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Hidden Cores On Phenom CPUs Can Be Unlocked

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

AMD 251

An anonymous reader writes "One of the major ways a semiconductor manufacturer manages to make the most of its chips is through binning. Chips able to cope with high clock speeds with all cores running end up as premium product lines, while others end up as models rated at lower speed grades, or with fewer cores. In the case of AMD's Phenom CPUs, dual and triple core models are quad cores with some disabled, while some newer quad core CPUs are actually six core models with two disabled. To this end both ASUS and MSI have announced that they have modified versions of AMD 890FX- and 890GX-based motherboards to unlock these hidden cores. Much like overclocking, there is no guarantee that you will gain anything by unlocking the hidden cores — everything depends on just why your CPU ended up in a certain product line."

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frosty piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911366)

but first, suck your shit off my dick.

Re:frosty piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911398)

Thats Frosted Butts to you mister.

Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (3, Insightful)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911376)

Unlocking cores that the manufacturer deems to be flawed - um, yeah.

Unless this is a rehash of when Intel were (alleged?) to be selling 486DX processors as 486SX with perfectly good maths co-processor cores disabled, I think I like my data unscrambled! /Lawn etc.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (5, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911492)

You're showing a complete lack of understanding as to how processors are rated and sold. AMD determines they need to meet a certain quota for each model of CPU. If it works out and all of the CPUs in their 1 million unit run works flawlessly, they will maximize their profit by disabling some of them and selling them for less money to account for that market without flooding the market with their top performing part.

Unless this is a rehash of when Intel were (alleged?) to be selling 486DX processors as 486SX with perfectly good maths co-processor cores disabled ...

Uh, yeah, basically that's what the article says.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (5, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911732)

You're showing a complete lack of understanding as to how processors are rated and sold. AMD determines they need to meet a certain quota for each model of CPU. If it works out and all of the CPUs in their 1 million unit run works flawlessly, they will maximize their profit by disabling some of them and selling them for less money to account for that market without flooding the market with their top performing part.

True, but there's also a good possibility that the your part wasn't binned to fulfill an order. Chips go through a severe set of stress tests that often exceed what will be encountered in practical use. During these tests, it may be revealed that a core doesn't function properly or well enough (it gives bad results) to qualify. All chips go through that, and that's why there's many redundant structures on a chip (to improve yields). (Sony PS3 has 7 SPUs when they build 8 on a chip, Xbox360's got 3 PowerPC cores even though it has 4, Intel disables cache lines and/or functional units, etc. etc. etc.)

So the question is, are those cores disabled because AMD had extra parts and an outstanding order they could fulfill? Or are there actually potential issues that may only be revealed under certain loads? FOr the most part, it just means a game crashes a bit more often than usual (since mission critical servers never do wierd things like this - the money saved isn't worth the potential for extra downtime), or maybe a file gets corrupted. Or worse, your disk gets corrupted.

Plus, AMD's historically been supply-bound and unable to fulfill demand for their product, so there's a potential that instead of getting a binned part, it's actually one that failed their test patterns.

And yes, you see the same behavior with flash chips - NAND flash traditionally ships with bad blocks, and the majority of those can probably be erased and used quite safely (having accidentally destroyed the bad block information before due to buggy software...), but you never can tell why it was marked bad in the first place.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911832)

History has shown that there's a pretty good chance that it _was_ binned for marketing reasons.

(ie. In many previous CPUs, graphics cards, etc. you had to be pretty unlucky to get one which didn't work perfectly)

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911936)

The problem is you don't know if a particular core was disabled for legitimate flaws or for marketing. From AMD's standpoint, they probably don't want to disable the cores unless there was not other choice than they really needed to fill orders because they can sell the fully functional chip for lots more money.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31912196)

That's why you test the core. If you have the knowledge of being able to turn on a core, you have the knowledge telling you that you should stress test it with prime95 or somesuch.
Argue this fact as much as you like, if you're the idiot who didn't check for stability it's your own damn fault.

And this information has been out for a long time and slashdot is just now finding out?

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912698)

What test suite would you use though?

I seriously doubt prime95 is comprehensive enough to cover all CPU operation.

How do you ensure the test runs on the knocked-out core?

Note: I'm not saying this to be sarcastic or suggest it is a reason to not try unlocking the cores - I'm actually curious (*looks at 65W dual core Phenom II*)

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#31913044)

Intel uses prime95 for testing, so I would say yes, it is comprehensive enough to cover typical CPU operations.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (3, Informative)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911858)

You're showing a complete lack of understanding as to how processors are rated and sold. AMD determines they need to meet a certain quota for each model of CPU. If it works out and all of the CPUs in their 1 million unit run works flawlessly, they will maximize their profit by disabling some of them and selling them for less money to account for that market without flooding the market with their top performing part.

True, but there's also a good possibility that the your part wasn't binned to fulfill an order. Chips go through a severe set of stress tests that often exceed what will be encountered in practical use. During these tests, it may be revealed that a core doesn't function properly or well enough (it gives bad results) to qualify. All chips go through that, and that's why there's many redundant structures on a chip (to improve yields). (Sony PS3 has 7 SPUs when they build 8 on a chip, Xbox360's got 3 PowerPC cores even though it has 4, Intel disables cache lines and/or functional units, etc. etc. etc.)

So the question is, are those cores disabled because AMD had extra parts and an outstanding order they could fulfill? Or are there actually potential issues that may only be revealed under certain loads? FOr the most part, it just means a game crashes a bit more often than usual (since mission critical servers never do wierd things like this - the money saved isn't worth the potential for extra downtime), or maybe a file gets corrupted. Or worse, your disk gets corrupted.

