Weekend tech reading: Intel selling $50 'upgrade' cards to unlock built-in CPU features

By on September 19, 2010, 1:54 PM
Intel wants to charge $50 to unlock stuff your CPU can already do Hold onto your hyperthreaded horses, because this is liable to whip up an angry mob -- Intel's asking customers to pay extra if they want the full power of their store-bought silicon. An eagle-eyed Engadget reader was surfing the Best Buy shelves when he noticed this $50 card -- and sure enough, Intel websites confirm -- that lets you download software to unlock extra threads and cache on the new Pentium G6951 processor. Engadget

Id Software vs. The Supreme Court – Are video games free speech? This landmark Supreme Court case will determine whether video games will continue to be protected as free speech like any other respectable medium of art. Today was the last day to file, "friend of the court briefs" to be be considered by the court before the case is heard. Well, the gaming pioneers over at Id Software have done just that. In a 32 page document, Id states many reasons why games should receive the same free speech protection as do movies, books and other forms of media... Ripten

USB 3.0 to begin hitting critical mass in 2011 The adoption of USB 3.0 is expected to begin hitting critical mass in 2011, with NEC on track to ship at least 20 million next-gen xHCI controllers by the end of 2010. "The high-rate of SuperSpeed adoption illustrates that USB 3.0 is a thriving and advanced ecosystem. It is already driving and creating a new generation of devices and components," USB-IF president and chairman Jeff Ravencraft told TG Daily at IDF 2010. TG Daily

4chan DDoS takes down MPAA and anti-piracy websites Following a call to arms yesterday, the masses inhabiting the anonymous 4chan boards have carried out a huge assault on a pair of anti-piracy enemies. The website of Aiplex Software, the anti-piracy outfit which has been DDoSing torrent sites recently, is currently down having been DDoS’d. They are joined in the Internet wasteland by the MPAA’s website, also currently under huge and sustained attack. TorentFreak

Why bricks and clicks don't always mix Not so long ago, in 2005, Blockbuster seemed invincible. However you preferred to rent movies -- in stores or online -- the company was ready to accommodate you. At the time, Netflix could offer only one way of obtaining a movie (the mail) and one way of returning it (the mail). It was clicks, with no bricks. As for Blockbuster, which was spun off from Viacom in 2004, it's now a penny stock, and its woes are as visible as the "Closing" banner in the window of a store in your neighborhood. The NY Times




User Comments: 26

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dustin_ds3000 dustin_ds3000, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The RIAA website is still down while the MPAA is up and running

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Looks like 4chan's back end is also down.. maybe retaliatory DDoS? No new posts are showing up and I received an error when trying to post as well.

Cueto_99 said:

Personally I wouldn't like that Intel business model where, after you pay for a CPU, you can add more money to unlock features that are already there... I prefer to overclock at my own risk in order to add more power to my pc...

Alster37 Alster37 said:

Ha to everyone who says intel are better than AMD

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

This reminds me of a business practice used in the industry I was in. The customers knew that they were paying finance charges somewhere, but only became outraged if it was listed as a line item. CPU's GPU's have shaders,cache, and other features fused and deactivated all the time. An E8400 is a dumb down down E8600 and a x4 955 is dumb down down X4 965. The only difference is they don't make you buy a card. AMD does the same thing in reverse. Somewhere in their books (the retail price) is an accounting for all those 'FREE' cores being unlocked. This is a colossally bonehead PR move by Intel (if its true) and I bet it goes quietly away in a hurry.

princeton princeton said:

alster37 said:

Ha to everyone who says intel are better than AMD

Aww AMD fanboy tries to justify his love of a company going downhill.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I wonder what the actual unlocking mechanism is, and how quickly will it be broken by independent parties.

Are they taking plays out of the Nvidia handbook?

Don't mess with hardware. Since most hardware becomes obsolete before it breaks, you're better off at building brand loyalty than trying to squeeze every nickel out of your customers. We already get screwed when a new chipset is introduced rendering our prior system un-upgradeable.

Supertec said:

This isn't new. The 386SX was a dumbed down 386 processor that was a couple hundred dollars cheaper. If you needed more power back (like to do long-division), you added a math co-processor.

The average dork would rather save $50 by buying a crippled processor he'll never miss because it's faster that last years and cheaper too.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I wonder what the actual unlocking mechanism is, and how quickly will it be broken by independent parties.

Thats a good point...

Lurker101 said:

It'll be a bios tweak, more than likely

lipe123 said:

All CPU manufacturers make the same silicon wafer for an entire family of cpu's and then just disable some features to sell them for the value market. It's much to expensive to reconfigure the assembly line/process for each different model of CPU in a series of chips.

What Intel is doing here is actually great because instead of leaving the turned off features disabled for good they now will allow you to just pay a small extra for the upgrade rather than forcing you to buy a NEW cpu and lose the money for the old one.

Get a clue and do some research before you just run your mouth about what a evil monster Intel is.

