Intel’s New Upgradeable CPU: Not a New Idea – But is it a Good One?

There has been some discussion about the new processor from Intel which comes with some features disabled and unlockable only by purchasing an unlock code from Intel. Peter Bright has an excellent write-up on the idea of an upgradeable processor.

If you administer mainframes or enterprise servers, you’ve likely already seen this idea. HP Superdomes, for example, can be purchased with deactivated processors and so forth, then the processors can be turned on temporarily or purchased outright at a later date. IBM Z System also comes with a similar capability – often called something like Capacity on Demand.

The main question is whether the consumer will find this a desirable thing or not; it is possible that the idea will not sell. I find that system “upgrades” are actually done by replacing the system completely.

It is also probably a better idea to increase system memory than it is to upgrade to a faster, more capable processor. More memory means more can be done without going to disk, which is always important as disk is the slowest element.

2 thoughts on “Intel’s New Upgradeable CPU: Not a New Idea – But is it a Good One?”

  1. Once the method for the upgrade is understood and cracked. This will be (very) desirable to the hobbyist system builder such as myself. Buy the cheapest CPU and then d/l the CPU unlock crack. instant bang per buck. combine this with overclocking for even more gains.

  2. I think that this isn’t such a hot idea. It’s OK in an enterprise situation where hardware may be leased, there are service contracts, and hardware may be ‘upgraded’ for a fee without sending a tech on site, and the cost of downtime may be greater than the extra cost of the processors… that isn’t the case for consumer electronics.

    In consumer electronics, the consumer wants the freedom to use what they paid for.

    I also don’t understand the economics of this… are the margins on processors high enough that significant processor power can be stuffed into a chip that people aren’t going to pay for up front? It’s not like consumers can’t go to AMD, and presumably AMD will price their chips to make this very tempting… Not to mention that by the time a consumer decides to upgrade the processor functionality, there will be much faster processors available, probably cheaper.

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