Monday, September 20, 2010

Intel Sells 'Upgrades' to Unlock Processor Features That Should Never Have Been Locked

It was recently discovered that Intel is selling $50 cards that unlock processor features in the Intel Pentium G6951. The pre-upgrade locked version of the G6951 is a dual-core Core i3 processor running at 2.8GHz with 3MB of included L3 cache and no Hyper-Threading. With this upgrade card you are able to unlock Hyper-Threading and an additional 1MB of L3 cache. While this is a noticeable upgrade, Intel has no excuse as to why these unlockable features are locked in the first place.

Locking processor features is nothing new in the industry. Intel has been doing it for years, but for reasons that aren't about ripping off customers. Traditionally, processor features are locked when it is discovered that a part of a processor is defective. Locking these defective parts of a processor allow the processor to run correctly, at the cost of some speed. These processors are then sold, as a lower end processor model, for a discounted price. There's nothing wrong with this, it's a good use of defective hardware that would otherwise be thrown away and allows customers to buy cheaper, slower processors that still work well.

This upgrade plan that Intel is trying out is the opposite of good business. It's blatantly locking functional sectionals of a CPU in order to try to choke money out of unknowing customers down the line.

To top it off, Hot Hardware already did the research for something that I suspected. This is what they found out:
"The $50 price tag, however, isn't much of a deal. According to Intel's own records, the G6950 currently sells for $87 in 1K lots. $51 higher up the ladder, there's the Intel Core i3-550. Compared to the G6950/6951, the i3-550 is 400MHz faster, includes Hyper-Threading, offers the same 4MB of L3, and officially supports DDR3-1333 as opposed to just DDR3-1066. As an added bonus, its GPU is 200MHz faster than the G6950's (though we don't know the 6951's GPU clock yet). Given Intel's current price structure, a Core i3-550 system is likely to be a better deal."
I'm very disapointed in you Intel. I thought you were better than this.

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