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Intel wants to charge $50 to unlock stuff your CPU can already do

Sean Hollister
September 18, 2010
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Hold onto your hyperthreaded horses, because this is liable to whip up an angry mob -- Intel's asking customers to pay extra if they want the full power of their store-bought silicon. An eagle-eyed Engadget reader was surfing the Best Buy shelves when he noticed this $50 card -- and sure enough, Intel websites confirm -- that lets you download software to unlock extra threads and cache on the new Pentium G6951 processor. Hardware.info got their hands on an early sample of the chip and discovered it's actually a full 1MB of L3 cache that's enabled plus HyperThreading support, which translates to a modest but noticeable upgrade. This isn't exactly an unprecedented move, as chip companies routinely sell hardware-locked chips all the time in a process known as binning, but there they have a simpler excuse -- binned chips are typically sold with cores or cache locked because that part of their silicon turned out defective after printing. This new idea is more akin to video games that let you "download" extra weapons and features, when those features were on the disc all along. Still, it's an intriguing business model, and before you unleash your rage in comments, you should know that Intel's just testing it out on this low-end processor in a few select markets for now.

[Thanks, Brian]



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