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Intel Charging $50 to Unlock CPU's Full Features

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 15 comments

Want to use all the capabilities of your CPU? Then pay up!

Software upgrade vouchers are something that we're used to. A simple code can either unlock previously dormant features or it can initiate a download of upgrade files. This sort of system is used for games and even operating systems like Windows 7. But now it's being put to use in Intel CPUs.

An Engadget reader spotted on the shelves a Best Buy a $50 upgrade card that claims to upgrade the processor inside the Gateway SX2841-09e, which is a Pentium G6951 dual-core LGA1156 Clarkdale processor.

The upgrade card appears to promise an upgrade from 2- to 4-way multi-task processing and a larger cache, speeding up data-heavy applications. Specifically, that means the enabling of HyperThreading and an extra 1MB of L3 cache for a total of 4MB.

To "unlock" the full features of this CPU, a user must go to the Intel upgrade website and install the upgrade application. From there, a PIN from the upgrade voucher must be entered for the upgrade before the reboot completes the process.

Right now, this "upgradeable" CPU is being tested in select markets, so it likely isn't a sign of things to come – at least not in the enthusiast high-end.

How do you feel about this kind of model? Do you feel that you should be getting 100 percent of the capabilities of the hardware you own, or are you pleased that you have an upgrade option that you can pay more for when or if you need it?

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  • 3 Hide
    hairystuff , 21 September 2010 18:44
    I wounder if its some kind of e-fuse system, only a matter of time before its cracked.
  • 0 Hide
    hairystuff , 21 September 2010 18:44
  • 0 Hide
    Lewis57 , 21 September 2010 18:50
    Inb4 piratebay codes.

    I'm not sure if this is a dull idea or not, it could be like me buying an 8 core for £400, and then paying £100 per upgrade for another core heh. So it's like upgrading your processor without actually upgrading it physically?

    I don't know.
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    mi1ez , 21 September 2010 18:56
    They've basically looked at people unlocking AMD cores and thought
    "I wonder if we could charge for that..."
  • 3 Hide
    see_you_next_tuesday , 21 September 2010 19:01
    It seems like the original items are sold deliberately "crippled" just so they can make some more cash further down the line.

    This reminds me of the ECU upgrades that are avaialble for cars that give 20% or so power increase, albeit, I'm guessing the Intel upgrade doesn't invalidate your warranty :) 

    Cheap and easy upgrade potential though so may not be so bad.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , 21 September 2010 19:18
    I think this is a gray area - so you pay money for the hardware that is fully capable of running at maximum and they disable it so it runs somewhere at 75%... that extra 25% "upgrade" could potentially be pure proft.

    If it turns out the hardware costs cover manufacturing and then you have to pay again on top of that... no thanks.

    If it turns out that you get the hardware cheaper because of the degraded performance and Intel hedge their bets on your upgrading to cover their costs... then this becomes more palatable.
  • 1 Hide
    mi1ez , 21 September 2010 19:35
    The thing is, you're paying for the hardware by spec, not by potential.
  • 2 Hide
    kohvitass , 21 September 2010 20:19
    so in the future they make one model...from one factory...and it would be in peoples hands for a longer time...
    so simple idea....but it will save them billions in designing and manufacturing.
    And let's hope that prices will drop at that point also xD
  • 3 Hide
    guanyu210379 , 21 September 2010 20:34
    Upgrade card for Q6600 is also welcome :D 
  • 1 Hide
    SevenVirtues , 21 September 2010 20:45
    Fine with me, won't be long before work a around becomes public so I can buy a cheap CPU and upgrade it for free. Thanks Intel :) 
  • 0 Hide
    it8 , 22 September 2010 03:24
    £1 is acceptable.
  • 0 Hide
    lucky015 , 22 September 2010 06:11
    Something new to pirate =)
  • 1 Hide
    wild9 , 22 September 2010 07:37
    $50 for Hyper-Threading? In these very tough economic times why not just GIVE people Hyper-Threading and increase competition (even if HT offers logical and not physical processor cores)? No, we can't have that now can we; better to milk those cows for all they have because hey, we're so big and we're so great at charging you for something you have already purchased.
  • 1 Hide
    TuffLittleUnit , 22 September 2010 07:43
    Erm ... isn't this what IBM and others do with their "on demand" mid-range servers, already? I'm no iSeries expert but I'm sure our ops guys at work have indicated it's just a case of buying the license to open up more "processors" without having to install anything in the racks. And for anyone who thinks this is new or doesn't apply to desktops, my recollection is that the Intel 486 SXs were deliberately crippled 486 DXs i.e. the manufacturing costs were pretty much identical.
  • 0 Hide
    omegon , 22 September 2010 16:25
    guanyu210379Upgrade card for Q6600 is also welcome

    amen :D