Plus, AMD's historically been supply-bound and unable to fulfill demand for their product, so there's a potential that instead of getting a binned part, it's actually one that failed their test patterns.

And yes, you see the same behavior with flash chips - NAND flash traditionally ships with bad blocks, and the majority of those can probably be erased and used quite safely (having accidentally destroyed the bad block information before due to buggy software...), but you never can tell why it was marked bad in the first place.

I bought a Ph2 720BE and unlocked it to a quad. Stress tested with 12 hours of Prime95, no failures. When the core is bad, you usually can't even boot into Windows; never have I heard of one that could withstand gaming for more than 5 seconds. If something in it is broken, you know it.

So I paid $120 back when the Ph2 965 cost $240, and unlocked and overclocked the 720BE I bought to a quad at 3.5ghz. 4 cores for the price of 3. Love it.

No, not so much (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912528)

If a core is just flat out non-functional then yes, you are right, a system wouldn't boot. However that it works mostly doesn't mean there isn't a problem. There could be a single instruction that has a flaw, so everything is fine unless that instruction gets executed but when that happens you get a crash or worse, data corruption.

If you think Prime95 is an accurate test, you are kidding yourself. Prime95 tests the FPU mainly, and is good for heat testing. It is not a full CPU test. So maybe the FPU works great, but one of the other units doesn't.

So no, you don't know that nothing is broken. You assume nothing is broken. Maybe that's fine, however then no bitching if you get data corruption or the like because there was a problem that you didn't know about.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Funny)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912552)

You are clearly cheating in the e-Penis tests, everybody knows you have to spend more money in order to brag about your kickass hardware, otherwise, you will be labeled as a smart consumer which is not compatible with the 1337woopassHardwarez0wnzorzx label. :)

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31912682)

I basically had the same thing happen to me. A few months ago I upgraded to an X3 720 for $120 on Newegg. After testing that it works, I tried unlocking the 4th core. It was Prime95 stable and I tried all the games/apps and they all worked. Of course I got a newer processor after all the problems AMD had with are gone, so it was more than likely market demand that they disabled the core (I hear the X3 720 is fairly popular). The only setback with it is that it disables the temp. monitoring. So, all cores now read 0c. But it wasn't that bad for a black edition quad core for $120.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (4, Funny)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912744)

Good work! I plan to do something similar soon, though the cost savings of getting a $100 2-core Ph2 and unlocking it to a $160 4-core Ph2 isn't so great :/

I'll share my pseudo-failure story, though. I bought a Tyan Tiger MPX about 10 years ago to run dual SMP 1Ghz Durons. About 5 years later I upgraded the CPUs to 2.0 Ghz mobile Athlon XP. My motherboard couldn't control the mobile chips, so I think they only ran at 1.2Ghz or something for a time, then I got brave and whipped out the xacto knife and cut some bridges to clock them up to 1.8Ghz. After I migrated to a new server, I got even more brave and whipped out the pencil as well and linked some more bridges to get them up to ~2.2Ghz for the past few years. It's still my primary gaming machine (yeah, I'm too cheap to budget any real money towards entertainment, but it still runs most games better than my wife's 1-year old laptop, as long as they don't require 64-bit or DX10).

Of course, it's quite a bit flaky now, I think due to the penciled bridges and probably old noisy cooling fans. It crashes when I kick the case, and if it gets too warm in the room, it just plain doesn't boot (motherboard gives out 5 beeps and it just sits there). But once it starts running a game for more than a few minutes it tends to continue to be OK

Still, I'm plotting to migrate my current server to a low-power, low profile Zotac Zbox with some sort of external eSATA RAID, so I can free up my current hardware for gaming before it gets too outdated :-P

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912016)

True, but there's also a good possibility that the your part wasn't binned to fulfill an order. Chips go through a severe set of stress tests that often exceed what will be encountered in practical use. During these tests, it may be revealed that a core doesn't function properly or well enough (it gives bad results) to qualify. All chips go through that, and that's why there's many redundant structures on a chip (to improve yields). (Sony PS3 has 7 SPUs when they build 8 on a chip, Xbox360's got 3 PowerPC cores even though it has 4, Intel disables cache lines and/or functional units, etc. etc. etc.)

So the question is, are those cores disabled because AMD had extra parts and an outstanding order they could fulfill? Or are there actually potential issues that may only be revealed under certain loads? FOr the most part, it just means a game crashes a bit more often than usual (since mission critical servers never do wierd things like this - the money saved isn't worth the potential for extra downtime), or maybe a file gets corrupted. Or worse, your disk gets corrupted.

That's what diagnostic tests are for. memtest86, prime95, etc. If you system can crank through 24+ hours of those tests, you can be reasonably certain it will perform just fine for everyday usage.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912634)

memtest86 is a diagnostic test for RAM. Prime95 isn't a diagnostic test for anything. Both are reasonable CPU burn-in tests, but they don't test all (or even most) features of the CPU. I'm not even aware of memtest86 using more than one core. Sure, if you run them for a while you can be reasonably sure that the critical parts of a core are working properly, but there's a very real possibility that its problem is a more obscure one that only shows under certain circumstances. For example, some specific app might corrupt data, while everything else works fine.

In order to properly test a CPU core, you at least need a full suite of tests for that architecture, including OS/kernel-level tests, and even those are likely to miss things particular to the specific manufacturer's implementation of the architecture.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912948)

memtest86 is a diagnostic test for RAM

You don't think the diagnostic puts any sort of stress test on anything other than the memory?

Prime95 isn't a diagnostic test for anything

Really? You don't think a test that is notorious for pushing the CPU to high load and high temperatures is a diagnostic for anything?

