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Bug Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel Skylake CPUs Are Warping Under Mounting Pressure From Third-Party Coolers (hothardware.com) 115

MojoKid writes: It's been discovered that some third-party heat sinks can physically damage Intel's new Skylake CPUs, along with the pins in the accompanying motherboard socket. The problem has prompted at least one cooler maker to change the design of its Socket 1151 heat sinks and it wouldn't be surprising if others soon followed suit. The apparent issue is the substrate Intel used for its Skylake chips. A close-up shot of a Skylake CPU sitting side-by-side with a Broadwell processor (Google translation of German original) shows that the substrate is noticeably thinner on Skylake, and thus prone to bending from the force that some third-party heat sinks exert. Intel has addressed the issue by saying, “The design specifications and guidelines for the 6th Gen Intel Core processor using the LGA 1151 socket are unchanged from previous generations and are available for partners and 3rd party manufacturers. Intel can’t comment on 3rd party designs or their adherence to the recommended design specifications. For questions about a specific cooling product we must defer to the manufacturer.”
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Intel Skylake CPUs Are Warping Under Mounting Pressure From Third-Party Coolers

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  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:00PM (#51058475) Homepage Journal

    Well, maybe Intel should stop requiring such high pressures on the heat sink/heat spreader interface. Surely there's a more efficient way to handle cooling. This idiocy started with the Pentium 4 and needs to stop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Intel still sells stock coolers for all of their CPU's, they just don't ship with them. Intel coolers are more than adequate unless you are going crazy with overclocking. Intel coolers don't bend Intel CPU's.

      Not sure why you are blaming Intel here.

      • The stock Intel pushpin sucks and is easy to miss install others due it much better.

      • Intel coolers are more than adequate unless you are going crazy with overclocking

        Or if you want to use passive or liquid cooling, or if you just want to put some bling in your PC case...not that there's anything wrong with overclocking. Many Intel CPUs explicitly support it.

        • by donaldm ( 919619 )

          Intel coolers are more than adequate unless you are going crazy with overclocking

          Or if you want to use passive or liquid cooling, or if you just want to put some bling in your PC case...not that there's anything wrong with overclocking. Many Intel CPUs explicitly support it.

          True, Intel coolers are more than adequate for normal operations although there is nothing inherently wrong with overclocking within the design constraints of the processor. However you really do need to ask yourself. "Why do I want to over clock?" Be careful how you answer this since If it's for bragging rights predominately then you are not using the PC and it's resources properly.

          I think it is better to decide on what your "real" requirements are and then design a PC build around that with hopefully r

        • by cowbutt ( 21077 )

          Or if you want to use passive or liquid cooling

          Intel produce liquid coolers too: http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-034340.htm [intel.com]

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:25PM (#51058625)

        Intel still sells stock coolers for all of their CPU's, they just don't ship with them.

        Huh? The last two I personally purchased (Ivy Bridge i5-3570K and Skylake i7-6700) both provided a heatsink+fan.

        Intel coolers are more than adequate unless you are going crazy with overclocking. Intel coolers don't bend Intel CPU's.

        Both 100% true. The fans on the Intel coolers are quiet under common loads (gaming included) and the temperatures are in spec at all times. The only time I've ever heard the CPU get loud enough to matter was running prime95 to deliberately load the devices.

        I don't know what "high pressures" kriston is talking about. The Intel cooler, particularly on the Skylake, didn't require high pressure to install. Honestly the Skylake case kind of confused me because so little pressure was needed.

        This is about overclockers buying out-of-spec aftermarket stuff. Self inflicted.

        • by ciantic ( 626550 )
          I have Skylake 6700k, it does not come with cooler maybe your supplier gave some extra cooler. But neither boxed (fancy box with longer warranty) or tray (the transparent box) versions has even space to fit a cooler in them. I also bought massive cooler, NH-D15. No warping here yet!
          • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:49PM (#51058837)
            I think the the "K" version of the 6700 is the overclocked version so it does not come with a cooler as most overclockers will buy a 3rd party one. The poster had the non "K" version which is not meant to be overclocked.
            • Exactly this. Intel stopped shipping coolers with the K variants a while back because they went straight into the trash.

              • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

                Exactly this. Intel stopped shipping coolers with the K variants a while back because they went straight into the trash.

                How far back? I just bought a Core i5 4690K last week, and a heatsink was included

            • by donaldm ( 919619 )

              I think the the "K" version of the 6700 is the overclocked version so it does not come with a cooler as most overclockers will buy a 3rd party one. The poster had the non "K" version which is not meant to be overclocked.

              The Intel core i7 6700k is rated at 4GHz and you can overclock to 4.2GHz. What is important is to use a compatible mother board and associated memory (eg 3800 or better DDR4) which is going to cost, but if you have the money then that is not a problem. Of course if money is no object then how about an Intel 8 core i7 (3.0 to 3.5GHz) which has 16 threads compared to 8 threads the 4 core i7 6700k has and is only 2 to 2.5 times dearer.

              As technical people we should all know that raw GHz is not necessarily th

            • The K's can be overclocked, they don't ship that way though. I just bought an I7-2600K retail, and it was the blue box and also included the standard Intel fan. Intel's page here [intel.com] describes what all their codes mean.
            • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

              Nope, My i7-3770K came with a 'intel' heat-sink + fan in the retail box, I think it's more likely a retail / non retail thing.

              • Intel began offering cpu only overclocked processors some time ago but I can't remember which generation started this trend. It might have been with Haswell.
          • by PRMan ( 959735 )
            I just bought a brand new i7 4970k from amazon and it most certainly did come with a full fan assembly.
          • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

            I don't know about the 6700k. I didn't mention the 6700k. The post I replied to claims Intel doesn't ship coolers. You appear to believe this.

            Here are four distinct unboxing videos showing the Intel branded fan+heatsink emerging from the i7-6700 Intel sealed package. Case closed.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • > The fans on the Intel coolers are quiet under common loads
          Depends on what you consider to be "quiet". If you work in a silent room they are noticably louder than a good after market cooler.

          • by donaldm ( 919619 )

            > The fans on the Intel coolers are quiet under common loads Depends on what you consider to be "quiet". If you work in a silent room they are noticably louder than a good after market cooler.

            Quiet is fairly subjective although I do agree that too much fan noise can be rather annoying but then again keyboard noise can be distracting as well. For me not having a case that is like a mini discotheque is more important. :-)

        • by kriston ( 7886 )

          > I don't know what "high pressures" kriston is talking about.

          I've been installing processors since the late 1980s. If you've ever installed something before the Pentium 4 you'd know that high pressure just wasn't required. Processors only required enough pressure to keep it steady and fully flat, not to squash the heck out of it. Even today, AMD processors still don't require these forces to be present.

      • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:28PM (#51058645)
        Actually, non-overclocked Skylakes do ship with a stock cooler. The first Skylake processor released was the 4790K (K=overclocked) and does not ship with its own cooler. Non-Ks do, though.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          4790K is not Skylake, but Haswell refresh codename Devil's Canyon. It has a different thermal material between the core and the heat spreader.

        • "unlocked" not "overclocked"...it has the potential to be overclocked. Per Intel's own page [intel.com]
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        Intel still sells stock coolers for all of their CPU's, they just don't ship with them. Intel coolers are more than adequate unless you are going crazy with overclocking. Intel coolers don't bend Intel CPU's.

        Sorry man, you're wrong.

        Built my mom a new PC with a Haswell Core i3 and when I was doing burn-in the processor was throttling with the boxed Intel cooler it came with. CPU was running stock and case had decent ventilation.

        Switched to a third-party cooler and that went away. Running full-bore for hours and no throttling. Temperature monitor showed a lower core temp, too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It sounds a bit like you didn't install the Intel boxed cooler correctly...

