Intel Changes Plans: Set to Continue with Upgradeable LGA Platforms Even with Skylake Chips

Intel to Continue Using LGA Packaging for Chips, Support Upgradeable Platforms Till at Least 2015

by Anton Shilov
03/22/2013 | 03:53 PM

Intel Corp. has reportedly updated its long-term roadmap it discloses to high-ranking executives from its very close partners with its plans concerning microprocessor packaging and the future of desktop platforms. As it appears, the company decided not to aggressively push chips in BGA packages into the desktop market and eliminate upgradeability of the PC platforms. Instead, the company will continue to sell processors in LGA form-factor for the foreseeable future.

 

Nowadays, the majority of central processing units manufactured by Intel Corp. come in either land-grid array (LGA) or micro pin-grid array (µPGA) packages (which means that they can be plugged into appropriate mainboards or be changed) and are tailored for maximum performance on the micro-architecture level. Late last year it was reported that in a bid to lower the amount of similar chip models in various packages, Intel planned to either completely cease to make mainstream client chips in µPGA and LGA packages that allow interchangeability of microprocessors, or to dramatically reduce their amount sometimes in 2014, but concentrate on chips in BGA (ball-grid array) packaging that are soldered directly to mainboards and cannot be changed outside of manufacturing facilities.

According to unidentified sources from Taiwan-based mainboard manufacturers cited by DigiTimes web-site, Intel will retain LGA packaging for 95% of desktop central processing units until, at least, the first half of 2015, when the company rolls-out chips powered by code-named Skylake micro-architecture. There will be entry-level chips for desktops based on Broadwell and Skylake architectures in BGA packaging, just like there are various Atom and ultra-low-power chips in BGA form-factor today. Still the majority of mainstream desktop chips will come in LGA packaging, which allows interchangeability of chips for OEMs and upgradeability for the end-user.

BGA provides advantages to makers of high-performance tablets, ultra-thin notebooks as well as all-in-one desktops (such as Apple iMac, which still use LGA chips today) as ball grid array packaging ensure small footprint. However, when it comes to fully-fledged desktops, BGA means that system makers will have to keep a large amount of different mainboards with various features and dissimilar microprocessors in order to provide the right choices for their clients. Such stockpiling increases business risks to smaller makers and decreases abilities to differentiate for mainboard makers.

Previously it was also reported that for Intel it might become economically inefficient to test and package LGA, µPGA and BGA products for clients. While it is true that supporting three packages is more expensive than only one, it is hard to believe into economic inefficiency of Intel products, given its dominating position on the market of CPUs and keeping in mind the fact that its smaller rival AMD manages to be almost profitable selling chips in various form-factors.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.