GLOBETEK represents world-class manufacturers of test and measurement systems in India. For the past 25 years, Globetek has consistently delivered on its promise of providing state-of-the-art solutions for test and measurement needs in India. Founded by Mr G.Venkatesh, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Science, Globetek represents companies across USA, Europe and Japan.


# 739, 13th Cross, 7th Block , Jayanagar, Bengaluru – 560 070, Karnataka, INDIA

+91 80 267 717 70

What is an IC socket?

By KNS Rao

Former Project Director, IRNSS, ISRO

IC Socket

An IC socket is a device used to electrically connect an Integrated Circuit (IC) to a printed circuit board to verify the IC’s electrical characteristics and assess its reliability. The socket allows for the repeated insertion and removal of multiple ICs, making it suitable for conducting reliability tests iteratively.

Applications of IC Socket

The IC’s socket’s ability to offer easy removal and replacement has made them invaluable in fields of:

1) Microelectronic applications: In this field,IC sockets are indispensable tools for testing, development, programming, and prototyping purposes.

The role of sockets in the life cycle of Integrated Circuits (ICs) is vital, evolving through distinct phases from concept to field replacement. During the concept/prototype phase, IC sockets facilitate easy testing without the need for soldering, with factors like bandwidth, resistance, current capacity, compliance, and temperature management crucial for socket selection.

In the design validation phase, sockets must endure various environmental tests, necessitating robust construction and low-cost solutions. As applications are developed, sockets enable device swapping for software testing, requiring high bandwidth and signal integrity.

In the production phase, sockets undergo rigorous burn-in and functional testing, demanding high-temperature endurance and cost-effectiveness. Finally, in the upgrade/field replacement phase, sockets allow for easy device replacement or upgrade, typically using low-cost, durable solutions. Throughout these phases, selecting sockets with adaptable contact technologies and standardized footprints ensures efficient IC testing and reduces overall testing costs per IC lifecycle.

2) Space exploration: where satellites and rovers operate in harsh environments, high performance IC sockets such as those offered by Ironwood Electronics, capable of operating reliably at high temperatures, play a vital role in ensuring the reliability and functionality of onboard electronics. They enable engineers to swiftly replace malfunctioning components without intricate soldering procedures, thereby minimizing downtime and ensuring the continued operation of critical space missions.

3) Automotive industry: Here, the IC sockets including high bandwidth sockets such as the GHz sockets offered by Ironwood Electronics, are indispensable for testing, development, diagnostics, and aftermarket upgrades. They facilitate efficient testing and debugging of automotive electronics, enable easy installation and replacement of ICs in embedded systems, and support aftermarket modifications without soldering or permanent alterations. High bandwidth sockets specifically accommodate the demanding data transmission requirements of modern vehicle systems, contributing to the reliability and functionality of automotive electronics.

4) Medical equipment industry: This industry heavily relies on precise electronic systems for life-support and diagnostic purposes and IC sockets offer a practical solution for quick maintenance and repair. By incorporating IC sockets into medical devices, technicians can easily swap out faulty ICs, ensuring uninterrupted functionality and minimizing disruptions in critical medical procedures.

Beyond these specific applications, IC sockets find versatile use in various fields:

Prototyping and development: IC sockets provide a platform for easy experimentation with different ICs without the need for permanent modifications to the PCB, facilitating rapid prototyping and design iteration.

Education and training: IC sockets offer a safe and accessible means for students and hobbyists to learn about electronics and experiment with circuits, fostering hands-on learning experiences in educational settings.

Consumer electronics: IC sockets allow for occasional repairs or upgrades of specific components in consumer devices, providing a convenient solution for extending the lifespan and functionality of electronic products.

How to select an IC socket?
ic socket 8 pin

IC sockets are vital components in modern product design, testing, and production processes, especially for high-performance Integrated Circuits (ICs). These sockets come in various forms and mounting techniques to meet demanding requirements, including smaller form factors for close component proximity and integration of controlled impedance geometries.

Testing involves two categories: IC level and System level, each requiring specific criteria for validation. The primary function of an IC socket is to provide a connection mechanism from the IC to the circuit board with minimal electrical load, allowing for easy replacement or upgrading of ICs.

Factors to consider while selecting an IC are:

Bandwidth: This is a critical factor, as it ensures minimal signal loss and proper functionality at specific speeds.

Other factors such as DC series resistance, current carrying capability, temperature range, and lifecycle also play significant roles in IC testing and socket selection. Careful consideration of these factors is essential to ensure the successful testing and functionality of IC devices.

