Some folks may remember a “service”
that Intel had tried out not too long ago. A special sub-$60 upgrade
card (shown below) allowed users with a Pentium G6951 desktop
processor to do a “software” upgrade of sorts, unlocking
HyperThreading support and an extra megabyte of L3 cache (for a total
of 4MB) on their CPUs without even opening up the case. The result
was a noticeable performance boost, and the processor name becoming
Upgrade Card: For the Intel Pentium G6951.
While many balked at this, saying that
Intel was simply charging extra cash to enable features that the chip
could already do from the beginning (which is true), the attempt has
apparently been a success, and Intel is now offering
three Sandy Bridge-based processors capable of these painless
These are the Core i3-2102 and Pentium
G622 on the desktop, and the Core i3-2312M for laptops. Intel
indicates that, when upgraded, the first two CPUs will get a boost in
their clockspeed (and become the i3-2153 and G693, respectively),
while the mobile chip will unlock some extra cache alongside a
clockspeed boost (and turn into an i3-2393M). Intel isn't specifying
exactly how big the boosts are (how many megahertz, etc.)
In order to make use of the upgrades,
one would have to download the software from the Intel site, as well
as have the special PIN code that comes on the upgrade card. Changes
to the motherboard firmware are carried out, and, after a reboot, the
chip will be in the upgraded state.
Intel has some benchmark graphs on their site that show just how much extra performance the Upgrade Service can bring to several applications and loads:
Intel's performance graph for the i3-2153.
Intel's performance graph for the Pentium G693.
Intel's performance graph for the i3-2393M.
With speed increases ranging from 10 to 23%, perhaps this will be a good option for
those that don't want to futz around with their PC's innards, yet
still want more CPU horsepower, without having to take their PC to a shop.
There are a few snags to the Upgrade
Service, though – apparently you have to be running Windows 7, only
certain computer systems can do the upgrades, and if you change your
motherboard, you'll have to reactivate, if it's still possible to do
The official pricetags for the
respective Upgrade Services are currently unknown (though Engadget
says that they will cost $50 each). (Via Cnet)