Almost as soon as the 875/865 chipsets were introduced last year, we were dealing with news stories about PAT being implemented on the 865 chipset. This Intel "875-only" feature was quickly and cleverly being introduced on the mainstream 865 chipsets by the Taiwanese motherboard makers. This was not what Intel had intended, but it was a testament to the engineering capabilities of the major board manufacturers.

The just-introduced Intel 925X and 915 chipsets seem destined to continue the tradition of Intel trying to limit the chipset features. This round, the hot topic is Intel's attempt to limit or lock-out overclocking on the new chipsets, and the clever engineering that companies, like Asus and Abit, are doing to get around this new issue.

Our early testing confirms what you may have already heard -- Intel has limited the overclocking on their new chipset to about 10%. In looking at boards from smaller or less savvy board makers, you simply can't overclock beyond 10% over specification. We first became suspicious of a lock because some Prescott chips are already overclocking as much as 50% and higher on Intel 875P systems. Given that fact, why should these same cores suddenly be such poor overclockers on 925X/915? The answer, of course, is that the chipset is different and it handles overclocking differently.

When an attempt is made to boot at more than about 10% on a 925X or 915, the system simply reboots or shuts-down. We have not been able to get any kind of official explanation from Intel, but board makers tell us that Intel has added an overclocking limiter that resets a PLL and reboots or shuts down the system if overclock attempts are made at speeds over about 110% of specification.

So, are we stuck with 10% overclock limits if we choose the new Intel chipsets? Fortunately, some of the major manufacturers have found ways around this issue.

UPDATE: Intel's Reply. Intel declined to officially answer our question about whether they have implemented a 10% Overclock Lock on the 915 and 925X chipsets. Intel provided the following official statement:
"Intel has done extensive evaluation of our 915G/P and 925X chipset products and have designed them to run robustly at 800FSB. Any use or operation of these chipsets beyond their specifications, including overclocking, has not been evaluated or validated by Intel. If a board provider decides to overclock their platform, they do so at their own risk, since this action will void the warranty for the Intel products. Additionally, from time to time, Intel may choose to implement functionality that helps to ensure that the Intel product experience is not degraded by those who may try to run our products out of spec."
Asus Breaks the Lock . . .
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  • Margalus - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    I can't believe how many clueless amd fanboy's there are here
  • Falco. - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link


    u TRUST toms to put out info that holds some truth to it ?? everyone i talk to wouldm't trust toms with a 2 car parade, they'd prob mess that up some how :-)
  • dvinnen - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    #4: I'm not suggesting the they drop Intel all together, I'm just saying drap their chipsets. SIS, VIA, ATi, ALi, and nVidea (rumor) all make alternatives to Intel's chipsets. If a teir one maker like Asus or Foxconn drops intel's chipsets, all the teir 2 and teir 3 mobo makers will probaly follow suit (espically if foxconn does it considering they make most of the lower teirs motherboards for them). I know it would be finacll sucide to drop intel all together, but rember, Intel needs the mobo makers (chipset wise) a hell of a lot more than they need intel. As long as intel keeps licening other people to build intel chipsets they don't need to intel at all.

    #8: Athlon64 does not come anywere close to giving off 89 watts of heat. That's the max that it will give off ever. When intel gives off thermal guides, it is generally the average, not the max. See this artical by toms:

    While they might be lowballying the numbers a bit (hard to tell because they don't tell you how they test it) it's showing prescott giving off ~90 watts of heat. Intell says they will give off 93 watts, so it is about right.

