Intel to limit Sandy Bridge overclocking?

At least according to leaked slides

IF  WERE TO believe what is meant to be Intel presentation slides of its upcoming Sandy Bridge processors that were embedded in a video posted on YouTube by HKEPC, it looks like Intel’s LGA-1155 processors will have very limited overclocking potential. The reason for this is because Intel decided to “help” with the cost cutting by implementing a clock generator built into the chipset, rather than relying on an additional chip on the motherboard.

However, by doing so, Sandy Bridge processors on the LGA-1155 platform won’t be easily overclocked as the way Intel implemented the clock generator means that all the busses are tied to it. The end result of this is that if you try to increase BCLK you’ll also increase the speed of all other busses in the system, such as USB, SATA, PCI Express, DMI etc. Not exactly a great implementation, at least not for anyone that’s interested in overclocking their system as Intel claims that you won’t be able to push the bus by more than two to three percent.

There appears to be another underlying reason for this, Intel wants to sell more expensive CPUs to overclockers. The company is getting ready to launch more K-series processors with unlocked multipliers specifically for overclockers, although we’re not sure that the overclocking scene will be all that tempted, as you can only do so much with an unlocked multiplier when you can’t move the bus speed. Judging by the slides, Intel will offer fully unlocked and partially unlocked processors, where the fully unlocked models appear to be similar to today’s XE processors. Intel’s Turbo feature will of course work as it does today on its Core iSomethingMeaningless processors and Intel has also added native support for DDR3 memory overclocking.

Things gets a little bit trickier when you realise that the memory multiplier is only unlocked when you’re using Intel’s P-series chipsets such as the upcoming P67. We’d guess that Intel will charge a premium for this chipset compared to the H67 chipset. Memory speeds of up to 2133MHz are supposedly supported which is a huge improvement over the P55 chipset, yet not nearly as useful.

The LGA-2011 platform on the other hand works quite differently as Intel has fixed the PCI Express and DMI bus speeds inside the CPU which means that it’s possible to push the BCLK on these processors without running into the same issues you would on the LGA-1155 platform. However, beyond Intel’s Turbo feature, you’re not getting any freebies here as non-XE processors are multiplier locked and there are no K-series processors on LGA-2011. Again, DDR3 overclocking is part of the package here too, but all the way up to 2666MHz and beyond.

It seems like Intel isn’t happy with so many of its customers buying slower processors and overclocking them easily and this is Intel’s way of telling the world this. We can’t but wonder if it’s really worth it for Intel, especially if AMD manages to get a competitive part or two into the market. Competitive overclockers are likely to shun the LGA-1155 platform altogether, as it wouldn’t offer much in terms of a challenge to overclock and it’s not going to be much of a competition if everyone manages to reach the same speeds.

There doesn’t seem to be any simple way around Intel’s clock generator implementation either, but if a motherboard manufacturer manages to find a workaround, it will put that company way ahead of the competition. We’re aware that the Taiwanese motherboard engineers are very clever people, but this seems like a near enough impossible nut to crack, but luckily there are still a few months to work on removing Intel’s latest spanner in the wheel for overclockers.S|A

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