Intel demands $50 for CPU unlock

Want to unlock those extra threads and cache cache on your new Pentium G6951 processor? Well, you’ll just have to shell out an extra $50 to Intel for the privilege.

Of course, Intel’s latest scheme is hardly an unprecedented move, as chip companies have long sold hardware-locked chips to customers under the auspices of “binning.”

“But there they have a simpler excuse – binned chips are typically sold with cores or cache locked because that part of their silicon turned out defective after printing,” explained Engadget’s Sean Hollister. 

“This new idea is more akin to video games that let you ‘download’ extra weapons and features, when those features were on the disc all along.”

Meanwhile, UberGizmo noted that the G6951 rollout was currently limited to a small pilot program in parts of Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and the US.

“Such a move might be useful to folks who recently purchased a notebook using that processor but realized that they needed a little more processing grunt. 

“Of course, not everybody would be willing to shell out $50 extra in order to bump the speed of their budget notebook, so it remains to be seen how response to such a program will be.”

And what does Intel have to say about its new retail model?

Unsurprisingly, the chip giant apparently believes that locking various features will allow resellers and system builders to increase their margins.

“[The] upgrade service enables down-the-wire upgrades of PC platform capabilities after the initial hardware shipment, offering unprecedented flexibility to resellers,” Intel claimed on its website.

“Now your customers have more options with an easy upgrade path for additional performance or features when they are needed.”

Uh, huh. 

And just how long do you think it will take before an intrepid hacker unceremoniously cracks the upgrade code?