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Intel To Offer CPU Upgrades Via Software

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the on-the-other-side-withholding-them-by-silence dept.

Intel 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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Pay for overclocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085828)

Wonder how long until it is hacked to work for free?

Re:Pay for overclocking? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085878)

Its more of the original chip is underclocked than the software overclocking it

Re:Pay for overclocking? (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086294)

I hate that. What's the advantage of selling a crippled piece of hardware? It costs the same to make, and it sells for less.

Re:Pay for overclocking? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086402)

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:Pay for overclocking? (2)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086486)

Some people are willing to shell out more money for a faster processor, while other people are not. It costs more to produce genuinely different CPU's than to just cripple one CPU, so the idea is that they make a large profit from the people who will pay for the faster CPU, and a lower profit from those who won't.

DRM for processor! (2)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086036)

Wait till it start corrupting data on "cracked" processors as a form of DRM.

Re:Pay for overclocking? (2)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086088)

Are they charging for it? I didn't see that anywhere in the link and I downloaded the installer. Unluckily, I have an i5 so I'm not even trying.

Re:Pay for overclocking? (2, Insightful)

larppaxyz (1333319) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086292)

Just tried it. It was free.

Re:Pay for overclocking? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086396)

I wonder how long until people are downloading hacked versions that either brick your processor permanently or permanently make your processor part of a botnet?

Stop fucking about Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085830)

... and improve performance.

Where's my real-time raytracing ffs ?

Preposterous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085836)

So they are basically admitting to charging differents amounts of money for the same chip. Why would anyone agree to this?

Re:Preposterous. (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085890)

Intel has been doing that forever, from the 486SX, which just had a broken FPU, to todays chips which are numbered/rated by which tests they pass/fail.

Re:Preposterous. (5, Informative)

simm_s (11519) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086470)

That is called binning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_binning [wikipedia.org]
It is standard industry practice. Doing so saves *you* money because it gives customers the option to buy underperforming or semi-functional yields at a lower cost. It is good for the environment because it reduces manufacturing waste. Higher sellable yields improves profits for manufacturers and reduce costs for you. It is a win-win situation!

Re:Preposterous. (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086002)

That practice is all over the electronics industry. Shit, where I work, we literally check a box, click a button, and wait fifteen seconds while the new feature is uploaded to the widget.

Then we charge the customer thousands of dollars for that one added feature. I shit you not.

Re:Preposterous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086052)

This is very true, even in items you wouldn't expect it. Like industrial welders.

Re:Preposterous. (5, Interesting)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086066)

Because it costs the same amount of money to make a fast chip or a slow one. But many people wont pay more than $xx for a cpu at a specific performance level.

This sort of thing has gone on in the electronics and computer business for 50 years. Back in the 60's and for several decades IBM offered a single printer that could print at three different speeds at three different monthly lease points. The only difference between them was a rubber belt. You'd ask for the upgrade, IBM would raise your lease fee, and a guy would show up to change the belt.

While some chips get binned lower due to inability to run at a certain speed or having a bad core, most are simply made to run slower at a lower price point.

What really is the alternative? Would you like the chip companies to have separate manufacturing process for each speed level, causing an overall increase in cost across the line? Just charge everyone the top cost and give them all the fastest chip?

I think its a cool thing that you can buy an inexpensive computer, pay a small fee, and have it go faster rather than buy a new computer. Why someone would work overtime to find an issue with this is preposterous...

Overclocking is bad, unless you pay us more first. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085868)

Guess this means if you overclock yourself but stay within the range of the "upgrade" you are guaranteed to not cause any damage to your processor.

Re:Overclocking is bad, unless you pay us more fir (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085950)

Except that you probably cannot overclock them yourself as it wont be a K series processor

Re:Overclocking is bad, unless you pay us more fir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086056)

Or just don't pay them anything and pirate the software upgrade.

Tease (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085872)

Just teasing you with cheap prices up front, then trying to bait you into unlocking extra performance for more $$... Seems silly to me, buy what you want up front and not toy around with these 'upgrades' which just means they're intentionally gimping the processor just to tease you into paying more.

I'm sure OEMs are behind this racket though. Lowers the price upfront to make them more desirable and intel cashing in on the back end.

