Intel wants you to pay to unlock your hardware

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Oh goodie. Intel is now testing a new service “Performance Upgrade Pilot”, where computer manufacturer sells you a PC with IntelĀ® PentiumĀ® G6951 Processor, but processor’s cache and multithreading capabilities are castrated locked down to a certain “performance level”. And then end user can buy a $50 “upgrade” card, enter the special code into downloadable tool, and the tool, after validating that code with Intel, will unlock a bit more of a cache and multithreading (and heck, probably cores as well).

Now, both Intel and AMD do sell CPUs (and GPUs) with some cores/capabilities locked, but those are usually because the batch tested out bad (i.e. if in 4 core CPU one of the cores is unstable/ has a defect, it’ll be disabled and processor will be sold as 3 or 2 core CPU). Except in this case there’s noting wrong with the hardware. It’s just a way to force user to pay twice for something they bought in a first place. And a nice indicator on how much of a margin the manufacturer has, if it’s okay with them to sell you a chip that, theoretically, you will never-ever upgrade (size of the die is a big thing).

Of course there’s also a chance that a few hackers will release a not-so-official tool that will flip the same bytes in bios/cpu that unlock the hardware without bringing more money to Intel.

Will see what will be the end result of this “pilot”. I certainly hope they won’t proceed with implementing it in all versions of the hardware.

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