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AMD removed core unlocking fearing for reputation

AMD removed core unlocking fearing for reputation

Some of AMD's triple and dual core CPUs can be unlocked to quad core CPUs, however no stability is guaranteed and AMD's reputation has apparently suffered because consumers don't understand why.

When we first previewed AMD's latest 8-series chipsets, we were told by some motherboard manufacturers that they wouldn't support core-unlocking - the feature which allows you to take a triple-core Phenom and try and turn it into a quad-core.

Although some motherboard manufacturers, notably Asus, managed to get core unlocking working (using a variety of methods which we'll hopefully look at a future feature), it is a feature officially missing from the chipset.

The word from the manufacturers here in Taipei is that the reason AMD dropped the core unlocking capacity were fears over its reputation. Users and system integrators were buying the CPUs, unlocking them then blaming AMD if they found the resulting system was unstable or simply didn’t work. AMD decided this wasn't good for its reputation - and we also suspect grey market activity in predominantly developing countries played a part in the decision too.

Multiple motherboard companies told us they were highly critical of this decision prior to the launch of the 8-series chipsets, and decided to continue to engineer workarounds. MSI has issued a BIOS fix to its current motherboard revisions, however we’ve recently found while it is certainly an improvement over the original we reviewed, it still has some issues we will detail in a later, full lab update.

Gigabyte has gone to the next step and engineered a completely separate hardware fix (i.e. a discrete chip) that issues its own unlocking codes for all its 8-series boards. This has required a PCB revision (Rev.2), but Gigabyte assures us that all the products now shipping to the channel now feature it. As we know from our previous reviews, Asus was the only manufacturer ready at the launch of its 890GX motherboard that included core unlocking already.

Do you agree with AMD’s decision? Let us know in the forums.

38 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
theflatworm 13th April 2010, 12:24 Quote
This seems fair, tbh, though regretable. Those cores aren't available for a reason, and it was nice of AMD to trust people with the unlocking capability in the first place.
Hustler 13th April 2010, 12:25 Quote
Strange, i don't think AMD would get a hard time from anyone over this, certainly not from a legal standpoint, no one would have a leg to stand on if they tried to sue AMD for 'faulty' products, and members of the press online certainly wont take sides with someone complaining about not getting something for nothing.....

I believe the real reason they want the feature removed is because yields are now so good, that the vast majority of chips that come out of the foundry will unlock successfully.......last year it really was a lottery if you got free cores, now its a virtual certainty...

AMD cant afford to setup seperate production lines for 2,3,4 and now 6 core chips, so disabling core unlocking is the easiest way to protect their distinct product lines.....
sotu1 13th April 2010, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
Strange, i don't think AMD would get a hard time from anyone over this, certainly not from a legal standpoint, no one would have a leg to stand on if they tried to sue AMD for 'faulty' products, and members of the press online certainly wont take sides with someone complaining about not getting something for nothing.....

I believe the real reason they want the feature removed is because yields are now so good, that the vast majority of chips that come out of the foundry will unlock successfully.......last year it really was a lottery if you got free cores, now its a virtual certainty...

AMD cant afford to setup seperate production lines for 2,3,4 and now 6 core chips, so disabling core unlocking is the easiest way to protect their distinct product lines.....

don't agree with you here, better to underpromise and overdeliver rather than have a raft of problems and bad press
October 13th April 2010, 12:37 Quote
Shame to hear this, AMD's reputation certainly went up a mile in my books after I unlocked my X2 :( Stupid claim culture ruining something else :(
l3v1ck 13th April 2010, 12:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theflatworm
This seems fair, tbh, though regretable. Those cores aren't available for a reason, and it was nice of AMD to trust people with the unlocking capability in the first place.
+1
Denis_iii 13th April 2010, 13:33 Quote
does the msi bios update fix the poor perf of the matx msi 890 board?
Evildead666 13th April 2010, 13:39 Quote
I suspect system builders were selling tri-cores unlocked as quads etc.....
This would not go down too well, and if the machine was unstable, it would appear on the net in forums etc before it was traced back to a 'dodgy' system builder/reseller.....

