News Column

Patent Issued for Structure for Removable Processor Socket

June 18, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- A patent by the inventors Grice, Jonathan K. (Raleigh, NC); Parker, Emil P. (Youngsville, NC); Williams, Shelby H. (Raleigh, NC), filed on August 19, 2013, was published online on June 3, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8740639 is assigned to International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Central processor unit (CPU) chips are generally connected to computer device circuit boards through socket structures that function to mechanically fix the CPU to the board while also providing a circuitry interface that establishes electrical connections to respective elements on the CPU and circuit board. Socket designs for CPU chips generally include a bed of hundreds of pins that the CPU rests upon. The pins, or a separate socket structure including the pins, are soldered to or otherwise permanently affixed to the underlying circuit board in order to provide robust mechanical connections that also provide reliable electronic circuit connections that support the transmission of signals without degrading the information conveyed thereby.

"Such connections are generally permanent from the perspective of an end-user. The CPU is generally not removable unless returned to a service provider rework facility. The socket pins are also easily damaged by improper CPU installation, dropped tools, inadvertent handling, and shipping damage. CPU pins are frequently damaged when upgrading a system with additional CPUs, or when swapping CPUs in troubleshooting procedures. Boards shipped to product engineering entities for failure analysis frequently arrive with bent pins, sometimes rendering diagnose of any indicated failure impossible via irrecoverable shipping damage. Bent pins and other damage to the pins may require an entire system board to be replaced. In some implementation examples, as many 20% of CPU-system board assemblies over a designated manufacturing time period must be replaced due to bent CPU pins.

"Although improved CPU installation and removal tools may reduce the number and extent of pin damage incidents, such tools do not entirely eliminate the risk and occurrence of pin damage, and damage to expensive components continues to occur."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In one aspect of the present invention, a socket has pins projecting outward from a planar top side of a socket in a grid array to form electrical connections to chip connections on a bottom side of a central processing unit chip. Ball contacts in circuit connection with the top side pins project discrete rounded electrically-conductive metal surfaces outward from a generally planar bottom side of the socket in a ball grid array, the socket bottom side generally parallel to the socket top side, wherein the projecting rounded connection surfaces of the ball grid array are selected to form electrical connections via contact with socket pad connections arrayed in a planar pad grid array on a planar circuit board. Differently keyed setoff apertures formed through the socket between the top and bottom socket sides in a keyed socket aperture arrangement pattern dispose the setoff apertures about corresponding differently keyed standoffs projecting upward from a planar circuit board including the grid array pad connections, so that the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces are aligned with corresponding ones of the grid array pad connections. A ring of compressible resilient material is located on a lower surface of the socket bottom planar side and surrounding the socket ball contacts.

"Accordingly, when retaining screws passing through a heat sink disposed above a central processing unit chip above the socket top side, and passing one each through the socket setoff apertures, are tightened into the planar board standoffs, the retaining screws bring the heat sink downward with compressive force against a top surface of the central processor unit chip, which urges the central processor unit chip downward with the compressive force against the socket top side. This results in electrically conductive connections of the chip electrical connections to the socket pins, and the compressive force further received by the socket from the central processing unit chip is translated by the socket to urge the bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces into electrically conductive contact with the aligned circuit board socket pad connections, and to also compress the compressible resilient ring between the socket bottom lower surface and a planar upper surface of the planar circuit board that surrounds the planar pad grid array on the planar circuit board. The compressed ring resists the compression with resilient material forces projected against the socket bottom lower surface and the planar circuit board upper surface and thereby seals the surrounded electrically conductive contacts between the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces and the aligned circuit board socket pad connections from dust and debris infiltration. The retaining screws also thereby mechanically maintain the electrically conductive contacts between the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces and the aligned circuit board socket pad connections in a fixed assembly without requiring permanently affixing said connections together via solder or an adhesive.