Wow (3, Insightful)

discord5 (798235) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085906)

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

I dunno - I think IBM already has a patent on that. ;)

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085918)

If they don't, I suspect Oracle does

bigger problem (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085920)

What about the DRM built-in the CPUs?? you know they have some horrible system in place to support this; otherwise, the upgrades will leak out on the internet and we will get them for free.... just think of the malware that could use such features.

Re:Wow (1)

DeeEff (2370332) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086014)

256 Cores? I thought that was AMD territory my friend.....

I kid I kid. Seriously though, this is some bullshit. I don't care if they have the best in the business, I don't think I'm buying another intel chipset for my home for a while...

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086040)

why should it matter that you cannot use hw you didn't pay for? if you weren't happy with the performance/price when you bought it you should have bought something else

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086050)

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.

Re:Wow (2)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086064)

The summary says they "offered upgrades" not that they are charging for it. And I was able to download the installer without being asked about anything. They seem to be providing a "patch", perhaps they found they could change stuff and make it work better.

But sounds awesome that you think otherwise! Because you'll never try to get it thinking it's going to cost you money!

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

v1x (528604) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086264)

The software download itself is free, although upon running the tool, it brings up the following message on one of the dialog screens, "During the upgrade process, you will enter the PIN number from the upgrade card you purchased," which suggests that they are charging for it. Sadly, my computer is not upgradeable by this method.

Re:Wow (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086302)

Thanks! Since I don't have an i3, I didn't want to even try. But I see everyone ranting about it. I don't see pricing or anything anywhere.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Wow (1)

irwiss (1122399) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086196)

Why do you think you're scammed?

Do you honestly expect an E6400 to be physically different from an E6420 except for a couple jumper slugs?

You pay X dollars for Y performance, if you want 125% Y performance you pay X+Z, simple.
The same as if you buy a game engine for a set number of developers,
or a software license for large products(e.g. windows),
or a db license(e.g. mssql).

Except now you pay for physical limitation and later on - with that business model you'll pay for software limitation,
which by the way opens the way for hacks.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086244)

Except that before at purchase you bought a chip of about the same price as you probably will under this scheme, relative to the faster chip. You then decided you wanted a faster chip, had to buy a chip from scratch and then take your PC to pieces, before installing a new chip and quite possibly discarding a perfectly good incumbent as trash or to sit in a cupboard.

Whereas now you would presumably simply buy a key from a web site and turn on the extra functionality. Of course where Intel would be shafting you is if they charged just as much for this key as they did for the faster chip as if you were doing a drop-in replacement. However if they were to make it some amount less than this (ideally comparable to the difference in price between the two chips at retail, or only a fraction more) how could this not be better than the status quo?

Vote with your wallet (0)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085884)

This reaffirms my decision to never by Intel.

Re:Vote with your wallet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085924)

Enjoy your inferior CPUs!

Re:Vote with your wallet (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Vote with your wallet (1)

AnujMore (2009920) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086256)

s/by/buy

Re:Vote with your wallet (1)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086346)

*Sigh* It was supposed to be buy. Too little sleep and too much reliance on spell checkers. And yes, I know that last sentence is not grammatically correct. I'm just too tired to care.

Re:Vote with your wallet (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086400)

Yet you buy Windows which has the same scheme. You buy Home Premium and down the line you want more features, instead of having to buy and install a new version, you just pay a small amount and unlock features that are already there.

This isn't being aimed at the high end computer user, this is for the average joe who can buy a computer and then when he wants more speed down the line can pay a small price, probably the gap between X and Y + a little extra, and get some more power without having to buy a new computer or take it in, buy a new CPU and have someone install it.

Sandy Bridge (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085892)

With them making Sandy Bridge non overclockable unless you pay extra, this was very likely to happen

Re:Sandy Bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086032)

You act as though multiplier locks, etc. are something new? I'd say selling the CPU in an unlocked edition is the new school, e.g. AMD Black, i7-K.

Re:Sandy Bridge (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086100)

AFAIK the c2d series and the i3/5/7 xxx series came w/o multiplier locks

I dont really know anything before that

Re:Sandy Bridge (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086180)

Only the extreme series had the unlocked multiplier, the rest had it locked iirc.

