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Intel: We're Still Committed To Sockets

By - Source: Maximum PC | B 31 comments

Intel has finally stepped forth to defend its position on socket-based CPUs.

Here's the story so far: a recent report indicated that Intel may ditch offering LGA-based processors to the mainstream, off-the-shelf PC market, and rely on BGA packaging due to a market trend towards low-powered CPUs and ultra-thin form factors. Thus retail desktops offered by HP, Acer and other OEMs would not be upgradeable on the CPU front.

The news caused quite a stir, but there was speculation that Intel wouldn't completely abandon the socketed CPU market, offering them to system builders who want only the fastest possible CPU on the earth. Intel didn't respond to the report, but AMD followed up by saying it has no plans to abandon socketed processors, at least not in the next few years.

"As the company that introduced new types of BGA packages in ultrathin platforms several years ago, and today offers BGA-packaged processors for everything from ultrathin notebooks to all-in-one desktops, to embedded applications and tablets, we certainly understand Intel's enthusiasm for the approach," Hook stated. "But for the desktop market, and the enthusiasts with whom AMD has built its brand, we understand what matters to them and how we can continue to bring better value and a better experience."

With AMD's offering now circulating the DIY market, Intel has finally come forward with its own reaction to the report, stating that it has no plans to leave the socketed CPU sector for the "foreseeable future".

"Intel remains committed to the growing desktop enthusiast and channel markets, and will continue to offer socketed parts in the LGA package for the foreseeable future for our customers and the Enthusiast DIY market," Intel spokesman Daniel Snyder told Maximum PC. "However, Intel cannot comment on specific long-term product roadmap plans at this time, but will disclose more details later per our normal communication process."

As MaximumPC points out, Intel usually doesn't respond to speculation and rumor not to mention talk about unreleased products three years and three generations out. The combination of AMD's reply and the general angst caused by the possibility of BGA-only support likely pushed the company to say something in order to calm its restless customers.

But as previously stated, there was no indication that Intel would completely abandon LGA-packaged CPUs, but rather a possibility that Intel would switch to BGA-packaged processors for mainstream desktops. The idea isn't far-fetched: these consumers generally wouldn't upgrade their PC anyway – they'd keep it until it's old enough to crawl like a turtle, and then buy a new one instead of replace the crusty old components.

Even more, there's still plenty of business in the enterprise sector for socket-based CPUs, as network administrators need a quick way to upgrade their processors while saving money and downtime – you can't really do that when the processor is soldered to the motherboard. On the other hand, there's a growing interest in using low-power SoCs in servers, so we'll have to see where that goes and how that affects the LGA-based market.

 

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Bloob , December 6, 2012 5:16 PM
    "We won't abandon sockets while AMD is still making x86 CPUs" is what I'm getting...
  • 16 Hide
    halcyon , December 6, 2012 3:54 PM
    Yea. I think it would have been a mistake to leave LGA for BGA. Even when doing a lower end system I like to be able to offer our customers the ability to more power if they find they want or need it. ...and our customers often want Intel products because that's what they know.
  • 14 Hide
    mousseng , December 6, 2012 4:18 PM
    When they say "the foreseeable future," do they mean the one where they have 5nm processors in sight or are they just talking about next year?
Other Comments
    Display all 31 comments.
  • 16 Hide
    halcyon , December 6, 2012 3:54 PM
    Yea. I think it would have been a mistake to leave LGA for BGA. Even when doing a lower end system I like to be able to offer our customers the ability to more power if they find they want or need it. ...and our customers often want Intel products because that's what they know.
  • 14 Hide
    mousseng , December 6, 2012 4:18 PM
    When they say "the foreseeable future," do they mean the one where they have 5nm processors in sight or are they just talking about next year?
  • 4 Hide
    djscribbles , December 6, 2012 4:21 PM
    I thought the idea of dropping sockets was rather interesting, personally. The negatives are obvious, and would have been bad, but if they still had high performance offerings it wouldn't be the end of the world.
    I don't know that I've ever upgraded my CPU without also grabbing a new mobo and usually RAM. On the flipside, troubleshooting components would be much much easier, you would have one RMA that covered mobo, cpu, and theoretically RAM. If you could buy an i5-3570k on a z77 board with 2xpcie slots and 8GB (and 2 expansion RAM slots) for 250-275$, that would be a great value and cover a huge majority of what users need. If you have problems, you need to troubleshoot the GPU, the PSU, and the mobo, and RMA one of the 3.

    I would hate to see the options we have now eliminated, but there are certainly benefits to the other approach.
  • -4 Hide
    ojas , December 6, 2012 4:23 PM
    Told you (all) so.
  • 2 Hide
    husker , December 6, 2012 4:52 PM
    The problem is cost. This would push the price higher for the enthusiast. Manufactures would have to build and stock a variety of MB/CPU combinations. They would also end up selling fewer of the socketed variety and, since this is now a "high end" feature, they will charge more for them to make up for the increased costs.
  • 23 Hide
    Bloob , December 6, 2012 5:16 PM
    "We won't abandon sockets while AMD is still making x86 CPUs" is what I'm getting...
  • 6 Hide
    dark_knight33 , December 6, 2012 5:18 PM
    Why don't we go the other way with this? Maybe instead of Intel dropping LGA support for BGA, ARM can add LGA to their line up. Upgradable SOC procs for phones and tablets would be a "killer feature" IMO.
  • 4 Hide
    Yuka , December 6, 2012 5:29 PM
    Hahahaha, God...

    For a moment I read: "We're Still Committed To Suckers" xD!

    Well, anyway, as long as AMD is around, they will.

