Intel will offer socketed CPUs for the ‘foreseeable future’

Remember last week’s rumor about Intel ditching socketed desktop CPUs in favor of BGA chips soldered onto motherboards? AMD responded a couple days ago, making a committment to offer socketed APUs and CPUs through 2014. Now, Intel has made a similar pledge… sort of. Here’s the scoop from Maximum PC:

"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."

How far can Intel see into the future? Hard to say. Snyder’s statement suggests Intel won’t completely abandon socketed chips anytime soon. However, it also leaves the door open to transition some desktop processors to BGA packages. Notebook-style packages would make sense for certain kinds of systems, such as thin all-in-ones and small-form-factor designs like the NUC. At least for the foreseeable future, those types of machines seem likely to increase in popularity at the expense of traditional desktops.

Intel could move a big chunk of its processor lineup to BGA packages while still retaining socketed chips for PC enthusiasts. After all, it already has a high-end enthusiast platform based on the LGA2011 socket, which is shared with workstation and server products. Enterprise-oriented platforms are likely to retain socketed CPUs for longer than desktop systems, and I expect enthusiasts will be able to tag along for the ride. If desktop PCs are to become more like notebooks, it would only make sense for enthusiast machines to resemble workstations more closely. That’s kind of the way things have been for a while.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    As long as either Intel or AMD will not abandon sockets, neither Intel nor AMD will abandon sockets.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 7 years ago

    Am I the only one who doesn’t see the sky falling? To me, this means very small form factors will have [i<]some[/i<] products shipping without sockets. Who cares? Intel would be insane to solder an i5 onto a motherboard, and they know it. That holds true in the OEM space, too; they'd be forced to either manufacture a billion different motherboard/CPU combinations or offer significantly less choice to consumers, which translates to poorer price discrimination and lower revenues. Maybe Intel and OEMs are that stupid, but they got us this far with incredible technology. I'm not worried.

    • WaltC
    • 7 years ago

    The DIY market is not limited to enthusiasts–there are, I’d guess, a couple of thousand mom&pop computer businesses in just the US, and they sell only the machines they can build themselves. I don’t see the DIY businesses ever vanishing, frankly. There are at least six [i<]successful[/i<] DIY computer houses in my city alone, but as recently as fifteen years ago there was only one--and he was ultimately unsuccessful and isn't around today. Enthusiasts fit the mold, certainly, but small business has to be the main market for DIY machines. Still, I'd agree that there are quite a number of enthusiasts, and that the pool is growing. The sheer volume and scope of individual computer components available via the Internet is staggering, and companies as large as Newegg make a living from selling them. Even Amazon has quite a lot that's available on a component basis. Big market. (I haven't bought an OEM box since 1995.) Building my own is a lot of fun and very rewarding in terms of price, performance, and warranty in comparison with buying pre-builts from OEMs who usually throw in one or two top-tier branded components for the sake of publicity, while the other components in the box are El Cheapo no-names, or El Cheapo Proprietary no-names (with no-name driver support, to boot).

      • paulWTAMU
      • 7 years ago

      A lot of us enthusiast tell our family/friends to find one of those shops that has a good local reputation and I think that helps. We don’t want to fix best buys foul ups and we damn sure don’t want to try to remote troubleshoot things everytime our dad/brother/cousin/friend does something dumb.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Keep saying that when you have ARM-box’s that cost $100 and do 90% of the computing a household needs. Or when Intel pushes NUC’s down into the lowest of the low price points. If your loved ones who don’t know computers could go buy a NUC for $100, that would be what nearly everyone buying a built-computer would need. It would be damn fast and given Haswell and Broadwell coming with better and better GPU’s, I can’t help thinking these’ll be damn fast by the end.

      The Mom & Pop’s stores of all types have traditionally done well… until they haven’t. Look at all the stories of Mom & Pop’s stores being shut down after Wal-mart shows up in their town. Look at what happened to the Mom & Pop’s video rental businesses when Action Video and then Blockbuster came in? Then what happened to Blockbuster when Netflix swooped in and ate their lunch one day? Or CompUSA/Circuit City with Best Buy, then Best Buy after Amazon snuck in? It’s common for businesses to be sucessful and then… not. Seemingly suddenly. Fundamental, seismic shifts in delivery often are. Radios and TV’s were both devices that were built by hobbyists and small businesses, but they were killed by big business deciding they could do it more efficiently without the hobbyists’ influence.

      PC’s will follow. I doubt it’ll be in 2014, but don’t kid yourself. It will happen eventually. The only question is if Intel wants it to happen sooner or they want to remember their heritage and keep giving the enthusiast new chips to play with for a while. Meanwhile, I really don’t think AMD has much to offer the discussion since they’re still peddling chips with the power and heat profile of chips from two years ago at prices still too high for what they offer. They missed the boat, they went right when they should have gone left once too many times, and now they’re sitting on an architecture that’s rather poor for the market they now suddenly have to target.

