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Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel To Offer CPU Upgrades Via Software 499

derGoldstein writes "Intel will again offer CPU upgrades through software. In the past, the upgrades gave you HyperThreading and more L3 cache. This time upgrades will actually increase CPU frequency: 'Intel Upgrade Service offers three different upgrades on second generation Core processors: Intel Core i3-2312M processor, Intel Core i3-2102 processor, and Intel Pentium G622 processor.' The page provides benchmarks of the 3 upgrade options."
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Intel To Offer CPU Upgrades Via Software

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  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @11:47AM (#37085880)

    Intel will again offer CPU upgrades through software. [snip] This time upgrades will actually increase CPU frequency

    Hurray, now we can buy crippled CPUs and unlock them later.

    It's like I'm being scammed at purchase, and scammed again at upgrade time.

    In before Intel sells 256 core CPUs but requires you to purchase an extra license for every 2 cores beyond the initial 2.

  • by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke@ f o o l i s h g a m es.com> on Sunday August 14, 2011 @11:50AM (#37085908) Homepage Journal

    According to the FAQ, if you replace your motherboard, the upgrade is no longer valid on the chip. It must store the information in the BIOS or at least use an identifier from the BIOS.

    It also says you must be running certain versions of Windows 7 to install the upgrade but does not mention if an upgraded system would work in Linux or BSD or any other OS after installation.

    I'm interested in a crack for this not to cheat intel out of money, but to activate it from BSD or Linux and to "fix" it myself if I have to swap out motherboards.

  • by Pseudonym Authority ( 1591027 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @11:55AM (#37085958)
    I'm also interested in a crack, but only to cheat Intel out of money.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:04PM (#37086050) Journal

    Hurray, now we can buy crippled CPUs and unlock them later.

    That's pretty much how CPUs have always been.
    Intel or AMD makes a wide array of processors, but mostly, you're just buying variations on the top processor for each model.
    The CPU gets tested and underperforming chips get tagged as low or mid range.
    After that, production quotas and demand get filled by software/hardware locking fully functional top end chips.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:06PM (#37086072)

    I honestly don't even give a damn about the money, I am interested just because fuck Intel, fuck them in their stupid asses.

    I find I am becoming more and more militant when it comes to bogus moneymaking schemes these tech companies create by eliminating preexisting functionality and charging you extra to give it back to you. Either I'm getting old, or I've been following these trends too closely. Maybe it's time to take up sports fanaticism, or whittling?

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:16PM (#37086182)

    It's like I'm being scammed at purchase, and scammed again at upgrade time.

    Out of interest, if you know that $200 will get you a certain set of specifications, you decide those are the specifications you want, you buy it on the expectation that you will get those specifications and when you put it into your computer you find that you do actually get those specifications ...

    ... why do you think you're being scammed at purchase?

  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:28PM (#37086288)

    Have you looked at the power-to-price curve of AMD and Intel? AMD beats Intel so thoroughly on the performance/price curve that I wonder why anyone bothers with Intel. The only part where Intel wins is the performance of high-end CPUs, but that's only because they pack more effective cores into one unit. Performance of single-threaded programs is roughly equal, so Intel can't claim an edge there as well.

    You can care about performance of either single-threaded or multi-threaded programs. In the former case, AMD wins thanks to lower price, in the latter, it still wins as you can pile more CPUs and still get it cheaper. The only case when choosing Intel might be a rational choice is the sudden jump between prices of 1-CPU and 2-CPU systems if your needs are just above the top performance of best AMDs but below the point Intel would need two CPUs as well.

    Intel's advertising tries to compare CPUs with different prices. To get a meaningful comparison, you need to compare performance with a fixed price or prices with a fixed performance.

  • by larppaxyz ( 1333319 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:29PM (#37086292)
    Just tried it. It was free.
  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:39PM (#37086360)

    It seems they want to build in a revenue stream so I wonder if they will be rolling out additional upgrades. So you buy this upgrade now, but in 3 months there will be an additional upgrade to increase performance another 10%.

    It's like the DLC for games model. Buy the game. A few months later buy the DLC. A few months after that buy DLC #2, etc...

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @12:45PM (#37086402) Journal
    It usually suggests that competitive pressures on the seller, at least in that segment, are sufficiently low that they derive greater benefit from improved price discrimination than they do harm from making their prices less competitive. Given their fab prowess vs. AMD, it isn't totally surprising that Intel sees themselves doing better by voluntarily cutting the value of low end parts, rather than letting higher-end buyers get away with paying less.

    (Secondarily, and specific to this particular instance, it probably doesn't hurt that consumer PCs frequently get crufted up and 'slow' over their lifetime and Joe User has no idea why. It's rarely the processor's fault, so what Intel is selling won't help them; but "make your computer faster!" is a well established product line, and Intel's offering won't technically be a lie...)
  • Re:Preposterous. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgarner ( 694957 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @01:26PM (#37086800)

    ... to enable the features that you've paid for!"

    Which features that were listed in the product spec when you bought the chip did you not get? I can see that as a problem along the lines of fraud. But specs that were not disclosed? You never paid for them. Since you picked that particular model, it seems you didn't even want them.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @01:37PM (#37086890)

    This is silly. Most of the cost will be in the design and testing efforts, which are probably higher for the $400 version than for the $200 version, even though the end result is the same piece of silicon.

    Why would production costs be more? It's the same thing, they're just "turning it down" as it were.

    It is physically the exact same processor. There is no extra research being done into how to cheapen it's production, because if there was, the production would be cheaper for the most expensive model, too. The $200 is the actual cost, and the higher prices are inflated because they can. There is absolutely no justification for it outside of "we want more money", and that's fine, but at the same time, I want more processor than I paid for. Guess we're at an impasse then; they lock a good processor down to make me spend more money on the same thing, I hack the functionality back in because there's no real reason it isn't there to begin with. I don't lose very much sleep for doing this; we've already been paying far too much under ridiculous artificial scarcity models as it is.