Re:Sandy Bridge (1)

lowlymarine (1172723) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086192)

To be blunt: You are wrong. Only the "Extreme Edition" and later, K-series chips in the Conroe and Nehalem lines had unlocked multipliers. Similarly, AMD only provides unlocked multipliers on Black Edition and FX-series chips. This has been true at least since the Pentium II/K6-2 line.

The BCLCK is unlocked on Conroe/Nehalem allowing overclocking that way, but it's locked on Sandy Bridge because the processor now provides the clock generator for the whole system. As sort of an "olive branch" to enthusiasts, Intel actually has "limited unlocked" multipliers on their non-K-series SB chips, allowing overclocking by up to 4 bins above the standard Turbo frequencies.

Re:Sandy Bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086106)

I don't think this compares to Sandy Bridge in any way. A large majority of people don't overclock their computer so would never use the features of the K series. This would be especially useful in computers like dell or gateway where the motherboard doesn't allow overclocking. People who build their own systems can make the choice for themselves if they want the K series or not. I don't really think that if you are building your own rig an extra $10 or $15 will break the bank, but saving that much might come in handy when buying a cheap pre-built.

pay for overclock? i say no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085900)

Who is willing to pay for permission to overclock?
Buying that cr*p, only validates that bussiness scheme, so popular in the mainframe.
Pay for more frequency, always connected to play your own game, what's coming next ?, paying a fee
to enter your own house?

Re:pay for overclock? i say no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085948)

No, but what _is_ being experimented with is licensing for CPU time. They make the processor cheaper, but charge per CPU-hour for license to use it.

This is all tied in with Win7, TPM, and other security features that will also have the side effect of locking out any other OS than windows.

Test marketing is scheduled for early 2012...

Re:pay for overclock? i say no (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086362)

This is not a new idea ... Ros Perot got rich by licencing CPUs by the second.

Tied to the motherboard? (4, Insightful)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085908)

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.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085952)

"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."

Sounds like changing the SLIC to work with OEM Windows 7 install media. I'm sure solutions will pop up in various places...

http://forums.mydigitallife.info/index.php [mydigitallife.info]

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (4, Insightful)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085958)

I'm also interested in a crack, but only to cheat Intel out of money.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (5, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Tied to the motherboard? (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086386)

You get EXACTLY what you pay for when buying a processor. You get $200 functionality for a $200 processor. Just because a $400 functionality processor came out of the chute, you expect them to give it to you for $200? Or maybe you'd be happier if only $400 models were available? Or if the company was required to actually produce completely separate dies for each version, thus making your $200 model more expensive?

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086494)

But even if you buy Intel, install a cracked upgrade and don't pay them any money, you're STILL endorsing the practice by using their chips in the first place. If you really want to stick it to them, then you'll stop buying and supporting their products altogether.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085976)

Virtually all instances of this program are tied to vendors you see commonly in Best Buy and the like. Mostly it is targeted at people who wouldn't dare overclock themselves or run non-Windows systems.

I imagine that by virtue of installing Linux on any of the systems in question, or dabbling with various overclocking tools, you could trivially enable the "features" being sold here. It makes sense, especially if it's tied to the motherboard.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086118)

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.

They're probably grabbing a unique identifier from the motherboard or BIOS/EFI and storing it in non-volitale RAM on the chip. When you run the 'upgrade' it probably just updates the bits for the clock multiplier. By storing a unique (and probably encrypted) value tied to the board it will make it harder for someone to figure come up with a crack.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086162)

make it harder for someone to figure come up with a crack.

...and like Sony found out, "impossible" does not in fact mean that.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086334)

...and like Sony found out, "impossible" does not in fact mean that.

Of course it is not impossible. If Intel is doing it via software then so can someone else.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (2)

snemarch (1086057) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086390)

This is a very small attack surface, though, and if it's protected with a per-CPU unique ID and asymmetric encryption it could very well be 'uncrackable' unless the private key is leaked.

Re:Tied to the motherboard? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086364)

it will make it harder for someone to figure come up with a crack.

Oh boy! They've throw down the gauntlet.

Game on!

Naaaaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085914)

Did not see the cost.
Think I will pass because 10-15% increase is really something in day-to-day operations you will not see.
I have always told my clients that 20% factored with the amount of $$ has a cut-off point.
That is unless you pockets are bleeding money and I'll glad to help you.
Not, most folks don't have the money, time, snap to keep the malware removal up to date.

Can't access the article... (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085928)

I know I shouldn't be RTFA but I couldn't read it. Slashdotted already?

I just wanted to know if these "upgrades" is done by changing the micro-codes. Or are there some FPGAs in the chips? Just curious, very obviously I'm not a chip designer!

Also, does this mean that someone (who REALLY knows what they're doing), could upgrade a "cheap" chip into something more expensive? Or add new features/try new designs or instructions? Isn't there some "hardware" encoded security aspects to these chips that might become vulnerable (like DRM)?

Re:Can't access the article... (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085968)

From one of the above comments, it seems to be a BIOS flag or something similar

Re:Can't access the article... (2)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086160)

There is no article. The only link on the summary is a link to the upgrade page, where you can download an upgrade for Windows. I wasn't even asked anything, just downloaded the file. If you have one of the processors from the list, perhaps you can try it. I didn't see they were charging for it.

To me, they probably found that these can run faster without blowing them and they are providing you with the option. Of course, I assume also, this will also increase the power consumption.

Re:Can't access the article... (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086416)

They sell an upgrade card with a one use Pin. The download is free the card costs.

disgusting (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085954)

and Ford, they're going to sell you a car, and you can purchase an upgrade on your fuel economy, cooler air from the air conditioning, and enable the side-curtain airbags and heated seats too, for an additional fee, all as software upgrades.

The issue here is the manufacturers are starting to realize just how much overhead they're spending making so many different models of products, and that it's cheaper to just manufacture one model, the best one, and then cripple it if you don't want to pay for the best.

You could damage it (don't want the run-flat bladdered tires? they'll just shank the bladders with an ice pick near the end of the assembly line) or by disabling it via software. It's only natural to expect buyers to look for ways to re-enable disabled features. And we've seen so many times how manufacturers like to think they still somehow can tell you how you are and aren't allowed to use the product you purchased from them. (they want to sell it to you, but not really sell, as in, it's your property to do with as you please) God I hate that.

I'm really quite surprised that by now we're not seeing manufacturers trying to license physical goods. So you buy a computer. But you didn't really buy it, you licensed the use and Dell still owns it and is just loaning it to you, and can legally tell you how you are and aren't allowed to use it. (or cancel your license for any reason at any time, and demand you return it)

But closer to back on topic, so what's the going wager on whether they'll play the ever-popular DMCA card (for circumventing a protection device) if these get hacked back to top specs? I'm betting near 100%.

Re:disgusting (1)

foxx1337 (1292800) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086074)

License physical goods? Look no further than Apple, my friend.

Re:disgusting (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086084)

And we've seen so many times how manufacturers like to think they still somehow can tell you how you are and aren't allowed to use the product you purchased from them. (they want to sell it to you, but not really sell, as in, it's your property to do with as you please) God I hate that.

Oh, don't you dare criticize companies like that. You'll enrage some Apple fan!

Re:disgusting (0)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086208)

Did you try the upgrade already? Did you have to pay for it? Nice way to go with your rants. I have an i5 so I can't try it, but I went to the link and downloaded with no much trouble with NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

But let the rage blind us and start senseless rants, just like in London!

Re:disgusting (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086436)

The download is free. The pin you need to do the upgrade costs money.

Re:disgusting (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086258)

Hey this is an old video [youtube.com] but I'm pretty sure that if they are providing you with a mechanism to increase the frequency, is because they're confident you won't blow your processor.

Again, let me know if you find what they "charge" for the offered upgrade.

Re:disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086278)

Aren't they doing that already with cars: sell different models of same type, only with different horse power. The car motor management software controls which version you have ... and some less scrupulous dealers will "upgrade" your software so that the motor produces more power.

Re:disgusting (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086430)

The issue here is the manufacturers are starting to realize just how much overhead they're spending making so many different models of products, and that it's cheaper to just manufacture one model, the best one, and then cripple it if you don't want to pay for the best.

