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The end of the road for the DIY PC?

Discussion in 'Intel' started by Yousuf Khan, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    Intel has announced that they will stop making replaceable CPU's after
    Haswell. From now on, all CPU's are supposed to be in BGA packaging,
    which means you can only attach CPU's to the motherboard by soldiering
    them on. You won't be seeing these in any home DIY's toolkit, so it's
    the end of the road for that upgrade mechanism.

    I've been upgrading my original system since 1987, and right now there's
    no original pieces remaining on it, but I can trace each of the pieces
    back in a chain to the original 8088 PC-XT clone that I had bought back
    then. I suppose it was meant to happen, not many people build their own
    PC's anymore, and it's been cheaper to buy a full brand-new system for
    many years now rather than upgrading it.

    Although this is just an Intel announcement, and AMD hasn't said it
    would do the same thing, but I don't see AMD not following suit with
    this, it'll help their financial situation too, and probably help them
    even more.

    I suppose you could keep upgrading if you buy a full new motherboard
    alongside your CPU, you'd probably have to buy it with new memory also.

    Yousuf Khan

    Intel’s Haswell Could Be Last Interchangeable Desktop Microprocessors -
    Report - X-bit labs
    Yousuf Khan, Nov 24, 2012
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  2. Yousuf Khan

    Paul Guest

    There's always a solution.

    Remember that Foxconn makes their own sockets for motherboards, and
    they also make motherboards. The motherboard industry could cook up
    a flexible solution all on their own.

    There are a ton of cheesy adapters out there. Lots of opportunities
    for someone to cook up a solution. All that's needed is sufficient
    lead time to do the engineering and make a reliable solution.


    And if Intel makes tested silicon die available as a purchase option,
    someone can package them at an MCM factory. And put any kind of lead
    or contact on it, that you want.

    This is just an opportunity for someone - a middle man - to make some cash.

    Paul, Nov 24, 2012
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  3. Yousuf Khan

    geoff Guest

    Apple was/is like that, limited options in changing out hardware. If Intel
    completely removes the DIY aspect of a PC then they are handing business
    over to Apple. Also, a lot of third party vendors will probably close shop.

    Fixed hardware + a Bing OS (aka Windows 8) = a fast declining pc industry.
    geoff, Nov 25, 2012
  4. Yousuf Khan

    Intel Guy Guest

    My first PC (besides a couple pocket computers) was a real IBM PC circa
    1983. I upgraded that as much as I could over the 3 years (but never
    had a hard drive) and my next PC in 1987 was a 24 mhz Harris-80286-based
    motherboard made (IIRC) by Western Digital - with integrated MFM (or was
    it RLL?) winchester controller. I never did own any 386-based boards -
    I moved directly to various 486 boards, and skipped the Pentium-1 and
    instead owned various P2 and P3 boards (slocket, 370, etc). Was never
    into AMD.

    Since I use Windows 98se (fortified with KernelEx) for my primary
    systems - based on 2.x ghz socket-478 Pentium and Celeron CPU's. I have
    several Asrock/Via-based socket 775 boards waiting to be used as my
    next-gen systems (still plan on running win-98 on them). I build the
    PC's at $dayjob and our developers have Gigabyte socket-775 boards with
    4-core CPU's, nvidia 7k or 8k video cards with dual display, and don't
    really need anything more. They run Windoze 7 (some still run XP) and
    we probably will never migrate those to Windoze 8 or beyond (those guys
    will retire before windoze 7 becomes obsolete). Heck, our NNTP and HTTP
    servers still run on NT4 servers running on P2-800 Gigabyte Intel 440BX
    motherboards - 24/7/365 for more than 10 years now.

    For the general-purpose SOHO desktop, the socket 478 was a real work
    horse for years, and the socket-775 didn't really seem to hang around
    for long - but I seriously doubt that the average person (soho, or
    institutional / corporate) needs more CPU (not counting portable use, or

    So basically I've been out of touch with motherboards since maybe
    Q3-2007, but I seriously doubt I'm missing anything for the past 5 years
    except that the boards are getting more colorful and have sick-looking
    heat sinks.
    Intel Guy, Nov 25, 2012
  5. Yousuf Khan

    VanguardLH Guest

    and a whole bunch more at

    What, you mean you don't have a heat gun in your electronic toolbox
    along with the soldering iron, or hot air station sitting on the shelf?
    The spouse will get pissed if you don't cleanup the pancake griddle
    after using it to remove and resolder the BGA parts. You must have
    soldering wick, though. Just means you'll have to put those old-school
    soldering techniques in your backstore memory and learn how to desolder
    and solder BGA parts.

    You're just spoiled by sockets that made it possible for home users with
    no or destructive soldering skills to add components to a mobo. Maybe
    the parts vendors are getting tired of the returns by boobs that don't
    employ anti-static measures, overclock, overheat, or otherwise destroy
    good parts. Soldering on the CPU, chipset, memory, and other components
    would certainly up the reliability of the assembly while reducing
    returns from ignorant, lazy, or sloppy users.
    That wouldn't prevent first-time soldering of the CPU onto the BGA grid.
    The mobo maker could just make a plastic frame to hold the chip in place
    (both for position along with affixing to the mobo via spring clip) and
    the user would use a soldering iron with a tip designed for the BGA grid
    pattern. The user would buy the mobo they want, the CPU they want, and
    then do a one-time solder of the CPU onto the mobo. After all, after
    you buy the mobo and CPU and put them together, how often have you
    actually replaced the CPU? Yeah, if the CPU goes bad then you have to
    replace it but have you had to do so? When the CPU gets too old,
    underpowered, or lacking in firmware features, do you really replace
    just the CPU or do you replace the CPU, mobo, memory, and the whole
    smash to upgrade to newer hardware?

    Also, you can already buy mobo+CPU combos from online vendors. Most
    times they pre-install the CPU so all you have to do is attached the
    heatsink+fan (and sometimes you don't have to do that if you stay with
    the stock HSF for the CPU). So instead of them sliding the CPU into the
    ZIF socket for you, they'll have an inventory of pre-soldered
    combinations and you pick one to buy.
    VanguardLH, Nov 25, 2012
  6. Yousuf Khan

    GMAN Guest

    Sounds like the 1990's Atari ST, AMIGA all over again.
    GMAN, Nov 25, 2012
  7. Really, every computer. Sure you could buy an S100 bus systemin the early
    days, but there was limited ability to upgrade despite all the boards
    plugging into a motherboard that only had sockets.

    It was easy to move to the Z80 from the 8080. But the bus was very much
    related to the 8080, so "foreign" CPUs took a lot of adapting. Even the
    front panel on the Altair was too specific to the 8080 to be useful with
    another CPU. The standardization was often because of CP/M the operating
    system, since it was written to keep the I/O in a small section, one could
    fairly eaily adapt it to other hardware (as long as it used the 8080).

    So the real upgrade path was the 16bit CPU, preferably the 8088 or 8086.
    But then there were other issues besides differring buss signals, such as
    lack of address lines for more RAM. There were various schemes to deal
    with that, but it took time before standardization set in, and then it was
    mostly too late.

    When MITS came out with a 6800 based computer in the fall of 1975, they
    put a different bus on it, and when SWTP put out their computer (which was
    far more successful 6800 system than the MITS 6800 system) it used a
    different bus (though that bus tended to be used by other 6800 based

    The DIgital Group that was more like a hobby trying to turn into a
    commercial product, it used its own bus which made it easy to have
    different CPU boards, but they never went further than the Z80 and maybe
    the 6502.

    The Apple II wsa fairly flexible, so one could get Z80 cards for it, then
    later 6809 cards, and at some point 68000 cards. But they were
    workarounds and usually the 6502 did the I/O.

    Let's not forget that the original IBM PC was no different from that Amiga
    or Atari. ALl three had CPUs in sockets, but there was no plug in
    replacement that made things faster. You could workaround that, but it
    would need a whole board. And you'd be stuck with the existing clock
    frequency unless you had complicated timing methods (to run the CPU faster
    but the bus at its regular rate).

    It was only with time that the "IBM PC" became more flexible. And that
    was more a crossover between the CPUs and the motherboard manufacturers.
    So you could put in a faster CPU, but that's because the motherboard
    company anticipated faster speeds and put in jumpers. That meant the CPU
    companies had to keep the other companies informed of where they were

    In the 386 era there was some level of variability, so you could get a
    cheaper one that had no math coprocessor built in (and oddly then find a
    math coprocessor to add later).

    It was really in much more recent times that a motherboard had some hope
    to be useable over time, and that was because the CPUs generally stopped
    changing that much, the speed being the key factor. If the motherboard
    anticipated upgrades, and the CPU kept the same package and other
    features, then you could use the motehrboard for a few years. Usually a
    new motherboard was needed if the databus bumped up in size, the exception
    being eventually with the 32-64 upgrade.

    Otherwise, it would be no different from the Amiga or Atari, except by
    that point nobody was making CPUs to plug into the expansion bus (I once
    found an 80286 card that did that), so you had to replace the motehrboard.
    But then, the motherboard probably cost as much as one of those plug in
    upgrade boards in the past, but the new motherboard didn't have to
    compromise. The only good thing was the case was generally generic so the
    new motherboard fit (well so long as the area for connectors at the back
    matched up or could be replaced).

    Michael Black, Nov 26, 2012
  8. Yousuf Khan

    daytripper Guest


    That's some funny stuff right there.

    Unless you're serious, of course...

    daytripper, Nov 28, 2012
  9. Yousuf Khan

    VanguardLH Guest

    I was serious. You do know what "ball" means in BGA, right? It's a
    ball of solder. So why can't the chip, even a CPU, come prepped with
    the balls of solder on its pads, the mobo come with balls of solder on
    its grid and using feedthroughs so the solder is reached from the
    backside of the board, and all you have to do is keep the chip pressed
    against the grid, keep it aligned, heat up the solder gun with a
    matching grid tip, and just melt all the solder to weld the chip to the

    You've never applied new solder to the underside of a PCB so it heats
    the solder on the other side through a feedthrough to use solder wick on
    the other side when you cannot otherwise reach the other side with a
    soldering iron? Heat travels.

    Of course, we're talking about DIY'ers that know how to solder and that
    it flows towards the heat source and what level of heat to apply and not
    the boobs that barely know how to push down the level for a ZIF socket.
    Not having sockets doesn't mean you can't DIY. It means the DIY'er will
    need better skills than pushing stuff into a socket or slot.
    VanguardLH, Nov 28, 2012
  10. Yousuf Khan

    GMAN Guest

    If you knew how to solder, you would know a solder wick is used to desolder
    GMAN, Nov 28, 2012
  11. Yousuf Khan

    Chris S. Guest

    If you knew how to solder, you would know a solder wick is used to

    Or merely to remove excess solder....

    Chris S., Nov 28, 2012
  12. Yousuf Khan

    GMAN Guest

    True, but if your skill level is that poor, that you need to remove alot of
    excess solder, you shouldnt really be doing it in the first place.
    GMAN, Nov 28, 2012
  13. Yousuf Khan

    krw Guest

    Daytrip' is quite well acquainted with the technology.
    It does. The 'B' thing, remember?
    It does.
    ....and how are you going to regulate the temperature on this mass? It
    has to be quite closely regulated.
    You're assuming a lot of things here; nothing on the other side. A
    matching pattern on the other side with vias connecting them, perfect
    and matched conduction, and probably a thousand other variables. Might
    just as well use a toaster oven.
    "Knowing how to solder" has nothing to do with it. This is not a
    normal soldering operation.
    It means that no retailer is going to sell this stuff to you.
    krw, Nov 28, 2012
  14. Yousuf Khan

    VanguardLH Guest

    You don't know that you have to heat the solder wick so the solder flows
    into it?
    VanguardLH, Nov 28, 2012
  15. Yousuf Khan

    VanguardLH Guest

    Hence why the DIY'ers that will do this task are those that have
    soldering stations. You know, the ones where you can dial in the
    temperature. However, as pointing out in the videos to which I link,
    others have been inventive in finding cheaper means of doing the
    soldering, reflow, or desoldering.
    It is if you have the right tools (or not how to fab your own gerry
    rig). Again, the videos show NON-professionals doing the work and they
    are not using $300 soldering or desoldering stations, either.
    It means they will void the warranty. As I mentioned, the most likely
    scenario is that you order the CPU you want with the mobo you want and
    the combo gets delivered to you with that setup. A jobber at some point
    after the chip manufacturer but before the retail/online vendor does the
    work or is contracted out or however the vendor wants to get made the
    hardware config that you order. Sometime later you want to replace the
    CPU because it went bad, like you overclocked or overvolted it, or you
    want a better CPU. Do you really buy a mobo with a CPU and then
    immediately discard the CPU to buy a more powerful CPU and put that one
    in? No, you buy your hardware list, fab the parts together, and
    sometime later decide to upgrade. Users of mobos that have expired
    their warranty won't care about what the retailer will sell them since
    they already have it, it's out of warranty, and they've decided they
    will change the CPU.

    I don't see that this will impact the initial or first sale of hardware
    when you fab your homebrew host. You're going to build your shopping
    list, get the parts, and slap it together. Sometime later you decide to
    make changes. In this case, it's not a question of whether a retailer
    will sell you a CPU and mobo separately and warrantly their users
    soldering expertise. It'll be whether or not non-commercial or
    non-volume users can purchase the BGA CPUs to acquire them to sometime
    later swap out those CPUs. If you can't buy one BGA CPU at a time, it's
    not likely you're going to buy 100 or 1000 of them to change the CPU on
    your one home computer. My bet is some volume buyer will resell the
    individual units at a markup and make some good money at it. Of course,
    they aren't going to include a warranty with it.
    VanguardLH, Nov 29, 2012
  16. Yousuf Khan

    krw Guest

    No, it means that they will not be in this market at all. The number
    of DIYers who can do this is close enough to zero that it's not a
    No, the most likely scenario is that this business won't exist. If
    there is any DIY market, you'll buy the board with the CPU (and
    perhaps the memory, too).
    No, you buy a new board, too. The choices of CPUs will be very
    limited, too.
    You're dreaming.
    krw, Nov 29, 2012
  17. Yousuf Khan

    VanguardLH Guest

    How does having a soldering station preclude your ownership of a heat
    gun? How are you going to cleanup the solder left behind after removing
    the BGA chip? With a little soldering iron repeatedly trying to wick up
    a few solder remnants at a time? Or put a wide tip on the station iron,
    lay it across a length of wick, and use the whole length to capture a
    lot of solder remnant at a time?

    Please don't generalize some $40 soldering station with those costing
    hundreds that ARE designed for BGA rework. Sorry if you mistook my
    "soldering station" to mean some style that isn't designed for the task.
    If I said you need a new tire, I really shouldn't have to specify what
    tire fits your car. Besides, that small and simple soldering iron
    station with temperature control still suffices for BGA rework, too. If
    you watched the videos, you'll see that removing the BGA device doesn't
    require the use of the lowly soldering iron station, and neither does
    the installation of the BGA chip. Users have found pancake griddles
    (with their temperature control) and heat guns sufficient for removal
    and installation. Yet that lowly soldering iron-only station does come
    in handy when cleaning up all the solder remnant and re-balling the BGA
    So you're claiming the DIY'ers are incapable of learning new skills. If
    some college dude in a cramped dorm can use a pancake griddle and heat
    gun to reflow the solder for a BGA GPU to fix cold solder joints and
    another guy can use the same griddle and heat gun to replace a BGA chip,
    why can't others? The hardest part of the entire process is the time to
    protect the area outside the chip by applying foil tape (as a heat
    deflector for the heat gun's airflow), all the solder and rosin cleanup
    after removing the BGA chip, and re-balling the BGA chip and none of
    that requires super-wizard skills by a DIY'er. Doing the desoldering to
    remove and soldering to install are the easy parts. It's a lot like
    painting a house: most of the effort and time is spent in preparation
    and the actual painting goes quick and easy.

    Yes, there are different levels of DIY'ers. Sorry, but I'm not terribly
    concerned about the lowest level of them that have troubles figuring out
    why an AGP video card won't fit in a PCIe slot or cannot figure out how
    to determine the orientation of a non-polarized IDE ribbon cable. Ever
    visited the Darwin Awards site to know the premise of its "awards"?
    Some folks should never be an DIY'er but that doesn't stop them.
    Isn't that what I said? The initial purchase when you spec out your
    build would be to decide on a mobo+CPU combo and that's what gets
    delivered to you with the CPU already soldered on. Hell, you can do
    that now with ZIF-socketed CPUs by buying a combo the vendor already
    came up with (and usually includes a bundling discount): they
    pre-install the CPU into the ZIF socket and may even attach the HSF
    (although I still prefer to do my own so to including lapping of the CPU
    metal plate and the heatsink and making sure the proper dose of good
    thermal paste gets used). So, yes, the initial buy will have the CPU
    already soldered to the mobo.