  • Re:bigger problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @01:46PM (#37086972) Homepage

    So you're saying that because I like to play games (besides tux racer and rogue clones) at a reasonable speed on reasonable hardware, and so I deserve to be targeted by criminals.

    Stay classy, sir or madam.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @01:47PM (#37086978)

    So before, you got a massive discount off the top price for buying a crippled chip. Now, you get a massive discount off the top price for buying a crippled chip, and have the option to pay the difference to uncripple it at a later date.

    How exactly is this ripping you off? You get what you paid for, same as always, and now have the option to get more if you pay more.

  • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @02:12PM (#37087240) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure that there is not as much variation in the speed of processors coming out of a fab plant as there is in the size of eggs that hens lay.

    Having worked for a major chip company, I can tell you that your assumption here is incorrect. There really is that much variation in chips coming off the assembly line. In fact, I'd wager that the variation in chips coming off the fab is more varied than the size of chicken eggs.

    It's the side effect of pushing higher and higher density within the chip. Modern equipment could probably push out extremely consistent 90nm designs. But 90nm chips were out of date 5 years ago. In order to be competitive, you have to push the most density out of the equipment you have. And that means that you get significant variation in your product, even within one wafer. The companies build in flexibility to the chip to allow for this variation. There are "fuses" built in to each chip specifically to disable the broken parts of the chip. If the L3 cache on a processor is totally hosed, they will blow the fuses for it and completely turn it off. But since the rest of the chip is fine they can still sell it, albeit at a discount. Even the maximum speed can be fused into the chip. The testing procedures ramp up voltage and clock frequency until the chip starts failing. Then they step it down a notch or two and fuse it there.

    AMD has never produced a 45nm dual or triple core design. I'm not sure they even made one in 65nm. The x2 and x3 processors are just x4 (or x6?) chips with one or more dead cores and maybe less cache, depending on the specific chip. Intel does the exact same thing with their core series processors. That's just the way processor companies do business. It's been that way for decades.

  • no, things aren't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @02:41PM (#37087522)

    FPGAs are too expensive and take too much power.

    FPGAs are very transistor-inefficient and thus are very expensive and power hungry. To give you an example, programming an ARM Cortex A8 into an FPGA requires a multi-thousand dollar FPGA and takes double or triple digits of Watts of power. While a regular ASIC one costs less than $20 and takes a Watt or so. Also the FPGA one runs at perhaps 50MHz and the ASIC one runs at 1GHz.

    Intel's reason for the FPGA is because they don't license their IP, the only way to integrate your logic with theirs without multiple chips is to use this. But that's a weak solution. With ARM you can license their IP and integrate it yourself in an ASIC, you'd be a fool to use an FPGA in a large-scale deployment, you're just throwing money away. In short-run deployments FPGAs make a ton of sense.

    Use of FPGAs with DSPs is more common, programmable analog/digital logic can be very useful, like Cypress' PSOC (8051 based though, not ARM). I believe most cable/DSL modems use DSPs.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @03:13PM (#37087798) Homepage Journal

    Because clearly, the better specs were so dirt cheap to produce that they were thrown in on speculation, but locked away. Then you get charged real money for something that literally costs the manufacturer nothing.

    Most people instinctively feel that to be wrong and often can't say exactly why (it may be part of the hard wired instinct that allows us to behave socially). The more rigorous answer is that in a healthy market, natural competition should have compelled the manufacturer to enable those features at the time of sale in order to be competitive at that price point.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @07:52PM (#37089852) Homepage

    Say that you buy a can with "12 oz" of soda inside. You open it up and drink it. Then you take a look at the can. The can actually holds 16oz. And the manufacturer actually made all 16oz of soda. But to sell a 12oz can, they put 4oz of the soda within a thick plastic resin, thus destroying it for all time. The bottom of your 12oz can is 4oz of wasted plastic graveyard devoted to market segmentation.

    They sold you 12 oz of soda, and you got 12 oz of soda. But they ALSO made an extra 4oz of soda. Since you didn't pay for that extra 4oz of soda, they destroyed it rather than letting you or someone else have it.

    And yes, that's how the chip industry works. That's also how the car, and certain other industries, works. From the business perspective, it is a way of segmenting your market and supporting tiered pricing options. From an end-consumer standpoint, the company lobotomized something they sold to them, because they aren't the overpaid elite. And whenever they're waiting for an install to complete, or a copy of Outlook to open, they know that bits of their lives are being wasted because a company artificially decided to make the processor in their machine suck 20% more.

    It makes perfect business and engineering sense. But that's not how people feel about it. The average person isn't buying a specs sheet. They're buying the fastest processor they can afford. And as it turns out, the processor they bought could be even faster, but some company stopped it for completely artificial reasons. People are going to be frustrated by that.

  • by Ambient Sheep ( 458624 ) on Sunday August 14, 2011 @10:26PM (#37090662)

    Yup, back in the mid-80s I worked for a firm that wrote EPoS software for petrol filling stations (gas stations). There was a whole extra feature set that could be enabled simply by programming a special character (might just have been an "@" sign, I forget) into one of the programmable setup fields, and we charged quite a bit for it.

    Our field-service engineers got so embarrassed at this (as did those of us in the software department with a conscience), that if time allowed they'd often open the box up and pretend to fiddle inside, maybe faking an EPROM change, to do it.

    Eventually one or two site managers got wise, and the word spread as to what the secret was, and everyone was getting it for free, so we had to make it so it really WAS an EPROM change...

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer