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When did CPU steppings become irrelevant?

Sheninat0r

Senior member
Jun 8, 2007
516
1
81
I saw the post about the old Q6600 G0 SLACR and was reminded about my own i7-920 D0 SLBEJ. I feel like back in the day there were somewhat significant differences between steppings on processors, to the point where people advised me (and I agreed) to wait to build my computer until the old C0 steppings were all sold and buy when D0 was widely available. Thinking back to the last few processor generations, this hasn't happened; is it because Intel stopped making mistakes on their first production runs, or what?
 

RaistlinZ

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 2001
7,632
9
91
I don't know, but I like it better this way. I hated having to try and hunt down a "good" stepping ever time I went CPU shopping.
 

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
38,751
3,064
121
I still use my old I-7 920 D0 SLBEJ for the HTPC in the bedroom, I've been too lazy to rip it out and put the L5690 in it :)

My sister-in-law still uses my old Q6600 G0 SLACR.
 
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YBS1

Golden Member
May 14, 2000
1,929
109
106
Possibly the lack of competition from AMD at the high end enabled Intel to take more time coming to market eliminating the need for stepping improvements??? *shrug*
 

Roland00Address

Platinum Member
Dec 17, 2008
2,007
117
106
Intel tick tock.

The philosophy of tick and tock roughly started in the 2006 / 2007 timeframe (architecture change followed by process changed followed by architecture change)

Q6600 was released Nov 06, right when they were just starting tick tock.

Steppings still happen but they are less important for either you know the process really well or the CPU design really well. Thus steppings are more important for internal knowledge than outside benefit. Furthermore you can kinda hide steppings in refreshes for example the new haswell refresh. We got lower tdp processors in tablets and ultrabooks and better overclockers.
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
21,127
56
81
I saw the post about the old Q6600 G0 SLACR and was reminded about my own i7-920 D0 SLBEJ. I feel like back in the day there were somewhat significant differences between steppings on processors, to the point where people advised me (and I agreed) to wait to build my computer until the old C0 steppings were all sold and buy when D0 was widely available. Thinking back to the last few processor generations, this hasn't happened; is it because Intel stopped making mistakes on their first production runs, or what?
To be sure the vetting process that ICs undergo nowadays is vastly more superior and advanced compared to the validation processes that were in place nearly 10yrs ago (yes folks, as scary as it sounds 2006 and the first quadcore are rapidly coming up on their 10th anniversary o_O, do you feel old yet? :p)

Steppings are ridiculously costly. Both in salary compensation for the design team that you would be assigning the job of iterating the existing stepping, as well as in terms of absolute expenses of creating the new masks themselves.

So the ROI for creating a new stepping has really got to be there before management can justify the associated costs in today's business environment.
 

Homeles

Platinum Member
Dec 9, 2011
2,585
0
0
To be sure the vetting process that ICs undergo nowadays is vastly more superior and advanced compared to the validation processes that were in place nearly 10yrs ago (yes folks, as scary as it sounds 2006 and the first quadcore are rapidly coming up on their 10th anniversary o_O, do you feel old yet? :p)

Steppings are ridiculously costly. Both in salary compensation for the design team that you would be assigning the job of iterating the existing stepping, as well as in terms of absolute expenses of creating the new masks themselves.

So the ROI for creating a new stepping has really got to be there before management can justify the associated costs in today's business environment.
It's certainly harder to justify today, given that the bleeding edge processes use double patterning so extensively.
 

Deders

Platinum Member
Oct 14, 2012
2,401
1
91
I read on here somewhere that later steppings of devil's canyon overclock better, and someone paid extra for the shop clerk to search through the boxes until he found one.
 

Grooveriding

Diamond Member
Dec 25, 2008
9,080
1,200
126
I read on here somewhere that later steppings of devil's canyon overclock better, and someone paid extra for the shop clerk to search through the boxes until he found one.
That is not a stepping though, but likely rather looking for a chip made recently by checking the batch numbers. Chips tend to improve over time as they refine the existing process is the impression I've gotten. The last stepping I remember is i7 920 D0 and the D0 was a lot better than the C0.
 

dmens

Platinum Member
Mar 18, 2005
2,159
673
136
Specifically in regard to the i7 920, there was a *lot* of effort on D0 to improve bin splits from C0, which increased the chance of getting a "good chip" compared to C0.

Fun memory: After the first overclocking demo for Bloomfield D0 at some IDF (I forget which year) I managed to snag the cherry-picked chip used on stage and it was in my home system for many years until it was replaced with a Haswell last year. I ran it 4.2ghz at 1.18V on a Noctua heatsink but it went much higher at the IDF.
 

Techhog

Platinum Member
Sep 11, 2013
2,834
1
26
Intel tick tock.

The philosophy of tick and tock roughly started in the 2006 / 2007 timeframe (architecture change followed by process changed followed by architecture change)

Q6600 was released Nov 06, right when they were just starting tick tock.

Steppings still happen but they are less important for either you know the process really well or the CPU design really well. Thus steppings are more important for internal knowledge than outside benefit. Furthermore you can kinda hide steppings in refreshes for example the new haswell refresh. We got lower tdp processors in tablets and ultrabooks and better overclockers.
The interesting thing is that Haswell Refresh seems to be the same stepping.
 

crashtech

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2013
9,722
1,566
126
Afaik, all Haswells are the same stepping. The "Refresh" is packaging tweaks and higher bins.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
101,383
5,383
126
we probably also overblew the importance of particular steppings back in the day as well.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
101,383
5,383
126
Hey, free performance. That's part of what overclocking's all about.
it's not free when you're spending a bunch of time hunting down a particular stepping code and often paying more because it's in demand, much of which is based upon internet rumor.
 

Tsavo

Platinum Member
Sep 29, 2009
2,645
37
91
All the low-hanging fruit have long been picked, eaten and shat. All that's left are small gains for giant dollars.
 

zir_blazer

Golden Member
Jun 6, 2013
1,014
234
116

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