    So how does that stop DIY'ers from upgrading their CPUs if they don't
    care about warranties or after the warranty has expired? Only if they
    cannot get the BGA CPU chips will stop them. Sorry, but I don't think
    the market for BGA CPUs is unsustainable so I believe there will be a
    market for them - but at a price premium since such DIY'ers are not
    volume buyers - and there will be warranty (which means the DIY'er has
    no recourse if they get a bad chip).
    Now you're guessing even worse than the hypothesis claimed in the
    article that started this whole discussion. You don't know and neither
    do I as to what will happen regarding availability of single-unit
    purchases of BGA CPUs. I suspicion there will be availability and
    disagree with you. You suspicion that there will not be availability
    and disagree with me. So, so far, we've agreed to disagree.
    Oh, you're one of those "odd" purchasers that build by buying parts that
    you will immediately discard to then buy some other part to replace
    those you already purchased. So how do you buy mobos and CPUs now? Do
    you really buy a mobo one month and then months later buy a CPU for it?
    Do you really buy both a mobo and CPU (separately or as a combo) but
    upon delivery discard the CPU and go buy another CPU? Or do you buy the
    mobo and CPU and *use* that hardware in your build?

    I didn't say there would be as great a selection of combinations of
    mobos and CPUs. The selection will probably be less as vendors will
    offer only certain combinations. This in itself will eliminate
    consumers getting the wrong parts and reduce returns to the vendors.
    You will pick from what BGA CPU and mobo combos the vendors do provide
    just like you do now with CPU and mobo purchases. If the CPU makers go
    to BGA chips and force the mobo makers to follow then the computer
    vendors will have to follow, too. So, yes, you CAN make your inital
    purchase with a BGA CPU and mobo combo and, no, that doesn't preclude
    you from changing the BGA CPU later whether you do it, get a more expert
    friend to do it, or pay a shop to do it.

    The videos show doing BGA is not rocket science. It doesn't even
    require high-tech equipment. It obviously will void any warranty but by
    the time you upgrade the warranty is irrelevant. If, as you claim, the
    consumer is going to buy a new BGA CPU and mobo combo as the upgrade or
    replacement, they're going to still have that old BGA CPU and mobo
    hanging around so why not experiment since you have nothing to lose.
    If, as I claim, DIY'ers won't care about warranties, especially after
    they've expired by the time they choose to upgrade, and they'll be using
    low-tech gear to desolder, cleanup, and solder the BGA stuff.

    So it doesn't seem your argument really hinges on whether DIY'ers can
    learn how to handle BGA chips (since I've already shown that's not true
    by reference to videos). Instead it really hinges on availability of
    the BGA CPUs for single-unit purchases (i.e., where a user can buy just
    one). From what I've seen at eBay, even when something is normally
    available only through volume purchases, someone goes ahead anyway to
    buy a 1000 for their own use of one and then sells off the rest either
    individually or in lot sales.
    VanguardLH, Nov 29, 2012
  18. Yousuf Khan

    Paul Guest

    VanguardLH wrote:

    The poster "Motor T" above, has already debunked this idea
    for desktops at least. The plan is for laptops. So we don't
    have to worry about kludges quite yet.

    Paul, Nov 29, 2012
  19. Yousuf Khan

    GMAN Guest

    Of course i do, I have been doing MIL spec soldering since i was 14 years old.
    Thats since 1979.
    GMAN, Nov 29, 2012
  20. Yousuf Khan

    Bug Dout Guest

    But the lack of a replaceable CPU need not doom DIY. I have a 5+ year
    old DIY PC that I am considering upgrading. But since I want USB 3.0 ports,
    that means I have to replace the MB anyway, and probably the case to get
    external USB 3.0 ports. And maybe the disk drives to get the latest
    high-speed drives there, and of course memory, to get the best.

    The point being, after a couple of years, lots of things have to be
    replaced, not just the CPU.
    Bug Dout, Nov 29, 2012
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