Intel: No Overclocking for Mainstream Nehalems

No SLI, no overclocking... What next?

Intel's upcoming generation of processors will have limited overclocking capabilities. The chip manufacturer is reportedly gearing up for a strict overclocking policy, as it is leaving the LGA775 platform for the faster and more powerful Nehalem platform.

Currently known as Bloomfield, the upcoming generation of Nehalem chips will have no restrictions on overclocking, but such speed tricks will be possible only for the chips running on a LGA1366 CPU socket. Other processors will not be able to overclock, at least not without additional hardware tweaks.

The lower-end offerings in the Lynnfield and Havendale family of processors will not support overclocking. Despite the fact that they are part of the same Nehalem micro-architecture, the above-mentioned chips are slated to run on a LGA1160 socket.

According to Intel's earlier statements, the Lynnfield chips will hit the shelves during the second half of 2009, and will be one of the most popular chips for mainstream and home computing. The processor will still keep its four cores, but will only sport a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller. Moreover, the CPU silicon will include an integrated PCIe 2.0 controller, that allows users to plug in a single graphics card.

At the moment, it is unknown how Intel plans to enforce the overclocking policy in the mainstream parts, but it is assumed that the chip manufacturer will perform a couple of tweaks on the northbridge chip, that is also integrated on the CPU silicon. By tampering with the northbridge, Intel could enforce rules on what the BIOS can access, and even control the bus speeds.

Intel did not explain the reason for stripping overclocking capabilities from the mid-range Nehalem offerings, but this might not look like the brightest idea ever. Intel's products are "notorious" for their overclocking capabilities, and there's no reason to force customers into buying a higher-end chip just to be able to overclock.

While Intel is stripping down overclocking features, AMD is working to enhance the potential of its processors, and rumor has it that the upcoming Deneb processors will be extremely friendly to the users who plan to squeeze extra performance.

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