EVE Online's periodic graphical upgrades is that support for old graphics cards and computers has to be dropped. The last major change to EVE's system requirements removed support for graphics cards lower than a Shader Model 2.0 standard. A very small number of players were affected by the change, and the dropping of support for old shader models gave CCP the freedom they needed to keep EVE's graphics above par.
When tomorrow's Incursion 1.10 patch goes live, EVE's minimum system requirements will see another increase as support for Pentium 3, Athlon XP and older CPUs will be withdrawn. The decision to withdraw support for these old processors comes as a result of internal testing on the expansion codebase. Some of the new third-party libraries being used in the patch were found to be causing a crash when starting the client on systems with CPUs that that don't support the SSE2 instruction set. The likely culprit is the new APEX PhysX library set, a crucial part of the Incarna clothing simulation process, which was recently updated to an SSE2 standard.
CCP estimates that this change will affect less than 0.3% of users, meaning just over 1,000 players will need to upgrade their systems if they wish to continue playing. Unsupported processors date back to the summer of 2003 or earlier, making most of the affected systems older than EVE itself. With the revelation of just how old those processors are, the response from players has been generally neutral. CCP Zulu apologised on the forum for the extremely short notice of the announcement on tomorrow's change, stating that he was bringing players this news as it happened.