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red5
Miniboss

Silicon lottery

Hello,  I just thought I'd share this info to anyone who is new to overclocking because they may not know it.  "Silicon Lottery" is a term that reflects a certain level of luck in getting a processor that will overclock better than others of the same model.  However, it is generally accepted that the newest silicon is better because as the manufacturing process matures, theoretically the processors become 'better'.  AMD stamps the Ryzen cpu with a date code, which I've highlighted in the picture here. It's a but fuzzy, but you should be able to make out 2138 on the 2nd line. That means my cpu was manufactured during the 38th week of 2021.  If you shop at Microcenter you can ask the salesperson to show you several of the cpu you're interested in and pick the one with the newest date code. Or perhaps if you buy secondhand from Ebay or Facebook Marketplace you could ask the seller for a picture of the date code.  In any case, having the newest possible processor increases your chances of winning the "Silicon Lottery"

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14 Replies
BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

One of my positions in my electrical engineering career (which started with reliability engineering) was to be a component engineer for active devices on satellite programs.  That meant the best parts - S level parts to be more specific.  At that level, where a power transistor might cost $1K, there is a ton of testing that has been performed on the lot (date code) from where that transistor was obtained.  Stress testing of samples, destructive testing and examination with electron microscopes and things of this nature were done to ensure the remaining parts from that lot are the best.  What if there were failures during the testing of sample devices?  Likely the lot would be degraded to B level (military) or C level (commercial).  So the people assembling the units that went on the spacecraft, like receivers, bus voltage limiters and such, would only use the S level parts - unless a specific one was just not available.  In that case, they might look at B level parts and perform a series of additional tests from that lot in an attempt to 'upgrade' the remaining parts in that lot.  It's all about testing, but also it's about a manufacturer that can produce the best components and that required mature production lines and knowledge that is obtained from past experience.  

So as a manufacturer (say GlobalFoundries) starts producing microprocessors and related chipsets for them, they will generally get better over time with higher yields from their production lines and have fewer defective chips or semi-functional chips.  The quality of the raw materials (silicon wafers, etc.), the skill of the workers using the manufacturing equipment (much is automated now) and even the sophistication of the equipment all play a part.  And testing, testing, testing.  Identifying problems early in the production process generally saves time and money at the end of the line.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

Also, same can be said about with FAB location output the product - some FABs have generated better yields or ones that haven't had shortages due to natural events (droughts that caused shortages in supply/yields).  So if you get a unit from a good fab and a matured date, you should net a win in the "lottery".  

whoa ! Very informative

GON

Wow! I learned something new today! Thank you, guys. 

I remember learning about the importance of testing during my undergrad years. @BigAl01, as you have said, testing (and QA) are a critical part of the manufacturing process. Back then we used simulators and high-level programming languages (Altera, Xilinx, ML, and even some C++) to do some of the tests, and always had the TTL manual handy. Looking at wafers under a microscope was truly an eye-opening experience, no pun intended.  It's funny, we studied clocks/frequencies, ALUs, counters, Boolean Logic, and memory-decoders, but never overclocking (LOL)

Sam
Your biggest fan!
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6800XT
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It seems you very adept in tech so not sure if you would have the insight, but I'll ask anyway, in your opinion who is the best Motherboard manufacturer?

Adam J Martin

I've been building and modding PCs for over 20 years. One thing I've learned is that every manufacturer has its share of problems along the way.  My best advice is to look at reviews on sites like Newegg and Amazon.  Decide on the features you want, then shop around and look at motherboards with those features.  I tend to try to stick with MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte.

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That meant the best parts - S level parts to be more specific.  At that level, where a power transistor might cost $1K, there is a ton of testing that has been performed on the lot (date code) from where that transistor was obtained.  Stress testing of samples, destructive testing and examination with electron microscopes and things of this nature were done to ensure the remaining parts from that lot are the best. MyLabCorp Login

As for motherboards, I have found Gigabyte to be the best. Asus I would consider a close second from everything I have read.

During my undergrad days studying EE at Georgia Tech in the olden days (79-80), I was working in the computer center with mainframes and we were studying ultrafast ram banks for binning, failure modes, and heat curves (really hot stuff) since it was TTL and not MOS silicon.

Also I worked with some of the earliest computer intercommunication with U of Georgia between mainframes that would precursor Arapanet (which I used in the USAF) which then became the internet.

 

 

 

I think ASUS are the best and Gigabyte a close second. The point I wanted to make is you cant stereotype manufactures, each company makes good value products and poor value products. Decide on the board model you want, then research each manufactures offerings to see who offers the best quality/value for that particular model of board. Newegg and amazon reviews tend to be worthless garbage. Go to youTube and watch content from professional reviewers who actually break down the components on the board, and will tell u what manufacture phoned it in, and what one didnt, for the particular board you are interested in. 

Spot on!

GON
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I've used both Gigabyte and ASUS in the past. Haven't had any bad experiences with either one, although I do agree that ASUS requires a bit more knowledge when it comes down to the BIOS (I have an ASUS Tuf Gaming X570-Plus w/ Wi-Fi - it's great). What about MSI? How do you feel about their motherboards?

 

Sam
Your biggest fan!
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6800XT
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 You're spot on I agree Gigabyte has got motherboard manufacturing down to a correct science and while Asus does have nice boards there still just too sensitive and they haven't got their builds 100% bulletproof yet but overall they make lots of cool features that make life easy so you might get an argument from the newcomers.

Adam J Martin

I agree. Gigabyte means performance with the most stability for me. Asus is usable but more prone to instability if not carefully set up.

 

tanukrishna
Journeyman III

If you're into PC building and overclocking, you might have come across the term "silicon lottery." Simply put, the term silicon lottery refers to the inherent differences between two processors of the same product line. These differences affect overclocking performance.