Intel: We're Still Committed To Sockets

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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  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    Don't worry, if you want a socketed processor, you can feel free to pay upwards of $500 for a Haswell-E chip. :)
  • halcyon
    Yea. I think it would have been a mistake to leave LGA for BGA. Even when doing a lower end system I like to be able to offer our customers the ability to more power if they find they want or need it. ...and our customers often want Intel products because that's what they know.
  • mousseng
    When they say "the foreseeable future," do they mean the one where they have 5nm processors in sight or are they just talking about next year?
  • djscribbles
    I thought the idea of dropping sockets was rather interesting, personally. The negatives are obvious, and would have been bad, but if they still had high performance offerings it wouldn't be the end of the world.
    I don't know that I've ever upgraded my CPU without also grabbing a new mobo and usually RAM. On the flipside, troubleshooting components would be much much easier, you would have one RMA that covered mobo, cpu, and theoretically RAM. If you could buy an i5-3570k on a z77 board with 2xpcie slots and 8GB (and 2 expansion RAM slots) for 250-275$, 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.
  • ojas
    Told you (all) so.
  • husker
    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.
  • Bloob
    "We won't abandon sockets while AMD is still making x86 CPUs" is what I'm getting...
  • dark_knight33
    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.
  • -Fran-
    Hahahaha, God...

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

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

  • esrever
    LGA 2011 replacement will still use sockets. All the other parts, who knows!