Intel testing $50 feature-unlock cards for processors

Intel is testing new system where cards can be purchased at retail to unlock features of your processor (similar to Microsoft’s Anytime Upgrade program for Windows). Engadget reports that a Best Buy customer first noticed a new $50 card, that allows for a software-managed processor upgrade for a Gateway notebook (Intel’s Pentium G6951). Sure enough, the card sends customers to the Intel Upgrade Service website for more information.

The cards, as sold in Best Buy. Image source: Engadget.

It works as follows: A user buys a PC, it comes with an average processor, and they can upgrade it to a better processor without any physical work. Now this may sound strange, and you may ask “why not just give the customer the better processor?” Well, it’s all about branding and perception. Like any company, Intel has multiple products that are targeted at multiple demographics. To maintain this mix, they need products that range from low-end through to high-end, and Intel needs to be able to justify price differences to the customer. The problem for Intel, particularly in recent years, has been the industry push on low prices.

Retailers choose the notebooks that they sell on a specification vs. price basis, which then pushes hardware manufacturers to purchase lower-end components to reduce the prices of their machines. Intel, in what I think is a brilliant move, has effectively countered that problem from their end. They sell a low-end CPU (in features, that is), and then let the customer decide during, or post-purchase, if they would like some extra power in their machine. If successful, this technology/service may end up featuring on Intel’s entire CPU range.

And in case you want to see it, here’s the process from a more technical point of view:

Image source: Intel.

Thanks to Mephistopheles for posting this in the forum.

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This initiative from Intel postulates the fiction that it is technologically viable to fairly and incrementally dial-down performance on a chip-set (that was only ever engineered to perform optimally in its original and un-compromised configuration) without causing unforeseen performance problems within the chip-set itself..as well as for the galaxy of associated components that populate the motherboard.....it could not be done in a car(those 4 live pistons would be burdened with dragging the dead weight of as many inactive pistons as there might be).

This is good and bad. This will help them reduce manufacturing costs of chips because they can manufacture one set with all of the features. The bad part about this is computer shops who upgrade PC's for the average joe. If every computer comes with every feature without needing new components installed then some computer shops will be effected.

As an IT Professional. I don't like this at all. As a customer I like this because I'm sure it will eventually be cracked. And when it is, I will be buying a computer for really cheap and unlock all of its features.

Is this idea silly? Let's imagine it in the automotive industry. You could sell a car with a V4 engine, then un-lock it to a V6 for higher performance/lower gas mileage (which actually could be a way to deal with strict eimissions requirements in some states).

How about safety features? Does this car have airbags? For an extra $50 it does!

As with any lock, it's a matter of time before someone invents a skeleton key - followed by the vendor screaming about "stealing" for enabling hardware the customer already owns.

Anyway, I think this is a silly idea and I'll never intentionally buy a product that is locked down if I could buy something that is not locked down instead. I'd rather buy a Ford than a Ferrari that's been lobotomized to perform like a Ford.

I had to do a triple-take-WTF when I read this. But as I keep thinking about it, it's not sounding like too bad an idea. Seems to benefit Intel and/or the system maker more IMHO. Guess time will only tell how well this goes.

Soon they'll sell cars that are V8s but 2 of the cylinders are disabled and you'll have to pay to unlock it. (Just a joke for comparison.)

I personally don't like how this is software-based. Another processes to run in the background. And if you run anything else (like Linux); it won't work.

And to those saying that it'll be cracked, it probably would be, but the people that would crack are just a minority and they'd still rake in more money. That's what I think.

The difference is you can do what you want with your OWN car.

Unlocking a v8 sold as a v6 would probably be perfectly legal in many countries.

Ya........... If you are stupid enough to buy a crippled processor, then go for it. I sure as hell won't support this kind of filthy greed.

This worries me. It's a good idea, but can Intel be trusted to keep this fair? I think not.

If AMD don't push hard that they don't do this, they are absolute idiots.

Oh good! Now Intel knows how to control the speed of their own processors using only software!

Hmmm, why don't we sell users a 300Mhz processor, then with a $200 unlock key, it'll run 3Ghz!

AMD for The Win

Intel is going to make its hardware into lease-ware, service-ware, subscription-ware, or pay per use ware..... Then AMD will profit greatly as people will want to know when they "buy" hardware, they are automatically already getting everything up front & not be restricted for additional fees.

The Visitors said,
AMD for The Win

Intel is going to make its hardware into lease-ware, service-ware, subscription-ware, or pay per use ware..... Then AMD will profit greatly as people will want to know when they "buy" hardware, they are automatically already getting everything up front & not be restricted for additional fees.

I still won't be buying AMD. Their processors are very week, even their 6 core processors are weaker than Intel's. I'll still keep using Intel.

ZekeComa said,

I still won't be buying AMD. Their processors are very week, even their 6 core processors are weaker than Intel's. I'll still keep using Intel.

Yes, but in fairness most people don't care. They want a computer that can do XYZ at low cost and not one that can perform 2% (or even 10%) more on statistical benchmarks that have very little real world application for them.

As for having to worry about Intel doing this. Don't. They are owned by the PC market. Most vendors are not going to do for this because it would be a tech nightmare in support.

Swerz said,
Will this adjust clock speeds. Or just enable features like hyperthreading and other CPU features?
I think it just enables hyperthreading and L3.

I understand why they make them then limit the performance because its cheaper for manufacturing cost no doubt.