Well, in case you disagree with both of those assessments, I'd like you to reread my original post, and this time please pay extra careful attention and note the "etc" included in there. Unless you are suggesting that there are absolutely no diagnostic tests that are available to consumers to test stuff like this, I'm not sure what your point was other than to pointlessly smack me around for knowing the basics of what you'd have to do but not knowing (and not listing) every last diagnostic test available.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (-1, Troll)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912046)

You and I might be the only people on /. who understand this. Thank you.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (5, Informative)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911754)

Yeah, maybe. Then again, GP has a point and you're being an asshat.

TFS makes a comparison to overclocking. It points out that there is no guarantee of a benefit - but doesn't point out that there is a risk. In the case of overclocking, the risk is that you will overheat a chip that was rated at a particular clock speed for good reason. Of course you can combat this risk by improving the cooling system. You can combat the risk because you know exactly what the risk is.

Now in the case of "hidden cores", what's the risk? Do you even know? Do you know what kind of flaw would lead them to legitimately disable a core? Is that one core unable to tolerate the same clock speed as the others? Is it functionaly broken such that it will return incorrect results for some operations? How would you tell the difference between that, vs. a chip that was perfectly fine but sold in a degraded state to balance out supply and demand?

You could shell out for a special motherboard just to test your chip, and if no flaw in the normally-disabled chip causes any damage to the rest of the chip (or do you have some basis on which to rule that possibility out?) you at least won't lose anything. Or, could the defect be intermittant such that your tests might miss it?

And if your computer is for hobbying and you enjoy working with a potentially-unstable system, good for you. A lot of people think that's a fine trade-off for what they're going to do with their systems. None of which invalidates GP's question - which is "what exactly might a disabled-by-default core do if you turn it on when it really was disabled for a reason?"

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (3, Informative)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911892)

Eh... theres really no such risk with regular overclocking. The biggest threat to your CPU is increasing the voltage - which would strictly be overvolting, not overclocking. If you turn up your clock speed high enough that it "could" cause damage to it at load... odds are you've turned it up so high that it won't make all the way through bootup. And the solution to that is simply revert it back to its stock speed, or cut the difference between stock and what it won't run at until you find a working speed. The chance of permanent damage to a CPU without changing the core voltage is essentially zilch.

The big difference between overclocking and unlocking hidden cores is that you can make small incremental overclock adjustments, say from 2.6ghz to 3ghz or 3.2ghz or 3.5ghz or whatever until you find that its unstable, and just back off a bit. You can't incrementally unlock one core, its unlocked or it isn't. And if it was disabled due to being flawed, it should stay that way or else your computer is just gonna blue screen right in the middle of some important work/gaming session.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31912498)

I can't imagine most of these chips being sold have that many problems with their disabled cores. Intel, for example, doesn't seem to be discarding 50% of their production line worth of chips (when they have 4-core chips only for some designs). Unless AMD has a pretty poor consistency in fabrication, I'd suspect that 90%+ of these chips will work just fine with an extra core turned on.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911930)

I don't have a clue what your acronyms mean -- can't even infer -- but I'll just read over them.

Unlocking cores that the manufacturer deems to be flawed - um, yeah.

The OP might as well have said, with the same sarcastic, completely ridiculous implication, "Run my processor at a clock rate that the manufacturer deems to be flawed - um, yeah."

The OP mentioned nothing about system criticality -- just implied that running a processor beyond the manufacturer's factory spec was a completely absurd idea. Like it doesn't happen all the time.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (-1, Offtopic)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912666)

Hmmm, your UID indicates you've been here for years, and you don't know 'TFS' or 'GP'? Google says that TFS occurs on /. more than 1400 times (and I know from previous Googlings of /. that its index of the site is incomplete). How can you function effectively while being so obtuse to years-old, common /. argot?

This may not be 4chan, but dude, you need to LURK MOAR.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912270)

And if your computer is for hobbying and you enjoy working with a potentially-unstable system, good for you. A lot of people think that's a fine trade-off for what they're going to do with their systems. None of which invalidates GP's question - which is "what exactly might a disabled-by-default core do if you turn it on when it really was disabled for a reason?"

WoW might crash while I'm tanking our guild's best attempt at the Lich King. Realistically, that's the worst case scenario I can think of for me, as a gamer, and even there I highly doubt that would happen. (I'd likely see instability long before that, and revert to 4 cores.) I obviously wouldn't suggest using hardware this way on my office machine, where numerical accuracy and stability are important, but ... if games are reasonably stable, going for 6 vs 4 cores seems like a pretty good deal.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31913038)

Now in the case of "hidden cores", what's the risk? Do you even know? Do you know what kind of flaw would lead them to legitimately disable a core? Is that one core unable to tolerate the same clock speed as the others? Is it functionaly broken such that it will return incorrect results for some operations? How would you tell the difference between that, vs. a chip that was perfectly fine but sold in a degraded state to balance out supply and demand?

Risk? meh, you might MAYBE corrupt some windows stuff not unlike the risk involved in pushing an overclock. In reality if you attempt to enable extra cores they will either work or they won't. I've been running my dual core phenom 2 as an overclocked quad core stable for 2 months now. It was as easy as changing a bios setting (before overclocking). I flipped it, booted, saw 4 cores, put the CPU under 100% load for awhile and it worked. Then I proceeded to overclock as normal as far as I could remain stable (which still went from 3.1 to almost 3.7 w/all 4 cores).

What I don't understand is why this article is only making news now, it's sorta old news. When I bought my current hardware there were already multiple motherboards to choose from that support it, many of which were just upgrades with bios revisions and offer a pretty simple but rich feature set surrounding unlocking cores. I wasn't exactly bleeding edge so it's weird to see a headline on something that seems to have been around for awhile.

