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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.