Just enable it for OCers, who know where to find it etc.....(and add a big disclaimer)
gavomatic57 13th April 2010, 13:42 Quote
Funny, it's amazing how upbeat everyone is about it. What would the reaction be if it was Intel or Nvidia? I'm sure there would be hell.

Sounds like they took the "lottery core" April fool article to heart...
OWNED66 13th April 2010, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavomatic57
Funny, it's amazing how upbeat everyone is about it. What would the reaction be if it was Intel or Nvidia? I'm sure there would be hell.

Sounds like they took the "lottery core" April fool article to heart...

very true

intel : we are releasing a new cpu that will change the industry
people : yeah right its gona suck

AMD: we will release a new cpu that will change the industry (twice as slow and intel)
people: OMG !!!! OMG !!! #&(%##
frontline 13th April 2010, 14:13 Quote
Never tried the core unlocking as preferred a guaranteed stable 4 cores, but it does seem like it is mostly down to some disreputable suppliers selling unlocked 3 core chips as quads.
do_it_anyway 13th April 2010, 18:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theflatworm
This seems fair, tbh, though regretable. Those cores aren't available for a reason, and it was nice of AMD to trust people with the unlocking capability in the first place.
Reading through the comments I can understand how system builders are selling 4 cores when only 3 are stable.
However, using this argument you could state that a Q6600 was clocked at 2.4GHz for a reason and allowing people to overclock them to upto 4GHz is likely to ruin Intel's reputation.
Plainly this is ridiculous. We know that some Q6600's comfortably clock to epic levels, while some others struggle above 3.2GHz, depending on the luck of the draw.
Some AMD triple cores had a "good" fourth core, some didn't.
If a system builder was selling an AMDx3 with 4 cores and stating it was a quad core they should be in trouble for trades description, just like an overclocker can't take a i7 930, clock it to i7 extreme clocks and call it an i7 extreme chip.
AMD should be blameless and therefore shouldn;t have to remove enthusiast support.

Anybody buying a PC part with a stated specification shouldn't be able to complain if the part won't run stably at a different specification. Half the fun of these things is seeing how much extra you can get for free. Not buying cheap and expecting extra for free.
knuck 13th April 2010, 18:39 Quote
sad I can't unlock mine thanks to an nVidia chipset :(
mi1ez 13th April 2010, 19:45 Quote
The amount of abuse I've given people in tech forums who complain they can't unlock extra cores is phenomenal!
crazyceo 13th April 2010, 21:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by OWNED66
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavomatic57
Funny, it's amazing how upbeat everyone is about it. What would the reaction be if it was Intel or Nvidia? I'm sure there would be hell.

Sounds like they took the "lottery core" April fool article to heart...

very true

intel : we are releasing a new cpu that will change the industry
people : yeah right its gona suck

AMD: we will release a new cpu that will change the industry (twice as slow and intel)
people: OMG !!!! OMG !!! #&(%##

Spot on guys. Just more white noise from AMD and more promises that they can't deliver. Same old AMD PR machine trying to cover up their cracks that have clearly appeared.
HourBeforeDawn 13th April 2010, 21:01 Quote
Folks most manufactures like ASUS for example made their own unlocking ability in the BIOS so this will limit the ability to those who know what they are doing versus those who do not like you could with Overdrive so this will reduce the bad press, I think it was a good move on AMD part
leslie 13th April 2010, 21:13 Quote
The problem is that many people seem to think they are entitled to an overclock. They aren't, but just look around on a few forums and you will see they seem to feel this way.

Why AMD didn't see this coming though is beyond me. It has long been known that shady system builders do this.
Cepheus 13th April 2010, 21:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Spot on guys. Just more white noise from AMD and more promises that they can't deliver. Same old AMD PR machine trying to cover up their cracks that have clearly appeared.

