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February 2024's tech news


Intel CPU stability

It looks like either motherboard manufacturers’ habitual disregard for Intel power limit specs has finally got them in trouble, or Intel has cut some stability margins a bit too close on some high-end CPUs. One way or another, some people are having stability issues with the 13700K, 13900K, 14700K, and 14900K (at least). The developers of Oodle (compression middleware for games) have debugged this a bit and gotten some official guidance from Intel. Others have other fixes.

I’m not too concerned that this is a situation in the first place; stuff happens. I am a bit concerned about Intel’s advice (relayed at the Oodle link), which boils down to “boost the voltage until it works right”. It’s sketchy and they can do better.

If the problem is more with the motherboard manufacturers, that would probably be because Intel has only validated this stuff up to 253W and incorrect motherboard default settings are letting the CPUs draw 350+W sometimes. If this is the case, the correct course of action for Intel is to advise users who are having problems to lower PL2 to something reasonable and then get the mobo defaults fixed (which Intel has plenty of leverage to do even if they don’t have direct control). Nobody wants to do this because it lowers performance a little bit (more in benchmarks than in real-world use), but if this is what’s going on, it’s time to get serious about it anyway. If Intel can’t live without that performance, they need to be validating their top parts up to 320W or more (and putting that on spec sheets).

If the problem is more with Intel, that probably means they just cut stability margins a bit too close. If this is the case, they have three basic options:

Hopefully we get BIOS updates and/or some more comprehensive communication from Intel soon.

Component pricing and availability updates