Zilliak said:

lolz AMD will always be around its like walmart.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

All CPU manufacturers make the same silicon wafer for an entire family of cpu's and then just disable some features to sell them for the value market. It's much to expensive to reconfigure the assembly line/process for each different model of CPU in a series of chips.

What Intel is doing here is actually great because instead of leaving the turned off features disabled for good they now will allow you to just pay a small extra for the upgrade rather than forcing you to buy a NEW cpu and lose the money for the old one.

Get a clue and do some research before you just run your mouth about what a evil monster Intel is.

Thats what I said, but this was not the way to execute it. I read the boards at the link and most had the mentality that they bought a Taurus, and are ENTITLED be upgraded to a Aston Martin. like it or not, its a business and the publics perception (and where they put there dollars) is reality.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Intel own goal.

You could say that it's a case of double dipping. I'm sure Intel would have you believe that it is buying a performance upgrade on a credit plan...buy the cheap CPU now and add features as you can afford them. Either way, the perception is likely to be that this is rather cold-blooded of Intel.

This differs fundamentally from the binning process where clockspeed, Vcore, and in AMD's case, core count are calculated to maintain stability and make the best use of an imprecise fabrication process. These (perfectly functioning) processors have in effect had a governor applied to maintain market segmentation, so while the CPU in question shouldn't rate much (if any) attention, it does raise the question whether multipliers can be raised/unlocked or low-power TDP (as examples) can be achieved though the same software/firmware scenario in future...if not at the present time...

Intel might have been better advised to keep this sales technique under it's hat until it offered the service/s for CPU's at launch -not midway (or later) in the products lifecycle.

@red

Aston Martin ? I was going to say that any Taurus owner who expected a V8/V12 under the hood would be in need of therapy....but then I thought about the act of signing ownership papers on a cookie-cutter car...so I can see your point.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

zilliak said:

lolz AMD will always be around its like walmart.

Except Walmart makes money every quarter, while AMD does not.

lipe123 said:

I know i came on a bit strong, I read about 20 posts on the endgadget site that just made my blood boil with frustration.

Honestly everyone thinks the world owes them one and if anyone/anything makes lots of money they must be evil and owe them a cut. Not to mention the enormous mass of people that know absolutely nothing about hardware that badmouth this move. Actually endgadget should be taking some blame for putting a negative spin on a positive story.

seronx said:

Tekkaraiden said:

zilliak said:

lolz AMD will always be around its like walmart.

Except Walmart makes money every quarter, while AMD does not.

AMD gets tons of profits every quarter

It's the ATi portion that's lacking

DokkRokken said:

I don't see Intel's idea taking off. Fifty bucks is quite a bit for Joe Q. Public when he'll be perusing the aisles of Best Buy. Chances are, he'll spot another PC that'll cost only forty more, and have a higher speed or extra core. Salespeople are going to have a heck of a time trying to convince Mr. Public to swing an extra fifty for 'Hyperthreading' or 'cache,' things that he wouldn't have a clue nor a care about.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

4chan DDoS takes down MPAA and anti-piracy websites Following a call to arms yesterday.

Exactly the kind of warfare I thought will be happening between these two camps, oh well, we can sit back, relax and watch some fireworks

It's the ATi portion that's lacking

I am unsure how you come up with this, but anyway, I don't think AMD will be much in black right now if it weren't for their graphic card division.

For (AMD) quarter ending June 2010:

Microprocessor average selling price (ASP) was flat sequentially and increased year-over-year.

Graphics segment revenue increased 8 percent sequentially and 87 percent year-over-year. The sequential increase was driven by record GPU unit shipments, partially offset by a decrease in ASP. The year-over-year increase was driven by an increase in GPU shipments and ASP.

In just three quarters, AMD has shipped more than 16 million Microsoft DirectX 11-capable GPUs.

I quoted these just for your information. Regards

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

haha! BBC try to make it sound like 4Chan was just hitting the recording industry

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11371315

treetops treetops said:

This is a bad move on intels part. If I bought a car then had to buy a additional card to unlock better gas mileage through there computer chip I would be pissed. If anything it costs them more to make the chips by stifling them during production and adding a unlock feature to them.

Iv owned amd for the last year with no problems, it was the best bang for the buck at the time for what I wanted to spend. This news makes me never want to even consider buying anything from intel.

Guest said:

no ones forcing u to pay extra for the cpu upgrades, You buy the cpu with the feature u know it has.

Then latter on pay more for the features u couldnt afford in the first place, or just buy the more expensive one in the first place.

Guest said:

And u can by a chip to get better MPG out of your car just not from the manufacturer.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Car + aftermarket mods = better car.

CPU + aftermarket mobs = better CPU.

No?

en0nym0us en0nym0us said:

I am sure people out there are excited to hear about this and will find out a way to unlock the locked CPU features themselves in no time.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This isn't new. The 386SX was a dumbed down 386 processor that was a couple hundred dollars cheaper. If you needed more power back (like to do long-division), you added a math co-processor.

The average dork would rather save $50 by buying a crippled processor he'll never miss because it's faster that last years and cheaper too.

Math co-processor...that is a name I've not heard in a long time.

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