What's the issue here? You think everyone should be forced to buy the top-end model because that's the only one manufacturers should make available? If you by a $20,000 car, you get $20,000 functionality. Just cause there's $50,000 functionality built into the car to make manufacturing cheaper, doesn't mean it should be given to you for free.

Re:disgusting (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086438)

AT&T used to do that with telephones, and most cable companies still do it with set-top boxes used to decode digital cable signals (but not /really/, honest, you can buy a DVC from another company and use it. Maybe. If we let you.)

There are laws in the USA that prevent many companies from requiring rental (what "licensing" a physical product actually is) of their own equipment in order to access services, but so far as I know none that prevent companies from renting products that are not actually tied to a service they sell.

Re:disgusting (1)

firesyde424 (1127527) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086474)

Bad news on this one, if you own a current gen gaming console(Xbox 360 ect...), this is already the case.

Glad I bought AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37085960)

Okay, so I got a tri-core which was actually manufactured as a quad-core, but at least the fourth core was actually buggered to necessitate it's being disabled.

Re:Glad I bought AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086008)

And if that triple core you bought actually has a working core (the Phenom II/AMD's 45nm CPU's have been out for 2 years now, they can't have that many defective cores anymore), you can just go into the BIOS and enable a setting to get that 4th core.

Evolving to FPGA (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085974)

Intel now sells [eetimes.com] Atom CPUs, with embedded FPGA [wikipedia.org] . Xilinx, the top FPGA maker, offers ARM CPUs with embedded FPGA [fpgajournal.com] . Both CPU lines run Linux now.

FPGA is logic gates, the building blocks of CPUs (and other computing chips) that can be interconnected on demand to create different logic circuits - and therefore custom instructions. Logic implemented in FPGA on a CPU can be revised by over-the-network software upgrades. FPGA was typically used by chip designers to develop candidate designs to be burned into hardware, but has become cheap and fast enough to distribute as end-product "reconfigurable computing" devices.

Imagine your multimedia codecs configured directly into logic circuits on the CPU. They'd be really fast, and lower power than moving data across the CPU/RAM/bus boundaries. Upgrades by SW, just like now. Load/unload them as circuits on demand rather than as instruction codes in banks of RAM. Bring the network wires to FPGA pins on the CPU, and the data can route to codec processors on the chip for parallel operation. Of course these features apply to any "media" data, including business data in streams or large datasets.

Intel's move to SW upgrades of CPU microcode is creating the tech and business infrastructure for regular FPGA upgrades to these new hybrids. Soon enough the literally hardwired CPU logic might become the minority of the chip. Already FPGAs with embedded DSPs [wikipedia.org] are like that, so a chip that's mostly FPGA with just some ALU and CLU circuits already optimized to close to their theoretical performance (in speed or power) are foreseeable.

Re:Evolving to FPGA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086114)

The critical path on an FPGA would be too long for one to replace a traditional processor.

Like a firmware upgrade (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 3 years ago | (#37085994)

Since everybody's doing firmware upgrades for devices such as mp3 players and optical drives it isn't a big shock that major chip makers are getting into it. I probably don't understand operating systems enough but I still have to ask why this isn't dealt with in driver updates? Anyway, doesn't look like a big deal to me and very few people are going to go through with this. I never saw anything that said you had to pay for this upgrade.

Re:Like a firmware upgrade (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086188)

I've never be charged for a firmware upgrade to my Sansa Mp3 player.

Re:Like a firmware upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086228)

to figure out it's free you need to RTFA

cpu soft upgrade bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086012)

Sell you a crippled chip the charge you to fix it.
Be sure to give a reach around next time you fuck me in the ass / wallet.

Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086134)

It's free. Stop panicking.

Re:Free (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086328)

No, you need to purchase an upgrade card.

Re:Free (1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086384)

You need to buy some sort of 'upgrade card' , whatever the fuck that is

Same as Windows . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086148)

This is no different from Windows 7 or Windows Vista, where every SKU is part of the image and you can switch versions through a product key. Essentially what they're doing is regulating access to intellectual property. I'm not saying whether it's right or not - but it is already fairly standard.

Re:Same as Windows . . . (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086290)

I dunno. I'm looking at it as if I bought a desktop computer that has 4 gigs of ram inside, but reports only 3 gig. Then dell sells me an upgrade that turns on the 4th gig.

