AMD removed core unlocking fearing for reputation

April 13, 2010 | 11:13

Tags: #880g #890fx #890gx #chipset #core #core-unlocking #cpu #removed #sb850 #stability #unlocking

Companies: #amd

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.
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