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Technology Hardware

Is Intel Planning To Kill Enthusiast PCs? 1009

OceanMan7 writes "According to a story by Charlie Demerjian, a long-time hardware journalist, Intel's next generation of x86 CPUs, Broadwell, will not come in a package having pins. Hence manufacturers will have to solder it onto motherboards. That will likely seriously wound the enthusiast PC market. If Intel doesn't change their plans, the future pasture for enthusiasts looks like it will go to ARM chips or something from offshore manufacturers."
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Is Intel Planning To Kill Enthusiast PCs?

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  • AMD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:35PM (#42097453) Journal

    AMD is down, but not out yet. A boneheaded move like this for Intel could be a boon for AMD.

  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:37PM (#42097483) Homepage

    Weren't all those slot-X processors pretty much just pinless processors soldered to a small PCB? Seems like it could be something of an opportunity to me.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:39PM (#42097507)
    The ARM CPUs are aimed at more of the low power consumption model that the old VIA CPUs targeted with the mini-ITX form factor. Which you may recall, used CPUs soldered to the motherboard. Its a different market space, where the motherboard and CPU have been combined for many years now without any world shattering consequences.
  • ARM chips? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:39PM (#42097511) Homepage Journal
    I don't think I have ever seen an ARM processor in a socket (discounting my old Archimedes, that is).
  • by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @04:58PM (#42097833) Homepage

    The only problem is that when I buy a motherboard / CPU, there are usually a dozen or so variations on which CPU will work in a given motherboard. Right now it makes sense to mix & match to get exactly what you want, but if the CPU is attached to the motherboard at purchase time, you are stuck with one of the 2 - 3 choices that the motherboard manufacturer decides to sell.

  • Re:AMD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:03PM (#42097899)

    Yes, but what if the motherboard you want only comes sold with a CPU you don't want, or vice-versa? This bundling will in practice reduce choice, as I doubt every combination will be offered.

    There are different motherboards? Well, I'm sure there are different models, but different enough to matter? I just upgraded my basement fileserver / mythtv backend mobo and cpu because I wanted hardware virt support for some experiments. All I paid attention to was the CPU details to make sure I got a CPU with hardware virt, which I did and it works quite well...the mobo is just a bridge between the power supply and cpu, and its got some peripherals hanging off it like ethernet and SATA...

    Seriously is there anything worth shopping for in a mobo?

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:04PM (#42097911)
    For the record, all current Intel desktop CPUs are pinless. The pins are on the board. So saying it ships without pins doesn't really say much. That's why I have a sneaking suspicion that the author might just be a clueless dumbass talking out their ass.
  • by RicoX9 ( 558353 ) <rico&rico,org> on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:11PM (#42098031) Homepage

    Same bullshit as the GOP. Cater to the religious crowd. This is a marketing gimmick. It will make some otherwise reluctant people a little less reluctant to buy. "It's Christian!".

    Personally, I refuse to do business with someone who uses religion to sell their product. Living in the deep south, I see it all the time. "Quality Christian roofing!". Chicken finger place with Jesus fish on everything, Bible quotes all over the walls. You name it.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:11PM (#42098035) Journal

    Because "enthusiasts" can be as well enthusiastic about low power mobile devices as they are about high power high speed desktops.

    Not if they can't play Black Ops 2 on those "low power mobile devices".

    There are a lot of reasons "enthusiasts" build their own machines. Music production, video production, gaming are three that come to mind. You can't do any of those on low power mobile devices.

    The story is BS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:12PM (#42098065)

    I always upgrade the CPU, I usually start with a low end chip and put in a higher end one once the prices go down.

  • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <[gro.ylimafnoslerrah] [ta] [dsmfk]> on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:14PM (#42098095) Homepage

    Yes, this is technically true. AMD has done a fairly decent job of sticking with a socket longer than AMD.... BUT.... Most "enthusiasts" want the latest shinies: latest USB, lasest SATA, PCI flavor, etc. I suspect that the person who pops a new processor in a three-year-old MOBO are a tiny minority.

