X-bit Labs came across a report that Intel's upcoming Haswell processor will be the last of the chip giant's desktop processors to use LGA packaging. Starting from Broadwell, which is expected to arrive in 2014, Intel will adopt a BGA form factor, similar to Atom processors. The advantage is a smaller footprint, but the downside is that the chips have to be soldered to the motherboard, meaning that the processor will no longer be installable by the end-user, and that upgrading will no longer be possible without buying a new motherboard.
Due to the market trends towards low-power microprocessors, Intel will offer various Broadwell multi-chip modules – which will contain Broadwell CPUs with integrated memory controller, graphics core, etc. and Wildcat Point input/output controllers – with various thermal design power envelopes, e.g., 10W, 15W and 47W/57W, according to the report.
The BGA MCMs should provide advantages to makers of high-performance tablets, ultra-thin notebooks as well as all-in-one desktops 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.
The article mentions high-end desktop (HEDT) platforms will still be supplied in LGA packaging, but these chips are substantially more expensive than Intel's current mainstream offerings. The cheapest LGA2011 chip starts at $294, whereas the most expensive mainstream-performance LGA1155 CPU costs $332.