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Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs?

A post on SemiAccurate breaks down some information from PC Watch (translation) suggesting that Intel's upcoming Broadwell CPUs will be soldered to the motherboard, rather than socketed, a detail they have now confirmed with a pair of OEMs. They offer the distressed opinion that this will be a death knell to the desktop PC and the enthusiast market, and though they add that they've received information indicating there's a "good chance" that the Sky Lake processors that will follow Broadwell will be socketed for one or two generations to follow, they conclude: "By then the last remaining overclockers and experimenters on the PC front will be gone, and for good technical reasons." Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

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101 Replies. 6 pages. Viewing page 3.
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61. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 15:24 Slick
 
Topevoli wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:23:
I also agree that it is unlikely to be the ONLY option but I'm sure it makes sense for reasons other than making everyone upset:

1. Chip placement. The actual processor is only a fraction the size of the "Chip" that we have in socekted boards. I don't think they will be taking an LGA socketed chip and soldering it down. More likely the CPU will be directly on the Mainboard along with all the other vital components.

2. Better architecture. I will never claim to be an engineer but it seems like having the CPU on a socketed board just creates unnecessary layers between components. In an age where Moore's Law is being challenged, every bit helps.

3. For the masses. As much as we like to think we are the majority. 95% of Intel's market either buys OEM or would prefer as simple an upgrade path as possible. Granted enthusiast boards and CPU's may have the highest profit margin, but in terms over overall revenue and profit, we barely make a dent.

4. Cost. It seems like the Bill of Materials would be much smaller if there was no Socket, chip and the 100's of pins that connect the CPU. Soldered pins could be made smaller and much less likely to be damaged. When you're producing these parts in the millions, every penny counts.


yeah, see this was exactly what i was saying. i'm not an engineer either, but i can at least think in engineering terms that having more redundant layers between your systems isn't a good thing.

think of it this way, what if the "norm" was to be able to pick and choose exactly which brand/size/speed of memory to put on your graphics card, then some awful greedy corporation figured out that if you make a standard, and solder 1 kind of RAM directly onto this one kind of videocard, that you can actually attain better results, and the costs are LESS.

everyone posting here saying stuff like: enjoy your locked down pc, have fun paying a 75% premium, one guy even said that intel will be FORCING him to buy overpriced garbage... this is all conjecture! none of you know anything! this is all heresay! this is the problem with a 24 hour news cycle, in the absence of any real news all we can do is stab in the dark, so it's best to leave all conjecture at the door.
 
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60. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:42 MajorD
 

Silicon Avatar wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 14:28:
But honestly, when was the last time anyone built a gaming rig and then decided "I want to upgrade just the cpu?"

Yeah, that 'used' to be one inexpensive way to upgrade a system.....until Intel decided to change the socket set with every new CPU generation. Not so much anymore......

 
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59. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:28 Silicon Avatar
 
So some mobo company will solder chips to a board and then that board will plug into a motherboard.

But honestly, when was the last time anyone built a gaming rig and then decided "I want to upgrade just the cpu?"

I guess this might affect overclockers, but it seems to me that most of the benefits of overclocking were wiped away a few years ago. I never even think about it anymore.
 
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58. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:19 NegaDeath
 
DG wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:45:
Hold your horses folks, it's a Charlie Demerjian article...

Broadwell BGA, back to LGA for two rolls after that, who knows after that. But anyway they're putting just about everything onto the CPU so MB is just there to plug stuff into.

Shit even with all BGA all that would matter for gaming is whether you can plug in a Nvidia or AMD discrete graphics card.

MB might be important for enthusiasts because it's where most of the decisions lie, but eliminating the need for those decisions does not similarly kill gaming PCs.

Unless the moves they've been making with onboard GPU's is part of a long-term plan to move all graphics onto the die and crowd out discrete cards by eliminating the expansion slots. That's kinda moving into the conspiracy realm though and I'm not wearing a tinfoil hat quite yet.
 
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57. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:11 Smellfinger
 
This wouldn't be such a bad idea if Intel licensed the tech to other manufacturers like NVIDIA and ATI do with their GPUs. This would keep the motherboard manufacturers in business and ensure competitive pricing.  
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56. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:08 Beamer
 
jdreyer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:18:
Beamer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 12:17:
There are reasons why most chip companies don't bother much with the boards. There are reasons why everyone mocked 3dfx when they bucked that trend. Yes, some of this is just getting more product out there, and those issues disappear when you're as large as Intel, but that manufacturing infrastructure, and that enormous amount of depreciation, is not really worth the added revenue stream.

Making it a weirder decision.

Beamer,

If Intel goes this route, cutting out all 3rd party mobo makers, and AMD tanks (as is looking more probable), how likely is it that DOJ will step in and break apart Intel? They would be the only player in the desktop/laptop/server market for procs and mobos.