      And they also show every sign they’re about to go out of business. Each of their challenges–their debt, their appearance of going bankrupt, their poor choices in architecture, their layoffs and the lack of talent that is impacting them–would be quite huge. To have all of them at once? It’s fatal.

      When AMD is gone, Intel being the only game in town may not raise prices, but it also will mean that when Intel goes to compete with ARM, they’ll do so on the same front: BGA-soldered CPU’s. They won’t want to give up any advantage. And if that becomes the norm for lots of people due to pricing and power advantages, then how long before there’s just no need for traditional computers at all?

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      The DIY business never vanishes in any industry (to name two, there are still people who build tube amplifiers from scratch, and amateur radio has a small but loyal following), but that doesn’t mean that the parts are common or easy to find. At some point, socketed CPUs may disappear and the remaining DIYers will simply get used to the idea that CPUs are BGA packages which come installed on motherboards, or installed on I/O cards that snap into peripheral backplanes, or whatever form the future ultimately takes.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Aye and this statement is carefully worded in such a way that they’ll still have sockets, they’ll just be in the minority and you’ll pay a premium for them. Yay $300 motherboards and $300 processors? The rumor also stated that they’d retain sockets in some small form.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    For a trip down memory lane, once upon a time I remember having an old 386 as my one & only PC (ah childhood). My dad got an upgrade CPU… that’s right, you could upgrade the 386 by putting this weird chip + socket [b<]over[/b<] the 386 on the motherboard where the replacement chip could contact all the leads that came out of the 386 and bypass the original chip. It was kinda like the star destroyer swallowing Leia's ship in Star Wars. There weren't any ZIF sockets back then! There also weren't any heatsinks or even heat spreaders either, which is why the stupid thing even sort of worked. Another slightly more recent example: Remember Intel Overdrive? That was where Intel and the motherboard makers still soldered the 486 to the motherboard, but then on top of that they added an intentionally empty socket for you to put in a faster 486 chip! (here's a lame clip from an old commercial: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfJvvhKmmy8[/url<] )

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Intel Pentium Overdrive! At least I think that’s what you’re talking about. I had the option of buying that for my parents’ old 486SX when I went off to college or building a new system. I opted for a Pentium with MMX 166MHz.

        • jackbomb
        • 7 years ago

        That wouldn’t have been a Pentium Overdrive. Probably some sort of Cyrix pseudo 486

        • srg86
        • 7 years ago

        No, not a Pentium Overdrive. In the 486s case, that socket was originally to put a 487SX “co-processor” into a 486SX machine. Of course the 487 was actually a 486DX with a different pinout.

        That then turned into the overdrive socket, which the first CPU for it was a special type of 486DX2.

        As for the Cyrix chips, the first cyrix psudo 486 as derFunkenstein puts it actually ran in 386 sockets, called the 486DXR2 (I have one) and was based on the also 386 socket based 486DLC (also have one).

        BTW As for the commercial, I think they were pretty cool, Intel brought in Industrial Light & Magic to make those commercials.

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]"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."[/quote<] To me this only further re-enforces the notion that Intel is intending to dump socketed CPUs down the road.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      They’re definitely leaving the option open- and they have to go where the money is. The enthusiast market is really an offshoot of the OEM business, and if OEM needs/demands for socketed equipment tank in comparison to their needs/demands for BGA packaging that should be cheaper at a platform level, that’s where Intel will go.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      I agree. What I was hoping for was a plain and forceful “no, we’re not going to do that, you silly gerbils!”

      Why even bother saying “but will disclose more details later per our normal communication process” if the answer above was really intended to put all doubt to rest?

      The only reason “more details” would be needed would be if the answer was purposefully slushy, which it was.

    • swaaye
    • 7 years ago

    I can see cheapo boards with embedded CPUs. It’s been done before with CPUs like AMD Duron. And of course with notebooks where sockets less sense and cost space.

    Also, if you go way back to 286-486 there were boards with embedded CPUs that also have a socket for upgrades.

    Don’t let me stop anyone from fearing that the sky is falling in some way though!

    • fellix
    • 7 years ago

    It is only logical, if the proliferation of embedded/integrated systems is pressing onto the traditional modular desktop sector, that would drive Intel to push all the socket SKUs in the higher end spectrum, where higher margins would compensate for the diminishing market share.

    • ptsant
    • 7 years ago

    Yes, I see. Like the 2011 socket. Ultra-expensive motherboards, processors starting at $300+ and barely more performance than the high-end 1155 processors.

      • mganai
      • 7 years ago

      I hope it won’t be relegated to the enthusiast tier. That means the DIY market will be a year behind on upgrades, and will indeed have to spend more on mobos and cpus. The performance (i. e. 2500k/2600k/etc.) tier would and has served us better.

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    Sounds like a tacit admission that x86 is going low-end. That’s not necessarily bad news but lately Intel does seems to be clueless as to how to handle a future that includes a dramatically changing market. I’m sure they’ll figure it out… because well, they’ll have to!

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Umm… there have already been low-end x86 CPUs for a while (hello Atom and every CPU VIA has produced for the past decade).