    Also, soldering the CPU directly on the board saves the rather complicated (and I assume expensive) socket. I do not know what the cost difference is between LGA and BGA, though. I would suspect not much.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:20PM (#42098207)

    Always. I have never owned a PC in which I have not upgraded the CPU at least once.

    Post-PC AT era, about the same here for my main machines. Side / secondary machines are not upgraded, treated as appliance. I'm guessing we do about the same upgrade protocol... and the average /.er is getting VERY confused how this works.

    Example. Go back about a decade. My old P-2 or P-75 or whatever was feeling slow and AMD's mainline socket at the time was the 939. Not new, but not obsolete either.
    That year I buy a decent 939 mobo and the cheapest slowest POS 939 CPU that is available.
    A couple years later, they release the 940 socket probably purely to segment the market or whatever. Anyway, 939 CPUs get CHEAP and I buy the fastest one ever made for like $100, which actually performs pretty well compared to a cheap 940.
    A couple years later the Worlds Fastest 939 CPU was getting a tad slow, so ... I don't remember but it was the strategy above, a decent mobo with the cheapest compatible CPU, years later to be upgraded to the fastest CPU in that socket ever made...

    Yes, I have run into exciting problems like the mobo BIOS needs to be upgraded to the newest version to even recognize the "worlds fastest X" cpu which didn't even exist as a cpu revision number when the mobo was made. Been there, had to reinstall the old cpu, upgrade the bios, and re-re-install the new cpu.

    No, you can't really afford to do this with cutting edge CPUs and always buy the most expensive one available every 3 months or whatever, that would be quite an expensive hobby, or at least a waste of time WRT optimization of fun per $. But if you pay attention to the market, you can maintain a spot above average for practically no money.

    1) Never upgrade unless its slow. The CPU I mean, not the graphics card or whatever else.
    2) Never buy a mobo with anything but the cheapest possible CPU
    3) When that socket expires, wait until the fastest CPU for that socket ever made is about $99 then upgrade
    4) Repeat for about 20 years (so far). I've been doing something like this since the 386 era.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:25PM (#42098259)

    Since you asked. :D

    Intel 8086:
    Intel 8086, ->NEC V33

    (Intel 286, but kept standard cpu.)

    Intel 386:
    SX 25, ->DX50

    Intel 486:
    486 SX25 ->486 DX2/50

    Pentium 66-> Pentium 150

    Super socket7:
    Pentium MMX 200-> AMD K6/2 300->AMD K6/2 500 (firmware patch)

    Socket A:
    Athlon 1200+ ->Athlon XP 2400+

    (Skipped P4 generation. Used obsolete HW...)

    (Now on an Intel i7, socket 1154)

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:48PM (#42098645)

    I've certainly done so a lot of times. Stick a newer more powerful CPU into a desktop or media PC and I get a chain upgrade of 2-4 other machines. 5 faster machines for the price of 1, hard to get a better deal.

  • by ngc3242 ( 1039950 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @05:57PM (#42098775)

    You made an excellent point. It made me realize that economically tying the motherboard and the CPU will necessitate less choice.

    Right now if there are X motherboards and Y CPUs compatible with those motherboards, a seller needs to stock X + Y items to provide buyers all possible combinations. In the new system if the same degree of flexibility is to be offered a seller would have to stock X * Y items.

    There is no way that will happen. We will get less choice if this change becomes a reality unless as others point out someone offers CPU's soldered to something that's socketable that would then be put into a motherboard with a socket (assuming that this is possible and there aren't signal integrity reasons that are forcing Intel to solder the chip to the motherboard).

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:17PM (#42099097)

    So you never use a web browser?
    No chat client? No mail client?
    No terminal?

    I think you are confusing computer enthusiast with video game player and owner of screwdriver.
    Enthusiast often seek ideal solutions not just epeen.
    So a nice quite ARM box in the living room might be ideal.

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @06:34PM (#42099319)

    I saw this rumor over here [xbitlabs.com].

    The way I read it is that they are going to offer BGA packaging to satisfy the large OEMs (e.g, dell, lenovo, etc). Now that most desktop PC are commodities, offering chips in BGAs reduces motherboad cost by eliminating the cost of the socket, improving yield (can sell kits of chips that just barely work together rather than requiring every component to satisfy the maximum electrical margins), and maybe reduce power (better electrical interface to memory).