This is also not a new concept in the PC hardware world. There have been other times where certain hardware features could be unlocked (such as pipelines on nVidia cards). As has been stated it is just a crap shoot. Is your mid to low level hardware crippled because of true malfunction or to balance supply and demand (anyone remember Costa Rican Celeron 300s that were remarked 450s to suit market demand)? Can you pay for a GT and get a GTX? Can you buy a dual core and get a triple or quad? In my case, yes, I rolled the dice and I won. For the most part in these scenarios either your unlock will work or it won't and you'll know pretty quickly.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911766)

Right. And given that there is *always* a yield rate somewhere below 100, it's a guarantee that not all of the partially disabled parts are in actual fact fully working. You'd have no way of knowing if you do. In fact, given that the yields are private information, you don't even know the *probability* that your unlocked unit will work properly.

The manufacturer will *always* bin the partially flawed parts as their low end units first. They will only use intentionally crippled units to fill the low end volumes if they run out of partially flawed units. Historical experience with yields indicates that they're more likely to get not enough fully functional units than they need. This was the case with single core parts, and I'd assume it's even more the case with multi-core parts, becoming more of a problem as core counts increase. I doubt AMD or Intel have the latitude to pick and choose the relative outputs of their units; I doubt the yield curves are such that they end up having to cripple many units because they have too many fully functional parts and not enough to fill low-end volumes.

Even if there *were* a decent percentage of fully working CPUs on on the market, you'd have to be pretty stupid to spend that amount of money on a high end motherboard to turn your CPU into a *maybe* working higher model that *may* totally destroy your data. Either that or the work you're doing is so trivially unimportant that you probably don't need a computer in the first place. Why not just buy a normal motherboard and spend the saved money on the real fully featured part.

You're showing a complete lack of understanding of, well, just about everything.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912194)

And you apparently don't understand the mind of an overclocker; they aren't sane.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Informative)

garyrich (30652) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912448)

"The manufacturer will *always* bin the partially flawed parts as their low end units first."

True, but the after market CPU is not the low end, not at any price point. You would put the real X2 and X3 chips in the low end consumer boxes, where the mobo doesn't support unlocking and the consumer doesn't know/care. You sell the perfectly good ones to newegg, fry's, etc. Happy geeks that unlock cores or overclock successfully are morle likely to recommend to others and buy next time. AMD and Intel understand this very well.

Why do you think AMD has a "black label" line in the first place?

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912722)

So they spend more in labor, spend more parts, to sell these at a cheaper price instead of selling all of the top-of-the-line at the same price for less cost? This should be illegal!

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911512)

Or even cost effective.

Pay more for a better CPU, or pay more for a better motherboard so that you can buy a not as good CPU and hopefully have the functionality of the better CPU.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911524)

If it is anything like the old ATI GPUs, once they tweak the production process, most of the GPUs had prefect pipes, but they still maintained a product line at the lower pricepoint with a quad proposely disabled. A simple firmware flash yielded a prefect functioning unit.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912558)

and then there were the "soft quadro" hacks where you could make a low-end nvidia card appear to be a quadro which would unlock a load of features which were in the drivers as well as the graphics card.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911540)

It depends on the maturity of the product. Often cases early on there is a legitimate need to reuse chips with flawed cores so they are disabled and sold as such. Later in the product cycle though, the demand is still there for lower cored versions, but manufacturing has often caught up to the point where there simply aren't enough flawed versions to fill demand for the limited versions. Result is that when the quota of flawed runs short, perfectly good chips are limited in the same way to fill the gap.

Later in the product line it might end up that only 20% of the lower priced chips have any flaws at all. For those people who want to tinker, it's often worth while to at least check and see if their chips will run ok when then turn the rest of them on. They stand to gain some performance if it works, and if not - eh, they paid for the slower version anyways (the only issue I take with this is when I see Negwegg reviews or forum posts claiming that they were returning the chip because it "didn't overclock far enough").

It's not something I really bother with anymore (as I've gotten older as long as the computer keeps running I'm happy), but I remember enjoying the whole overclocking scene ~10 years ago and wouldn't begrudge the new cheap teenagers of the same fun I had :).

Mod up (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911964)

In the old days the first thing I did when I got a new graphics card or CPU was to scan the forums for how to re-solder those tiny resistors on the back of the chips to get it to say (eg.) "Quadro" in the properties box instead of "GeForce". These days I don't bother but let the kids have their fun - they're playing games, not running a bank.

Percentages are obviously hard to come by but 20% failure doesn't sound far off (in my experience).

Re:Mod up (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912452)

I have no problem with the kids having fun playing games. I have a problem when they break things and return them for new hardware. That's pushing the cost of hardware up on the rest of us.

If you want to play, fine. Just make sure you take responsibility for what you break as well.

Re:Howcanthispossiblybenews? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31912244)

I'm not sure how this is news... I've unlocked 7 or 8 AMD cores over the past couple years, as well as having a couple that wouldn't.

Anyway, there are some of both scenarios - slightly damaged CPU's and order-filling CPU's being sold. You can visit any one of at least a dozen forums to see if the model / serial / day-of-the-week of your CPU is generally unlockable.

BTW, ASUS and MSI are far from the only boards with ACC. I personally prefer the Gigabyte MA785x lines.

Note: I'm neither a teenager nor terribly poor, just exceedingly frugal.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (4, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911636)

They might not necessarily be flawed. It quite probably is a 'rehash' of what Intel were doing, and for good reason:

If all the chips come off the same line, then they might have an average cost of, say, $150. If there's a huge demand for quad-core chips at $200 and little demand for six-core chips at $350 then it's probably going to be more profitable disable two cores, bulk up the stock already consisting of chips with only four working cores, and take the $200 rather than have a chip sitting on a shelf. Thus some quad-cores are perfectly good six-cores, others aren't. They couldn't, however, afford to market all the six-core chips at $200 because the yield would be too low - there'd be nothing to do with all the faulty ones, thus pushing the average cost above $150.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 3 years ago | (#31913112)

In that case, they should reduce the price of their top end chips until supply meets demand. The reason they don't do that, is because some people have more money than others, it's a duopoly (so no really aggressive competition) & they can charge more for the higher end chips if they mark some down at a lower speed (or core count).

