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  • MGSsancho - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I wonder how many haters will post below me. I also doubt anyone that frequents this site will actually but an i3 for themselves regardless. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I bet many of AT readers also bought Atom or other devices so why not? The i3 has plenty of performance if you don't need more of it desperately.

    Actually I've been looking into another cheap (sub-)notebook with SnB Core i3 for some time now. Only requirements are much more horsepower than Atom and a decent GigE connection (which rules out most of the contenders and the MacBook Air unfortunately). The Lenovo IBM ThinkPad X121e is looking quite hot to me ATM.
  • Souka - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Dang... just bought a Lenovo laptop with an i3-2310M which doesn't qualify.

    The i3-2312M does. :(

    Oh well, this laptop's job is to check email, stream netflix, surf's replacing a 1.8GHZ Pentium 4M (yes... a P4....)

  • rs2 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    What are you counting as a "hater"? I like Intel CPU's, my old Core2 Quad system is still running strong and I've got an Atom-based server that works flawlessly and uses about the same amount of power as a nite-light. I've got nothing against Intel.

    But I do think the idea of charging for what is basically a software overclock is pretty low.
  • Taft12 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's especially low since Intel has locked out users from manually overclocking any desktop CPU that doesn't end in a -K (those all cost over $200, natch!)

    So now overclocking *IS* coming to i3 and Pentium CPUs.... But you need to pay Intel to do it for you.

    Now do you see why the hate is valid? I encourage everyone not to bother with the hate, just buy AMD instead. Those of you who own an i5-2500K or i7-2600K (ie. a hell of a lot of AT readers) -- please realize that you are part of the problem.
  • LauRoman - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I can argument for or against this behaviour.

    If it costs them the same to produce the chip why not make the more powerful one? Unless the power consuption delta is significant they're just after more money. However if they sell the less powerfull ones at somewhat of a loss or make an intentionally decreased margin on them so that they are a bit cheapear and later if consumer wants they can upgrade, i have no inherent problem with that. I don't exactly know if i have a bigger issue with hardware artificially crippled processors like the Celerons or software cripples like these i3s.
  • Sagath - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I think you misunderstand how the CPU (and indirectly the GPU) market works.

    You're assuming that this has to do with 'max power' (ghz/cache) level of chips coming out of the factory. This is a fallacy. It is not a matter of Intel saying "Well, all our chips can run at 4ghz, so lets make it so". The market dictates the price and performance of the chips, and intel wants to maximize profits via sales.

    For example: Not everyone is willing to pay $300 for a CPU, but are willing to spend $200. Thus, thru analysis and market research Intel tries to determine how many CPU's at $x they can sell, and how many at $x-30 they can sell to maximize total dollars in. Sometimes a chip comes out with a bad cache, yes. This could make it a celeron when they bin it, yes. However, there are lots of i7 920's out there that overclock to well above 960's speeds for this same line of thought.

    In the end, all processors are 'artificially' crippled to some extent or another. By binning the processors they can fill ALL the market requirements while maximizing profits. This is all Intel/AMD and every company care about.
  • ramzyfire - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    That is not true. The reason cpu are down-clocked is due to the imperfections in the chip itself; that's why people don't get the same overclocking results. This case is obviously different and intel is charging people for a cpu overclock. This isn't a big deal because we pay motherboard manufacturers a hefty sum for the ability to overclock our systems. Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    somewhat true but for bottom segment cpu's they are all likely underclocked rather than having imperfections. Intel has to offer cheap cpu's even though their factory is capable of producing much better cpu's.

    They can of course offer mid range cpu's are low range prices, but they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    ...that when making these calculations,I doubt Intel or AMD give a whole lot of thought to those of us doing DIY system builds. I would think that they are most concerned about selling CPU's to Dell, HP, lenovo, Apple, etc and what we end up paying on NewEgg is not a big concern for them.

    Since Dell and HP are there big concerns they also have to take into consideration what overall system prices will be for the OEM's
  • raptorious - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    "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."

    Don't get me wrong, I don't like this whole CPU software upgrade thing, but looking at a pure performance/price ratio is almost never favorable going from the low to the high end. This seems to imply that the performance v.s. price curve is or should be linear. Like many things in life, when you go higher-end, you are entering a zone of dimishing returns.
  • LauRoman - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    It's diminishing returns only if most of the time you idle the higher end processor. If on a day that processor helps you finsih your job 15% faster it might make a difference. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I know but usually the gap isn't this big. You pay more than three times more $ in % compared to the performance gain in %. I would say that is terrible value. If the upgrade was $20 (as it might be), then you would pay 31% more $ for 23% increase. That isn't too bad anymore. Reply
  • lyeoh - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Another thing: Intel can always cut the upgrade price to compete against AMD. They don't even need to ship CPUs to get the extra $$$.

    My guess is Intel's CPUs have got to the stage where their crappiest batch of desktop/laptop chips is inherently as fast or even faster than AMDs fastest desktop stuff, so at the low end Intel have to cripple lots of CPUs.

    If Intel thought AMD had a chance of pulling something much faster out of the bag, they wouldn't bother with this. But it sure looks like AMD has nothing - I don't see anything AMD has in the horizon that would overtake Intel's stuff.

    So when AMD releases their next generation, even if AMD charges lower, Intel can cut the upgrade fee (if necessary). Then the customer's old slower Intel CPU, suddenly runs as fast as AMD's new mid-range desktop CPUs (or maybe even faster). No need to ship anything except a license key/code.

