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Intel to offer feature unlocking for selected CPUs

Intel to offer feature unlocking for selected CPUs

Like AMD, Intel speed-bins its CPUs meaning many cheaper models have features of more expensive models which have been disabled.

Intel has announced it is to offer a software upgrade for some of its CPUs that will unlock previously inaccessible features.

PC Pro reported this morning that selected LGA1155 CPUs in the Core i3 and Pentium G range are in line for the upgrades, called the Retail Upgrade Service, which include unlocking additional amounts of cache and frequency boosts.

Owners of the CPUs will need to purchase a scratch card equipped with a pin number, and download software which will enable the unlock. At the moment, Intel will offer the upgrades for the Core i3-2312M, Core i3-2102 and Pentium G622.

All feature locked multipliers out of the box - sadly this won't change, but applying the unlock to the Core i3-2102 will see a frequency boost from 3.1GHz to 3.6GHz and the Pentium G622 will see its default clock speed of 2.6GHz rise to 3.2GHz. The Core i3-2312M will see a 400MHz frequency boost, but will also gain 1MB cache.

Seeing as the CPUs also lack Turbo Boost, this could be a welcome upgrade, but is currently unconfirmed.

According to the article, Intel offered a similar service last year for its Pentium G6951, which cost $50. We have yet to hear anything about the service being offered in the UK, but with the CPUs typically finding their way in to PCs whose owners probably know nothing about overclocking, never mind CPU unlocking, it's debatable how popular the service will be.

Would Intel's Retail Upgrade Service be useful to you? Do you think it should offer similar unlocks for more CPUs? Let us know in the forum.

29 Comments

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Jamie 15th August 2011, 12:35 Quote
DLC for CPUs?
Gigglebyte 15th August 2011, 12:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
DLC for CPUs?

Where there is money to be made...
chemo 15th August 2011, 12:40 Quote
grim :(
Instagib 15th August 2011, 12:46 Quote
If they unlocked the multi's also, this would be brilliant. But then there would be no need for the K series.
How long before someone comes up with a keygen for this?
Quote:
owners probably know nothing
fixed.
DXR_13KE 15th August 2011, 13:47 Quote
And then someone will make a keygen for this...
mucgoo 15th August 2011, 14:03 Quote
This is the kind of thing they sell gullible non techies at PC world at extortionate prices.
r3loaded 15th August 2011, 14:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Zero-day DLC for CPUs?
Fixed that for you ;)
Matticus 15th August 2011, 14:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
And then someone will make a keygen for this...

I was under the impression that this was the point of it all and what Intel was expecting (or hoping).

People seem to love the idea of being able to unlock the cores on their AMD CPU's, now intel has an answer to this.
leexgx 15th August 2011, 15:22 Quote
i guess it get cracked at some point if its just been limited by codes
MrJay 15th August 2011, 15:43 Quote
"pin number"

Personal Identification Number Number : P

Anyhows pet peeves aside, i think this is a good idea...If they get the pricing right.

[By right pricing i mean almost free, a token £10 or something]
Lazy_Amp 15th August 2011, 16:22 Quote
So we have to see pricing before we see if an DLC unlocked CPU is priced similarly to another model pre-unlocked (what a stupid term DLC has created).

But let's be honest from a business perspective, Intel is doing this not to provide their customers more features, it's to pick up another cut from their distributors. A customer buying the DLC isn't paying Dell or HP or Newegg, it's going straight into Intel's pockets. Intel is going to boost sales of their lowend/lowmargin products and then say you can spend a bit more for "AWESOME NEW FEATURES" and makes Intel takes 100% of that money as profit.

Depending on it's success, I wonder how the distributors will take this.
amagriva 15th August 2011, 16:37 Quote
C'mon tinkerers of the world unite (unlock and disseminate howto)!!
MjFrosty 15th August 2011, 16:54 Quote
hmmm.