    My guess is that they will probably still offer a socket for servers and high-end enthusiast PCs, etc, but that means that it will be only specific enthusiast PCs that will support upgrades (e.g, you will not be able to upgrade a commodity desktop PC). So instead of outright killing the enthusiast PCs, I'm guessing Intel is simply going to make dabbling in enthusiast PCs a very expensive hobby (like it was in the old days).

    In the old days, basically Intel was "forcing" all the computer vendors to have this latent ability to upgrade which enabled a custom motherboard industry that didn't need to sell-through (buy/resell) expensive CPUs. With this new change, only high-end motherboard companies will remain, and the computer vendors will just JIT motherboards the same way they purchase CPUs and memory. Undoubtly this will force even more consolidation in smaller motherboard form factors (although ATX/BTX/ITX was pretty standard, you saw some variations in the mini-ITX area) and the jellybean components on them (e.g., audio, power-regulators, etc).

    What this might do, however, is kill is the desktop motherboard repair small businesses (mom/pop computer repair shops), not the enthusiast PC business. They won't be able to afford to stock motherboards anymore (since they will have CPUs mounted on them). On the other hand, the car repair business evolved around similar issues, most auto repair shops need to same-day order most of the parts need to repair cars from centralized parts distributors (they couldn't afford to stock things), so maybe mom/pop computer repair shops could evolve too... Maybe...

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @08:44PM (#42100499) Journal

    HA HA HA HA HA...oh wait, you were serious? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Damn, thanks for the laugh, i haven't heard anything so absurd in years!

    Now let me tell you about reality, and the simple fact and reality of ARM is it can't even manage the IPC of an 8 year old netburst P4, it sure as hell isn't gonna get enough IPC to run triple A rated games. Hell even the ARM holdings group has realized this, which is why their last couple of talks have been about "dark silicon" because you can't turn all of the chip on at once without killing the battery or slamming into the thermal wall just as X86 did around 4Ghz. This is why you see Nvidia piling 5 cores into its latest Tegra, because they can't get the single core IPC up enough to make up for the weakness of the ARM core so they are throwing more cores at it, but anybody that has run any kind of modern gaming benchmarks can tell you most games will NOT gain from multiple cores, at best they need one "supercore" for the main game and a few weaker cores to take sound, pathfinding, etc.

    So the only way ARM is gonna be a "gaming platform' is if you specify gaming to ONLY be the "cut the rope, Angry Birds' casual games. try to do a Crysis 3 or gears of War on ARM would be an uberfail, it just doesn't have the IPC to deal with the physics, ragdolls, fire and water effects, it just won't cut the mustard. ARM is designed for low power and just doesn't scale, in fact it'll be easier for Intel to scale down to meet ARM's power than it will be for ARM to scale up, just because intel has such a huge lead on IPC they could cut the chip performance of a Core i3 in half and still curbstomp ARM.

    That's not to say ARM is a bad chip for mobile or embedded, its just not made for the heavy lifting required to give people AAA gaming, not anywhere even close to what X86 was cranking out 6 years ago much less the latest stuff, it would be like trying to replace a semi with a moped, it may be cheaper on gas but it just can't carry the load.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:25PM (#42100871)

    Intel M - an excellent laptop chip in 2005 that kinda embarrassed the P4. Intel made it one pin different from the popular P4 socket, and Asus made an adapter board for the enthusiasts.

    um.... here we go. Tomshardward about that in the day:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/dothan-netburst,1041-2.html [tomshardware.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:42PM (#42101073)

    Sorry bud, server customers don't care if their CPUs are socketed, because we never upgrade the CPUs. It is rarely cost effective to upgrade a CPU in a box for the incremental performance gain.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @06:42AM (#42103749)

    I have a question for the Slashdot audience. In fact it would make a great poll:

    I have upgraded a CPU and kept my mother board:

    10% or less of the time.
    11-25% of the time.
    26-50% of the time.
    51%-75% of the time
    76-100% of the time

    For me it would be 10% of the time. Usually when I upgrade CPUs motherboards have improved so much as well that it makes sense to pick up a brand new one even if the socket is the same.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.