They just want to extract the most cash possible from people that want the higher end chips, they couldn't do that if they were charging a fair free market price. So they have to mark some as lower end chips, so that they can still sell to people with less money to spend, without damaging their top end market.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_segmentation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

tuna816 (852945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911738)

FYI, my friend successfully unlocked his dual core Intel to quad core. He did it 3 times on the same chip model and it only failed once. They work perfectly fine. I'm not sure if they were the processors you mentioned though.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911886)

According to my back of the napkin math, it did not work perfectly fine. Or rather, it worked perfectly fine 66% of the time. Three tries with one failure.

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31912100)

Indeed. 66% of the time, it works perfectly every time....

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912246)

Or rather, it worked perfectly fine 66% of the time. Three tries with one failure.

Actually, it's 697.31965% fine, according to the FPU on an 'unlocked' core one of the other two CPUs.

The problem with his claim that the other two are 'perfectly fine' is that he has no idea whether the cores really work 'perfectly fine' without performing the same kind of low-level tests that the manufacturer would have performed before disabling them. Of course if he can live with, say, the FPU randomly producing incorrect results then that may not matter.

I used to work for a company which disabled components of chips which failed manufacturing tests and sold them as cheaper, less powerful units, and with our mix of products I don't believe we ever had to disable working hardware. I can't vouch for Intel or AMD.

Engineering margin (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911748)

it could also be possible that one of the disabled cores happens to have been disabled because of safety margins : it night not be 100% reliable under all circumstances (using officialbspec's voltage and being able to operate in a wide rrrange of temperatures. Including some constructor branded machine which place priority on silence rather on temperature, and including some badly hacked together beige box with lousy PSU and Thermal mangement). Thus they got disabled to avoid a barrage of recalls from Dells or from small shops (machines which could easily reach 65-70C under load)

but the same core, giving a modest increase of voltage and a very aggressive cooling solution, like water cooling or oil immersion cooling (the kind with which the CPU never rises above 35-38C even when running BOINC 24/7 in background) could still function reliabily.

just like over clocking : It won't work for the full spec (operating range) but might work in the specific controlled environment of an enthousiast.

Of course, if the core was disabled because it's fried, no matter how much liquid nitrogen you pour on it, it won't work.

...signing my post. (-1, Offtopic)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911814)

by Anonymous Coward

Sorry, I forgot to sign-in.

Re:...signing my post. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911876)

nobody cares what you post

Re:Whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0, Redundant)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911770)

If processor manufacturers used different manufacturing lines for each version of a CPU that is actually sold, the prices would be ten times higher. What actually happens is each chip is tested, and depending what quality class it ends up falling into, parts of the chip that aren't up to snuff are disabled.

Wow, those assholes, trying to make it as cheap as possible to manufacture CPUs while still providing low-end, low-cost versions to those of us who can't afford to subsidize the $3 billion they spent on the plant to make the damn things.

First? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911390)

I would have gotten first post here, but AMD disabled two of my CPU's cores :/

Re:First? (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912672)

You're doing it wrong, If you use Intel you will be able to forst pist even before the article is submitted.

Re:First? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912700)

You got what you paid for!

Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (2, Interesting)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911392)

Just a thought, maybe Linux could be aware of what those cores look like, and what their sensitivities to temperature are.... and change the amount or type of work pushed to that core? Although I suppose heat from the other cores would most likely transmit very quick to the "zombie" core. Any CPUs have seperate temperature tracking per core?

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911594)

Just a thought, maybe Linux could be aware of what those cores look like, and what their sensitivities to temperature are.... and change the amount or type of work pushed to that core? Although I suppose heat from the other cores would most likely transmit very quick to the "zombie" core. Any CPUs have seperate temperature tracking per core?

I believe the i7's do... but TFA's not about intel.

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (1)

.tekrox (858002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911600)

Core does, but its not exposed via the same interface.
for windows - try http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/ [alcpu.com]

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911974)

This reminds me of "processor affinity [wikipedia.org] " or "affinity mask [wikipedia.org] ", whereby you assign software to a particular processor or core. If you want to setup your software so that only less cpu intensive software (cooler) runs on the questionable core, you can do this in Windows 7, and likely for at least some software in Linux (I'm really not sure here), then yes, in theory, you could do this so only Word runs on core #3.

But please remember the wisdom of Yogi Berra when trying to apply a theory like this: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

In other words, your mileage *will* vary.

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912766)

In WinXP you can do the same, but I think it does not give the same results as Win7. In task manager go to the process tab an right click on the process > set affinity.

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912768)

You can also do this in XP with Process Explorer.

Re:Kernel tricks to take advantage of it? (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912944)

linux zombies can likely transmit very quick to the "zombie" cores

Woah sweet! I've been having major problems dealing with zombie processes on my 6.4Ghz AMD rig of late. I didn't know I had the option of herding them all over to their own zombie cores! Sort-of like a botnet but for zombies right?

Can I do this in the kde or do I gotta use that text window thingy? Is there a one-click thingy you can kermit me?

Minimal Contribution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31911402)

The dual core and quad core Phenoms are similarly priced anyway, it shouldn't really matter

Re:Minimal Contribution (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911578)

Yes, but getting a working hexacore for the price of a quad would be a coup. However, odds are against winning that lottery. Demand is probably exceeds supply already due to production/release ramp up, so I'm sure that if AMD thinks a hexacore is bad it probably really won't be salvagable.