    Now AMD says 89 will be the most the Athlon64 will ever give off at 130nm, as you see in the chart the newer CG steping gives off just over 50 watts in real world testing. Should be odvious that they have no real heat issues. Hell, they just release a line of 35w processors for blade servers and labtops.
  • ZobarStyl - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    Intel is shoving crap after crap down our throats this year, and we have no choice but to stomach it until the computer-buying populace as a whole gets a little smarter and does their homework. Your average computer user has no idea that there is a company besides Intel who makes processors, and they aren't interested in "upstart" companies like AMD =/. But although the enthusiast market is a tiny sliver of Intel's sales, we do talk quite a lot =). And when people keep hearing from all around that Intel is screwing them over then we might see that gradual market shift happen. Combine that with the fact that Opteron is making it clear to businesses that AMD is a worthwhile investment, and you push the trend even faster. Intel isn't going to see immediately big losses but they are slowly but surely eroding away at their market share by telling the consumer what is best for them.

    More expensive RAM for no perf gain? No thanks.
    More expensive graphics card interface for no gains? No thanks.
    Processors that don't overclock? No thanks.
    An entirely new form factor that requires me to get a whole new case and power supply so that you can safely market your flamethrower? No thanks.

    Yeah but before you think that Intel is going to come crashing down, remember that there are many many people out there who think their Celerons are faster than A64's.
  • thatsright - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    Yet another of the endless reasons this useless new Intel technology, sucks, Sucks SUCKS!!!

    (and this is coming from the proud owner of a 875 chipset P4 rig)
  • araczynski - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    My feeling is this article is making too big of assumption without further studies about the overclockability of these. Somehow I don't see a 50% overclock on ALL cpu's coming out of the pipe for the rest of your life as something intel cares about leaving in there, and i much less think they're going to waste any resources to make sure it can or can't happen. they're focusing on maximizing yields and stability, not whether you can or can't get a 50% OC with a line.

    i guess what i'm trying to say is i doubt they're doing this to spite anybody, specifically the enthusiast crowd who they would knowingly push to the amd side, not that the enthusiast crowd makes or breaks their quaterly profit results.....

    stop dreaming everything is/will be a C300 or P4/2.4.
  • mostlyprudent - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    I suspect that this means Intel has something up their sleaves. I would not be suprised if a few months from now we see Intel with an FSB bump up of over 25%. This will mean a new chipset which will probably have no other new features. "Make'm buy a new board every quarter" should be the Intel theme.
  • Filibuster - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    >#2 - An all-out clock lock? It'll be funny to see how many people actually buy Intel after that. Actually, it'll be funny to see how many people still buy Intel after THIS.

    Not as funny as you think. All but a tiny sliver of Intel sales don't care about overclocking. Business is their bread and butter, not enthusiasts. Even most home users don't even know what it is. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter to us, but it really won't hurt Intel.
    They aren't like Alienware/FalconNW, who depend on gamers/etc.
  • Anemone - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    And regarding the Intel issue, part of the problem that still exists with AMD, now given that they have a rather superb chip on their hands, is that their advances in mfg technology, and issuing of new chips is always getting delayed. They are just so far behind in that area. It's looking like the FX-55 which was supposed to be 90nm will be 130 instead. And that a 90nm FX chip at all won't happen for a year longer than they (last Fall) promised, which you can expect to also delay the dual core chips. They have no plan yet for cache sharing on dual core chips, and the 939 socket has 89w dissipation that dual core has to fit into if its to go in that socket, which might well mean it can't go there.

    Lots of issues - still the FX of today is a stellar chip. People still going AMD because the issues are far more palatable than the Big Brother attitude of Intel regarding how we use their products.

    Mfg's of motherboards for Intel chipsets are just giving what the market needs, and have to cater to it. When AMD is at 50% market share or higher, which at Intel's current rate of innovation shouldn't take long, then things will change and it will get very ugly for Intel. Intel will have earned every bit of that ugliness imo...
  • Anemone - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    I care VERY much! And this kind of information transparency to the end user (enthusiast version) is extremely precious. A ton of folks are just getting pushed over to the AMD side of the fence - as if Intel needed to lose yet more customers, heh...

    But breaking the lock, they still don't tell you where they stopped, which I hope the bigger folks will be honest in saying. They've all hit a limit, just need to let us know what it is.

    Thank you Anand - and /bird Intel for not giving a hoot

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