IDF is busy, even before it starts – so it was this time in San Francisco with Gigabyte (TPE: 2376) Overclocking competition just a day before the keynote.
The OC results from Cookie, Charles Wirth and others were good, with 5.8 to 6 GHz achieved LN2 cooling results on the Core i7-5960X on Gigabyte boards seen here. The RAM on trial also performed well, hovering above 3 GHz for the G.Skill and Kingston part, with Crucial reference DIMMs just below that.
However, something far more interesting was found on the overclocking floor (together with our friend Koen from Hardware.info). Remember Asus’ (TPE: 2357) claims about additional pins on its LGA 2011-3 socket, aka “socket 2084,” which Asus claims brings extra performance and OC reliability by using undocumented pin holes on the Intel’s (NASDAQ: INTC) new CPUs? You can see Asus claims right here:
According to industry sources Asus was considering patenting the socket and preventing Foxconn (TPE: 2354), its manufacturer, from selling it to other vendors. On the other hand, another major industry source claimed that these pins are not what Asus claims, but just CPU debug and test pins brought back to the socket in this generation. Therefore, not only would they be useless for overclocking, but also a potential crash risk if connected in a production system.
Then, remember another point – the Core i7-5960X is just a reduced version of the same die used for the Xeon E5 v3 8-core Haswell-EP, with some features like dual QPI channels, memory ECC and few others disabled, including some approximately 150 signal pins related to that. The Enterprise Group might know even more than the Client Group about the undocumented pins on these new processors?
Note: The Foxconn model marking for the normal socket 47191 and for the OC socket the model is 46391.
Next step – see the Gigabyte brand new LN2 cooling optimised mainboard for these CPUs, with this exact same “special” socket:
And compare with the old socket:
So, Gigabyte can get hold of this same socket, the question is what do those additional pins connect to. If the first possibility stated above is correct, i.e. that these are real additional power, ground etc. pins that allow better and more reliable OC, then Asus has no way to patent these as it directly links to Intel IP including the socket and its validation.
If, however, it is the second possibility, of test, debug or no-connect pins being exposed, then it is a serious marketing rubbish which could be used to deceive the high-end buyers, whom both Intel and its key OEMs, which Asus and Gigabyte are, surely cherish and treasure. And mind you, this is already in a product on the market, the Asus top end Rampage V Extreme.
Since Asus, Gigabyte or even Foxconn are not likely to be able to respond to this, it seems that Intel will be the one to resolve this mystery, especially as more of its top end CPUs get the performance enhancement and managed unlocking capabilities over time.
The big question is: what are the warranty implications if things fail because of CPUs being inserted into sockets with undocumented pins.