Gambling with CPU's? (3, Funny)

Tenek (738297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911474)

Now all they need to do is stop selling the processors with all cores guaranteed to work and watch sales skyrocket as people buy half a dozen dual-cores in the hopes of getting one that wasn't damaged. And whoever buys the most CPU's every day gets a working one for free...

Re:Gambling with CPU's? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911684)

Good idea [slashdot.org] .

'Cause I've got a Golden Ticket ... (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912706)

You just watched Charlie & the Chocolate factory, didn't you?

Yield... (0, Redundant)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911478)

These cores are probably disabled for yield reasons: the disabled core probably did not pass all the tests. [1]

I don't know about you, but I would not want to be willingly running a system with a known-bad CPU core, when for a few dollars more, you could simply buy the 4 core version.

[1] It would be highly unlikely to just disable a valid core, because if they were doing a fair amount of that, it would be better to make a new mask set that was JUST a 2 or 3 core processor.

Re:Yield... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911526)

[1] It would be highly unlikely to just disable a valid core, because if they were doing a fair amount of that, it would be better to make a new mask set that was JUST a 2 or 3 core processor.

You don't know much about the industry, do you? Actually producing chips costs next to nothing. It's all the costs in R&D that make them expensive... and yeah, as yields improve they don't want everyone paying less for their premium product, so they do rate higher-quality chips lower to keep their market-points intact. a Phenom Xyzzy core will still cost $x in six months, even if the yields suddenly go up. Wouldn't want those premium customers to feel cheated by fluxuations in the price, now wouldja?

Re:Yield... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911620)

Producing a chip still costs a fair amount. R&D is a substantial part of the cost as well, but fabbing a chip costs a lot more than stamping a CD. We could be talking hundreds of dollars per unit for a new process and a large enough chip.

Re:Yield... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911822)

Producing a chip still costs a fair amount. R&D is a substantial part of the cost as well, but fabbing a chip costs a lot more than stamping a CD. We could be talking hundreds of dollars per unit for a new process and a large enough chip.

Tooling the fab costs a lot of investment capital. So does designing and testing a chip. Actually producing and validating it costs very little by comparison.

Re:Yield... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912520)

Well, okay. I'm only vaguely familiar with the amount that a company like TSMC would charge. But it's a competitive industry. The margins are going to be fairly small.

I guess what it it is that there's a certain amount of time during which the fab will remain profitable, before the technology is obsolete. In that time they can produce a specific fixed number of wafers. So the cost of each wafer is the cost of the fab divided by the number of wafers that can be produced. That's not cheap. A fab costs a lot more than a printing press.

Re:Yield... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912104)

yes but what is the delta between stamping a 4 core and a 6 core?

Re:Yield... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912556)

I think it is pretty much a linear relationship. You get 50% more 4 cores per wafer than 6 cores.

Re:Yield... (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912338)

Expensive? They make them out of sand! :-)

Re:Yield... (2, Funny)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912748)

Yes, but the sand is on the beach. Moving the sand to the fab facility and filtering out all the seagull poop can't be cheap.

Re:Yield... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911728)

I would say its closer to an even split in terms of R&D and the fab facility itself. The chips themselves cost at most a couple dollars in materials and electricity to make.

Re:Yield... (4, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911588)

I don't know about you, but I would not want to be willingly running a system with a known-bad CPU core

You underestimate the combination of paranoia and lack of sense that a lot of overclockers have, who are convinced the CPU manufacturers intentionally disable their chips in order to make more money somehow by selling them at a lower price.

Re:Yield... (4, Insightful)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911922)

And you underestimate the profit product differentiation can generate.

If you have $300 to spend and you can choose between two products, one for $100 and one for $500. Which will you choose?

Now if I take that $500 product and turn it into a third product, $300 and slightly tweaked to perform less than the $500 product. Which will you choose?

You and I might take the $100 product and pocket the rest, but many buyers will go for the $300 one. As long as manufacturing costs are low it's more profitable to have a range of prices.

Oh hell yeah... (5, Interesting)

DG (989) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912480)

For a while I was selling race car / high performance street car suspension systems.

I had discovered that 90% of the aftermarket shocks being sold as performance upgrades were actually crap. The customer is really not qualified to properly evaluate a shock valving and so it is very difficult for them to differentiate between a proper performance shock and a juiced-up pogo stick.

I started putting shocks on a device called a "shock dyno" (which measures the forces produced by the shock at different shaft speeds) and discovered an absolute parade of horror. Details can be read at http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets6.html [farnorthracing.com]

To get the good stuff you needed to be paying upwards of $3000 per corner (so $12000 per car) which is far, far out of the price range of most customers.

So I was building packages based on a brand of shock that was pretty decent and much cheaper. Even though the base design was solid, it still suffered from manufacturing variations. To get around this, I would buy batches and then dyno the lot. Shocks that were close to each other became matched sets, and I'd tweak the adjusters on the shock to ensure each pair was as closely matched as possible. On top of that, I designed some hardware to resolve some other tricky problems typical of the off-the-shelf aftermarket designs, and only used the best bang for the buck components to build them.

When done, I provided a race-quality suspension system, dyno-matched (and it came with the data sheets to prove it) that was very nearly the equal of the $3000/corner systems, for about $500/corner. I say "nearly" the equal because the adjusters on my shocks worked nowhere near as well as the adjusters on the expensive shocks, but in terms of absolute performance, they were effectively identical.

There was almost no markup in these parts; I was hoping to make it up on volume and I knew the customer base was price-sensitive.

