Contrary to the image some harbour due to the temporary Sandy Bridge overclock lock on the generic non-K parts, Intel processors are expected to be very overclock friendly in the future generations. My sources at IDF confirmed that directly, and now it might be the time to cover it in more detail…
Even with AMD's initial Bulldozer parts around now, Intel seems to still hold a firm lead when it comes to easy "production" overclocking where, with just a small tune up, you can get an extra 20% to 30% processor performance without major – or any at all, if using a good board and decent cooling – impact on your systems' long term reliability. For instance, a typical six-core Core i7 990X runs very nicely at 4.27 GHz speed everyday at just 1.28 volts, without a hitch. And, the K-series Sandy Bridge overclocking capabilities, even on standard air cooling, are well known, with the new i7 2700K parts running stable at 5 GHz with decent air cooling alone.
A year later, in early 2013, the pinnacle of Intel's 22 nm process show off, the initial Haswell processor, is expected to go another step further, where CPU core, GPU, memory, PCI and DMI ratios are all set independently here, on top of fine grain BCLK base clock available within the Lynx Point chipset. Also, due to its fully integrated voltage regulator circuitry for simplified platform design, more stable power delivery and therefore more predictable overclocking could be achieved. Add to it the expected major improvements in memory DIMM layout topology, enabling great performance even with 2 DIMMs per channel without the usual penalties compared to just 1 DIMM per channel.
Now, this would be as far as one can go in overclock friendliness on a mainstream platform, and, knowing that the sources were confirming the likelihood of combined multiple CPU and multiple GPU cores on Haswell (i.e. you could have, say, 4 CPU cores and 2 GPU cores, or 2 CPU cores and 3 GPU cores chip), would create possibly the most flexible desktop – and mobile – platform Intel, or anyone else, ever had in one socket.
All that's missing in this story is some competition to this… where, oh where?