You just bought a new CPU or GPU, suddenly you look at the silkscreen of the chip pack and at the end of the model there is a letter followed by a number, it is the step and indicates the revision of the processor that you just purchased. But does that tell us anything else? Keep reading to find out.
What is running on a CPU or GPU?
Not all material remains static over time, but receives revisions over time, both in variations before its launch and in versions after official launch. To understand what we mean, it suffices with the comparison of the book press that launches a print run of one edition, the errors in the book are corrected between editions and the next edition is launched with the errors already corrected.
Editions of the same processor are called Stepping and are identified by a letter and number. Where the letter indicates major changes in the design of the chip, while the number marks small changes. Normally, when a design enters the pre-mass fabrication period, no apparent flaws are discovered in the original code design in Verilog or VHDL.
There have been processors that haven’t changed their architecture from step A to step B, but they have rearranged the layout of their components. In other cases, new elements have been added that were not originally planned but adding them does not imply a change from the rest of the design.
Why are we interested in learning more about processors and GPUs?
The answer to this is simple, with each new iteration of a processor, we are looking to improve its economic efficiency. To understand this, we have to take into account that in the first batch of slices in a processor, the ones that reach the highest speeds will be lower per slice and therefore due to their scarcity they may have a higher price tag.
Si el diseño es mejorado para alcanzar más fácilmente las altas velocidades, la cantidad de CPUs o GPUs que salen por oblea con un mayor valor y precio de venta en el siguiente stepping es mayor, dado que el valor en el mercado casi se mantiene y varía very little.
How does this affect us? Simpler and more advanced processor progression usually means the ability to achieve higher clock speeds than stipulated, outside of a larger overclocking range. So if you are one of those looking to get the most out of the CPU or GPU that you are going to buy, it is important to know the steps you need to take.
Intervene in the prefabrication of CPUs and GPUs
Many times you have seen that in the news from HardZone we are talking about processors that have been tested in a benchmark, but have several months left. These versions of a processor are usually a very low pitch because it’s fresh off the design table.
In prefabrication, this involves requesting the minimum order for a transformer from the foundry and returning the units to you for testing and evaluation. It is in the evaluation that the manufacturer will see if the processor achieves the expected performance to launch it as quickly as possible.
These processors or GPUs are tested on test PCs in laboratories, where a series of performance tests are carried out several times to end up in repositories and to feed information on upcoming versions of Intel, AMD, NVIDIA. and other designers and manufacturers. It is therefore to these tests and the increase in results that many “insiders” of social networks are hooked to know the existence of future CPUs and GPUs that have not been previously presented or mentioned by the manufacturers.
A processor that does not achieve the performance needed in pre-manufacturing often quickly returns to the design table. If the defect is too large and requires too deep a change in the time it takes to compete with a CPU or GPU, then most likely that design will end up being rejected.
How can I check it on my PC?
To find out, it’s very simple, you don’t need to open your computer and take a photo of the silkscreen printed on the chips, which is also a solution. But it’s as easy as downloading CPU-Z to get CPU and GPU-Z data from our PC graphics chip.
With both apps, you can know the progress of your processors and GPUs. And how can they know? Well, due to the fact that software overclocking tools need to know what the step of each processor is because it is necessary that the voltage and clock speed values are adequate to avoid using values greater than the ones it tolerates the CPU or GPU you have installed on your system.
It can also help us know if we received a controversial version due to its flaws when it launched. This is important when buying used equipment and not to encounter unpleasant surprises such as equipment that may have failed.
The first step is highly sought after by collectors
Although you might not believe it, there are people who collect material and precisely a highly sought-after type of material with the first expeditions or revisions and therefore with the lowest pitch, especially since it may be a prototype of a product that has never been released.
For example, the image in this section is for an Intel Larrabee, the GPU that Intel did not launch in the market and was canceled in favor of the Xeon Phi a little over ten years ago. It is extremely rare material never to have been published. This is not the only case and in the hardware world there are several. Most cannot be used, but they are collectibles, but they are highly sought after for their rarity.