"In another aspect, a method interposes a central processing unit chip above a socket between a top heat sink and a bottom planar upper surface of a circuit board. The central processing unit chip is electrically connected on a bottom side to pins projecting outward from a planar top side of the socket, and the socket pins are in circuit communication with ball contacts projecting discrete rounded electrically-conductive metal surfaces outward from a generally planar bottom side of the socket in a ball grid array, the socket bottom side generally parallel to the socket top side. The method further includes disposing threaded retaining screws through the heat sink and through each of differently keyed setoff apertures formed through the socket between the top and bottom socket sides in a keyed socket aperture arrangement pattern into corresponding differently keyed threaded standoffs projecting upward from the planar circuit board.

"Rotating the threaded retaining screws into the threaded standoffs in the method tightens the heat sink downward with compressive force against a top surface of the central processor unit chip, which urges the central processor unit chip downward with the compressive force against the socket. The socket translates the compressive force from the central processing unit chip to urge the bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces into electrically conductive contact with the aligned circuit board socket pad connections on the planar circuit board upper surface, and to compress a ring of compressible resilient material between a lower surface of the socket bottom planar side that surrounds the socket ball contacts and a planar upper surface of the planar circuit board that surrounds the planar pad grid array on the planar circuit board. The compressed ring projects resilient material forces against the socket bottom lower surface and the planar circuit board upper surface in resistance to the compressive force translated by the socket, thereby sealing the surrounded electrically conductive contacts between the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces and the aligned circuit board socket pad connections from dust and debris infiltration.

"In another aspect, an article of manufacture includes a hardware description language (HDL) design structure encoded on machine-readable data storage medium that when processed in a computer-aided design system generates a machine-executable representation of a socket. Said socket has pins projecting outward from a planar top side of a socket in a grid array to form electrical connections to chip connections on a bottom side of a central processing unit chip. Ball contacts in circuit connection with the top side pins project discrete rounded electrically-conductive metal surfaces outward from a generally planar bottom side of the socket in a ball grid array, the socket bottom side generally parallel to the socket top side, wherein the projecting rounded connection surfaces of the ball grid array are selected to form electrical connections via contact with socket pad connections arrayed in a planar pad grid array on a planar circuit board. Differently keyed setoff apertures formed through the socket between the top and bottom socket sides in a keyed socket aperture arrangement pattern dispose the setoff apertures about corresponding differently keyed standoffs projecting upward from a planar circuit board including the grid array pad connections, so that the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces are aligned with corresponding ones of the grid array pad connections. A ring of compressible resilient material is located on a lower surface of the socket bottom planar side and surrounding the socket ball contacts.

"Accordingly, when retaining screws passing through a heat sink disposed above a central processing unit chip above the socket top side, and passing one each through the socket setoff apertures, are tightened into the planar board standoffs, the retaining screws bring the heat sink downward with compressive force against a top surface of the central processor unit chip, which urges the central processor unit chip downward with the compressive force against the socket top side. This results in electrically conductive connections of the chip electrical connections to the socket pins, and the compressive force further received by the socket from the central processing unit chip is translated by the socket to urge the bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces into electrically conductive contact with the aligned circuit board socket pad connections, and to also compress the compressible resilient ring between the socket bottom lower surface and a planar upper surface of the planar circuit board that surrounds the planar pad grid array on the planar circuit board. The compressed ring resists the compression with resilient material forces projected against the socket bottom lower surface and the planar circuit board upper surface and thereby seals the surrounded electrically conductive contacts between the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces and the aligned circuit board socket pad connections from dust and debris infiltration. The retaining screws also thereby mechanically maintain the electrically conductive contacts between the socket bottom side ball grid array connection surfaces and the aligned circuit board socket pad connections in a fixed assembly without requiring permanently affixing said connections together via solder or an adhesive."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Grice, Jonathan K.; Parker, Emil P.; Williams, Shelby H.. Structure for Removable Processor Socket. U.S. Patent Number 8740639, filed August 19, 2013, and published online on June 3, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8740639.PN.&OS=PN/8740639RS=PN/8740639

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Circuit Board, International Business Machines Corporation.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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