Professional extreme overclocker Roman "der8auer" Hartung from Germany recently managed to successfully de-lid his AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor and confirmed that AMD is, in fact, using solder as its thermal interface material of choice between the Ryzen die and IHS (integrated heat spreader). The confirmation that AMD is using solder is promising news for enthusiasts eager to overclock the new processors and see just how far they are able to push them on air and water cooling.
Image credit: Roman Hartung. Additional high resolution photos are available here.
In a video on his YouTube channel, der8auer ("The Farmer") shows the steps involved in delidding the Ryzen 7 1700 which involve using razor blades, a heating element to get the IHS heated to a temperature high enough to melt the indium (~170°C on the block with the indium melting around 157°C), and a whole lot of courage. After using the razor blades to cut the glue around the edges, he heated up the IHS enough to start melting the solder and after a cringe-worthy cracking sound he was able to lift the package away from the IHS with the die and on-package components intact!
He does note that the Ryzen using PGA rather than the LGA method Intel has moved to makes the CPU a bit harder to handle as the pins are on the CPU rather than the socket and are easily bent. Compared to the delidding process and possibility of cracking the die or ripping off some components and killing the $329 CPU though, bent pins are nothing and can usually be bent back heh. He reportedly went through two previous Ryzen CPUs before getting a successful de-lid on the third attempt after all.
It seems that AMD is using two small pads of Indium solder along with some gold plating on the inside of the IHS to facilitate heat transfer and allow the solder to mate with the IHS. Because AMD is using what seems to be high quality solder TIM, delidding and replacing the TIM does not seem to be necessary at all; however, Roman "der8auer" Hartung speculates that direct die cooling could work out very well for those enthusiasts brave enough to try it since the cooler does not need to put high amounts of pressure onto the CPU to hold it into place unlike an LGA socket.
If you are interested in seeing the overclocking benefits of de-lidding and direct die cooling a Ryzen CPU, keep an eye on his YouTube channel for a video over the weekend detailing his testing using a Ryzen 7 1800X.
I am really looking forward to seeing how far enthusiasts are able to push Ryzen (especially on water), and maybe we can convince Morry to de-lid a Ryzen CPU!