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Story 122 – 1971 – Products

Great power in the smallest space

Processing power is also a question of alloy

Processor units in computers of all kinds are constantly becoming more powerful. To connect them to the motherboard despite a huge number of contacts, processor sockets are required. Wieland supplies special, extremely thin strips from which customers make the tiny, enormously tensile contacts.

They are the core element of every notebook, desktop computer or server: the processor units. Their capacity is decisive for the performance of the device - and is continuously improved. In contrast, the first microprocessor that Intel developed for a desktop computer in 1971 was still a lame duck – and comparatively simple in design. At that time, its just 16 contacts could be connected directly to the main board, the so-called motherboard, by simply plugging them on.

Today, more and more signals have to be processed at ever higher clock frequencies. This requires up to 4,000 contacts, and a direct connection to the motherboard is no longer possible. Therefore a processor socket is necessary, which provides the necessary number of contacts – despite the constantly increasing number of contacts in ever smaller installation spaces. Miniaturization is also advancing in this field.

This places special demands on the material used: increasingly thinner copper materials must have extremely high strength with good conductivity in order to provide the contact forces required for secure connections. For this purpose, Wieland manufactures strips only 70 to 80 micrometers thin, i.e. 0.007 mm – 0.008 mm, from the Corson family of alloys which, in addition to copper, contain nickel and silicon and sometimes other elements such as cobalt.

In order to produce these strips with the required strength conditions, excellent mastery of materials engineering – as well as sophisticated plant engineering – is indispensable. Only then is it possible to roll a 25-centimeter thick cast slab into a strip that is just 70 micrometers thick and thus more than 20 kilometers long.

Leading manufacturers around the globe trust in the reliably high Wieland quality for their processor sockets. Whether these are sockets with individual contact pins arranged in a grid (PGA – Pin Grid Array) or sockets with spring-loaded contact pins which tap contact surfaces on the processor housing when plugged in (LGA – Land Grid Array) – in most devices with a processor, high-performance alloys from Wieland perform their job unobtrusively but reliably.