I'd say next to none.

The big argument Intel would make is that this isn't about the US, it's a global corporation. Whereas AT&T were telephones, a service solely in the US, Intel is a sign of US leading the world, not a corporation dominating the country. They'd argue that breaking them up would just open the chance for an outside company, they'd claim Chinese, to get a foothold that would otherwise be impossible.

While you could definitely argue that Intel fit the standard definition of monopoly, I think it would be hard to argue that:
1) The country is better off with them broken up
2) There's a reasonable way to break them up
3) By the time all of this was decided, they'd still be the powerhouse they are today. They've been slow to respond to mobile and low power, and those areas are rising very rapidly while desktop is declining and laptop is rising far less rapidl. Intel doesn't seem well set up for the way the market will look 15 years from now
 
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55. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:05 eRe4s3r
 
I mean things related to rendering (per core performance and how it scales up) but yes, power savings and what that means for where the cpu can be used and how far it can be pushed, because low power use means low heat generation means HIGH clock potential... and of course Tablets.. Tablets! I want a Haswell powered Windows 8 x64 Tablet

I am just odd that way ,)
 
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54. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 14:00 Tanto Edge
 
In other news they're soldering engines into their bays (cause of performance and science), and in five years they're gonna solder the gas tanks shut so you have to take the car back to the dealership every time you need more gas.

Cause of performance.

And science.
 
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53. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:50 PHJF
 
Beamer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 12:51:
Again, I can't get into the article, but no one here has articulated any true technical reasons.

I'm assuming "for good technical reasons" means that the enthusiast will be gone because he can't tinker anymore, meaning he left the platform for technical reasons. I didn't take it to mean that Intel cut him out for good technical reasons.

There isn't one. If this plays out it the only way this can be construed is Intel taking the P out of PC. You want a locked down computer? Go buy an Apple, and have fun paying a 75% premium for the privilege.
 
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52. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:46 jdreyer
 
Parallax Abstraction wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:40:
jdreyer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:38:
Fion wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:12:
That most definitely sucks, but I'm sure that space will be filled by a different company. Some actual competition would only lead to good things.

This isn't like making cars. Processors require huge research departments that spend billions. There's a reason there are only a few CPU makers in the world, basically Intel and AMD, and ARM is dying. Motorola let their Power PC architecture die. No one is going to risk billions to go up against Intel, which has slayed all comers.

Sorry, did you just say ARM is dying...? You mean the company's who licensed architecture powers basically every modern smartphone, tablet and the vast majority of set top boxes? AMD is hurting big time right now, maybe you reversed the acronyms. ARM's killing it right now and some are saying it's Intel's next big competition.

Sorry, I meant AMD is dying. Fixed.
 
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51. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:45 DG
 
Hold your horses folks, it's a Charlie Demerjian article...

Broadwell BGA, back to LGA for two rolls after that, who knows after that. But anyway they're putting just about everything onto the CPU so MB is just there to plug stuff into.

Shit even with all BGA all that would matter for gaming is whether you can plug in a Nvidia or AMD discrete graphics card.

MB might be important for enthusiasts because it's where most of the decisions lie, but eliminating the need for those decisions does not similarly kill gaming PCs.
 
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50. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:44 avianflu
 
Server boxes and workstation type desktops will still need socketed CPU's since it would seem more expensive from the manufacturing side to offer a single, double, quad processor board with the CPU's soldered in place. I suspect Intel is "seeing what will happen" with Broadwell and then making a making a more final decision down the road.

 
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49. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:42 Alamar
 
Little late to the talk here but... On the one hand, that's crap... On the other, any time I upgrade the CPU/MB/RAM, I do them all.

-Alamar
 
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48. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:40 Parallax Abstraction
 
jdreyer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:38:
Fion wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:12:
That most definitely sucks, but I'm sure that space will be filled by a different company. Some actual competition would only lead to good things.

This isn't like making cars. Processors require huge research departments that spend billions. There's a reason there are only a few CPU makers in the world, basically Intel and AMD, and ARM is dying. Motorola let their Power PC architecture die. No one is going to risk billions to go up against Intel, which has slayed all comers.

Sorry, did you just say ARM is dying...? You mean the company's who licensed architecture powers basically every modern smartphone, tablet and the vast majority of set top boxes? AMD is hurting big time right now, maybe you reversed the acronyms. ARM's killing it right now and some are saying it's Intel's next big competition.
 
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47. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:39 Fion
 
NegaDeath wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 11:40:
If they solder the chips right onto the board and do the production themselves then they can lock out companies like Asus/Gigabyte/etc from the mobo industry altogether. A literal manufactured monopoly on the Intel PC platform.

I thought here in the US we had anti-monopoly laws? Yet somehow we have more monopolistic corporations than anywhere else in the industrialized world.
 
