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Intel cuts corners on Ivy Bridge Thermal Interface Material (TIM)

by Alistair Lowe on 15 May 2012, 08:51

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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When we first reviewed Intel's Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge processor back in April, we noted that when overclocking, even with a dual-fan Corsair A70 cooling solution, the CPU reached temperatures of 75 degrees, limiting the maximum reachable clock, leaving Sandy Bridge with the most overclocking legroom.

It has since been revealed, following intense forum discussion, with a report on the matter first from overclockers and then confirmed by Japanese tech portal, PC Watch, that Intel has moved away from using the fluxless solder found in Sandy Bridge and is instead applying run-of-the-mill thermal interface material paste, to join the chip's integrated heat spreader to the CPU die.

Though exact figures remain a secret, fluxless solder generally has a much improved thermal conductivity, typically in the range of 80W/mK, whilst a standard TIM paste has only 5W/mK, making the new solution potentially 16 times less efficient.

Intel Ivy Bridge TIM readings

With increasing die power densities, Ivy bridge should be even more demanding on thermal dissipation per metre, yet, thanks to testing from a PC Watch investigator, where the Ivy Bridge TIM was replaced with aftermarket alternatives, it was proven that the stock-TIM was the primary culprit in increased Ivy Bridge temperatures, with results showing stock temperature drops of up to 18 per cent and, temperature drops at 4GHz @ 1.2V of up to 23 per cent, using Coolaboratory TIM as an alternative paste.

Ultimately, the modifications at PC Watch enabled new overclocking headroom. Given the amount of money a typical overclocker spends on a motherboard with a good quality power supply, higher performance RAM and cooling solutions, it feels quite the let down to discover that Ivy Bridge's bottleneck is one inherent in the chip from day one.

Intel Ivy Bridge further overclocking



HEXUS Forums :: 33 Comments

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This seems like a strange move from Intel considering the increased thermal density of the Ivy Bridge architecture and alleged leakage. Maybe they have done this to cut costs and therefore increase profitability because they can still maintain a performance lead over AMD even when the cooling is compromised on their CPU's.
bradyjames
This seems like a strange move from Intel considering the increased thermal density of the Ivy Bridge architecture and alleged leakage. Maybe they have done this to cut costs and therefore increase profitability because they can still maintain a performance lead over AMD even when the cooling is compromised on their CPU's.

I can understand this on the non-k (locked) products but on the high end offerings with unlocked multipliers it feels like a cruel joke to me.
Sounds like they know they have a strong position. After all why not cut corners and make more cash if you can. I bet they think ‘Who cares about a few enthusiasts’? Sad really and its why competition is so good in a marketplace…
Very strange - they must feel very secure when they can afford the possible PR reaction.
Phage
Very strange - they must feel very secure when they can afford the possible PR reaction.
What's the alternative for a high end CPU? Oh, the previous generation Intel chips…