updated 06:30 am EST, Fri November 30, 2012
Socketless move sees Intel merge processors with motherboard
Intel is moving towards creating processors that are not replaceable, according to a number of reports. It has been claimed that a new 14-nanometer architecture called Broadwell will replace the current Land Grid Array (LGA) with a Ball Grid Array (BGA), which would make processor-only upgrades effectively impossible to perform.
Three reports, first from PC Watch, and then later confirmed by SemiAccurate and also ZDnet, effectively confirms rumors that have spread about the change, which will see CPUs soldered directly onto motherboards when Broadwell reaches the market in 2014. Anyone looking to upgrade the processor will be forced into upgrading the two now-combined parts at the same time, increasing costs for hardware enthusiasts and computer support teams.
Intel's motivation for the change seems to be a need to exert more control over the motherboard market, and could potentially lead to motherboard manufacturers being cut out of the market altogether if Intel steps up its own manufacturing efforts. OEMs have only recently been briefed on the change to BGA, though it has been suggested that Intel delayed briefing companies that did not manufacture desktops, focusing instead on briefing ODMs.
While OEMs could end up being squeezed out of the market by Intel's plans, there are bright sides to the equation for them. It is cheaper for manufacturers to directly solder the processor onto a motherboard than it is to solder a socket and fitting a processor, and it could also force stagnant PC sales figures up as people switch to replacing the entire computer.
While Broadwell removes the ability to upgrade the processor only, the socketed CPU is said to be reintroduced for a few generations in its successor, Skylake. While seemingly a welcome reprieve from a future of non-upgradable processors for system builders, it is likely to only be a temporary measure.