Seems sleazy and wrong to me.

Re:Same as Windows . . . (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086484)

So long as you were only charged for 3 gig in the beginning, what's the problem here? You got what you paid for, which is exactly the case with these processors.

was wondering about the 2nd gen i5 in my laptop (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086152)

When I got the new laptop it didn't seem as responsive as I thought it should be. Maybe I was right. They gave me a crippled CPU that I need to unlock the performance on? "Increasing the cache" sounds like a totally bogus upgrade btw. I'm going to be pretty pissed knowing that the full cache wasn't being used on the machine I bought.

Re:was wondering about the 2nd gen i5 in my laptop (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086512)

Seeing as this if for i3 processors only, you're full of crap.

And just when I was starting to like Intel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086158)

People need to complain loudly about this, so companies don't think it's a good idea and keep doing it.

It's double-dipping. Physical hardware goods should not be upgrade-able through software. Intel is making parts that it can sell for a profit at the lower price, and intentionally cripple it. It's not like it's costing them more to make parts with better performance. Then they want to double-dip for some more cash to make it run like they made it to run.

It's not like this to allow trial-use, with the full thing being unlockable. It's artificially creating product tiers for the sole purpose of profit maximization. They're artificially adjusting the price to make profit; that's pretty much the definition of monopolistic behavior, adjusting price and production to the profit-maximizing point and away from the "efficient" price/production point. Computer too slow? Don't buy a new one yet, buy the software upgrade! Pay twice for the same thing, instead of buying a new chip.

On the other hand, if they did just release these things at full performance and the same price - where they're ostensibly turning a profit anyway - they would probably destroy AMD. Intel parts are already generally higher performing. Intel could increase the performance and keep the price points the same, and suddenly AMD as a "value" proposition doesn't look as good.

But just genuinely being better than your competition would probably be decried as anti-competitive. Instead, we leverage market share and marketing to provide an attractive and easy quick-fix for computer speed woes. It makes it easy for consumers to upgrade, and without being technically difficult. Instant cash, which will just further solidify their spot as the primary logic chip maker.

Which is worse? Destroying the competition, or the government not allowing the destruction of the competition, resulting in a fleecing of the consumers and no change in the status quo of the makers?

Re:And just when I was starting to like Intel (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086190)

Oops, forgot to log in. I'm the AC above.

Re:And just when I was starting to like Intel (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086316)

That's an interesting motive about keeping AMD afloat through artificial means. Someone mod this guy up.

Go AMD! (2)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086168)

I think I'm going to pick up their new Bulldozer when it comes out. Intel makes great processors but these shenanigans have got to stop.

So what ? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086266)

If their price is good for either the standard, or for the upgraded version, I couldn't care less how it's done.

Aw, man (1)

zerox030366 (2430128) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086304)

I was just considering switching from AMD to Intel on my next build. I am really not excited at all about the new APU processors that AMD is coming out with, and sadly the Phenom II is still behind Intel's Sandy Bridge... But I just want Intel to know that I will never accept this kind of crap and that I will now buy AMD with the certainty that I have made the right decision.

Quite sometime (3, Informative)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086318)

This has been going on for quite sometime in enterprise world, well sort of. Although not quite the same, Citrix's NetScaler box can be "upgraded" via license purchase. This usually increases throughput and the number of allowed SSL sessions. IBM also sells their P-series server in quite similar manner. They will ship the box with all sockets filled with processors, but only enable the ones that you purchase. If you require additional processors, you will have to pay IBM to enable more processor. In the end, you still get what your money worth. I never consider an overclockability as a feature, I treat it more like a bonus. And if Intel or AMD decides to stop giving bonus, that's fine for me

Re:Quite sometime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37086408)

Microcontroller manufacturers do the same thing, albeit without the option for an upgrade. When I buy that 32-pin part instead of the 64-pin part, I'm still getting the same chip off the same die, but that extra SPI bus and handful of GPIOs simply aren't routed out on the smaller package part. The smaller part has nearly the same manufacturing cost as the larger part, but the chip manufacture is willing to sell me (effectively) the same part at a lower price in order to get more sales out of a single design.

Will they offer an upgrade to the upgrade? (2, Insightful)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 3 years ago | (#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...

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