Japanese website PC Watch claims that Intel's Haswell processors may be the last desktop-based CPUs with LGA packaging for the mainstream market.
Starting with the Broadwell line that's expected to launch in 2014, all desktop processors built for the mainstream market will reportedly cease using land grid array (LGA) and micro pin grid array (µPGA) packages, and be served up in ball grid array (BGA) packaging instead. That means these Broadwell chips will be just like Intel's Atom processors, soldered into the motherboard and not replaceable like the current Haswell processors and prior generations.
As of late Intel and AMD have provided two separate desktop platforms, addressing the mainstream desktop and the high-end powerhouses. On the Intel front, it's possible for the general consumer to pull out the CPU and replace it with a meatier upgrade. However replacing those LGA-based CPUs will seemingly eliminate that mainstream DIY option altogether unless the user is handy with a soldering iron.
If the news proves true, this will have a huge impact on the PC industry, especially the DIY upgrade market. Users of mainstream desktops won't be able to manually swap out one processor for another if the original CPU fails or the user wants to upgrade. Instead, mainstream consumers will be stuck with whatever they bought, forced to upgrade the entire desktop at a higher price.
Xbit labs points out that because the Intel chips will be soldered into the motherboards, OEMs will be required to stockpile a large number of different mainboards with various features and dissimilar processors just to provide adequate choices for customers. This not only increases business risks for smaller desktop makers, but decreases the ability for motherboard manufacturers to differentiate themselves from their rivals.
The PC Watch report also claims that Intel will provide Broadwell in various multi-chip modules containing Broadwell CPU cores, GPU cores, an integrated memory controller and Wildcat Point input/output controllers. These MCMs will be offered in various thermal design power envelopes including 10W, 15W and 47W/57W.
The move to offer BGA MCMs is reportedly fueled by the market trend towards low-powered CPUs and ultra-thin form factors. However there's speculation that Intel will still provide CPUs in LGA packaging for high-end desktop platforms only.