Asus downplays Intel’s rumored switch to BGA CPUs

Are we all doomed if Intel transitions away from socketed processor packages on the desktop, as rumored? Not quite, according to Asus VP and motherboard chief Joe Hsieh. Speaking to the guys at DigiTimes, Hsieh said things "will not be as bad as people think," and Intel will likely find a way to keep offering both socketed and BGA chips.

Even if the rumor does turn out to be true, Hsieh has encouraging thoughts: "the industry will continue to live on as motherboard makers will figure out how to handle and respond to the change." As we said last month, desktop motherboards with soldered-on, BGA-style CPUs are already available. They tend to be Mini-ITX offerings with Atom processors onboard—and in fact, Asus has a few in its product line.

Hsieh’s comments follow a report we came across last month, which said Intel would transition its desktop processors to BGA packages in 2014. Intel later responded to the speculation, saying it plans to continue offering socketed chips for the "foreseeable future." However, the company stopped short of a complete denial, adding that it "cannot comment on specific long-term product roadmap plans at this time." AMD also went on the record to say it will continue offering socketed desktop CPUs through 2014.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    In the worst-case scenario, motherboard makers will just go back to putting the CPU on a daughterboard in a slot. They can sell the CPU+daugtherboards seperately to the interface part of the board, and everyone is happy.

    Then, they can introduce sockets again and we call all upgrade to slockets

    (god, the old days were awful).

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Pretty sure that in order for this to be feasible at today’s bus speeds, the DIMM sockets would need to be on the daughterboard. Maybe the northbridge too. At what point does the daughterboard become the “new” motherboard, and the “old” motherboard becomes little more than an I/O backplane?

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Now that most of the Northbridge has been Borg’d by the CPU, I kind of wonder if that’s the future of the desktop platform regardless.

    • Oldtech
    • 7 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the motherboard manufacturers offer the CPU on a daughter board that plugs into the motherboard.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah back to slots I say.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      The barrier to this is signal integrity. The more connections you need to go through, the harder it is to keep the signals from getting mangled/skewed due to crosstalk, impedance mismatches, and trace length differences on the high-speed signal paths. For current bus speeds doing a daughtercard CPU implementation would be rather difficult. I suppose it might be feasible if you move the DIMM sockets onto the daughtercard…

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    “We anticipate that a product method which already fits into our current manufacturing and marketing model will fit into our future manufacturing and marketing model.”

    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    BGA packaging is actually quite similar to the LGA packaging Intel (and AMD, for Opterons…) has already been using for years. Leave the solder balls off of a BGA, and you have what amounts to a high-density LGA package; so it’s not like they would even need to have radically different production processes to offer a socketed variant. There are probably some mechanical challenges involved in designing a socket with contacts that densely spaced at reasonable cost, but it ought to be doable.

    (BGA sockets [url=http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=SSSSSu7zK1fslxtUm8_UO82Sev7qe17zHvTSevTSeSSSSSS–<]do exist already[/url<], but they are expensive niche products which are intended to be used in hardware development/testing labs.)

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      You know JBI, you really aren’t helping matters with your reasonable tone and logical arguments that are based on facts. We want artificially engineered controversy in our threads!

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        [pitchfork] BURN HIM!!!! BURN HIM!!!!! [/pitchfork]

          • Ryhadar
          • 7 years ago

          HE’S A WITCH!!!

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 7 years ago

            MORE WITCHES!!!

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      Nice sockets. If I buy one of these and solder it to my mobo then I will be able to hot swap CPUs, right?

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        Umm… you’re kidding, right? For starters, they’re not compatible with conventional HSFs.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          I believe it was heavy sarcasm on his part as to how easy it would be to use a BGA processor as a normal socketed variant we have today.

          • Convert
          • 7 years ago

          No matter how I interpret your post it doesn’t make any sense, I’ve read it several times now. Why would you be using heatsinks if you are hot swapping? Furthermore nothing prevents you from hot swapping an existing desktop processor, the retention mechanisms already in use allow for easy removal even while in a vertical position. The trick is not fumbling it and having it land heat spreader down on all the fiddly bits on the back of your video card.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            I think we’ve got a fundamental failure to communicate here, as I don’t understand your response either.

            How could you *not* use a HSF with a desktop processor? It’ll overheat.

            We weren’t talking about existing desktop processors, we were talking about these (hypothetical) BGA desktop processors that Intel may be switching to down the road.

            • Convert
            • 7 years ago

            I was being sarcastic like Wirko to illustrate heavy sarcasm on the internet doesn’t work so well. Also (most of all) I was feeling particularly ornery yesterday.

          • Wirko
          • 7 years ago

          I didn’t know until today that servers with hot-swappable CPUs even exist. Therefore, yes.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            Ahh, OK… no worries.

            Yup, you can get servers with hot-swappable everything if you’re willing to pay enough!

      • clone
      • 7 years ago

      didn’t Intel remove all of the effort by going LGA…. isn’t LGA the cheaper way for Intel to produce CPU’s in the first place because it offloads the “pin manufacturing” cost onto motherboard makers?

      if this is true then the talk of the shift to BGA is really a discussion about how much smaller Intel is anticipating the desktop market will become.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Maybe this guy just wanted to say something silly cause he knows the world is gonna end today….

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      Too late. New Zealand was among the first to tell the world that it hasn’t ended yet. And CBS had a headline worthy of an Onion article.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    I’m frankly sick & tired of these corporate-types downplaying my favorite Doomsday conspiracy! Seriously, guys, start spreading some more FUD here!

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 7 years ago

      Make your own:
      [url<]http://memegenerator.net/Iraqi-Information-Minister[/url<]

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Intel already said they’d still continue making socketed chips… in the ‘enthusiast’ category.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      They said that would be the case for the “foreseeable future” but would not comment on longer roadmaps.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        Socket 2011 through 2016. How much longer do you want?

        In 2017, I don’t think I’m going to want a “traditional” CPU when an entire computer very well could be a 3D integrated cube of silicon.

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 7 years ago

          I think you’re off by about 20 years. And even then, I’m sure someone will figure out a way to cool it better than intel.

            • yogibbear
            • 7 years ago

            Stick it in a bath of LNG?

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          Cube-o-silicon systems are a pretty big stretch (aside from the production challenges, cooling a 3D chip of that complexity would be a major bitch), but I could see us maybe going the 3D chip route for things like high-density DRAM and flash memory.

          Your point is valid though: Who knows what the computing landscape will look like 5 years from now?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Wireless modems, RAM, storage, and voltage regulation can be integrated with existing technology.

            Stacking two chips to make a nearly all-inclusive package for the next generation of phones is right around the corner.

            There might not be any cooling challenge at all. Imagine that everything stays the same, with a CPU / GPU, the hot part, and a heatsink on top.

            However, voltage levels will drop to 0.4v or even less with, again, existing methods. An exposed layer of memristors goes underneath, replacing the cache, RAM, and flash storage. Tah-dah!

            There’s only one significant step left before silicon has run its course, which is building stacked packages into a completely integrated device.

            When I say a “computer,” that already means many things today. It will mean many more in only a few years.

            As always, there will be many very different methods, for many very different applications. Rendering farms certainly would not become a series of cube-like SoCs and may even continue to use PCIe cards, but personal devices will have completely diverged by that point.

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          Roadmaps have been known to be revised.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          I don’t know, I was just pointing out that ‘enthusiast’ for Intel involves $300 motherboards and processors that have relatively little performance gains over the non-enthusiast parts.

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