          • by PRMan ( 959735 )
            Or he ran some ridiculous benchmark that will never mirror real-world use...
            • A benchmark (or any load) can only push the CPU so hard. Saying that throttling under load is okay is like saying that it's okay for your car's 5th gear to be broken because you never happen to use it. If something can't do something that it was specced to do, that's a problem.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by plover ( 150551 )

        Intel ships heat sinks and fans with all their retail-packaged CPUs. If you're buying a bare CPU from their OEM line, (perhaps from a local build-your-own shop, or many of the online sellers) they come without coolers.

      • RTFA: "The apparent issue is the substrate Intel used for its Skylake chips. A close-up shot of a Skylake CPU sitting side-by-side with a Broadwell processor shows that the substrate is noticeably thinner on Skylake, and thus prone to bending from the force that some third-party heat sinks exert." Read more at http://hothardware.com/news/in... [hothardware.com]

        You may return to your Intel dick sucking.
      • Actually they DO ship with them, but usually only with the "retail box" versions. The OEM versions are just a chip usually, but almost all the blue box retails have the chip in a plastic holder sitting on top of a fan. Personally I've never needed a third-party fan, but I also don't overclock my CPUs.
      • by kriston ( 7886 )

        What? Read my comment again. I am blaming them for having such high pressures.

        And you're wrong about Intel not shipping with stock coolers. I have bought several dozen Intel CPUs in the past five years and each has an Intel-branded cooling solution shipped with it.

        Not sure why you aren't aware of these things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I have to wonder why such high pressure is necessary. With appropriately flat and smooth surfaces on the chip and the heatsink, and a properly thin and even layer of thermal paste, it shouldn't be necessary to apply much more pressure than that required to hold it all in place.

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:42PM (#51058763) Journal

        Likely they're intentionally trying to deform the surface to fit, and to compress and thin the thermal paste.

        You want a thin, fully-contacted surface to maximize thermal transfer. Intel likely made the substrate thinner to increase thermal transfer: 1 inch of highly-thermally-conductive silver is a better insulator than 1 micrometer of highly-thermally-conductive silver (hell, a mile of silver wire is a better electrical resistor than a layer of silver foil stuffed between two terminals). Silicone substrate isn't particularly thermally conductive, and thick silicone substrate is even less so.

        Because the CPU surface isn't perfectly flat but *is* flexible, pressure will help conform it to the (also not perfectly flat) heat sink surface. This squeezes some of the thermal paste away, and compresses out voids to increase contact surface area. If you assume more is better, you'll naturally conclude that crushing the CPU into dust will give you better contact.

        If Intel puts out a specification saying 50psi is rated contact pressure for correct heat sink function, you might decide to put 90psi on it. It works. You ship that, Intel releases a CPU that can handle 70psi instead of 140psi, they don't bother telling anyone because the CPU's spec is still 50psi, and shit starts breaking.

        Amusingly, Intel could have glibly put every cooling system manufacture on a list of warranty-terminating equipment ages ago. They could have said, "Hey, we tested all these EXXXTREME COOLING jet fans and they dump 120psi onto our chips like the Hulk putting our balls in a vice. You strap that to the CPU and it fails, we're not responsible." It's fair for Intel to claim that unknown third-party equipment can destroy their hardware; can they quality control third-party equipment? They could, and they could stamp their name on it. That's how motherboards are made, and the board manufacturer is still liable if their board is mis-manufactured (now, if Intel passes the design and the design is flawed, Intel's certification makes Intel liable--Intel is negligent here; if the manufacturing is not within tolerance to produce properly-working equipment and it pumps out flawed boards, it's the manufacturer's fault).

        These things happen. It sucks when they do.