Why?
Madness_3d 15th August 2011, 17:22 Quote
Something screams "abusing their dominant position in the market". Read about this a while ago, think it's a joke myself.
John_T 15th August 2011, 18:09 Quote
I'm probably going to be in a minority of one here, but I actually think it's a pretty good idea.

If they can sell low-cost budget dual-core chips for example, and then give the customer an option of an easy upgrade later on - more cores, more cache, more speed etc - what's wrong with that?

Not a great model for the mid-range chips, and not something that should be considered for the high-end, but for the bottom of the market I think it's a pretty good idea. Most low-end PC's are sold on an aggressively tight budget - but they're also the people who would probably most appreciate a cheap option to upgrade their speed/power in a year or eighteen months after having bought their system. They're also most likely the people least qualified or inclined to take their PC apart & physically change parts - an upgrade normally consists of waiting several years and then buying a whole new system.

If Intel can say to these people, "we'll make your PC, say, 25% faster for just £30, all you have to do is type in a code" - I think that would make a lot of those people very happy...
outlawaol 15th August 2011, 19:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T
I'm probably going to be in a minority of one here, but I actually think it's a pretty good idea.

If they can sell low-cost budget dual-core chips for example, and then give the customer an option of an easy upgrade later on - more cores, more cache, more speed etc - what's wrong with that?

Not a great model for the mid-range chips, and not something that should be considered for the high-end, but for the bottom of the market I think it's a pretty good idea. Most low-end PC's are sold on an aggressively tight budget - but they're also the people who would probably most appreciate a cheap option to upgrade their speed/power in a year or eighteen months after having bought their system. They're also most likely the people least qualified or inclined to take their PC apart & physically change parts - an upgrade normally consists of waiting several years and then buying a whole new system.

If Intel can say to these people, "we'll make your PC, say, 25% faster for just £30, all you have to do is type in a code" - I think that would make a lot of those people very happy...

Anything that takes an option and gives the perception of 'its a great idea' is dangerous to the general populace IMO. Its one thing to buy hardware for the performance - and another to give you something good and say 'Jump for it' when it exists in the first place on the same chip.

Great ideas always look good on paper - its the fact that geeks and real enthusiasts will throw out this information all over the place. Intel would make money no doubt, but in the same hand deal themselves a reputation blow as well. I know I would tell everyone that had the misfortune to buy one of these how to get around it - for free.
roblikesbeer 15th August 2011, 19:24 Quote
They'll be selling hats for them next...
John_T 15th August 2011, 19:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by outlawaol

Anything that takes an option and gives the perception of 'its a great idea' is dangerous to the general populace IMO. Its one thing to buy hardware for the performance - and another to give you something good and say 'Jump for it' when it exists in the first place on the same chip.

Great ideas always look good on paper - its the fact that geeks and real enthusiasts will throw out this information all over the place. Intel would make money no doubt, but in the same hand deal themselves a reputation blow as well. I know I would tell everyone that had the misfortune to buy one of these how to get around it - for free.

I (sort of) understand the point you're making, but I just don't agree with it. Intel, like AMD, want to be able to offer distinct ranges of chips to different markets. They want a low-end budget range of products, mid-range general use products, and high-end performance products.

If the way they now make their chips means it's easier for them to just produce more mid-range type chips, disable some of the mid-range features - and then sell them at a budget price - what's wrong with that? If they can then at a later date say to that consumer, (who paid the lower price) "if you want to now pay the difference between what you originally paid and what the mid-range chip sold for, we'll re-enable those extra features", what's wrong with that?

Where's the rip off?

Maybe some people will find a way of enabling those features against Intel's wishes, and maybe someone lucky enough to own a low-spec PC and have a tech-savvy friend will be able to get the benefits for free, but most people won't and I don't really see the problem.

Intel won't be making it particularly easy to break their system anyway, precisely because they don't want people like us buying cheap CPU's & turning them into bargain monsters - eating into their mid-range market.
Showerhead 15th August 2011, 20:08 Quote
How long before someone engineers software independently that will do the exact same thing? Might even be legal as well.
Elton 15th August 2011, 21:25 Quote
The rip off is that instead of binning they're crippling even more.

