LGA 775: A Joke And A Threat That Is No Joke

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People talk about the new technologies in this platform like DDR2 and PCI Express, but two less-heralded new features got my attention.

The Joke

The first is The Disposable Socket. Well, what else would you call a socket that even the geniuses responsible for it says is only good for twenty “careful” insertions. And when you wear it out, just buy a new . . . motherboard.

This is like changing the oil filter on your car “carefully” twenty times, then having to replace your car.

Or being able to change batteries just twenty times in any device.

Imagine if certain very human sockets were rated for only twenty insertions. 🙂

Intel may well be technically correct in that twenty is enough for most people, but that doesn’t matter. You tell the average Joe about this “twenty” rule, and a lot of them won’t buy the product even if they never intend to change the CPU.

That’s because this offends most people’s sensibilities when it comes to how durable a product ought to be. Relevant or not, it screams “flimsy” and “cheap” to anyone aware of this.

Twenty “careful” insertions? What happens if a couple of those insertions aren’t so careful? What’s “uncareful?” Obviously, hammering the CPU into place isn’t “careful,” but it isn’t “careful” now.

Seems to me you have to be pretty careful as it is to put a CPU in today. How much more careful does one have to be? Even if you are, in the end, you are dead, anyway.

Intel is saying this is no worse than earlier sockets. Huh? I’ve never heard of anybody wearing out a socket, have you?

BTW, how are you going to know your time is up? Obviously, if it doesn’t work at all, that might be a good sign, but that often initially happens after replacing a CPU for reasons that have nothing to do with the CPU replacement (nudging other components out of place, not clearing CMOS, just to cite two possibilities).

Let’s assume that socket is actually wearing out. Assume the machine crashes once in a while, or often. Is it the socket, or something else? How can you test for something like that?

The only explanations I can come up with for this “feature” are drugs or brain damage. Which is it, Intel?

If I were a mobo maker or a big OEM, I’d move heaven and earth to be come with a sturdier socket, or at least a detachable socket that can be replaced in my mobos.

No Joke At All

It says much about our times that something like a disposable socket is not even the worst news about this platform.

Let’s face it, Prescott is not exactly overclockers’ heaven.

We start with a CPU that still chews up about twice the power of its Hammer competitor to perform tasks. It will now sit on top of a socket practically designed to break. To significantly overclock it, you almost need a degree in cryogenics.

Could matters get worse?

Why, yes. Just in case there were any overclockers foolish enough to buy Prescotts left, Intel has decided it is time to implement a lock on FSB overclocking!

Go over 10%, and it crashes.

While there seems to be a way to partially work around the problem, it’s unclear at the moment whether the workaround only frees up another 5-10% or whether the CPU can’t handle more than that.

No doubt, Intel’s justification for this lock will be “safety.” Given the frailty of the product, it is a plausible assertion.

But what happens later? Think the feature will go away when the emergency ends?

In the long term, unless a real workaround is found, you have to at least suspect the handwriting is on the wall for us and our days may be numbered.

One can of course say, “There’s always AMD,” until AMD decides to implement this, too.

You say, “They’ll never do that?” Lots of people said just that when Intel installed the multiplier lock back in 1998, too. The same people who put the multiplier lock into AMD chips are still running the company. Given their pricing and positioning policy, they’re hardly likely to be as sympathetic to people cranking up their cheapest chips as they’ve been in the past.

All this tells me that if I had to bet on it, AMD will be more likely than not to say “Me, too” sooner rather than later, say, in a year or two?

Waiting Until It Is Too Late…

Waiting Until It Is Too Late

Is this speculation? Of course, it’s speculation. Could I be wrong? Of course I could. The Intel lock may not prove to be effective, or, more accurately, Taiwanese mobo and/or chipset makers will resist going along enough to make Intel back off.

This is where I think the real battle will be fought. If this becomes a false alarm, it will become that at this stage.

However, if such a lock is effective, while AMD may find it tactically better to leave things as they are for a little while, I think it will become a matter of “when” rather than “if” for AMD.

What happens then?

Well, for a start, most of the enterprises built around overclocking will go extinct. What do you need a Prometeia for if you can only overclock 10-15%? For that matter, what do you even need a good cooler for?

No doubt, some remnant will remain to get that extra 10-15% out, but that’s all it will be. A remnant.

Can anything be done about it?

I don’t know.

For openers, most of the hardware sites I’ve seen reviewing this platform didn’t even mention this new “feature” in their reviews.

If they can’t even bring themselves to mention what after all is a decisive factor for many in their audience, how likely is it they’re going to charge up the hill opposing it?

No, most will stay quiet about this. Very, very quiet. They know who the real boss is, and it isn’t you.

Some people ought to start realizing who their friends are and aren’t and start acting accordingly.

The real problem, though, is the person who looks at what I’m saying, and just says, “It’s not going to happen.”

Too many people confuse what they want to happen with what is actually happening, and this is why they lose. They confuse wishful thinking with reality.

This is a threat, the biggest threat we’ve ever faced. If you wait until it becomes reality, it’s too late to do anything about it.

No threat starts off at 100%. When it hits 100%; it’s no longer a threat, it’s reality, and an accomplished reality is much harder to change than a possibility.

Others will essentially say, “They dare not offend a powerful group like us?” Uhhh, what Intel’s doing isn’t offensive to us? They obviously aren’t too scared of us, in fact, it doesn’t seem to bother them one little bit, now does it?

Unfortunately, what I think is going to happen is that most people won’t believe this will happen until it happens. They’ll then scream a lot for a while. They’ll be screamed back at by mostly former overclockers who will change sides just to be on the winning. After a while, people will just wander away in search of something better to do.

And that’s a shame, but not for the reason you think.

Granted, overclocking isn’t up there with freedom and democracy as something to be defended. It’s a hobby, nothing more, nothing less.

But if it is important to you, and you won’t do anything to defend it against threats, what does that say about you as a human being? Many people today whine about feeling powerless. Well, if you never do anything, of course you’re going to be powerless. Those who care about something will always beat out those who don’t.

Again, a perfectly rational human being can decide that this isn’t worth defending. However, if you can’t find anything worth fighting for, consider the possibility that this is a personal problem.

Power is not a lollypop Mommy gives you because you’re you. Power is a loose ball during a football game. No effort, no ball. Nobody’s going to hand it to you because you deserve it, plenty will try to take it away if you have it.

Think about it.

For Now

For now, this situation has to be watched very carefully. We’ll have to see just how far the mobo makers can fool about with the Intel chipset. We’ll also have to watch what people like SiS and Via do with their chipsets.

It’s a little premature for action, but if action is needed, it will be sooner rather than later, and a lot of sheep are going to have to change species.

Email Ed


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