        • Amusingly, Intel could have glibly put every cooling system manufacture on a list of warranty-terminating equipment ages ago. They could have said, "Hey, we tested all these EXXXTREME COOLING jet fans and they dump 120psi onto our chips like the Hulk putting our balls in a vice. You strap that to the CPU and it fails, we're not responsible." It's fair for Intel to claim that unknown third-party equipment can destroy their hardware; can they quality control third-party equipment? They could, and they could stamp their name on it. That's how motherboards are made, and the board manufacturer is still liable if their board is mis-manufactured (now, if Intel passes the design and the design is flawed, Intel's certification makes Intel liable--Intel is negligent here; if the manufacturing is not within tolerance to produce properly-working equipment and it pumps out flawed boards, it's the manufacturer's fault).

          They could try to, but ultimately it would be rather unenforceable. When the guy on the phone asks you what heatsink you used, you could just tell him you used the stock heatsink. There's a huge list of things that technically void your warranty, but (a) you don't have to tell them that you did those things or used certain pieces of equipment (b) they don't care half the time, half because of (a), the other half because it would just piss people off.

        • Because the CPU surface isn't perfectly flat

          So why isn't it perfectly flat? I mean engineering in this day and age there's no reason someone couldn't manufacture a heat spreader to extreme tolerances that don't require bending the device into submission for surface to surface contact. Surely.

          • It would have to be flat to the degree of molecular bonding, such that the CPU surface would cold-weld to the heat sink upon contact if they were made of the same material, with no application of heat.
            • If it needed to be that flat then I highly doubt we'd need heatsink compound, but let's expands on that for a moment. The heatsinks which ship with CPUs these days are tiny. The power load of CPUs today (ultra high performance gaming and xeon systems excepted here) are far smaller than they were 10 years ago and on the high end they are equal to 10 years ago, yet we didn't bend things in the past like we do now.

              Thinking back to the heatsink I installed on the Athlon 800 that was significantly gentler on the

              • We use heatsink compound because it's not that flat. Heatsink compound is fluid and fills the voids to make a perfect contact bond where an air gap insulator exists.

                Think before you speak.

                • CPU thermal surfaces have gotten larger. CPU thermal loads have gotten lower. We didn't bend motherboards in 2005.

                  Read before you reply.

                  • It is physically impossible for the heat to transfer without heat sink compound. You "highly doubt" we need heat sink compound; you could also "highly doubt" we need lugnuts to hold wheels on cars.

                    I didn't comment about pressure; I commented about the use of a thermal conductor to attach a paste. You are, again, not thinking; apparently you're also not reading, or you have no reading comprehension. Either that or you're trying to cover your stupidity by ignoring the topic which was addressed in the mes

    • They don't. The pressure rating for Skylake is the same as Broadwell, 50psi. Which ensures a good contact. What is likely happening is that some aftermarket coolers used more pressure because they're huge, heavy hunks of metal and needed more force to keep from lifting away, and those worked with the stronger substrate that Broadwell and earlier had, but not with Skylake.

    • This. It's not necessary. Pressure only improves things if you gob on heatsinkpaste like it's going out of fashion, and then it only improves transfer by squeezing the goop out of the way. With pre-applied paste / pads there's no reason for it. Make those layers thinner and lower the pressure.

      I have yet to see a single motherboard that isn't bending and buckling under the strain of the heatsink. That's not good for long term reliability of the board.

    • This is not a recent phenomenon, all of my Intel LGA socket based laptops have died in 5 to 10 yr timeframe. Meanwhile, my AMD based laptops(upwards of 16 years old) are still functional.

      • How many Intel and how many AMD laptops?
      • CPU are just not built like 16 years ago! Anyhow, not sure how useful such an old machine is, it probably is single core.
      • I think after 16 years "functional" is highly subjective lol. That's the Pentium III era, or the very first Athlons. Personally I wouldn't take a 16 year old laptop even if it was free...I have found far newer hardware dumpster diving.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is, but it was patented and nobody sells them.

      https://techreport.com/news/27... [techreport.com]

      http://www.extremetech.com/ext... [extremetech.com]

  • Warping (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:18PM (#51058581)

    Great, now all we need to do is build the rest of the starship

  • I signed in just to say how awesome the title is. It makes it sound like a political article. Well done. Well done.
  • by yayoubetcha ( 893774 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @03:41PM (#51058745)

    It's called product validation and verification.

