, it is almost certain that you’ll come across terms like BGA and LGA when you talk about Central Processing Unit (CPU) sockets. Despite these words sounding alike, the two terms refer to different types of IC packages and breed variations.
This article will discuss the latter, elaborating on the questions of what are LGA and BGA, when can they be used, and what are their main differences. Let’s continue.
What Is BGA?
Also known as Ball Grid Array, BGA can be defined as an IC package preceding PHGA, the Pin Grid Array. However, unlike PGA, which connects to PCB by using pins, the Ball Grid Array uses pads with small solder balls, as its name suggests.
However, the PCBs must have copper pad patterns that match the solder ball patterns for BGAs to work. In addition, solder balls can be placed manually or automatically. Also, BGAs are easier to assemble when the tacky flux is used.
After assembling, the BGAs are heated by their manufacturers by using infrared heaters or the inside of a reflow oven. The heating process gradually helps in melting the solder ball, thus securing the package to the PCB. Because of this, the BGA also tends to align correctly with a considerable distance from other components.
When the solders cool down after heating, it will finally connect the BGA to PCB. There are times when you may find these solder balls on the PCB or the package. This is a way to combine both packages.
What Is an LGA?
The Land Grid Array, abbreviated as LGA, is an integrated circuit package that has pins on the CPU socket rather than on the IC. It should be noted that this can only happen when the PCB comprises a socket connector.
If it does not have a socket connector, the other way to connect LGA to the CPU socket is by soldering the LGA directly onto the circuit board.
As the name suggests, a Land Grid Array consists of rectangular grids on its sides. Using all grid columns and rows present on the LGA is also not necessary.
The flat contacts (grips) on the sides of the LGA are typically made by soldering paste or LGA sockets. Additionally, grids may have triangular and circular-shaped elements along with polygonal symmetry. In some cases, they may even look like honeycombs.
Optimization of a product is often based on factors such as the shape, similarity, and electrical distances between nearby contacts of a spring contact.
What Is a CPU Socket?
A CPU socket on a PCB connects a CPU to a computer motherboard using several types of pins. A socket-connected CPU also eliminates the need for solder, making the replacement process easier.
These CPU sockets are, however, used more often in desktop computers typically used for gaming purposes, while smaller devices like laptops usually have soldered versions.
It is not just about getting the features you want when choosing a motherboard. This means that it is vital to inspect your motherboard thoroughly to see if it has types of CPU sockets that support your CPU model.
This also means that regardless of what computer and CPU model you own, it wouldn’t work if your PCB had the wrong CPU socket. Computer manufacturers such as Intel and AMD make different CPU socket types that completely support all their basic or high-end desktop computers.
LGA vs BGA. What Is the Basic Difference?
Ball Grid Array and Land Grid Array are both surface mount technologies built for computer motherboards. Their fundamental purpose is to determine how your CPU will be placed on its motherboard’s circuit board.
The real question is this: what is the main difference between these two socket types?
The most significant difference between LGA and BGA is quite simple. Computers using LGA socket type can be easily plugged in and out and be removed from the motherboard. On the other hand, a BGA-based computer needs to be soldered on the circuit board, thus leaving no room for replacement and plugging it in and out of the motherboard.
One can find BGA CPUs in devices like tablets and laptops, while LGA socket types are more commonly found in desktop computers used for gaming purposes.
Let us take a look at the LGA vs. BGA debate and learn their uses, pros, and cons.
Pros of Ball Grid Array
- The small size of BGAs makes them space-efficient. The result is that they allow for the most efficient use of space. However, it is still possible to create small and powerful gadgets regardless of the size of these integrated circuit packages.
- The process of unsoldering BGA packages is simple. This means that PCBs and IC packages are not damaged during the procedure.
- By deballing, it is also possible to remove worn-out or older solder balls from the BGA package.
- Through the reballing process, one can also connect a new solder ball to the BGA package.
- The excellent heat dissipation capabilities of BGA packages make it rare for them to overheat.
- There is no permanence to BGA chips. They can therefore be easily unsoldered. Moving them without causing any damage to other devices is also possible. In addition, if the solder balls are weak, you can deball and reball them.
- Because of its excellent thermal and mechanical properties, the BGA can also be used as a computer CPU.
- Compared to other types of connectors, BGAs proudly offer short lead paths. Therefore, they can generate signals quickly and have low impedance.
Cons of BGA
- Solder joints on BGA packages are difficult to inspect. Due to how BGAs are connected to PCBs on their bellies, x-rays are required to access the connection between the component and the PCB.
- It is only possible to use BGA packages on multilayered circuit boards, so they are not suitable for many applications.
