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.