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Overclocked

Originally written on: April 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Last Updated: April 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

[wdgpo_plusone]

So it seems, some sites are saying that the new iMac, clocking in at 3.06GHz is “overclocked”. Overclocking, according to Wikipedia, is the process of forcing a computer component to run at a higher clock rate than it was designed for or was designated by the manufacturer. This usually voids the warranty of the processor, and would be a considerable liability for Apple, as they would have set themselves up for a massive lawsuit. It’s simply not in Apple’s best interests to do such a thing.

Instead, Apple more than likely struck an exclusivity arrangement with Intel when Apple decided to make the transition from PPC-based chips to Intel-based chips. Such agreements are somewhat common in the business world, and very common when the negotiations involve Steve Jobs.

CPUs run through a bin process. The individual chips are automatically tested to run at various frequencies (clock rates), and when they fail, they go into a bin (pile) labeled with the clock frequency of the last “passed” test. This means that the plants have a much greater yield, as almost all parts can be sold, if not at the highest speed, at some fraction thereof. When a change to the fabrication takes place, higher frequencies are possible, but yield often suffers for the highest frequencies during the first several months. This is where Apple comes in.

Apple sells a lot of computers. However, the amount of computers it sells is but a small fraction of the overall computers that are sold around the world. Apple signing an exclusivity agreement with Intel for the highest-rated chips is a win for both companies, as Intel won’t suffer the bad PR of a short supply, and Apple gets great PR for having the fastest CPU of its class. Of course, those highest-end chips come with a hefty price tag, so Intel is making quite the profit off the agreement as well. This argument makes much more sense than the idea that Apple is somehow “overclocking” an Intel part.

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