- While these packages are easy to unsolder, soldering them to PCBs requires special equipment.
- BGA repairs are a bit challenging. Therefore, one would require special equipment and expertise to carry out repairs on the BGA socket.
Is BGA an Actual CPU Socket?
As a rule, CPUs using BGA surface mount technology do not connect into a specific socket on a motherboard. The BGA socket describes more accurately how the CPU can be plugged in and out of the circuit board
BGA CPUs, on the other hand, do not have this problem. It is not possible to replace a CPU mounted on a motherboard based on BGA technology. Doing so requires expertise and special equipment.
One of the most significant advantages of the Ball Grid Array is that manufacturers find it easier to produce them in mass. Compared to LGA, it is much more convenient to print the large solder balls found under the BGA CPUs, while LGA requires printing on its intricate and precise pins on the Pin Grid Array CPUs.
Additionally, the PGA and LGA CPUs have extremely small contacts and pins, which makes it difficult to align them with the motherboard due to their small surface areas. BGA-based CPUs are much easier to connect due to their large surface area from the ball side.
All this contributes to BGAs having a much better economic value than Land Grid Arrays. Because of this, computer devices using BGA surface mount technology can be produced in a larger quantity and also quicker than other socket types.
Notably, since mobile devices like laptops and tablets are meant to be moved around, they are more prone to shocks and bumps compared to desktop PCs. This means that it is essential for the CPU to be placed firmly in the circuit board so that it does not move away from its socket during accidents.
Pros of LGA
- Due to their compact size, LGAs are space-savvy. They are useful for building powerful, small computer devices.
- Unlike other package types, LGA packages are durable and unlikely to be damaged easily. This is because it is the board, not the CPU, that has the pins. Additionally, the socket’s bear points are highly durable.
- Due to their tiny size, the manufacturers can fit as many pins over a small surface of the LGA CPU socket.
Cons of LGA
- Although it is not possible for the LGA CPU to get damaged easily, the repairs may cost an arm and a leg if it were to get damaged.
Who Is the Primary User of LGA-Based CPUs?
The LGA socket is used by Intel Core in most of its primary and high-end CPU models. It is important to note that LGAs do not have solder balls or pins to connect themselves to the circuit board.
Instead, it consists of metal pads or grips under its sides. These compact grips are conducive surfaces, thus making contact with the pins that are on the motherboard’s CPU socket.
Possibly the most significant advantage of the Land Grip Array is the fact that it is easily replaced and connected in and out by the user.
As a result, LGA-based CPUs are most commonly used on desktop computers where users will access the motherboard and upgrade or replace the CPU. You will never find an LGA-based CPU on mobile computing devices.
As of now, the following sockets are used by Intel for desktop-grade CPUs.
- LGA 1151 for 7th, 8th, and 9th Gen Core, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs.
- LGA 1200 for 10th and 11th Gen Core, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs.
- LGA 2066 for 10th Gen Intel Core Extreme processors like the Intel Core i9-10980XE.
Frequently Asked Questions
LGA or BGA? Which is easier to connect?
It is much more convenient to connect LGA CPUs to the circuit board. Usually, these PCBs comprise CPU sockets where LGAs can be easily inserted. Even better, no professional help or expertise is required to replace older LGA CPUs. You just need to take the old one out and firmly place the new one.
On the other hand, it is much more difficult to replace a BGA CPU as it requires professional expertise and special equipment to do so. Though this process is effective, it is much more expensive than the LGA replacement.
What is the difference in their components?
While BGA uses solder balls to connect to circuit boards that are typically situated at the bottom of the CPU, there is no need for balls to connect LGAs to the PCB. Instead, LGAs make use of flat contact grips that require CPU sockets or can be soldered directly onto the circuit board.
How are they used in microprocessors?
LGA packages are preferred by most top manufacturers, such as AMD and Intel, especially when it comes to desktop gaming PCs. While that is true, many manufacturers still prefer using BGA CPUs because of their permanent mounting feature used in microprocessors, FPGAs, Wifi chips, and other benefits.
Which CPU Socket Do You Have?
The most basic way to find out which CPU socket your computer consists of is to take a look at the manufacturer’s website and search for the technical details for your CPU model.
In this article, we elaborated on the important differences when it comes to LGA vs. BGA CPUs. While both the sockets have a similar function, that is, offering a connection path for the motherboard and the CPU, both socket types have different usages.
It is important to keep in mind that LGA CPUs are commonly used in desktop computers and can be replaced. On the other hand, it is not possible to replace a BGA CPU so easily, and they are primarily used in mobile computing devices like tablets, laptops, and other similar devices.