        • mnecaise
        • 7 years ago

        Intel has had a low end since the 386sx. Perhaps even before that…

          • srg86
          • 7 years ago

          8088 was low end (to the high end 8086 and failed iAPX432).

          • heinsj24
          • 7 years ago

          I guess someone must of LOVED their 386SX to down vote you. Consider it corrected.

          srg beat me….
          The 8088 came out 6 months after the 8086 with an 8bit data bus vs. the 8086’s 16bit one; I guess you could say that was a low end processor, also. I couldn’t name one machine that shipped with an 8086 without going to wikipedia – there’s not that many.

    • bthylafh
    • 7 years ago

    I’d imagine the plan all along was to solder with OEM boxes, especially the cheaper, smaller, consumer-oriented ones, and stick with sockets for the rest.

    Then see how that shakes out and move on from there.

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      wouldnt make sense to solder ALL oem boxes

      if anything, low-end, think pentium and celeron, would be soldered, higher end cpus would be socketed

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Here’s my take on what will happen if that rumormap has any validity:

    Intel launches Broadwell, their first 14nm CPU, in BGA form only. It makes sense to use their most advanced process for the higher ASP notebook CPUs, and to offset the lower ASP of Atom if it still goes 14nm around the same time. Haswell soldiers on at 22nm for about six months, maybe with a new stepping or something to make it a little better, then socketed Broadwell is launched. Haswell’s time as a socketed CPU lasts 1.5-2 years.

    It’s not an abandoment of the standard socket but a fine tuning of the new process or new architecture launch sequence. Intel has already been doing this with the high-end socket versus standard socket so it’s just an extension of that strategy, and tick-tock has been stretching out from a 1 year cadence as well. So tick-tock is now more like the beginning of Time by Pink Floyd where there are a bunch of different clocks going off rather than a single alarm clock 🙂

      • UberGerbil
      • 7 years ago

      Yes, that’s a reasonable reading of the available tea leaves.

      In this context prepping 10-15W IB designs now gives the ODMs a couple of design iterations with that TDP so that they can have things refined for the big Broadwell push.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      +1 for your analysis.

      I would have given you another +1 for a successful use of a Pink Floyd reference to bolster your point, but the forum won’t let me.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      So, all socketed chips pretty much get treated like the -E line does now?

    • brute
    • 7 years ago

    nerds everywhere exhaled in relief

    now back to hot pockets and mountain dew

      • Sam125
      • 7 years ago

      Better a nerd than a brute. =P

        • brute
        • 7 years ago

        i tip my hat to you

      • thanatos355
      • 7 years ago

      At least “nerds” know how use capitalization and punctuation.

      We prefer the term “enthusiast” by the way, now finish mowing my lawn and get off my property.

        • brute
        • 7 years ago

        looks like you dont know how to punctuate nonessential clauses correctly, or when to end a statement and begin a new sentence

        now stop crying and learn to english

          • eofpi
          • 7 years ago

          Et tu, brute?

            • brute
            • 7 years ago

            dont worry, i wont hurt you

        • bfar
        • 7 years ago

        Ehm, no we don’t. ‘Geek’ sounds way cooler! How about ‘boffin’?

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 7 years ago

      hey do you want to be friends i think thats a good idea what do you think.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        i find your ideas interestly where can i sign up for your newsletter

        • brute
        • 7 years ago

        yes~*~*~*~*

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      0/10

      Try harder

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Krogoth not impressed.

          • dmjifn
          • 7 years ago

          He’s jealous.

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      haters

    • tahir2
    • 7 years ago

    Soldered BGA CPUs, pay extra to unlock clockspeed and features.
    Make it a per year license fee = kerching!

    Pros – saves on packaging
    Cons – somewhere in the world a puppy dies

    😉

    • DPete27
    • 7 years ago

    Probably the same as what [url=http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/29722-amd-pledges-not-to-ditch-socketed-chips<]AMD plans to do.[/url<] Socketed CPUs in the higher end skus and the lower end stuff gets soldered.

      • UberGerbil
      • 7 years ago

      In the laptop space CPUs have been soldered in certain cases going back a long ways, and it certainly makes some sense when you’re trying to achieve the lowest possible profile in a package that only the most [s<]insane[/s<] dedicated DIYers would try to upgrade anyway. As Geoff notes, the trend towards small desktops that are essentially headless or non-foldable laptops makes the same reasoning apply there too. And even on "traditional" low end of desktops it's not a huge loss: while some enthusiasts will pull apart a Dell and drop in a new CPU, most people upgrade by getting a whole new machine. When you factor in the other issues -- PSU capacity, HSF, limited motherboard/BIOS compatibility (and often somewhat neutered mobos in other respects) -- the upside to a CPU swap on an OEM box tends to be pretty limited anyway.

      • heinsj24
      • 7 years ago

      I’m thinking Intel will offer socketed cpus for as long as AMD is still alive and functioning. The moment AMD goes away… BOOM – everything is soldered.

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