A recent rumor about Intel considering a ball-grid array (BGA) layout for their Broadwell processors (due in 2014 as the successor to 2013’s Haswell processors) has prompted unrest in the PC industry, especially enthusiasts, PC builders and consumers with the know-how to do their own repairs/upgrades. The BGA packaging points to CPUs getting soldered directly onto the motherboard, making it impossible to replace without swapping out the motherboard too (we’re already seeing soldered RAM in Apple’s Retina MacBook Pros and many ultrabooks/super-thin notebooks and tablets, so there’s definitely a reason for concern).
Intel has stepped out to dispel the rumors, mentioning that they will offer LGA user-replaceable processors for ‘the foreseeable future’. In this process of Intel quelling the unrest, for now, AMD (Intel’s main competitor) has seized the opportunity to step out and assue everyone that their APU and FX CPU processors (codename Kaveri) in 2013 and 2014 will continue to support socketing and boast the ability to be separately replaced from the motherboard (just like how Intel and AMD CPUs have been for the last umpteen years).
Our thoughts we’d like to chip in (no pun intended) is that integrated CPUs soldered into the motherboard are inevitable. Neither Intel nor AMD is giving any guarantee that their processors will be user-replaceable beyond 2015 at this point. Having a CPU embedded into the board would mean a lower profile and reduced use of space (important for slim devices), slightly better efficiency and lower power consumption and possibly lower cost as manufacturers don’t have to source as many parts.
The downsides, of course, are lack of user replaceability and the potential of things getting expensive if something goes wrong. Right now, the motherboard, CPU and RAM are all separate from one another… if they were soldered together on a single board, the failure of one component would probably mean the (expensive) replacement of almost the whole system.
There is, however, no doubt that we will see these ‘all in one’ chipsets and boards in thin notebooks and tablets in the near future. Most ultrabooks already have most things bolted down and sealed, making it difficult for users to do their own repairs or upgrades. The question is if desktop parts will go the same direction (although practically speaking, they don’t need to since we don’t exactly need whole desktops to be as slim as a deck of cards, do we now?)