AMD has confirmed that it has no plans to ditch user-replaceable CPUs in favour of BGA-only production, something Intel has still yet to address.
While Intel is remaining silent on rumours that its future processor families will be provided in a soldered-down ball-grid array (BGA) package only
, AMD has stepped forward to publicly state that it plans to support swappable CPUs for the foreseeable future.
The rumours, attributed to industry sources speaking to a Japanese technology news site, claim that Intel is to cease production of its land-grid array (LGA) processor packages in favour of using BGA packaging throughout its product ranges. Unlike LGA, which connects to the motherboard through a zero insertion force (ZIF) socket that allows the processor to be easily removed and replaced, BGA chips are permanently soldered to the board and cannot be removed without melting the solder.
It's a technique Intel and others already use in the embedded market and for laptop processors, where the extra footprint of a ZIF socket would be unacceptable. It's also something which has been used historically in desktop systems, where early processors were sometimes soldered directly to the board when manufacturers didn't want to pay for adding sockets. In recent years, however, the practice has fallen out of fashion in favour of giving users the ability to easily swap out a processor.
For motherboard makers, it allows for a wider range of product offerings than would be possible were processors tied to a motherboard. It also allows enthusiasts to easily upgrade to a faster processor without having to change motherboards, or to replace a chip which has failed due to overclocking or a cooling experiment gone wrong.
Intel, for its part, has refused to comment on the rumours that the days of user-replaceable processors are coming to a close - leaving rival AMD an opportunity to score some points. 'AMD has a long history of supporting the DIY and enthusiast desktop market with socketed CPUs and APUs that are compatible with a wide range of motherboard products from our partners,
' AMD's Chris Hook has claimed in a statement to press. 'That will continue through 2013 and 2014 with the 'Kaveri' APU and FX CPU lines. We have no plans at this time to move to BGA only packaging and look forward to continuing to support this critical segment of the market.
'As the company that introduced new types of BGA packages in ultrathin platforms several years ago, and today offers BGA-packaged processors for everything from ultrathin notebooks to all-in-one desktops, to embedded applications and tablets, we certainly understand Intel's enthusiasm for the approach. But for the desktop market, and the enthusiasts with whom AMD has built its brand, we understand what matters to them and how we can continue to bring better value and a better experience.
At present, AMD's statement is little more than points-scoring: Intel has not formally stated that it has any such plans to remove LGA products from its roadmap. With that said, the company has also failed to release a statement assuring customers that it will not switch to a BGA-only production schedule - leaving the door open for statements like the above from its rivals assuring enthusiasts that while Intel may or may not care about them, they can rest assured that their needs will be catered for in the future.