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LGA PGA BGA: What’s the Difference Between the Grid Arrays?

Over the years, IC (integrated circuits) have significantly evolved. Earlier on, in the 90s, ICs were super huge. However, in the 21st century, we have ICs that are downright tiny. Manufacturers utilize these tiny microscopic ICs to develop small but powerful CPUs that manage powerful computers. However, when going over this topic on CPUs, you will likely come across words such as LGA, PGA, and BGA. These terms, which we shall discuss later on, describe various types of IC packages. However, these packages bear differences that breed variation. But are these differences that we are talking about? And out of the three, which is the best IC to utilize?

Ball Grid Array

Ball Grid Array (BGA) packages utilize tiny solder balls to form connections. These balls follow a square grid arrangement consisting of rows and columns on the backside of an IC. Due to this design, these packages can form high-density connections. The connections are so many such that they can even double the number of connections made on PGA packages.

BGA solder balls offer short connections, which leads to a chipset with impeccable performance.

Advantages of utilizing BGA packages

BGA packages have the following benefits:

  1. Optimal space utilization – BGA packages are tiny. They hence take up less space. However, their small size does not lower their performance. Therefore, you can generate tiny gadgets that are super powerful using this incredible Package.
  2. Heat dissipation – BGA packages dissipate heat impeccably. Therefore, they rarely overheat.
  3. Low impedance – BGA packages have low impedance because of the short lead connection paths. The packages are hence able to propagate signals pretty fast.
  4. Easy to unsolder – BGA packages are super easy to unsolder. The unsoldering process is also efficient such that it does not damage the BGA package or the PCB.
  5. Deballing is made possible – BGA packages let you remove old, worn-out solder balls via a process known as deballing. In doing so, you optimize your BGA to produce excellent outputs.
  6. Reballing – BGA packages let you populate your Package with new solder balls through a process known as reballing.
  7. Portability – BGA chips are portable. That means that you can eject them from one device and mount them onto another device, and they will still function well.
  8. Impeccable thermal and mechanical properties – BGAs have impeccable thermal and mechanical properties. Due to these properties, you can utilize this gadget as a CPU for your computer.

Disadvantages of utilizing BGAs

pin grid array

Even though BGAs have a lot of advantages, they still have some disadvantages. These disadvantages include:

  1. Solder inspection – To inspect BGA solder joints, you must utilize x-rays. That is because these packages use their bottom side to make connections making it hard to access the component-to-PCB link.
  2. Hard to repair – the access limitation factor greatly hinders the repair process. To carry out BGA repair, you must utilize special equipment and skills.
  3. Challenging to solder – To solder BGA packages onto PCBs, you have to utilize special equipment.
  4. Application limitation – BGA packages only work on multi-layer circuit boards. They, therefore, have limited applications.

Pin Grid Array (PGA)

Pin Grid Array (PGA) are IC packages that manufacturers mostly utilize to make processors solely. While BGAs utilize solder balls to create connections, PGAs utilize tiny pins to do the same.

PGAs also arrange their pins in a square grid that features rows and columns. However, the array arrangement and the amount of connection made vary. Therefore, PGA has a lot of variants and hence varying CPU sockets.

PGA pen rows are arranged offset or in parallel. These pen rows are labeled, and you can pinpoint them using unique letters and numbers.

PGA Types

  1. Ceramic Pin Grid Array (CPGA) – CPGAs feature a semiconductor chip fixed onto a ceramic carrier that conducts heat. Intel Pentium first-generation CPUs were made out of these packages.
  2. Plastic Pin Grid Array (PPGA) – In PPGA, the semiconductors chip carrier is a plastic component. These package variations are cheap, and they have impeccable thermal properties when you compare them with other PGAs. They also have better electrical performance when you compare them with ceramics.

PPGA application areas over the years include:

  • Application in the Celeron processor
  • Application in the Pentium MMX CPU
  • Staggered Pin Grid Array (SPGA) – SPGAs feature connection rows that are “staggered.” These PGA variations are significant for CPUs that bear more than two hundred connections. That is because the layout of the offset provides more space.

SPGA application areas include:

  • In the Pentium process
  • Modern CPUs
  • Flip Chip Pin Grid Arrays (FCPGA) – In this package variation, the IC attaches onto the carrier’s top.

The application areas of this Package over the years include:

  • Application in the Pentium III
  • Application in some Celeron CPUs

Since PGAs feature pins, circuit boards that utilize these packages feature holes. The pins go through their corresponding holes, creating a connection. Since the holes are pre-made, this process does not need much pressure.

Land Grid Array (LGA)

Land Grid Array packages and PGAs are two opposite sides of the same coin. What this means is that these two components do the same job, but they have different connection designs.

In LGAs, contact pins protrude from the mainboard’s base. The CPU, on the other hand, features contact points that match those of the circuit board. To create a connection, merge the pins to their corresponding points, and you are all set.

Application areas of this Package over the years include:

  1. In Celeron CPUs
  2. In Pentium CPUs
  3. And lastly, in Xeon CPUs

Advantages of utilizing LGAs

Advantages of utilizing LGAs include:

  1. The chip size – LGAs are tiny. Hence, they are space-efficient, and you can utilize them to create small, powerful gadgets.
  2. Pin size – LGA pins are super small. That means that you can easily fit many pins on a small area.
  3. Not prone to damage – LGA pins are on the circuit board. On the other hand, the sockets bear points that are not prone to damage.

PGAs VS LGAs

PGA contact pins protrude from the socket; this makes the circuit board less prone to damage. On the other hand, in LGA, contact pins protrude from the circuit board, making it more prone to damage.

Another difference is that repairing pins in PGA packages is easier than repairing pins in LGA packages.

Conclusion

LPA PGA and BGA are incredible IC packages that have been in the tech market for years. Of course, these packages bear advantages and disadvantages. However, overall their performances have led to the tech evolution. Now you can utilize small and powerful devices such as phones to carry out complex computations.