Intel has posted an upgrade service page on their website which indicates that Intel will again be offering upgradeable CPUs. This is not totally unheard of since Intel offered a similar service for Pentium G6951 a year ago. Back then, $50 bought you Hyper-Threading and 1MB more L3 cache, and the SKU of the CPU changed to G6952. This time Intel has expanded the lineup and the upgrade service is available for three CPUs: i3-2312M, i3-2102 and Pentium G622. Unfortunately we don't know the price yet but we do know that the upgrade offers higher frequency and possibly increased amount of cache. Here are the CPU before and after the upgrade:

CPU Before Upgrade CPU After Upgrade Performance increase
i3-2312M (2.1GHz, 3MB) i3-2393M (2.5GHz, 4MB) 10-19%
i3-2102 (3.1GHz, 3MB) i3-2153 (3.6GHz, 3MB) 12-15%
Pentium G622 (2.6GHz, 3MB) Pentium G693 (3.2GHz, 3MB) 15-23%

The after CPUs have not been released so the specs are just calculations based on the performance gains Intel reported. 

Upgrading the CPU is very simple. All you need is the upgrade card. Then download the installer from Intel's site and run it. At some point, you will be asked to insert the code from the upgrade card (no, you can't get this for free). 

The need for such upgrade is fairly small though. We don't know the price so it's hard to say can the upgrade be worth it or not, but if the price will end up being $50 like before, it's pretty expensive for 10-23% gains. Pentium G622 costs only ~$65, meaning that you get 23% performance increase for 77% more money. Not exactly a bargain. i3s cost a bit more but even then, you aren't getting a good performance/price ratio. 

The only useful scenario could be with OEM PCs when you may not be able to select a specific CPU and upgrading the CPU can be harder (or even impossible) and may void the warranty. Intel has blocked overclocking in non-K CPUs, so you are stuck with the stock frequency. In some rare occasions where the extra CPU speed is really needed, paying the upgrade price can be worth it. However, what we are looking at are low-end CPUs, so anyone who needs a powerful CPU should look at Intel's i5 and i7 lineups in the first place. 

Source: Intel

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  • Medallish - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Companies are about profits, not about murdering each other, they can try, and Intel certainly did so by very illegal means, which luckily was discovered.

    You seem to want this to happen though, childish really, and kind of wierd considering all the innovation AMD have brought to the x86 PC market.

    Please explain how AMD wouldn't be able to do this? I'm pretty sure they won't I don't see any advantage in the strategy, but they could easily make a seperate line for x3's they knew had a functional 4.th core, and make rebate cards for it, but again I don't see the point really, I doubt Intel gets anything out of it other than press.
    Reply
  • lyeoh - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Where did I say I want this to happen? Go read again. I'm just stating the situation as I see them, just because you don't like it or understand doesn't mean I'm being childish.

    Here's why AMD wouldn't be able to do this: At the low end their CPUs are already so slow and cheap, that crippling them further to sell them for cheaper won't make AMD money. If you haven't noticed AMD already isn't making very much money from CPUs.

    At the higher end AMD are already struggling to get them as fast as possible. If they really could get a lot of their higher end CPUs 20% faster, they'd already release them 20% faster just to be more competitive with Intel, and to be able to charge higher.

    As for "about profits", if AMD releases new CPUs, Intel can price their "software upgrade" accordingly to maximize profit. If AMD's new CPUs are somehow faster and cheaper than Intel's software upgrade so much so that the software upgrade doesn't sell well, Intel can lower the price till more people are willing to buy it, instead of buying AMD. The CPUs would already be paid for. So any upgrades would be mostly profit.

    Is that clear enough?
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    From CPUs to GPUs to RAM, there's always functional parts that are crippled to be sold at lower prices. This is nothing new.

    It's almost as if people are OK with this practice until a company admits to it outright. Instead of saying, "hey, Intel is admitting that their parts can operate at higher clock speeds," we're saying, "boo, Intel should've enabled this performance in the first place and charged more!"

    Intel has to sell a budget product. Not everyone wants a $300 CPU.
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I for one do think there's plenty of difference between CPUs which are binned due to failed tests or market demands and CPUs which are binned to a higher qualification and soft-locked to something inferior.

    Sure you could do the unlocking or changes of multipliers etc. before but this was more or less a freaks' operation because you could never be sure whether there was any benefit and how much of it. Knowing that your CPU is really a better one and you can pay extra bucks to unlock it feels a bit like blackmailing... There's also the possibility that vendors will play funky games in their ads again.
    Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    You obviously don't know much about manufacturing CPUs. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I'm certain you put all your wisdom into this smart reply yet I'm not clever enough how you reached this somewhat wrong conclusion.

    One thing you can take for granted: Every CPU Intel manufactures which is capable of being soft-unlocked has to pass the exact same tests as the higher end version which is probably the largest difference to hardware binning where in many cases the binning happens exactly because the higher end tests failed.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    rough guesstimate: actual performance increase in real-world tasks = half that, due to disk IO, graphics, RAM... not getting any faster. Reply
  • Krater47 - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Obviously it's a "best buy" scenario when the CPU is the limiting factor in your application. Though, as the author mentioned, if you purchased a PC for rigorous use, you likely wouldn't have purchased any of these processors. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    There's something enticing about this: if the unlock can be done in software it can probably be hacked. At first approximation: all you have to do is send the chip the same commands Intels update tool does. On the other hand I'm sure Intel already thought of this and tried to prevent it.

    And another thought: what differentiates a software-upgradable chip from one which isn't? Intel would be mad to actually use different chips for this. So.. could it be hacked to work with other chips as well? Chances are probably small, but someone might want to take a closer look ;)

    At 50$ I don't see much value in such an upgrade option. Anyone who actually needs more CPU power should've bought a higher end model to begin with. However, if it's only 5 - 20 bucks I could see people going for it, especially in notebooks.

    MrS
    Reply
  • VeauX - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Up down up down left right left right a b select start ?

    Can't wait for it!
    Reply

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