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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  • Fr0zeN2 - 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.
  • MAME - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    Intel sucks like that but mobo manufacturers have no choice; Intel is #1 by a long shot
  • overclockingoodness - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link


    The motherboard companies have to support Intel. The motherboard makers know that they are useless without Intel. Intel is the top chip maker in the world so they can't just leave Intel even though they hate their starategies so much. It's called business. As much as you hate one of the key players in the industry, you still have to work with them. These motherboard makers might lose close to 50 percent (just guessing) of their profit, which is not good for them.

    When AMD did not introduce new processors for 1.5 years (except for new models of Athlon XP), motherboard makers still supported them with new motherboards. Of course, after a while mobo makers don't have much to add as they already have all the new features out so they develop something unique.

    That's how the industry lives on. :-)

    To answer the above two posts, Intel is definitely a loser this year in the desktop market. Their mobile market is secure, BTW. The prescott core is a failure, the new chipsets and technologies are a failure. And I am already scared about the BTX technology. It would be funny if BTX technology doesn't show high performance margins.

    To conclude...Intel has failed in the year 2004.
  • dvinnen - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    What I don't understand is why the mobo makers take so much crap from Intel. First intel keeps charging more, then R&D for BTX, R&D for this new socket, they are going to have more returns because of this new socket, now the new crap that got to spend R&D to figure out how to get around. I keep thinking one of the big boys over there will grow a pair and stand up to intel and stop making their boards. I would inmagin their margins on intel boards are more than a 5th of what their margins are on a SIS or VIA board.
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    A thought: Last time we got "clever" and bypassed an Intel clock-lock mechanism, it was the B21 trick, which resulted in Intel removing the 66/100 multiplier lock, in favor of the constant multiplier lock we deal with today. If we get "clever" again, who's to say Intel won't repeat history, and implement an all-out clock-lock?
  • Zebo - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    Slower, generates more heat, uses more power, enthusiast unfreindly, no memory controller, no 64 bit future....why are people catering to this company again?

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