How is this promises they can't deliver? Did you even read the article or did you just decide to troll?
HourBeforeDawn 13th April 2010, 22:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cepheus
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Spot on guys. Just more white noise from AMD and more promises that they can't deliver. Same old AMD PR machine trying to cover up their cracks that have clearly appeared.

How is this promises they can't deliver? Did you even read the article or did you just decide to troll?

I vote just trolling
somidiot 13th April 2010, 23:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
Reading through the comments I can understand how system builders are selling 4 cores when only 3 are stable.
However, using this argument you could state that a Q6600 was clocked at 2.4GHz for a reason and allowing people to overclock them to upto 4GHz is likely to ruin Intel's reputation.
Plainly this is ridiculous. We know that some Q6600's comfortably clock to epic levels, while some others struggle above 3.2GHz, depending on the luck of the draw.
Some AMD triple cores had a "good" fourth core, some didn't.
If a system builder was selling an AMDx3 with 4 cores and stating it was a quad core they should be in trouble for trades description, just like an overclocker can't take a i7 930, clock it to i7 extreme clocks and call it an i7 extreme chip.
AMD should be blameless and therefore shouldn;t have to remove enthusiast support.

Anybody buying a PC part with a stated specification shouldn't be able to complain if the part won't run stably at a different specification. Half the fun of these things is seeing how much extra you can get for free. Not buying cheap and expecting extra for free.

+1.

why are people blaming AMD for doing something they never said it was ment for? Stupid, just stupid. AMD gives us the opportunity to get more out of our processors and moron's complain. :(
Sloth 13th April 2010, 23:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavomatic57
Funny, it's amazing how upbeat everyone is about it. What would the reaction be if it was Intel or Nvidia? I'm sure there would be hell.

Sounds like they took the "lottery core" April fool article to heart...
I don't get why anyone would be mad at any company for disabling core unlocking or features like it. As others have said at the end of the day you are only entitled to the performance that you purchased.

Intel has also done something somewhat similar already. Look at Extreme Editions with unlocked multipliers. The technology is obviously possible, so how come my cheaper CPU can't change the multiplier? Same reasons why AMD is disabling core unlocking. A mix of enforcing a product line and not leaving themselves liable for complaints when things go wrong.
frontline 14th April 2010, 00:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cepheus
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Spot on guys. Just more white noise from AMD and more promises that they can't deliver. Same old AMD PR machine trying to cover up their cracks that have clearly appeared.

How is this promises they can't deliver? Did you even read the article or did you just decide to troll?

The latter, as always
crazyceo 14th April 2010, 18:34 Quote
Here we go again, the AMD fangirls bringin a knife to a gun fight.

Whats the point of offering an unlocked CPU if the market place wont support it?

Why then do they remove it when they realise it's not that stable and not that beneficial unless your other component has the upto date bios work round. That's even if they have a supporting bios, which by the look of things not that many have.

So my original statement is accurate, truthful and correct. More white noise from a typical deflated AMD!

Just because you own one girls, it doesn't mean we have to listen to your whining when it doesn't cut the mustard!
Farfalho 14th April 2010, 18:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cepheus
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Spot on guys. Just more white noise from AMD and more promises that they can't deliver. Same old AMD PR machine trying to cover up their cracks that have clearly appeared.

How is this promises they can't deliver? Did you even read the article or did you just decide to troll?

I go for Troll

Nice to see you're getting along in there Bindi, you're justifying your paycheck =P

Although I'm a not a fan of buying triple core and try to unlock the extra one - I prefer buying the real deal - I can understand the success and reputation of this cpu's. Sad to see the "Complaint Way" so present in today's life, they're ruining something great for enthusiasts by making AMD scared of losing rep.
crazyceo 14th April 2010, 23:02 Quote
"Just because you own one girls, it doesn't mean we have to listen to your whining when it doesn't cut the mustard!"
Fizzban 14th April 2010, 23:14 Quote
Surely anyone who knows enough to get a triple core processor and attempt to unlock a forth core, knows that its a gamble. Not to mention against warranty.

