Intel will walk away from swappable chips

Word on the street is that the fashion bag maker  Intel is planning to move away from swappable chips in favour of the more fashionable SoC.

According to X-Bit Labs,  Haswell might be the last swappable chip from Intel to hit the shops.

Starting from the ludicrously codennamed “Broadwell” generation of processors, Intel will only offer mainstream desktop chips in BGA packaging. The big idea is that this will eliminate upgrade options as well as increase risks for PC makers.

The plan is to use land grid array (LGA) and micro pin grid array (µPGA) packages and will only be available in in ball grid array (BGA)formats.

This is like the Intel Atom processors which went that way as mobile became less flexible, but smaller and cheaper.

LGA packaging allowed a simple switch of CPUs on mainboards but Broadwell chips, which are due in 2014, will have to be soldered to mainboards. This is not an easy job and can only be done in by a manufacturer.

On the plus side, the Broadwell multi-chip modules, have everything integrated and will save a lot on power. They will be really useful for high-performance tablets, ultra-thin notebooks as well as all-in-one desktops as ball grid array packaging ensures a small footprint.

But BGA will cause some headaches for manufacturers. They will have to keep a large amount of different mainboards with various features and dissimilar microprocessors. Smaller manufacturers are not big fans of expensive stockpiling because it is risky for them.

Mainstream chips will reportedly be only supplied in BGA form-factors soldered to mainboards, which eliminates any chance of upgrade. It is possible that high-end desktop (HEDT) platforms will still be supplied in LGA packaging options but these chips will probably be more expensive.

Effectively this will be the end of being able to upgrade your PC, which is just what Intel wants, even if everybody else doesn’t.