This style of technology though would be loved by companies that offer free laptop when you pay for their broadband.
As i see it, in the future you could be paying x amount per month for a service.
That is restrict depending on what you pay for e.g. internet speed and the performance of your computer. If this technology was latter put in to all parts of a computers hardware.

Auzeras said,
Now it will be a few months before it is cracked and people will be turning their dual cores into quad cores

not really it'll just be a dual core with hyperthreading turned on

I can understand locking cores of a CPU because of a flaw in the manufacturing process - after all, if there was a way for customers to unlock cores such as those found on a few ASUS motherboards, they're doing so at their own risk.

This though, I find stupid and it could set a dangerous precedent, such as possibly requiring all processors in the future to be activated like software. (if the possibility of good CPU knockoffs arises)

I can already imagine a future Intel commercial: "Buy the new i250 processor! The only cpu on the market with 100 cores! For only $499"...and then the fine print: "Only 2 cores are active in the purchased product. To unlock the other 98 you need a unlock card, available for only $50/core"

Intel testing $50 feature-unlock cards for processors.

AMD counters with all features unlocked for free.

guess who gets a phenomenal spike in marketshare in less than a quarter.

3rd impact said,
Intel testing $50 feature-unlock cards for processors.

AMD counters with all features unlocked for free.

guess who gets a phenomenal spike in marketshare in less than a quarter.

Sadly Intel. AMD already played this hand with x64 and virtualization for (most) everyone. It didn't really help their market share. From a personal perspective, I love AMD and am currently using a Athlon x2 as my main system. The war, however, has been over since the release of the Core series. AMD at the time didn't have an answer and it pretty much killed the idea of a true competitor to Intel. This was further hindered when Apple adopted Intel because they are the media darling of the American tech industry.

3rd impact said,
Intel testing $50 feature-unlock cards for processors.

AMD counters with all features unlocked for free.

guess who gets a phenomenal spike in marketshare in less than a quarter.

Unless AMD can make CPU's that can out perform the equivalent Intel CPU then it wont be AMD seeing as their 6 core CPU's barely out perform an Intel core i7 quad

It's a failure of the marketplace not to be able to sell uncrippled processors with the full feature set. Perhaps they should be concentrating on fixing that instead?

I wonder if you have to "reactivate" everytime you install windows.
Or for linux users, can you install windows, buy the upgrade, format drive and install linux?

etempest said,
I wonder if you have to "reactivate" everytime you install windows.
Or for linux users, can you install windows, buy the upgrade, format drive and install linux?
It appears to be a permanent physical change to the CPU so no re-activation will be necessary.

Tim Dawg said,
It appears to be a permanent physical change to the CPU so no re-activation will be necessary.

just like a firmware update for DVDrw drives or HDD's and SSD's

Why not give the customers the full potential of the processor at the start?
It's not like they're not losing money anyway, since it's the same processor.

This is just retarded. The whole world is going to hell... Unlocking, microntransactions, subscriptions.
What's next? "Buy additional threads for 9.99! You can run multiple tasks at the same time!"

It's like buying a sports car with a gearbox with only the first 2 gears for the price of a 40 horsepower car, but being able to upgrade to full 7 gears "FOR JUST 50 000 $ !"

I understand their point, but....

See, here's the thing.... if it works well with the entry-point line of CPUs, which processors do you think this'll go in next....

And another thing.... keyword here is that it's a software lock. Software can be cracked.

Well my laptop is running a Core i5 540M and that's WAAAAAY more than i need so i guess i'll be good with this system for a few years. I was actually hoping to get something slower (Core i3) for the better battery life.

Thanks but no thanks Intel - i'll just keep your "old" processor

meh what a crappy idea, heres a a thing intel, stop changing your socket type so many times ppl might upgrade cpus
was happy once appon a time when u could just swapp out a cpu without having to buy everything again

Stupid idea, as its software based it will be cracked, and as its software-based it will have to be re-authenticated if a consumer reinstalls their OS.

my feeling is it is a cheap way to make a buck because people are holding on to pcs longer and the PC market is pretty much saturated...there are not too many people buying their first pc anymore..I'm on something like my 6th so I know what I want by now so buying a chip that can be unlock can be enticing. Also we have to remember chip do not retain their value as they did in the past I now have a quad 4 which when it first came out was something like $1000 now maybe at best $75...they are just trying to keep the value of the chips up

That's a really good move : We all know that basically, all processors from a certain lineup are the same but with artificially limited multipliers/frequencies, because it makes it cheaper to manufacture.

With this feature, you can buy a crappy processor for $100 (which is the same as the $200 one but with only 1 core enabled), exactly like before. But now, thanks to that new offer, when you have fresh money, you can upgrade your cheap processor at anytime, without replacing it !!

quentez said,
That's a really good move : We all know that basically, all processors from a certain lineup are the same but with artificially limited multipliers/frequencies, because it makes it cheaper to manufacture.

The only way it's cheaper is when/if you have a chip you'd otherwise throw out -- it's always cheaper to run just one production line/process, & it has to cost time/money/effort to design the mod & then implement it to cripple a chip.

quentez said,
With this feature, you can buy a crappy processor for $100 (which is the same as the $200 one but with only 1 core enabled), exactly like before. But now, thanks to that new offer, when you have fresh money, you can upgrade your cheap processor at anytime, without replacing it !!

