Paying to upgrade Intel CPUs? Software activation is here

We are used to the fact that in the software world we have to pay more and more to have all the functions of the program active. Well, the company led by Pat Gelsinger wants to launch Intel Xeon processors under that same premise. Will this program also affect the CPUs we buy for PCs?

Intel SDSi, pay extra to have all the functions of your Xeon

The Pat Gelsinger people have plans to implement a software update program on your CPUs for servers and HEDT Xeon they have called Defined Silicon Software or SD Yes. As you may have guessed, these sections of the processor are already implemented in the hardware, but inactive by the internal firmware of the processor and therefore, although they are present in terms of hardware, they are really inaccessible at the software level. Basically what they want is that the user pay an extra to be able to use them.

Let’s not forget that Intel for the control unit of its CPU cores uses a microcontroller, which has an internal firmware that can be updated. This not only affects the internal level of each core, but also in terms of the different coprocessors, disabling this and removing functions that are useful for various key markets. They already did this when they saw security issues related to speculative execution caused by Meltdown and Specter.

What does Intel get out of all this? We don’t know, but it would make sense to simplify your portfolio. This would allow them to sell the same piece of hardware to several different markets and then depending on the needs of each user, they would pay (or not) to have that functionality active in a processor.

Are we going to see this program applied to desktop or laptop CPUs?

Intel Update Previous Program

Although the program seems to be that they are going to apply it to their Xeon family processors, we can think of examples that affect PC CPUs:

  • Things like having vPro activated for laptops for the business market come to mind.
  • The fact of selling a universal CPU without the active iGPU and being able to activate it through an update.
  • Make a gaming processor have Ray Tracing active on its iGPU after making the corresponding payment.
  • Serial inactive instruction sets, for example it may be that a CPU does not support serial AVX-512 and you can activate it through this payment.

As you can see, the possibilities are many and it would not be the first time that Intel would have applied a program of this type, in 2010 they launched the Pentium G6951, which after a modest payment of $ 50 could be updated leaving more processor cache active and adding HyperThreading. The following year the company founded by Gordon Moore expanded the program to its i3s, so there is a clear precedent.

In any case and to finish, Intel’s SDSi for the moment is going to be applied only in its server CPUs and it makes some sense, since the variety of models is enormous. As we have said before, it seems to us a way to simplify your catalog of processors and make it easier to sell them to your potential customers.

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