Intel is trying to bolster profits in the low-end CPU market, but it’s a move that will make enthusiasts understandably nervous. Customers who purchase a desktop computer featuring the Pentium G6951 processor will be given the option to buy a $50 scratch coupon allowing them to unlock additional threads and L3 cache on the chip. To be clear this is very different from “binning” where a CPU gets reclassified after testing. The G6951 is intentionally being sold with locked potential the consumer has the option to buy after the fact. Hardware.info got its hands on an early sample of the chip, and has confirmed that in addition to Hyper-Threading, users are able to unlock a full 1MB of L3 cache.
Every decent over clocker knows that most CPU’s, particularly in the midrange usually have tons of untapped potential and it will be interesting to see if Intel tries this approach on any of its other offerings. I have a feeling most enthusiasts would rather not see this approach gain any traction, but then again it could also help bridge the gap between high end CPU’s and their “unlocked” extreme counterparts. Intel has confirmed that this is simply a test to see how consumers will react, but clearly they now have the infrastructure in place to roll this out on a much larger scale based on feedback.
I’m willing to bet the Maximum PC community has a few opinions to help them with their research.