It's no different to all the people who borked their GPU's trying to unlock more pixel pipelines. It's a user's error not the manufacturer's. They should have left it alone IMO.
Elton 15th April 2010, 04:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Here we go again, the AMD fangirls bringin a knife to a gun fight.

Whats the point of offering an unlocked CPU if the market place wont support it?

Why then do they remove it when they realise it's not that stable and not that beneficial unless your other component has the upto date bios work round. That's even if they have a supporting bios, which by the look of things not that many have.

So my original statement is accurate, truthful and correct. More white noise from a typical deflated AMD!

Just because you own one girls, it doesn't mean we have to listen to your whining when it doesn't cut the mustard!

The point of offering was that it had the potential to be unlocked, they never said it was a 100% guarantee that it would work. It's a good marketing gimmick, plus it sells chips.

The reason they decided to "remove" it was that some people complained it didn't work, AMD never guaranteed that it would, it's just that it's better for their reputation that they don't officially condone it.

It's not really white noise as unlocking cores was quite a good way to get free performance but as with all overclocking things, it was a "your mileage will vary" and people should've known before hand.

And I think we've all been there with the 9700/9800 series pipeline unlocking..or that X8xx unlocking? Or that 7800/7900 Series, unlocking? It's not a matter of it being supported or not, Overclocking was never condoned by any sane manufacturer.
gavomatic57 15th April 2010, 09:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
I don't get why anyone would be mad at any company for disabling core unlocking or features like it. As others have said at the end of the day you are only entitled to the performance that you purchased.

It would be rather like Intel removing the ability to overclock the CPU at all - they'd be well within their rights, after all, it isn't performance you have paid for, it can cause instability etc etc.

Seems that regardless of what AMD do these days, people just go "aww, there's a shame", whereas their rivals get 10 page threads about how they are the spawn of satan.
frontline 15th April 2010, 20:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavomatic57
It would be rather like Intel removing the ability to overclock the CPU at all

How is that a similar comparison? They are not removing the ability to overclock the CPU, as far as i understand it. Just the ability to unlock cores that you haven't actually paid for? (and are not guaranteed to be stable).

This was from the original review of the Phenom II X3 on bit-tech:

AMD's Overclocking Guru, Sami Mäkinen, has a specific technique for testing the overclockability of Phenom II CPUs. By setting the Advanced Clock Calibration (ACC) to zero percent initially, then overclocking to the maximum stable all cores will accept, before checking each core individually with the latest AMD OverDrive.

Unlike the original Pheno's which benefited from a negative two to six percent ACC, Sami explained that with 45nm Phenom IIs it can be used to boost "weaker" CPU cores to higher speeds by using positive ACC. If there is one (or several), applying two percent ACC to that core(s), while leaving the rest at zero percent can eke out a few extra MHz. However he was also keen to point out it may or may not provide additional MHz over leaving ACC disabled - it's entirely down to the quality of the CPU and its synergy with the motherboard and BIOS.


No mention of core unlocking was made in the article and it was only in the comments section that mention was made of the possibility of unlocking a 4th core with some motherboards and some CPU's.

Not a guaranteed feature at all...
featherz 15th April 2010, 20:33 Quote
Why are the cores locked, are they un-stable or just locked because its easier for them to makes lots of quads and lock than have a loads of different factory lines?

To me a 550BE/545/555 seems pointless for unlocking abit, im stuck between buying a 550be or athlon x4 which games just as good as phenom x4's in benchmarks anyway, l3 cache really isnt that usefull in gaming full stop.

Less power consumtion, less heat and clocks fairl comfortable normally.
Sloth 15th April 2010, 20:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavomatic57
It would be rather like Intel removing the ability to overclock the CPU at all - they'd be well within their rights, after all, it isn't performance you have paid for, it can cause instability etc etc.

Seems that regardless of what AMD do these days, people just go "aww, there's a shame", whereas their rivals get 10 page threads about how they are the spawn of satan.
As I gave for an example, Intel already limit the ability to overclock their CPUs. It's largely an artificial limitation since the Extreme Editions are capable of it. No one's ripping at them for it.