Good theory, & one you can practice now since by the time you have that fresh cash, the chip you wished you'd bought is much cheaper, plus buying a new chip you can often get a better performing, later revision. What throws in the monkey wrench is that tech's constantly evolving, plus the performance of a rig depends on a lot of things, not just the CPU -- any performance increase you'd get by upgrading just the CPU is likely going to be less than you'd want or get replacing both m/board & CPU, & then you're back to square one, saving up cash for the next upgrade. ;-)

Ridiculous. You pay more for a faster CPU. That I understand. You want a faster CPU you need to pay for the new hardware. For them to spend the money on the R&D and everything and then manufacture the CPU but sell it at a lower price but crippled through software is simply bewildering.

You already own the hardware. You already own the potential full feature set. It's not like DLC or writing new features into the firmware - you already own the damn product.

This is a really terrible idea and I hope it dies a quick death.

Here's an idea - sell some of your top line CPU's cheaper. Surely higher sales is better than having all that R&D go into a CPU which barely sells because it costs so damn much? And surely it's better to have CPU's leaving the shelves rather than sitting there collecting dust?!

Chicane-UK said,
Ridiculous. You pay more for a faster CPU. That I understand. You want a faster CPU you need to pay for the new hardware. For them to spend the money on the R&D and everything and then manufacture the CPU but sell it at a lower price but crippled through software is simply bewildering.

Actually alot of DLC (at least on consoles) tend to be nothing more than unlock codes for content already in the game.

You already own the hardware. You already own the potential full feature set. It's not like DLC or writing new features into the firmware - you already own the damn product.

This is a really terrible idea and I hope it dies a quick death.

Here's an idea - sell some of your top line CPU's cheaper. Surely higher sales is better than having all that R&D go into a CPU which barely sells because it costs so damn much? And surely it's better to have CPU's leaving the shelves rather than sitting there collecting dust?!

Chicane-UK said,
Ridiculous. You pay more for a faster CPU. That I understand. You want a faster CPU you need to pay for the new hardware. For them to spend the money on the R&D and everything and then manufacture the CPU but sell it at a lower price but crippled through software is simply bewildering.
You already own the hardware. You already own the potential full feature set. It's not like DLC or writing new features into the firmware - you already own the damn product.

This is a really terrible idea and I hope it dies a quick death.

Here's an idea - sell some of your top line CPU's cheaper. Surely higher sales is better than having all that R&D go into a CPU which barely sells because it costs so damn much? And surely it's better to have CPU's leaving the shelves rather than sitting there collecting dust?!

considerring that most of intels sales go to OEMs and not aftermarket sales OEMs get top of the range CPUs for a lot less than retail costs because they buy thousands of them at once it goes to the old adage you buy more you pay less ie:

intel core i7 980 x 1000 units = $250 each
intel core i7 980 x 1 unit = $900

So there basically crippling your processor and making you pay them extra to make it work properly. Wow that is evil on a new level.

This will just make Chinese knock offs even worse if they can buy the CPU at the low price and hack it so it works normally, selling it at the higher price.

Intel &/or AMD make their top line CPUs -- those that don't make it through QA testing wind up as lower end cheaper versions/models. Problem -- too many chips pass QA, so they're underclocked or features are blocked to create cheaper products. It's not entirely different from ATI's graphics card/chipset model strategy -- likely NVIDIA's too -- where they start with a top-line product, then set out to cripple it by varying amounts to produce lower end graphics cards/chipsets. With CPUs [& a few graphics card models] folks have been able to get around limitations in lower end chips... there have been more than a few Intel CPUs that were either not locked down as well, or just provided excellent opportunities, while there were all sorts of tutorials on-line to physically mod different AMD CPUs. Not too long ago there was a stir when folks found out they could activate the 4th core on some AMD tri-cores, & I've seem m/boards advertised that could help achieve this -- haven't looked but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't find the same sort of thing with AMD's 6 core CPUs that were sold as quads.

So Intel would just have to engineer the crippling of cheaper CPUs so was reversible to some extent, possibly shifting the limiting functions to the m/board & bios. That wouldn't change the status quo so-to-speak in the DIY market, & might enhance sales, the same way AMD figures it's worth it to sell black edition CPUs that aren't clock locked.

The potential marketing downside is that particularly now, with economies in trouble, large corporations are often seen as the greedy bad guys, along with the biggest banks, Wall St. etc... You can look at it as Intel giving folks a break, letting them buy a product they couldn't otherwise afford, or you can look at it as Intel price gouging -- if they can make a profit selling a CPU for $100 [just an arbritary number], is it fair to force consumers to pay more to unlock features that are already there, *With Zero added cost*? In that respect it's kinda like buying a pair of jeans, then returning to the store to pay extra to unlock the zipper.

It's no secret that Intel [unlike AMD] has had no problems making money -- some would say, feel their profit margin is excessive. And it's no secret that Intel engages in marketing practices that are considered rather nasty, especially by those who don't directly profit from Intel's way of doing business. You can more easily get away with that sort of stuff, & have the widespread image of over-pricing, if/when consumers feel they have a choice, & if/when you confine your biz to one or a few markets where you're well established. Intel dominates the CPU market, if AMD dies consumers won't have a choice, & Intel does biz in several other markets, while wanting/trying to expand into more. By educating the masses of non-tech consumers, showing them how the biz is done, Intel I believe risks turning overall public opinion against themselves, which could make a difference in those other markets Intel doesn't yet own. For their part Intel sees free money -- added revenue from or for near zero cost. The retailers bear little or no risk, & any blame slides right past the hardware manufacturers to Intel [if this turns sideways, they can bemoan the extra design work Intel *Made* them do].