Binning just creates another product. Wheras this is intentional crippling.

And yes binning sucks too.
Lazy_Amp 15th August 2011, 22:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T

Where's the rip off?

The rip off won't necessarily be to end users, we might even get some benefit from it, but distributors are the ones getting completely shafted.
Penfolduk01 15th August 2011, 22:16 Quote
This reminds me of a very old joke about IBM.

It was something along the lines of that when they sent an engineer out to upgrade your mainframe, he merely reached inside the cabinet and flipped a switch that sped-up the existing hardware...

This stinks. Hope it fails big-time.
Ream 15th August 2011, 22:41 Quote
If this takes off how long until Intel makes it standard in all their CPU's and we see the end of overclocking.
fluxtatic 16th August 2011, 05:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elton
The rip off is that instead of binning they're crippling even more.

Binning just creates another product. Wheras this is intentional crippling.

And yes binning sucks too.

How does binning suck? It increases yield per wafer. Without that, Intel's (imo) already overpriced processors would be even more overpriced. Seems to me that perhaps AMD & Intel both have very high QA thresholds that mean even though I bought a Phenom II clocked at 2.8, it seems perfectly happy running at 3.5. Given AMD's high QA, they didn't think it was performing well enough to release it as a higher-clocked SKU, meaning free upgrade for me. This is a gamble - not every proc will OC the same. I had maybe even odds that pushing it past 3.0 wouldn't happen. Same with other Athlon II/Phenom II procs - if it failed QA as a Phenom II X4, it could be stepped down and down all the way to an Athlon II X2, if two cores and the L3 couldn't pass QA. Better for all of us, I say. At least, until Intel starts releasing what had been the 2600 as the 2800, clocked up 300 MHz for an additional $50, when I could walk even my mom through doing the same thing herself.

This little project of Intel's stinks of 'money grab', in my eyes. But, go figure. A company with so dominant a position in their core market abusing that position? I am shocked! Please, AMD, get Bulldozer out the door and have it not suck!
Elton 16th August 2011, 06:24 Quote
Binning doesn't suck that bad, but sometimes it's like, 1% off and you lose out on an awesome chip.
Nexxo 16th August 2011, 08:05 Quote
This is an old practice in a new guise. You young'uns may not remember the days of the Intel 386 CPU. Intel sold two flavours, essentially: the 386SX without a floating point processor unit, and the 386DX with. People who had a 386SX could upgrade by buying a 387 co-processor unit, that fitted in a socket alongside the 386SX.

Except that the only difference between a 386SX and a 386DX was that the former had its floating point unit disabled (by zapping it). It was the same chip, deliberately crippled. The 387 was --you guessed it-- a relabelled 386DX. It did not work alongside the 386SX --it took over its role altogether and rendered the 386SX already in the board a useless piece of decoration. You could lift it out the board and the PC would happily continue to work.

Creative Labs did a similar slight of hand with the first Soundblaster. When the prototype was built, Creative Labs decided that it did not look impressive enough to justify the price. The board did not look complicated enough. So they bought a large surplus stock of defunct Phillips ICs very cheaply, and put them on the board. They did not do anything --they weren't even wired into the circuit. They just sat there looking pretty.

Overclocking is often based on the recognition that all grades of a CPU or GPU are basically the same thing but underclocked or with features disabled. Soon people will find a way to hack Intel's unlocking codes also.
Tattysnuc 16th August 2011, 09:56 Quote
Not sure I like the idea that when you buy the kit, you are effectively licensing it's use at the speeds it's sold to you at and in order to unlock more power you have to pay more. Sounds like the first step in licensed processors to me. How long before it becomes a monthly fee based on usage and Intel start monitoring your activities....?
Denis_iii 16th August 2011, 11:39 Quote
cheeky ****ers
Nexxo 16th August 2011, 20:12 Quote
It won't wash. Psychologically speaking people will be happy to pay to get something extra that they did not have before, but they will balk at paying for access to something that they essentially already own.
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