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Intel Broadwell architecture reportedly not upgradable

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. RGressick

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-30-12

    I agree and disagree with Intel in this decision.

    I agree because it would reduce the overall cost for manufacturing the products.
    Also, the 99% of people out there who own an Intel based PC NEVER change their processors. Only the rednecks and gamers that want to tweak their PC to get a tad more performance. The slight limited processor speed increase is not going to make that big of a difference in OEM PC sales. If you buy an OEM, there is a less than 1% chance you will ever upgrade the processor, just the RAM and maybe the Hard Drive.
    Right now, we are already running embedded processors in many products of Intel, Atom processors for one. Now we have Tablets and Cell phones that run that technology as well. To have it imbedded will help more with the Windows 8 market as well as MacBook products. Making Laptops and AIO PCs even slimmer, possibly.

    The disagreement is just the simple 1%, the people who get the PC's second hand and want to rebuild or tinker, those are who this affects.
    It does also can limit motherboard manufactures BUT its not much different from what they have to do now for soldering the socket on verses a chip. And this is also something that Graphic Card Manufactures do now anymore. All i can see if that this will cause for a burst of more various motherboards from Manufactures. 1 Model line can have 4-5 submodels depending on the processor speeds.
    But i can also see this changing too and Intel releasing less variations of the processors.

    The only other issue is that IF you have to swap out the Motherboard because it goes back, you swap out the processor too, which will affect Windows Activation. Windows Activation looks for the CPU serial number. So you will have to re-activate Windows again.

  1. P


    Joined: 04-07-00

    This article is the victim of the telephone game, where the content is lost along the way...

    Intel currently makes its Core line of chips with three types of packaging: LGA (pins on the motherboard), PGA (pins on the chip), and BGA (soldered in place). Desktop chips are only LGA, mobiles are BGA or PGA or both. The rumor is that Intel will, for Broadwell, stop making LGA and PGA versions, and then make them again for Sky Lake (the successor to Broadwell). One way to read this is "no desktop chips for Broadwell" - perhaps the improvement from Haswell is simply not big enough to warrant an update to the desktops.

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