This really shows how we pay for what things can do, rather than how much they cost to manufacture.
Whether someone purchases the full capabilities of the processor outright, buys it cheap and upgrades it, or buys it cheap and doesn't... the processor is exactly the same; no difference in manufacturing cost.
By that logic, if Intel can afford to sell the low performace models for the reduced price, It should be free to upgrade and they would still be offering differing performace to each demographic.

I actually do think this could work. I mean look at customizable computers. You have a selection of processors anyways. This just opens a door that allows for customer upgradable processors. Especially in laptops. Now they just need to manufacture one version of the model and the extra functionality is locked if the customer didn't want it.

Give the following CPU options

Dual-Core @ 2.4Ghz 4MB L1 Cache [Default +$0.00]
Dual-Core @ 3.2Ghz 8MB L1 Cache [+$50.00]
Quad-Core @ 2.0Ghz 16MB L1 Cache [+$150.00]

Now let's say the customer only wanted the default option. Well they could still install the quad-core anyways but just lock out the additional features. Reduce the core count to 2, increase the clock per core to 2.4Ghz, and cap the L1 cache at 4MB. Now let's say a customer gets a card. They and either get an upgrade to option 2 or 3 which will adjust the cpu performance appropriately. They already have the processor but they didn't pay for that specific performance option. Now they are so they have an upgrade code that will upgrade it. An upgrade option for 2 would increase clock per core and increase the L1 cache to 8MB. Get the card for option 3? Decrease the clock per core, increase the core count to 4, and increase the L1 cache to 16MB. Done. No need to open the machine and (for the average consumer) do risky processor upgrades or void the warranty.

P.S. - This exactly compares to software programs where there are different codes to turn on a specific feature set. Everyone gets the same program but different codes give different editions of that program. An upgrade to a better edition just requires a code entry and a program restart rather than removing the program and installing a different copy. Think the newer Windows Vista/7 as it is a direct analog here.

shinji257 said,
I actually do think this could work. I mean look at customizable computers. You have a selection of processors anyways. This just opens a door that allows for customer upgradable processors. Especially in laptops. Now they just need to manufacture one version of the model and the extra functionality is locked if the customer didn't want it.

Give the following CPU options

Dual-Core @ 2.4Ghz 4MB L1 Cache [Default +$0.00]
Dual-Core @ 3.2Ghz 8MB L1 Cache [+$50.00]
Quad-Core @ 2.0Ghz 16MB L1 Cache [+$150.00]

Now let's say the customer only wanted the default option. Well they could still install the quad-core anyways but just lock out the additional features. Reduce the core count to 2, increase the clock per core to 2.4Ghz, and cap the L1 cache at 4MB. Now let's say a customer gets a card. They and either get an upgrade to option 2 or 3 which will adjust the cpu performance appropriately. They already have the processor but they didn't pay for that specific performance option. Now they are so they have an upgrade code that will upgrade it. An upgrade option for 2 would increase clock per core and increase the L1 cache to 8MB. Get the card for option 3? Decrease the clock per core, increase the core count to 4, and increase the L1 cache to 16MB. Done. No need to open the machine and (for the average consumer) do risky processor upgrades or void the warranty.

P.S. - This exactly compares to software programs where there are different codes to turn on a specific feature set. Everyone gets the same program but different codes give different editions of that program. An upgrade to a better edition just requires a code entry and a program restart rather than removing the program and installing a different copy. Think the newer Windows Vista/7 as it is a direct analog here.

Except that is software being licensed. This is hardware that you purchased and are the sole owner of. It should work to its maximum potential from the start.

thejiSh said,
I really think you should get what you pay for, right at the start.

Exactly, now people have more things to worry about when they want to purchase a machine.
They now have an upgrade card to put into the equation.

thejiSh said,
I really think you should get what you pay for, right at the start.

Technically they are. They are just paying to add extra power.

What does the feature card do?

If you look at the picture with the blue card you will see it unlocks two of the cores to make it a quad core and more.

- An increase from 2- to 4-way multi-task processing
- Larger cache, speeding up data-heavy applications
- Effortless movement between multiple applications

I think it is a good idea for the consumer. Intel has been doing sort of thing for a while with a different purpose to save power. They are able to turn off cores to save electricity as well boost the speed of the chip.

So why not sell a chip for less to the manufacutures who in turn sell it to the consumer for less. If the user needs more speed they don't even have to open up the box they just get this card and activate the new features.


Later.

this better only apply to crappy machines i wont ever consider paying for.

no way am i paying for a crippled processor, and surely overclocking can just over come this anyway?

daiv_ said,
this better only apply to crappy machines i wont ever consider paying for.

no way am i paying for a crippled processor, and surely overclocking can just over come this anyway?

*If* Intel brought this to the CPU market, not just prepackaged PCs/laptops, then yeah, sooner or later methods &/or motherboards would be available to unlock them. If they keep it in certain notebooks or retail PCs OTOH, the m/boards would probably be so feature limited that regular o/clocking with settings in the bios just wasn't possible. That said, someone might crack the upgrade process, & there are folks who mod bios firmware.