A little closer of an example would be the way that not all motherboards allow overclocking anyway. It's not something that Intel has included as a feature in any way, just something that other manufacturers are letting you do at your own risk by including BIOS settings that alow it. I have an Intel board laying around that has no options in the BIOS to allow overclocking because, quite simply, it isn't something Intel is trying to do. Much the same way AMD is now leaving core unlocking as something which must be entirely handled by third parties at their own risk. Unless I misread, AMD is not forcing manufacturers to stop working around it.
Cepheus 16th April 2010, 18:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
"Just because you own one girls, it doesn't mean we have to listen to your whining when it doesn't cut the mustard!"

I run an i7 920 overclocked to 4.2GHz, so sorry to disappoint.
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Here we go again, the AMD fangirls bringin a knife to a gun fight.

Whats the point of offering an unlocked CPU if the market place wont support it?

Why then do they remove it when they realise it's not that stable and not that beneficial unless your other component has the upto date bios work round. That's even if they have a supporting bios, which by the look of things not that many have.

So my original statement is accurate, truthful and correct. More white noise from a typical deflated AMD!

Just because you own one girls, it doesn't mean we have to listen to your whining when it doesn't cut the mustard!
The reason why cores were locked was because they were either damaged or were just disabled. They didn't design them to be like that, they just decided not to laser-cut the cores out, as ATI and nVidia have been doing, and left features in that allowed it. It's like leaving overclocking in on the chips - they know that it will make the cheaper chips better sellers and so will boost sales, whilst still allowing them to sell their damaged chips for cheap.

It's a perfect reason that AMD were getting bad press because people were trying to do it and it failed. It was a feature they left in because they weren't sure it would work, so removing it because it was getting them bad publicity is the reasonable option if parts of the market won't appreciate it.

Alternatively, the cynical side of me reckons that it's because they've got their yields high enough that the vast majority can be unlocked in this way, so they've removed it so that people buy their more expensive processors.
Showerhead 16th April 2010, 19:45 Quote
In addition it's also supply and demand. All the CPUs of say the phenomII cost the same to make. Say you make 100 working quad core cpus but there is only demand for 30 of them due to their higher price. What AMD will do is block off two of the cores in 60 of them and sell them as dual cores at a cheaper price selling more cpu's in total and making more $£€.
null_x86 20th April 2010, 01:01 Quote
Well, I have to say thats pretty lame that it is "unsupported" via AMD, but Gigabyte and Asus are still enabling it. Good to hear that much. As long as they keep making and shipping triple-cores and dual-cores that unlock to quads, I'll be a happy camper.
Cyberpower-UK 30th April 2010, 14:29 Quote
How about quad that unlock to hex?
cybergenics 30th April 2010, 14:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by frontline
Never tried the core unlocking as preferred a guaranteed stable 4 cores, but it does seem like it is mostly down to some disreputable suppliers selling unlocked 3 core chips as quads.

Unlikely, as it is impossible. The board unlocks the CPU. Without the board adjusted in the BIOS to do so, its still whatever it left the factory as.
gavomatic57 30th April 2010, 14:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by frontline
How is that a similar comparison?

Sorry, didn't get around to answering this. In both cases you are using bios settings to increase performance of a product that goes beyond the capabilities of the shipped product. Whether it is a rated clock speed for that chip or the number of functioning cores, it makes no difference - you are getting extra performance you haven't paid for. If Intel decided to lock the bus speed to a maximum value for a particular chip after previously allowing overclocking, there would be hell to pay.
miester7 13th May 2010, 14:35 Quote
So AMD hasn't blocked unlocking cores. You can still unlock extra cores with the right motherboard?
Bayaz 20th May 2010, 13:20 Quote
AMD seem to be far behind Intel at the moment. Hopefully things will pickup and they will start to challenge Intel again. They something to rival the i7's performance
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