How to Install an AMD
Athlon or Duron Socket A Processor
Last updated: 3/28/01
AMD Socket A Athlon and Duron processors are damaged during installation. The
purpose of this article is to help you avoid that misfortune.
An AMD Tech
Tip regarding Socket A heatsinks states:
"The new exposed flip-chip design of the PGA AMD
Athlon and AMD Duron processors requires a clip [heatsink spring] load
between 12 and 24 pounds (typically 16 pounds), a load that may not be
met by most older heatsink designs." [e.g., Socket 7 heatsink-fans]
"New PGA (Pin Grid Array) AMD Athlon(tm) and AMD
Duron(tm) processors have very different thermal specifications than any
preceding AMD processor? Due to these differences, the AMD Athlon and AMD
Duron processors should NEVER be run without a heatsink, not even for a
few seconds. Doing so will cause the processor to overheat and fail immediately,
resulting in permanent damage. While testing a processor by booting it
up for several seconds without a heatsink installed may be common industry
practice, it should never be attempted with the new PGA AMD Athlon and
AMD Duron processors."
Also, improper installation of the heatsink on the processor
can exert too much force on the CPU (Central Processing Unit or Processor)
die (the little rectangular thing in the middle of the processor--the actual
chip) and damage it--crack the stuff holding it to the rest of the processor.
How AMD Socket A Processors are Packaged. One
can buy two basic flavors of AMD Socket A Processors: OEM (Original Equipment
Manufacturer or a company that makes things such as computers) and PIB (Processor
in a Box or retail version). Both versions are widely available (but
not always available). The OEM version comes without a heatsink-fan
and the PIB version comes with the heatsink-fan, but it is not already attached
to the CPU like the AMD K6-2 PIB processors.
Heatsink Compound. A 1 GHz Athlon generates
about 50 Watts of heat, or about half that of a incandescent light bulb. Most
of the heat is coming from that little bitty die. Thermal compound
between the die and the heatsink is therefore absolutely essential for Socket
A processors. It fills-in microscopic imperfections (scratches, pits,
etc.) on the surface of the die and on the bottom of the heatsink to eliminate
air pockets which are poor thermal conductors. Improper application
of the compound or inferior compound can fry your CPU, damage your motherboard,
corrupt data, and cause other problems, such a computer rebooting itself
on a hot summer day.
There many kinds of thermal compounds used with CPU heatsinks. Among
them are various kinds of silicon and non-silicon grease, adhesives, thermal
pads, double-sided tapes, and thermally applied compounds Adhesives,
epoxy or acrylic, permanently bond the heatsink to the CPU. Thermally
applied compounds fill scratches and eliminate air pockets through a phase-change
process which occurs when the CPU first heats-up. Phase-change material
is usually applied to the bottom of the heat sink and protected with a removable
film during manufacturing. For more information see Heat-sink-attachment
methods optimize thermal performance.
Thermal greases typically provide the best thermal conductivity. They
consist of binder (silicon, etc.) and a metal or metal oxide which conduct
the heat. Some of them are conductors of electricity and others are
not. Those that are not electrical conductors can have capacitive properties
which can affect the operation of electronic components. Thermal greases
are cost effective, but can be messy to apply and difficult to clean-up. I
have also read thermal grease may degrade over time, but have not seen it
in the real world.
We will use the thermal grease that came with the heatsink-fan
as an example in this article. It was manufactured by Stars, is similar
to the stuff sold at Radio Shack, and has more liquid consistency than the
paste-like Shin-Etsu G749 thermal grease used with a Slot 1 Athlon in our Build
Your Own Athlon Computer (Slot 1 CPU) article.
Some readers who like to do things with processors (e.g.,
overclock/overcook them, which I do not recommend) may want to use a higher
performance heatsink-fan and a heatsink compound with a higher thermal conductivity,
such as Artic Silver. The
PIB version of the CPU comes with a thermal compound already applied to the
bottom of the heatsink. If another thermal compound is to be used,
than that pad must be completely removed from the bottom of the heatsink.
the pdf version of this article plus notes
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