Intel CPU: Starter Edition..... [rolleyes] It'll be so crippled that you probably won't be able to bootup or run anything.

And thus Intel exposes the dirty little secret of the CPU: All the various models of the same processor die process are really the same, just throttled. AMD should expose this by selling CPUs of the same power as the maximum step of Intel's processors, for the same price as their MINIMUM step.

Bemani Dog said,
And thus Intel exposes the dirty little secret of the CPU: All the various models of the same processor die process are really the same, just throttled. AMD should expose this by selling CPUs of the same power as the maximum step of Intel's processors, for the same price as their MINIMUM step.
Yeah, I'm sure AMD has no similar situation ... *rolleyes*

Of course there are differences. You've seen ONE example so far, above. Suddenly this applies to every single chip?

Kirkburn said,
Yeah, I'm sure AMD has no similar situation ... *rolleyes*

Of course there are differences. You've seen ONE example so far, above. Suddenly this applies to every single chip?


I am sure they haven't...AMD can kill Intels idea...

Bemani Dog said,
And thus Intel exposes the dirty little secret of the CPU: All the various models of the same processor die process are really the same, just throttled. AMD should expose this by selling CPUs of the same power as the maximum step of Intel's processors, for the same price as their MINIMUM step.

Of cause I know that. What's the different between Intel Core i7 930 and Intel Core i7 975? It's the same processor. It's just the 930 has been underclock and its clock multiplier locked.

Bemani Dog said,
And thus Intel exposes the dirty little secret of the CPU: All the various models of the same processor die process are really the same, just throttled. AMD should expose this by selling CPUs of the same power as the maximum step of Intel's processors, for the same price as their MINIMUM step.

No processor manufacturer can fab processors that are of a certain model. All that can do is fab a batch then test each CPU for what 'grade' (final model) processor it will become. Unfortunately due to economics just because intel/amd/ati/nvidia (cause its all the same) make 1000 ultra high end cpu's doesnt meen they will be able to sell them as ultra high end. Also faulty ultra-high-end cpu's can have the faulty bits disabled (this is where we get the tri core Phenoms from) and sell them as fully functional lower-end CPU's

CPU fabrication is not a precise fabrication process!

Bemani Dog said,
I liken this to a shakedown for extra money.
And that would be a silly thing to liken it to, since the upgrade is optional, and you didn't pay for it originally.

Kirkburn said,
And that would be a silly thing to liken it to, since the upgrade is optional, and you didn't pay for it originally.

Depends on how you look at it -- Since the manufacturer's cost hasn't changed, then yeah, you did already pay for it. When you buy the base unit you *own* that hardware -- it's yours.

OTOH a segment of the O/Clocking community has always looked at it as getting better value, more bang for your buck buying a lower priced CPU & getting similar or better performance out of it than more expensive chips.

Just different perspectives... On the one hand manufacturers costs don't change, so they're asking you to help them make *free* money. On the other hand it's the way they've always done business, & nobody [outside family/friends] has ever claimed the person in charge of Intel pricing was a saint. The more or less *official* line is/was/will always be that it's the higher profits made on the best CPUs that allows the discounted versions -- the counter to that IMHO is sell just the top line chips at a price somewhere in the middle if you're claiming any sort of fairness. Of course that won't happen because there are always going to be bad chips that don't pass testing, & rather than throw them away they sell them at lower prices, which creates the market for cheaper CPUs, which because there aren't enough failures, they can only fill by crippling good CPUs. From an optimistic standpoint, if these *upgradable* chips ever hit the Egg at a reasonable price it'd be a hit among O/Clockers by eliminating most of the risk -- when you set out to O/C or enable a hidden core etc. there's always the chance you got a CPU that really was broken, rather than a good one that had stuff turned off.

If AMD doesn't take advantage of this type of practice I will be shocked. This is a huge opportunity for them to say to the consumer "hey look at us, we're not doing this."

First thoughts were this is a load of ****. but after reading more about it, and realising you can pay for a dual core and then upgreade to a quad core (that's what they mean by "increase from 2- to 4-way multi-task processing", right?) with a larger cache very cheaply at a later date, it doesnt seem like such a bad idea anymore.

DARKFiB3R said,
First thoughts were this is a load of ****. but after reading more about it, and realising you can pay for a dual core and then upgreade to a quad core (that's what they mean by "increase from 2- to 4-way multi-task processing", right?) with a larger cache very cheaply at a later date, it doesnt seem like such a bad idea anymore.

No they mean they activate hyperthreading and the full l3 cache for $50...

This probably has a lot more to do with companies like Dell, Compaq, etc, who wish to sell a laptop for a budget price yet they can`t really do it unless the chip is compromised in some way. This way they are still able to do this, but if someone finds out the chip in the product they bought isn`t up to the task and is upgradable for $50 they may go ahead and do it.
Everyones happy

Riggers said,
This probably has a lot more to do with companies like Dell, Compaq, etc, who wish to sell a laptop for a budget price yet they can`t really do it unless the chip is compromised in some way. This way they are still able to do this, but if someone finds out the chip in the product they bought isn`t up to the task and is upgradable for $50 they may go ahead and do it.
Everyones happy

FWIW I think the biggest winners will be the retailers, assuming it all works out... saves them money because they have to stock fewer models. Or it could turn out to be a major PITA for them with loads of customer complaints, refund/return requests etc. Think support is bad now, wait until upgrades are botched, don't work, &/or don't give the performance increase customers believe they were promised. And how many customers are going to expect their laptop for example will get twice as hot with twice the cores? Best Buy sells a lot of different things, & can't afford upset customers for the sake of lower inventory costs, so it all may work out, or not.

