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 Overclocking Set to Be Different

If you buy a $100 central processing unit (CPU) and a special mainboard in order to unlock its "hidden potential" and get performance level of a $200 microprocessor, then Intel will make your life a lot harder with its new Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" generation of chips.

Overclocking is a practice that has been known and used in the industry for a long time. Initially, overclocking procedures were relatively easy as neither AMD nor Intel locked multipliers of microprocessors and clock-speeds could be easily picked by changing multiplier settings on mainboards. But starting from the late nineties, Intel started to lock multipliers in order not to let third-parties to remark low-cost chips and sell at higher price points. AMD eventually did the same with the Athlon chips. As a result of locked multipliers, overclockers had to alter bus frequencies to change clock-speeds. Thanks to the fact that clock-speeds of various peripheral buses and processor system bus (PSB) were set by different clock generators, modifying PSB speed did not affect any other speeds.

The platform based on mainstream Sandy Bridge integrates clock generator into chipset. As a consequence, the PSB is simply impossible to overclock as it affects clock speeds of Serial ATA, USB and others, which means glitchers even with a mimal performance increase. But Intel plans to offer a "solution" to get special chips with a "K" moniker that has unlocked multiplier and which costs more than an average LGA 1155 processor. A good thing is tha the new processors will have much more advanced Turbo Boost technology that will overclocke them automatically and by thus will eliminate the need for overclocking.

"Locking" mainstream chips in order to avoid overclocking is a strange move to say at least from business reasons. Overclockers and gamers, who purchase CPUs just in a bid to overclock them hardly cound in more than tens of thousands in a large regious. People, who DIY their computers for entertainment purposes and then overclock CPUs and GPUs to get better performance simply buy what they can afford. Hardly anyone from these group would acquire more expensive chips. Perhaps, ASPs of CPUs will rise, but reputational losses from the move will be much higher than financial gains. Of course, PCs will get a very little more affordable. The problem is that those, who care about $10 never notice anything, but the price.

Code-named Sandy Bridge E-series microprocessors and Patsburg-family chipsets do not have those limitations. But those platforms are will also not truly affordable since mainboard makers will probably get their premium and Intel will get the one it wants.

At the end, overclocking has been getting an expensive task for ten years now, but this time it will become an ultra-money-demanding task.

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