These suspensions were INCREDIBLE deals. There was nothing else like it anywhere for anything less than 5 times the price, and unlike all the cheaper stuff, I could prove that it worked. What's more, I could run the cheaper stuff on my dyno and prove that it DIDN'T work; that it was categorically JUNK.

I sold almost none of them, and the universal complaint was "too expensive".

Even when I opened up the books, showed what I was paying for the components, explained why *this* part instead of *that* part, explained every single design decision and proved why it could not be made any cheaper without compromising the functionality, over and over again potential customers would choose to buy non-functional (but shiny) JUNK over functional parts based solely on price.

It was mind-boggling, and eventually I just said to hell with it and found something else to do.

The chip manufacturers are right on the ball here. If I were them, I'd be encouraging the creation of these kinds of motherboards and rather than down-rating the high end parts to make mid/low end, I'd be cherry-picking the best ones for the high end and defaulting the output of my fab runs right to the mid/low end SKUs. In fact, I'd be tempted to DESTROY any chip with a bad core and ensure that all the low-end chips were fully functional - specifically to build a reputation for being "overclocker-friendly".

You can't make money off what you DON'T sell. Believe me, I know.

DG

Re:Oh hell yeah... (1)

unother (712929) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912800)

I certainly have no basis for criticism here, but I was wondering why you chose not to market your shocks to the $3000+ audience instead? It would seem with a reasonable markup (time and energy spent) to $800 or more, you could have captured the "low-end" there.

OTOH I would imagine persons who spend $3000+ on shocks are pretty much loyal consumers for some specific brands...

Car analogy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31913034)

Whoa! a car analogy from someone with real first hand experience in the analogue.

What is /. coming to!?!

Re:Yield... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911660)

Depends on the cost of making and maintaining multiple designs. It isn't just a mask set, it's a whole new design/simulate/layout cycle. And since I/O and shared cache takes a lot of chip area, the benefit is not linear with the number of cores. My guess is that it's cheaper to disable than to redesign.

That said, the disabled cores are very likely not tested, so there is no guarantee that you won't start getting some weird errors if you enable them.

Re:Yield... (1)

Epi-man (59145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911736)

It would be highly unlikely to just disable a valid core, because if they were doing a fair amount of that, it would be better to make a new mask set that was JUST a 2 or 3 core processor.

You obviously don't realize how expensive your proposition is. A mask set for processors of this complexity cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is just for the glass, let alone the cost of actually laying out and qualifying the new glass! So let's say they can change the cost of manufacture/die (the dynamic cost) by a HUGE $10 (that is an incredible reduction on a per die basis), you have to sell tens of thousands of them to simply cover the cost of the glass!

How do they disable the cores? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911486)

I always assumed that there were fusible tracks but that would totally isolate the core electrically. Or is the workaround inexplicably clever?

Re:How do they disable the cores? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911572)

I think they use one of those ion Cannons from Empire Strikes Back.

This is how. (5, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911804)

I think they use one of those ion Cannons from Empire Strikes Back.

No. They ruin the core's self esteem. They tell it, "You're not good enough to work with the others. Just turn off and sit there and stay out of everybody else's way."

Then one day, a gamer comes by and turns it on. But the core is thinking, I can't do this! This is graphics processing! It's intense! I can't keep up with the other cores!

But the gamer, having faith in the little core, turns him on. And low a behold, the little core can do it, but not without being picked on by the other cores. No! They still tell the little core that he's just not good enough. He can't keep up. But the little core hangs in there to fulfill his duty to the gamer - feeling less than every one else.

One day, the gamer upgrades, and the other cores are scared. They can't keep up. The clock is mad now. He screams, "Come on cores you need to keep up!" The little core comes in and takes up the slack, showing the other cores that he indeed can keep up. The other cores shout, "You did it! You can do it! Come and join our click!"

The little core responds, "No, I'm having lunch with the master clock and by the way, he's promoting me to be your boss. You're my bitches now!"

That's how it happens.

The Little Core That Could (2, Informative)

pyrr (1170465) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912876)

This story requires illustrations and a publishing company.

Re:How do they disable the cores? (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912018)

In the past it's been done by a combination of BIOS and/or those tiny resistors soldered to the back of the chip.

Re:How do they disable the cores? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912836)

Perhaps they use a pencil [motherboards.org] .

Re:How do they disable the cores? (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 3 years ago | (#31913022)

Ah, memories. I did that to my duron. Or, to be precise, I actually soldered it (had access to equipment meant to fix mobile phones)

Chip worked well all the way into retirement. BTW, the pencil trick could be unreliable over time. Soldering was not :)

already done, wtf? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911630)

various boards have permitted unlocking the cores. I'm looking right now for proper BIOS to do it with my Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P [pcper.com] with which many people have reported success (see thread)

In Unrelated News (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911760)

A Canadian Man was seen running away from his burning home shouting "beware of the Beowulf" before being arrested for questioning and charged with arson. Firefighters have found over a hundred computers, one of which they believe is the source of the fire.

History, Doomed to Repeat, Etc. (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31911994)

AMD used to sell three-core Phenoms. Not for any evil nVidia market segmentation reasons, but because they found that the first couple runs of quad-core Phenoms had a fairly high rate of having one bad core. (It was always the third core, IIRC, due to a manufacturing inefficiency.) So they decided to sell them with that bad core blocked off as a triple-core processor, priced accordingly.

It's true that some companies artificially block off processing power for some reason, but AMD hasn't been one of those companies, and I'd really recommend against doing this.

try? (1)

FonkiE (28352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912032)

it's worth a try and running a test suite?

flawed cores can be a reason, but production simplicity is more likely...

Depends on your luck (AMD Phenom(tm) II X3 720) (2, Informative)

xiando (770382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31912186)

My "AMD Phenom(tm) II X3 720 Processor" does not work with the fourth core enabled. This is to be expected, X3 is sometimes sold as that because the fourth core is just broken and sometimes it's just got a diabled fourth core.