I think people are misunderstanding Intel's goal... It is not to charge more for a single processor. Their goal is to keep people from switching brands when they are ready to upgrade their computer. A person is less likely to buy a new AMD chip if they can just upgrade the one they have for $50. The thing to wait and see is if they start trying to charge more for the cheap processors and then make you pay more to upgrade them.

I like the idea. Just think, you could purchase a laptop with the equivelant of a celeron, and later upgrade it to a dual core, quad core or even 6 core processor without paying a technician a labor charge. You could even do it with servers, and have an entire extra processor waiting to be activated and if your servers workload increases, unlock the extra processor. Intel could theoretically, start manufacturing only one processor, and it could actually bring their costs, and therefore our costs, down.

Wodin said,
I like the idea. Just think, you could purchase a laptop with the equivelant of a celeron, and later upgrade it to a dual core, quad core or even 6 core processor without paying a technician a labor charge. You could even do it with servers, and have an entire extra processor waiting to be activated and if your servers workload increases, unlock the extra processor. Intel could theoretically, start manufacturing only one processor, and it could actually bring their costs, and therefore our costs, down.

While you may think that's a good idea, you seriously need to brush up your knowledge on economics.

V9s said,

While you may think that's a good idea, you seriously need to brush up your knowledge on economics.

Huh? Everything he said is true.

If Intel can manufacture just one proccessor, then their costs will go down.

What will hurt Intel will be the fact that not everyone will upgrade, so Intel will have people paying only $200 for a proccessor that costs $350, and Intel will never get that money back.

andrewbares said,

Huh? Everything he said is true.

If Intel can manufacture just one proccessor, then their costs will go down.

What will hurt Intel will be the fact that not everyone will upgrade, so Intel will have people paying only $200 for a proccessor that costs $350, and Intel will never get that money back.

It may seem true, but it's not. What Intel is doing will work for similar processor types, i.e. in the example above, Intel has taken a dual core processor and merely locked hyperthreading and 512kb of cache.
But to ONLY make a 6 core processor and lock it down to make single core, dual core etc procs is very expensive, considering the yield rates of a 6 core die in a single wafer and various other factors. Remember, the bigger the die size, the lower the yield rate and the more expensive the process.

V9s said,

It may seem true, but it's not. What Intel is doing will work for similar processor types, i.e. in the example above, Intel has taken a dual core processor and merely locked hyperthreading and 512kb of cache.
But to ONLY make a 6 core processor and lock it down to make single core, dual core etc procs is very expensive, considering the yield rates of a 6 core die in a single wafer and various other factors. Remember, the bigger the die size, the lower the yield rate and the more expensive the process.


V9s, get a clue..

Wodin said,

V9s, get a clue..

He does have a clue. They can make many more 2 core processors from the same amount of material than they can make 6 core processors of which many would be locked down to 2 core and never get upgraded.

mrp04 said,

He does have a clue. They can make many more 2 core processors from the same amount of material than they can make 6 core processors of which many would be locked down to 2 core and never get upgraded.

He does not and neither do you. The biggest cost is manpower and facilities. The material to make the chips is negligible. If they can shut down 3 or 4 plants they're going to save hundreds of millions. V9s came in here and engaged me on something he was clueless about, and added nothing to the conversation. I come in here for an intelligent exchange of ideas, and when kids come in here and hurl insults just to try and make make themselves feel smarter, it really detracts from the quality of the conversation. That's one of the reasons I've been a member of this community far longer than most people in this thread, but have the fewest posts, is I just prefer more mature conversation.

Wodin said,

He does not and neither do you. The biggest cost is manpower and facilities. The material to make the chips is negligible. If they can shut down 3 or 4 plants they're going to save hundreds of millions. V9s came in here and engaged me on something he was clueless about, and added nothing to the conversation. I come in here for an intelligent exchange of ideas, and when kids come in here and hurl insults just to try and make make themselves feel smarter, it really detracts from the quality of the conversation. That's one of the reasons I've been a member of this community far longer than most people in this thread, but have the fewest posts, is I just prefer more mature conversation.

As a matter of fact, it does cost them more to do what you're suggesting. Perhaps you just forgot about the binning process.
Usually a lower-spec'd proc is a crippled high spec part, but to do what you're suggesting, Intel would have to check that all the 6 cores work as designed, even if they're being sold as a single core proc....which would be prohibitively expensive.

Wodin said,

He does not and neither do you. The biggest cost is manpower and facilities. The material to make the chips is negligible. If they can shut down 3 or 4 plants they're going to save hundreds of millions. V9s came in here and engaged me on something he was clueless about, and added nothing to the conversation. I come in here for an intelligent exchange of ideas, and when kids come in here and hurl insults just to try and make make themselves feel smarter, it really detracts from the quality of the conversation. That's one of the reasons I've been a member of this community far longer than most people in this thread, but have the fewest posts, is I just prefer more mature conversation.

Nice ad hominem fallacy, there. And who is the one throwing insults around? Looks like you were when you told V9s to get a clue.

Luis Mazza said,
This is the effect of what's called MONOPOLY. Sad...

OMFG I PAID FOR WINDOWS 7 HOME BASIC ITS MY RIGHT TO GET WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE WTF MS WTF.

