Intel May Partially Bar Overclocking in Case of Sandy Bridge Processors

Intel Plans to Impose Overclocking Restrictions for Mainstream Platforms

by Anton Shilov
07/27/2010 | 10:16 PM

Intel Corp. reportedly plans to simplify the design of mainstream platforms for code-named Sandy Bridge central processing units (CPUs) in a bid to lower production costs and encourage enthusiasts to get higher-end Sandy Bridge E microprocessors. Apparently, the next-gen mainstream platform from Intel will have limited overclocking capabilities; on the other hand, enthusiast-oriented setups will continue to be overclocker-friendly.


In an attempt to simplify design of mainstream personal computers, Intel decided to integrate base clock-speed generator directly into the code-named Cougar Point core-logic, according to slides that resemble those from Intel's presentations published by HKEPC web-site. Unlike in case standalone base frequency generators for different busses in case of today's PCs, Intel's integrated generator will set one base clock-speed that will be automatically multiplied in accordance to standard settings of various busses, e.g., PCI Express, Direct Media Interface (DMI), Serial ATA, USB and so on. As a result, any altering of DMA bus frequency in case of Sandy Bridge processors will not only affect CPU clock-speed, but also all the other speeds, which should remain at stable frequencies all the time.

The good news is that with Sandy Bridge the chip giant plans "fully" and "partially" unlocked microprocessors. Fully unlocked chips will be overclockable by modifying multiplier;  whereas partially unclockable microprocessors will allow manufacturer to choose maximum ratios above the so-called Turbo-speed and hence the CPUs will automatically change their clock-speeds thanks to Turbo Boost technology for their four cores as well as graphics engine. Overclocking of any kind - including memory speed boost - will only be possible on Intel 6-series P-family platforms, hence, neither of "unlocked" chips will be able to operate at frequencies beyond default on other types of platforms.

In case of the next-generation enthusiast platform that will be based on Sandy Bridge E chips with six cores and code-named Patsburg core-logic set there will be external base frequency generators used and clock-speeds of busses like SATA or USB locked. As a result, enthusiasts will be able to boost clock-speed of microprocessors using traditional methods by increasing DMI frequencies. Obviously, next-gen platform for enthusiasts will also include Extreme Edition microprocessors with unlocked multiplier.

By imposing restrictions on overclocking of Sandy Bridge/Cougar Pont platform Intel not only further encourages overclockers to use more expensive Sandy Bridge E/Patsburg platforms, but also ensures that there is no overclocking on non Intel 6-series P-family platforms physically available. On the one hand, this allows Intel and mainboard makers to charge more for P67 chipset since enthusiasts are likely to pay a premium for overclocking. On the other hand, it forces motherboard manufacturers (in order to differentiate themselves from competitors), to incorporate more features into their products powered by Q67, Q65, B65, H61 and other, thus, improving competitive positions of personal computers featuring the forthcoming chipsets.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.