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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  • QChronoD - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

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

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

    You are completely right, i was just too lazy too double check before hitting the "post comment" button.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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