Rumours abound that Intel’s next-next-gen CPU, the Broadwell, will be soldered to motherboards rather than socketed – and that consequently motherboards will become very difficult to swap or upgrade.
While Intel desktop PCs typically use a land grid array (LGA) package design which allows their processors to be attached to motherboards via a socket, the change would see the Broadwell adopt a ball grid array (BGA) package, featuring a soldered arrangement more reminiscent of that seen in tablets or the modern-day laptop I’m currently using.
A BGA’d Broadwell wouldn’t come without its upsides. Keeping the motherboard and CPU tightly packed might allow for smaller, thinner form-factor PCs, for instance. What’s more, it’s likely that fewer parts will mean simpler assembly and fewer meltdowns, keeping manufacturing costs down and consequently – hopefully – making PCs cheaper for users too.
The downside is that there’s less choice in PC modding. Processor upgrades could become a thing of the past, making life less interesting for the small but significant portion of PC gamers who like to make things overclock.
Ars Technica speculate that the Broadwell might not be intended for traditional desktop rigs at all, but instead be used for tablets, netbooks and all-in-one setups. That would mean a split in Intel’s mobile and desktop markets, and the company could continue to sell the incoming LGA Haswell CPU for use in the latter.
Still – change seems to be coming to PC processing whether we like it or not. ZDNet and SemiAccurate both independently claim to have had confirmation on Intel’s plans from manufacturers. How does the future PC sound to you?