    Cheers!
  • 5 Hide
    esrever , December 6, 2012 5:59 PM
    LGA 2011 replacement will still use sockets. All the other parts, who knows!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 6, 2012 6:31 PM
    It's really dumb that some people interpret every move that Intel makes in terms of AMD. If they have any clue to how product planning works they would not think that way. BGA is a move to further drive down platform costs for lower tiers of the market. The majority of the market is actually in that region. Enthusiasts only think in terms of their own little world.
  • 1 Hide
    stickmansam , December 6, 2012 6:57 PM
    The issue is not so much about the loss of choice in paring "budget" parts with higher end parts (which still bad) but the problem with parts failing and needing replacement. I am assuimng the mb makers will have to buy the cpu from intel and solder it on themselves. That makes the mb vendors the people we will RMA to if either the mb or cpu fails. Thats going to be extra work for them and potentially not offsetted by not having to put in a socket. E.g. why solder cpu to board when you can just solder on a socket. I doubt there will be any price saving except that the CPU's will now be bought in bulk by the mb makers which can save moeny. But don't the major e-tailers we buy our CPU's from already buy in bulk?
    Also in regard to repairability, if my motherboard is out of warranty and it dies, it's going to take out my CPU as well. That means I can't just take out the CPU (since its solderd on) and put it into a new board. One can say that the processor by then may be potetially outdated and no use, but I say even if it's not suitable for gaming, I can still re-purpose the CPU (if a socketable one) as a secondary rig or file server of HTPC or give it to some one else or sell the CPU. I don't have any of those choices if the CPU is soldered on. I see that Intel is saying no changes for the foreseeable future, but what does that mean?
    Is Broadwell beyond the foreseeable future?
  • 2 Hide
    noob2222 , December 6, 2012 8:07 PM
    "we won't abandon socket cpus, you can always buy haswell instead of broadwell in the forseeable future"
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 6, 2012 8:38 PM
    dark_knight33,

    While normally I would disagree with you due to our past differences, I think you have an excellet idea. Just remember though cell phones come with preloaded software. I can't imagine them giving up that kind of power for a few enthusiasts. Besides this would make forcing people to by a new cell phone every two years harder.

    And besides, why would you need more power out of cell phone? You already used them to find me once.... Geez...
  • 1 Hide
    DRosencraft , December 6, 2012 8:48 PM
    An anecdote on the beauty of replaceable parts;

    The other day my brother rebuilt his system (he was away from home for 3 months and didn't need his PC so he took it apart and boxed it). He put it together and wasn't getting any picture. He tried a couple different GPUs (mine and a GeForce 210, and still nothing. He was able to swap another CPU in (a Sempron) to confirm if it was a problem with the board d or the CPU. It worked. Then tested the original CPU (FX-8150) in my board, and it worked. Put everything back together again and realized there was a slight issue with the CPU socket on the board where it isn't latching the CPU securely, so the board wasn't powering properly. Now if this was a board with the BGA design, there would have been no headache of trying to figure out what was wrong, but he'd have had to toss the board, with its CPU and then throw down several hundred dollars for an equivalent CPU and motherboard.

    I'm glad that, for now, Intel is staying off that track. I would have liked a bit more convincing statement, but I suppose this is better than nothing.
  • 5 Hide
    hannibal , December 6, 2012 9:05 PM
    Well they say the same as before. Low and middle range mey leave LGA and highend will keep on using it... What does this "exactly" means, we will see later.
  • 0 Hide
    PreferLinux , December 6, 2012 9:51 PM
    drosencraftAn anecdote on the beauty of replaceable parts;The other day my brother rebuilt his system (he was away from home for 3 months and didn't need his PC so he took it apart and boxed it). He put it together and wasn't getting any picture. He tried a couple different GPUs (mine and a GeForce 210, and still nothing. He was able to swap another CPU in (a Sempron) to confirm if it was a problem with the board d or the CPU. It worked. Then tested the original CPU (FX-8150) in my board, and it worked. Put everything back together again and realized there was a slight issue with the CPU socket on the board where it isn't latching the CPU securely, so the board wasn't powering properly. Now if this was a board with the BGA design, there would have been no headache of trying to figure out what was wrong, but he'd have had to toss the board, with its CPU and then throw down several hundred dollars for an equivalent CPU and motherboard. I'm glad that, for now, Intel is staying off that track. I would have liked a bit more convincing statement, but I suppose this is better than nothing.

    And if it had been a BGA design, there wouldn't have been a socket to have problems in the first place, so it would have never occurred. And note, I don't want BGA-only on mainstream CPUs any more than anyone else.
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , December 6, 2012 10:15 PM
    pretty much proved that guy who spread the stupid rumor are idiot. Intel will not go the 3dfx way to alienate the motherboard makers. (BGA has a huge impact to them)
  • 1 Hide
    twelch82 , December 6, 2012 11:05 PM
    BGA makes some sense for small form factor, embedded CPUs. Not so much for desktops.

    I could actually foresee a future where your motherboard would come with a low TDP, relatively inexpensive BGA processor embedded on it, but also have a socket for the main CPU. The system can stay awake via the low power consumption embedded CPU, and maybe even do some basic tasks, and wake the main CPU and other components on an as-needed basis.

    That would actually be a great feature for someone like me. I leave my computer on all the time so I can access it remotely, but most of the time it's not doing anything.
  • 2 Hide
    bit_user , December 6, 2012 11:22 PM
    This article misses a key point. Socketed processors aren't so much about upgrades, which are already largely defeated by frequent socket changes, as about mixing and matching CPU with the motherboard, based on features, cost etc.

    And the original semiaccurate article went on to suggest that Intel is planning to sell these chips on boards, instead of just bare. That would mean Intel gets to play market segmentation games and force you to pay through the nose for a high-spec system.
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