Semiconductor manufacturing is an imprecise process, sometimes achieving as low as 30% yield. Defects in manufacturing are not always fatal, however; in many cases it is possible to salvage part of a failed batch of integrated circuits by modifying performance characteristics. For example, by reducing the clock frequency or disabling non-critical parts that are defective, the parts can be sold at a lower price, fulfilling the needs of lower-end market segments.
A speed bump, in computer terms, is a slight increase in frequency (e.g., 1.8 GHz to 1.9 GHz) or a slight increase in functionality (e.g. Nvidia GeForce GTX260 to GTX260 Core 216). Some time after the initial release of a product, manufacturers may choose to increase the clock frequency of an integrated circuit for a variety of reasons, ranging from improved yields to more conservative speed ratings (e.g., actual power consumption lower than TDP).
In order to undergo binning, manufactured products require testing. Finished products enter a machine that can test hundreds of pieces at a time, taking only a few hours to complete. Each piece can be tested to determine its highest stable clock frequency and accompanying voltage and temperature while running.
Binning allows large variances in performance to be condensed into a smaller number of marketed designations. This ensures coherency in the marketplace, with tiers of performance clearly delineated. The immediate consequence of this practice is that, for liability reasons, products sold under a certain designation must meet that designation at a minimum. Individual products may still exceed advertised performance.
As manufacturers only require meeting the minimum advertised specifications, the potential for overclocking of a product is not typically tested during the binning process. Therefore, it should not be assumed that higher-rated products will overclock better than lower-rated ones.
- Published on 10th June 2010 by Paul Goodhead (2010-06-10). "How to Make a CPU - Testing, Packaging and Binning". bit-tech.net. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- The RV770 Story: Documenting ATI's Road to Success, by Anand Lal Shimpi on 12/2/2008, AnandTech
- "Centaur Technologies Tour - Making The Via Nano CPU - VIA Nano Testing". Legit Reviews. 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 Low Voltage 1600MHz Review - Final Thoughts and Conclusion". Legit Reviews. 2011-12-05. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- Philips Lumileds LUXEON Application Brief: an example of a documented binning structure