    I hope that AMD survives and makes better CPUs but it sure doesn't look good.
  • Medallish - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    You're forgetting that Intel wouldn't allow itself to do so, lowering prices will most likely mean less income for Intel, and something tells me that's not what the shareholders want, AMD's shareholders do because that's currently how they stay competitive.

    Intel's decision to try this again doesn't have anything to do with AMD, indeed it's cheaper to get an Athlon II x4 than it is to first buy this dual core and then buy this coupon to upgrade it.

    There's been a lot of conflicting data on bulldozer, hopefully it will compete pretty well, but even if it's not the greatest out there, Intel still wouldn't shoot itself in the foot by trying to make their midrange CPU's better.

    AMD isn't as far behind as some people claim, in fact when Bulldozer comes out you could argue they are slightly ahead on the side of technology, IPC still remains to be seen.
  • lyeoh - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    You're not thinking straight. Customers buying AMD instead of the upgrade would mean less income for Intel. Customers not buying at all = less income for Intel.

    This sort of thing gives Intel more options.

    It may be cheaper to get the Athlon X4, but it is an inferior chip to the i3 for most desktop use:
    Intel's profits indicate that many people are willing to pay for the i3.

    Lastly buying an i3 and the software upgrade later could be cheaper than buying an Athlon X4, and then buying another AMD CPU that's as fast as an "upgraded" i3.

    Maybe the Bulldozer might come out and be much faster. But AMD is unlikely to replace most of its lineup with Bulldozers. So you may still get more bang for buck with Intel (truth is most people don't need "bang" so they can go for AMD ;) )

    I'll be happy if Bulldozer blows away the Intel CPUs. But I'm not betting on it. You can buy AMD stock and bet on it if you want.
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link this case we are not talking about low end vs. high end or even low end vs mid-range. We are talking about low end vs. not quite so low end Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    My opinion on this is two-fold:

    For one why the heck does Intel cripple CPUs so they can be upgraded later. This is what I would consider foul play.

    On the other hand I'm not sure you realize that the i3-2312M is a mobile CPU which is soldered on the board. There's sensible way to replace it so having an option to upgrade is quite nice.
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I edited the article to be more clear. My original thought was to mention something that upgrading the CPU in laptops is more or less impossible but looks like I forgot. Reply
  • lyeoh - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Intel can also change the upgrade price later. Does not affect their cost (CPU is already paid for), but can certainly affect AMD ;).

    As I mentioned in my other post, this just shows how far behind AMD is. AMD couldn't do the same thing and still be competitive while covering the costs of the CPU.
  • 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 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • VeauX - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

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

    Can't wait for it!
  • QChronoD - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I thought it was "Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start"....?? Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    WINNAR! Enjoy your 30 extra lives! Reply
  • VeauX - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    You are completely right, i was just too lazy too double check before hitting the "post comment" button. Reply
  • gmallen - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    IBM has been doing this to its customers for years. This leads to fewer SKUs, smaller inventory and big profits. See, why build 10 different CPUs , when you can build five and upgrade with software. Since corporations are used to this behavior, that market will accept this upgrade nonsense. The enthusiast market will likely not bite. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    The actual chips are the same, so you don't actually build 10 different CPUs. Some chips just have some features crippled or disabled (i.e. lower clock multiplier, less cache, Hyper-Threading, Turbo etc). Reply
  • cbass64 - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    OEM's are the ones who request this kind of SKU'ing. Intel just sells them the chips(sets). Say Dell buys 1 million chips but only 250,000 customers can afford to buy the chips if they are all sold at the premium price. Dell would have 750,000 chips laying around. They ask Intel for ways to SKU or set software/firmware limitations on the chips, now they can buy all the chips in bulk for a low cost and then decide how they want to lock/unlock them and how to present them to their customers.

    It's far cheaper to mass produce a couple different SKU's and have unlockable features than to manufacture dozens of different chips.

    Trust me, if people only purchased the highest performing, power draining-est CPU's and chipsets, that's all Intel would manufacture. But the OEM's have created demand for different SKUs so Intel and AMD just make what is demanded.
  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    That's all intel does manufacture. All i7's start off as extreme editions. We laser cut parts of the circuit to lock out features and slow down the speed bins in order to make all the other i7's. This software is simply a path to re-enable features that are already in all chips. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    So what does this updater change? Does it actually change the code on the CPU, meaning you can put it in another board and still have your upgrade? Or is it some sort of motherboard and/or software change. If you had to reinstall your OS or replace a motherboard and your CPU upgrade disappeared it would be a dark day. Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's my understanding that the part will physically become the new model of the chip after the upgrade, and will forever remain the new model number regardless of being in a mobo or in a box in your desk drawer. Reply
  • tomoyo - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I would hope this is true. Otherwise there will be scandal over the fact you cannot resell your better cpu or do other things. That would be similar to how drm software locks you into one place and look how well that turned out.

    Also in terms of value equation, I always note that the CPU itself has a major gain in the overall system performance and most new systems are between 800-1200. Now there's value systems at like 400-600, but I think most of us work on something a bit pimper. So a $100 difference is only 10% of a system cost. Now I'd hope these upgrades are most like $50 or so.
  • mgc8599 - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    I just purchased AMD dual core cpu with ASUS mobo. The m/b has a bios tool which can unlock upto 6 cores. this simple thing turned my dual core processor in quad core processor.
    Are we not looking at something like this from Intel ? then why charge people for it when they can get it for free?

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