[Beowulf] Intel introducing BGA packaging

mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Wed Nov 28 09:39:50 PST 2012

John Hearns wrote:
> http://www.zdnet.com/intel-preparing-to-put-an-end-to-user-replaceable-cpus-7000008024/
> Class, discuss.

Currently one can buy a motherboard and then select one of many 
processors that fit it, based on
price/performance tradeoffs.  So if there are 4 mobos and 5 processors 
the end user has 20 choices, which
is good for the end users - they can buy pretty much exactly what they 
want.  Do we really expect that the
mobo manufacturers are going to want to make, stock, sell, and ship 5 
variants of every motherboard they
make?  Or if the move extends to soldering in memory (a truly horrible 
idea, given how
many bad memory sticks show up) they would also have to set up even 
more variants with different amounts
of memory.  The end result will be a massive reduction in the choices 
available to the end user, which inevitably
correlates with increased costs. It would end up like car buying, where 
options come in "packages", so if
you want the power windows you also have to buy the power sunroof - 
even if you don't want the sunroof.

Intel must like this idea though, because it converts the PC (even 
more) into a throwaway object, like a cell phone.
CPUs do fail sometimes, and the hapless consumer would get to replace 
the entire motherboard/cpu/memory
instead of just the one component.  The ball grid array might save the 
manufacturer $1 over a socket, but the
lack of flexibility in product offerings is going to cost the end users 
much more than that.  For large sites
it also eliminates the possibility of combining two broken machines to 
make one working machine.  Well, unless they
have the tools for swapping BGA chips on a motherboard, which I think 
isn't going to be very many sites.


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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