Stupid.

Luis Mazza said,
This is the effect of what's called MONOPOLY. Sad...

Me thinks that you don't know what a monopoly is.

LiquidSolstice said,

OMFG I PAID FOR WINDOWS 7 HOME BASIC ITS MY RIGHT TO GET WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE WTF MS WTF.

Stupid.

Exactly, I don't see why people find this so hard to understand.

Minimoose said,

Exactly, I don't see why people find this so hard to understand.

I don't approve of Windows being divided as it is.

LiquidSolstice said,

OMFG I PAID FOR WINDOWS 7 HOME BASIC ITS MY RIGHT TO GET WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE WTF MS WTF.

Stupid.

This is not the same thing. Windows is software, while a processor is a piece of hardware.
You bought a chunk of metal that is capable of one thing, yet it is locked down to less than its full performance and they are charging you for the whole thing.

mrp04 said,

This is not the same thing. Windows is software, while a processor is a piece of hardware.
You bought a chunk of metal that is capable of one thing, yet it is locked down to less than its full performance and they are charging you for the whole thing.

It is the same thing. EVERY windows 7 DVD ships with ALL versions on it but you purchase access for one. (there is a file on a the windows 7 DVD that tells it it is version X). You can also use Windows anytime upgrade to boost ure windows version.

Zerosignull said,

It is the same thing. EVERY windows 7 DVD ships with ALL versions on it but you purchase access for one. (there is a file on a the windows 7 DVD that tells it it is version X). You can also use Windows anytime upgrade to boost ure windows version.

But that is a software LICENSE. You don't OWN the software, just a license to use it. With hardware though, you own the physical chunk of metal and plastic and whatever else there is in it.

Sorry, albeit this is just a stupid idea. When I buy a new processor it should fully work out of the box; that is the reason for buying the item

Pam14160 said,
Sorry, albeit this is just a stupid idea. When I buy a new processor it should fully work out of the box; that is the reason for buying the item

How hard is it to understand that you pay less for the cpu with less power, then if you want to upgrade it, you pay more?

If you don't have enough money at the moment for processor 'x', you get processor 'y' for a cheaper price then upgrade it to processor 'x' when you have the money to, instead of buying processor 'x' then having to buy a whole new processor later on.

Personally, I wouldn't make use of it, and I hope they don't advertise on the basis of it's potential power.

Pam14160 said,
Sorry, albeit this is just a stupid idea. When I buy a new processor it should fully work out of the box; that is the reason for buying the item

you may find that is the difference between an Retail boxed CPU and the one you buy in an desktop/laptop PC
Boxed CPU = fully functioning CPU @ full price
desk/laptop = locked down CPU @ partial price of retail + upgradeable for $$$

So I have to pay more to get the product I bought to work as intended? I wonder what's next, finding out that my hardware is licenced, not sold?

Alex_The_Cat said,
So I have to pay more to get the product I bought to work as intended? I wonder what's next, finding out that my hardware is licensed, not sold?

No you should not be worried! This opens up jailbreaked CPU opportunities. Shhhh!!!

Alex_The_Cat said,
So I have to pay more to get the product I bought to work as intended? I wonder what's next, finding out that my hardware is licenced, not sold?

Well I guess the price just stays the same overall. But instead of directly paying $200 for the processor, you buy it for $150 and when you have more money or when you decide it's too slow for you, you upgrade it for $50. Intel doesn't necessarily make higher profits because of this, but at least they made sure you bought an Intel and not an AMD. And at least in the end you bought the $200 one instead of the $150 dollar one you initially had money for.

RuuddieBoy said,

Well I guess the price just stays the same overall. But instead of directly paying $200 for the processor, you buy it for $150 and when you have more money or when you decide it's too slow for you, you upgrade it for $50. Intel doesn't necessarily make higher profits because of this, but at least they made sure you bought an Intel and not an AMD. And at least in the end you bought the $200 one instead of the $150 dollar one you initially had money for.

Not really, in this case, the pentium is around $90, what the upgrage gives in performance wise is to a i3 that costs around $110. If you buy this then upgrade for $50 you are actually paying more.

For those that already had the chip in their system, then like you said, its better paying $50 then $110.

Wow, such a jerk move. Why are they doing this, that will inevitably taint their reputation? Is that really worth $50 per "upgrade"? (it's not really an upgrade, and more like a switch - the CPU you purchased already had these features)

"Intel, where you may not get everything you paid for initially."

I thought the same thing at first, but I work with Intel as part of my job and know how they struggle to get the better chips into machines. This works well for everyone.

Northgrove said,
Wow, such a jerk move. Why are they doing this, that will inevitably taint their reputation? Is that really worth $50 per "upgrade"? (it's not really an upgrade, and more like a switch - the CPU you purchased already had these features)

"Intel, where you may not get everything you paid for initially."

Think Shareware. You get to try it for free, sometimes with reduced features. Then when you buy, you unlock all features.

Northgrove said,
Wow, such a jerk move. Why are they doing this, that will inevitably taint their reputation?."

Agreed, its all to do with bean counters, and nothing to do with the customer.

The bean counters reckon its cheaper to only have 1 product in the supply chain, and then you pay extra to get a higher performing CPU.

This will come back to bite them when upgrades don't work, or stop working.