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46. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:38 jdreyer
 
Fion wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:12:
That most definitely sucks, but I'm sure that space will be filled by a different company. Some actual competition would only lead to good things.

This isn't like making cars. Processors require huge research departments that spend billions. There's a reason there are only a few CPU makers in the world, basically Intel and AMD, and AMD is dying. Motorola let their Power PC architecture die. No one is going to risk billions to go up against Intel, which has slayed all comers.

This comment was edited on Nov 27, 2012, 13:45.
 
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45. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:34 WaltC
 
If Intel doesn't want to also remove expansion buses from the equation, too, then this hardly makes sense...;) The only thing surface-mounting the cpu while leaving multiple PCI/e expansion slots open could do for Intel is cost it business. I think someone here has something mixed up--going back to surface-mounted cpus is Back to the Future circa 1988 when the only way to upgrade the cpu was to buy a new motherboard.

If the rumor is true, however, then AMD will get a real shot in the arm--which is but another reason I doubt there's any truth to it.

But I think this kind of rumor serves an excellent purpose in letting people see where Intel would like to take the PC in the absence of any cpu competition. Intel would love to close it down and run every other competitor out of town on a rail. Then we'd all have to pay what Intel wanted to charge for the products Intel preferred to make for its own convenience and profit. Ugh. I'm planning my next AMD purchase even now.

 
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44. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:30 jdreyer
 
Beamer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 12:51:
Again, I can't get into the article, but no one here has articulated any true technical reasons.

I'm assuming "for good technical reasons" means that the enthusiast will be gone because he can't tinker anymore, meaning he left the platform for technical reasons. I didn't take it to mean that Intel cut him out for good technical reasons.

Relevant part of the article:

That brings us to the next issue at hand, enthusiasts. They are pretty much dead, not that Intel seems to care. Since they nearly destroyed that nascent market with Nehalem, and have since progressively removed any features the enthusiast cares about while jacking the cost to buy them back to untenable levels, enthusiasts have become an endangered species. Unfortunately Intel doesn’t care about the enthusiast, and unsurprisingly they have moved on. ARM chips are now the focus for that crowd, and they are taking the mainstream geeks with them. Broadwell will end it for good, but….

SemiAccurate has been chasing the last bit of this story for several weeks, there is a very good chance that Broadwell’s successor, Sky Lake, will bring back a socketed CPU. Unfortunately it will only be for a generation, possibly two, nothing permanent. By then, the last remaining overclockers and experimenters on the PC front will be gone, and for good technical reasons. Increasing integration will make this minor backpedalling step a rather moot point, there won’t be anything left to tweak, and any headroom will have been screened out at the fab prior to fuses being blown. Worse yet, margin requirements will effectively make it not worth extreme cost. Haswell is the end of the line, if Sky Lake does backpedal a bit, it will be a form factor change only, not a philosophical one.

And so the PC ends with a whimper, not a bang. Broadwell will be available in a ‘desktop’ variant as well as a laptop version, but neither will be socketed. There are a lot of good technical reasons to release it only as an embedded and mobile CPU, but not for anyone other than Intel. They want more of the PC ecosystem, and are taking it. Enthusiasts have been written off, and the rest of the ecosystem is being preemptively kneecapped in case they try to step out of line. The desktop is dead, and with it, PCs become irrelevant, mobile or not.S|A

Updated 11/26/12@3:25pm: One point to add, two OEMs have confirmed to SemiAccurate that they have now been briefed that Broadwell is BGA only. This was done weeks after we first told them about the problem.
(Edited for readability)

This comment was edited on Nov 27, 2012, 13:43.
 
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43. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:27 Topevoli
 
jdreyer wrote on Nov 27, 2012, 13:18:
If Intel goes this route, cutting out all 3rd party mobo makers, and AMD tanks (as is looking more probable), how likely is it that DOJ will step in and break apart Intel? They would be the only player in the desktop/laptop/server market for procs and mobos.

I think the issue is more to do with x86 licencing than with Intel as a company. ARM is a very capable chip maker but does not have the rights (as far as I am aware) to design an x86 chip.

And its not all about the high end. No one would raise monopoly issues if Ferrari were the only super car. As long as there are Chevy's Renault's and Fords that satisfy the majority.
 
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42. Re: Intel Killing Off Desktop/Enthusiast PCs? Nov 27, 2012, 13:25 avianflu
 
with laptops far outselling desktops world-wide, I can see why Intel is pushing for this. The bigger market is with laptops where the CPU is rarely replaceable. Simpler for intel and simpler for manufacturers.

for folks who dont know, this corporate mindset is even worse at apple. Their thinnest laptops have the RAM soldered onto the board with no expansion possible. the newest rumor is that the new imac desktops (with super thin bezels) will have no RAM expansion, but that isnt confirmed.
 
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