    • Well if you had read the details of the problem, one manufacturer Scythe admitted a problem with their Mugen 4 and Mugen Max coolers on the new Skylake processors. From what I know, these coolers have been around at least a year before Skylake. Their coolers work with architectures as old as LGA775 and AM2. So what you really saying is that any existing product may not work well with all future products.
  • If not, they should.

    .
    If so, then the cooler makers should follow the spec.

    - corollary - if the spec is followed and the CPUs still warp, well then Intel should fix their problem at no cost.

  • I want a processor that curves to the contours of my Operating System.
  • It's Intel's fault (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MetricT ( 128876 )

    This would matter less if Intel would include a usable heatsink with their CPU's. I have worked in high performance computing for over a decade, so putting a heat sink on isn't exactly some exotic task to me, but I couldn't get either of my home OEM Haswell heatsinks to hold onto the motherboard, they would both pop off after the slightest bump. So I *had* to use third-party heatsinks.

    Intel should make backplates with threaded mounts mandatory, and should ensure that their OEM heatsink is capable of actuall

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sexconker ( 1179573 )

      I don't remember which one Haswell was (2 generations ago?) but I fucking HATE the Intel mounting design.
      You have to line up 4 plastic pegs, and then push and twist (to lock) each of them.
      While the pegs have a convenient arrow on them to tell you which direction you need to twist to lock them, they DON'T have an indicator for what the starting position should be. In the unlocked state they're fairly loose and can rotate in the package. I believe the slightly flatter side of the top of the peg should be cl

      • "Just use a real backplate with screws. Fuck."

        Oh great, then i have to unbolt the whole motherboard. F that yo....

        For the socket 775 (yes i still run it!) you can buy pins that just clip in. they use the same motherboard holes and a bracket. Much easier than those twisty jobbies that you have to hold the black part while simultaneously twisting and pushing the pin. yuk. Heres a picture of the better design:

        http://www.hardwareasylum.com/... [hardwareasylum.com]

        The arctic freezer comes with them and two screws to tighten the heat

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        You have to line up 4 plastic pegs, and then push and twist (to lock) each of them. While the pegs have a convenient arrow on them to tell you which direction you need to twist to lock them, they DON'T have an indicator for what the starting position should be.

        In an astonishing leap of logic, if turning the peg in the direction of the arrow leads to the final position then turning it the other way leads to the starting position. The peg only moves about 90 degrees and is flat on two sides so with the fan below you start like |_ and twist it counter-clockwise until it's like _| with the round side out. I guess it's time for the corollary to Murphy's law, even if there's no real way to do it wrong someone will find one.

        • Nope, there's enough play in the pegs that they rotate round and round forever when they're not engaged (i.e., when it's in the packaging or you're about to install it).
          The flat side

          And you're right - it's flat on TWO sides. There's NO indication which of the two flat sides should be closest to the heatsink (or that either of them should, for that matter).

          http://www.falconcomputers.co.... [falconcomputers.co.uk]

          That tab locking mechanism shit seen on the far right of the image is the devil.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            What exactly the two of you are smoking? The arrows point in the direction you need to turn to RELEASE the cooler. To install, simply push in with no turning.

      • Too true, I had to use a screwdriver on my last Intel heatsink because the peg had popped and locked while still inside the retail box.
  • I'm curious why my previous post was marked a troll. I *have* worked in academic HPC for over a decade, have assembled dozens of server motherboards over the years, and over two dozen for myself and family. I'm not exactly a newb here.

    Intel consumer-grade OEM heatsinks (as of Haswell at least, perhaps they fixed the issue on Skylake OEM heatsinks and I'm unaware) are boat anchors. On two quality Haswell motherboards (Asus H97M and H97I) I have, the OEM heatsink fails to mount sturdily in the motherboard

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