In today’s market, a variety of socket contact technologies are available, encompassing embedded wire-on elastomer, silver particle elastomer, plated flex circuit capped elastomer, gold plated diamond particle interconnects, stamped contacts, spring contacts, hybrid contacts, and other innovative variations. Key factors to consider when selecting a socket for IC testing include:

● A compact footprint
● Ease of chip replacement
● Straightforward mounting methodology
● Adaptability for moving sockets between boards
● Cost-effectiveness

It’s noteworthy that no single contact technology can fully satisfy all requirements for IC testing throughout its lifecycle. Therefore, opting for a socket equipped with replaceable modules featuring diverse contact technologies can effectively cater to the evolving test needs of an IC’s lifecycle.

Additionally, the socket footprint significantly influences the proximity of components to the IC, particularly in high-frequency applications where components such as series resistors, capacitors, and tuning inductors must be positioned in close proximity to the IC. Standardizing socket footprints can also contribute to reducing overall testing costs per IC.

Different types of IC Sockets
types of ic sockets

Depending on the application requirements, one can choose from different types of socket technologies.

● Spring Pin Sockets: These sockets are perfect for endurance and wide temperature range testing. With pitches ranging from 0.3mm to 1.27mm, they cater to various test applications for packages like BGA (Ball Grid Array), LGA (Land Grid Array), QFN (Quad Flat No-Lead), QFP (Quad Flat Package), and SOIC (Small Outline Integrated Circuit) devices.

● Silver Button Sockets: Engineered for high-speed signals, these sockets offer exceptional performance with signal speeds in the GHz range. They are suitable for various package types such as BGA, QFN, and LGA, available in pitches ranging from 0.2mm to 1.27mm.

● GHz Elastomer Sockets: Designed to achieve excellent signal integrity, these sockets feature embedded wire in elastomer contacts. Supporting pitches down to 0.3mm, they are ideal for prototype and test applications for BGA and QFN/MLF (Micro Lead Frame) packages.

● Silver Ball Matrix Sockets: Experience high bandwidth, temperature resistance, and endurance with these sockets, featuring unique elastomer contacts. They support various package types such as LGA, BGA, QFN, CSP (Chip Scale Package), POP (Package-on-Package), WLP (Wafer-Level Package), and more, with pitches ranging from 0.25mm to 1.27mm.

We have provided a detailed overview on our IC sockets and related products page.

What is an 8-pin, 16-pin IC Socket?

The pin refers to the number of points in an integrated circuit. An 8-pin IC Socket provides a temporary and reusable connection point for an integrated circuit (IC) with 8 pins.

How to use an IC socket?

Using an IC socket is a relatively simple procedure. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

● Locate the socket area: Find the designated area on the printed circuit board (PCB) where the IC socket is intended to be placed.
● Align the socket: Carefully align the pins of the socket with the corresponding holes on the PCB, ensuring correct orientation. Some manufacturers like Ironwood Electronics provide alignment guides to help ease this process.
● Secure the socket: If it’s a mechanical socket, gently press it down and use screws to secure it firmly onto the PCB.
● Insert the IC: Once the socket is securely in place, carefully position the IC and gently press it down onto the contacts of the socket. Then, close the socket lid. Depending on the type of socket, there may be a torque screw that needs to be tightened to ensure proper contact. Some socket designs are tailored to provide optimal contact based on the thickness of the IC.

While these steps provide a general overview, there are additional nuances to consider when locating, aligning, and inserting the socket. For more detailed information, you can refer to our comprehensive guide available here.

Please note: It’s essential to consult the datasheets of the specific IC and socket for detailed instructions and to handle them properly to avoid damaging these delicate components.

IC Socket Price

Temperature requirements: Sockets designed to withstand extreme temperatures typically involve higher manufacturing costs.

Socket material: Plastic sockets are generally more economical compared to their metal counterparts, owing to differences in material costs and manufacturing processes.

Pitch of the socket: referring to the distance between the center of one contact point to the next, can impact pricing. Sockets with finer pitches often require more intricate manufacturing processes, contributing to higher costs.

Contact technology: Advanced contact technologies capable of supporting higher bandwidths tend to come with a premium price tag due to their sophisticated design and construction.

Type of lid: Certain lid options, such as those offering enhanced protection or functionality, may incur additional expenses.

Off-the-shelf versus customized sockets: Here, availability plays a significant role. Standard ICs with readily available sockets typically carry lower costs, while customization may necessitate additional design fees.

Bulk purchase: purchasing sockets in bulk quantities can lead to economies of scale, resulting in reduced unit prices. Bulk purchasing allows for negotiation of lower prices with suppliers and can help offset initial setup costs for customized solutions.

How we can help you

At Globetek, we have partnered with US-based Ironwood Electronics to bring home over 8,000 products. The company has built over 100,000 sockets, one million adaptors and over 15,000 catalog parts for the semiconductor industry across the world. We help our customers with procuring and solutioning of these components.

If you want to know more, please reach out to us, and our team will be happy to help you.

Enquire Now

Related Posts

Enquire Now