People want what they pay for. When they understand they are just being taken for a ride, and Intel is charging WHATEVER the customer will pay (rather than getting what they pay for) Intel's reputation will be mud.

dvb2000 said,

Agreed, its all to do with bean counters, and nothing to do with the customer.

The bean counters reckon its cheaper to only have 1 product in the supply chain, and then you pay extra to get a higher performing CPU.

This will come back to bite them when upgrades don't work, or stop working.

People want what they pay for. When they understand they are just being taken for a ride, and Intel is charging WHATEVER the customer will pay (rather than getting what they pay for) Intel's reputation will be mud.

The customer IS getting what they are paying for. Typically the customer has to pay MORE for MORE performance anyways. If there is a possibility the customer may want a higher end processor later on then go ahead and install that processor but if they opted for a lower end option then just lock out the non-applicable features. If later on the customer wanted a the higher end one then they just need to buy an upgrade card, pop in the appropriate code, reboot and they are done. The clockspeed of the processor goes up and the additional features now apply so they are unlocked. I actually see where this can work.

brent3000:
This sounds more like the HP model where it's a "soft" key upgrade. With IBM, usually they send you a keycode chip you plug into an empty slot to unlock the features. The chip doesn't contain the feature, just unlocks it.

With HP, it's an unlock code you just enter in, reboot, and bammo, you get the extended lights out.

I like the HP model better. It's way easier to crack

LiquidSolstice said,

Utterly retarded and not anything remotely like what the article is saying.

It could happen eh. Monthly subscriptions to use your processor.

LiquidSolstice said,

Utterly retarded and not anything remotely like what the article is saying.

What is your problem? Its a joke.

LiquidSolstice said,

Really? You really think "jailbreaked" is a word?

Many words in the english language weren't actually.. well.. words.. until they started being.. words. Got it?

LiquidSolstice said,

Really? You really think "jailbreaked" is a word?

If it makes it to Wikipedia, it must be a real word

Bemani Dog said,
I think "jailbroken" is the right one. But it is what I was thinking. People can hack upgrades for their processors.

Technically they already do but it has been hardware level (remove multiplier lock, etc.) . Now they just make it so that you can do it on software instead.

briangw said,

If it makes it to Wikipedia, it must be a real word

He means jailbreaked is not proper English whether it's a real word or not. Jailbroke is proper.

LiquidSolstice said,

Really? You really think "jailbreaked" is a word?

Its a common term. Google pulls up 125,000 hits. Live with it.

Pixil Eyes said,

Its a common term. Google pulls up 125,000 hits. Live with it.

No. "Jailbreak" is a common term. Google pulls up 56,800,000 hits. Your word is just bad English.

LiquidSolstice said,

Really? You really think "jailbreaked" is a word?

Where you question Liquid for his use of the word jailbreaked, I question your use of the use of the (US) English language. Language is used to express ideas as a part of communication. By that any word or grammatical structure can be created which conveys the intended message. ALL languages over time change. So the answer to your question is yes.

desitunez said,
hey , have you jailbreaked your Processor yet ?

The proper term should be 'jailbroken', since 'break' is the operative word.

Would you really say 'Have you breaked your computer yet?' as opposed to 'have you broken your computer yet?'

Turion said,

Where you question Liquid for his use of the word jailbreaked, I question your use of the use of the (US) English language. Language is used to express ideas as a part of communication. By that any word or grammatical structure can be created which conveys the intended message. ALL languages over time change. So the answer to your question is yes.

US English language has a proper dictionary and use of form. The fact that language in general can apply to babies crying for food or a dog wimpering to go outside is irrelevant when we are talking about proper use.

No one is saying he isn't conveying the purpose properly, he just didn't use the correct syntax.

thommcg said,
Wonder how long before this gets cracked...

Yeah, no way no one will release this cracked... so i vote with two hands, buy a processor for 15$ and then make it worth 150$ (example, i just put random numbers). I'd like to see how Intel is going to try countering the crackers.

thommcg said,
Wonder how long before this gets cracked...

i am going to assume it will most likely be like cell phone unlock codes where they have the codes hidden on some server and those codes correspond to the chips serial number. this will make it almost impossible to hack it without access to their server. another reason why the software is windows based and not a boot up cd. would need internet connection to connect to their servers.

thommcg said,
Wonder how long before this gets cracked...
Exactly. This is a bad idea. I assume they mainly want to do this for selling processors in developing countries and to save operating costs, but they could simply sell the cheaper chips there anyway. People will buy whatever is available to them locally.

d4diesel said,
i am going to assume it will most likely be like cell phone unlock codes where they have the codes hidden on some server and those codes correspond to the chips serial number. this will make it almost impossible to hack it without access to their server. another reason why the software is windows based and not a boot up cd. would need internet connection to connect to their servers.
I don't think this makes it impossible. Look at how many dummy WOW servers are out there. Or how many dummy Windows 7 KMS activation servers. If a cracker can figure out what the algorithm is then they only need to make their own server, trick DNS into pointing to it, then unlock their processor. It's not hard once you know how the unlock codes are calculated (which is what crackers do when they create keygens).

Its sounding like Servers these days with HP and IBM... Buy a server/hardware with everything but you need to buy keys/accessories to unlock all the features (Lights Out and VMK's)

Thats how i understand it... But a cheap PC, upgrade the processors specs via an upgrade card.

Unless im mistaken i think its great lets hope its not going to reduce the CPU specs in most PC's coming out these days though.