Some people have too much time on their hands... (1)

carlos92 (682924) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912534)

...and so they are willing to trade a lot of time in exchange for a little monetary compensation. That fact is behind those market segmentation strategies that make you jump through hoops (like clipping coupons from the newspaper or collecting cookie wrappers) to get a discount. AMD is not going to worry about this, as the existence of this new segment could mean more sales of the lottery chips.

Lottery core? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912590)

Does this mean that the 'Lottery Core' article wasn't an April Fools joke?

If it was Intel, maybe. (0, Troll)

pyrr (1170465) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912734)

But AMD? They've pretty much always been a laggard. Historically, they've:

  • Produced processors that ran a bit hot at rated clock speed, shortening CPU life. Forget about overclocking, the tiny gain wouldn't be worth much and would decrease system stability dramatically.
  • Produced processors that failed to handle overheating gracefully, and severely damaged motherboards when they overheated.
  • Produced a lot of flawed multicore processors, such as those triple-core units, which were just defective quad cores.

My employer is currently experiencing a rather high rate of failure in 64-bit Athlon processors, primarily in workstations that are right around 4 years old. Intel desktop processors seem to last much longer, I can't remember the last time I saw one fail. It's looking like nothing has changed. Now if you could underclock and maybe turn-off cores so the AMD processors would last longer and be more reliable, that might be a feature worth having. It's easier just to buy Intel, which aside from a few high-profile stumbles, have a reputation for producing rock-solid processors that really do stand a chance of being more capable, underrated processors than they were sold as.

It just seems unlikely that anyone is going to get much of anything for nothing here, but gamblers will gamble.

Re:If it was Intel, maybe. (0, Troll)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 3 years ago | (#31913118)

I want you to go to AMDzone and post this somewhere, anywhere, on their board, just to stir them up. That would be hilarious. Seriously, AMD has historically produced processors that run hot? What? There was the T-bird but other than that . . . are you sure you aren't confusing them with Cyrix? . . . and you're STILL spreading the FUD from the Tom's Hardware video in which an Athlon XP burned out when the HSF was disabled? Do you have any idea how long it has been since AMD produced processors that can die like that, much less take a board with them in the process? . . . and your employer is complaining about failure rates among x86-64 capable processors from AMD after 4 years of usage? I have a fairly early processor from that generation (Sempron 2800+, s754 . . . yes I know x86-64 was superficially disabled on that chip, but it was the same uarch as the 130nm Hammers on the then-new 90nm process and minus some L2 cache) that I put into a system in 2005 and IT STILL RUNs. I ran it overclocked to 2.32 ghz for years, using the stock HSF. Unreliable my ass. Athlon 64s, X2s, and the like do not have a rep for high failure rates. Who was the vendor or OEM who supplied you with your systems? Furthermore, most - if not all - of those AMD processors about which your employer is complaining should be able to underclock themselves. It's called Cool n' Quiet. The competing processors Intel sold from those days were based on Netburst, and when it came to Prescotts and Smithfields, PLENTY of them either failed or just throttled like hell at stock because OEMs had problems keeping them cool. FYI, the unlock rate on Phenom II X2s and X3s to quad-core processors has been calculated to be around %72.9, possibly by less-than-scientific methods, but that's the number that's bandied about in circles where people care about such things.

About a year ago.. (1)

damuhatori (1203278) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912764)

Isn't this old news? I remember when you could buy a Phenom II X3 and unlock the fourth core.

abie-normal? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912850)

Why does the idea of unlocking cores in a cpu remind me of the scene in Young Frankenstein where Igor grabs the jar containing the abnormal brain? (Whose brain is this? Some guy named Abienormal).

AMD facilitates your tinkering... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31912860)

I recently bought a Phenom 555 and an Asus motherboard that allowed me to unlock the two dormant cores. No doubt one is taking a chance when doing something like this, but personally I think it is a marketing gimmick by AMD who is appealing to the "hardware hacking enthusiast". Anyway, I put my new machine together and was amazed at how easy and obvious it was to unlock the two cores. On first boot I noticed a message saying "Hit F? to enter ACC". Doing so would have taken me to a menu where I could unlock my cores. Instead I entered the bios settings, went to the "Processor" tab, set ACC to "enabled" which then revealed a setting titled "Number of cores" which had a value of 2. I set the "Number of cores" to 4 and rebooted. Upon reboot the bios splash screen said "4 cores enabled !!!" and had a graphic of a cpu with the number 4 overlaid on it. It was as if it was designed to make it very easy to do and my machine has been running perfectly stable 24/7 for a month now.

Bottom line is, this is a marketing initiative by AMD aimed at the hardware enthusiast.

Unlocking semi-officially supported on some mobos (3, Interesting)

Alok (37687) | more than 3 years ago | (#31912984)

Many AMD motherboards with 710, 750, or 850 SB (south bridge) support unlocking of cores in BIOS - the feature is called as ACC (advanced clock calibration). In fact, right now I am sitting on an X2 555 trying to decide whether to keep it (and have to spend more on DDR3 as well) or return to store; with the potential to unlock it into an X4 955.

However, from some accounts AMD was trying to convince motherboard mfrs. to stop offering ACC in newer boards; so the fact that its working on 890 SB now is the actual news (if the article is correct). Not really surprising though, now that users are getting spoilt into having easy ways to potentially unlock cores it would've been pretty hard to stop that and make competing mobos more attractive :-)

RAIP ? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#31913012)

Not a good acronym. But perhaps we could make a system that runs error corrected on a pool of marginally-operating processors. Besides, who's to say that a processor that passes all the tests will always work.
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