The concept isn’t exactly new and has been tested in the past, but was scrapped after the feedback received from consumers was stronger than expected. This time, Intel does not plan to sell high-end processors to ordinary consumers, but only to well-heeled customers, who have been ordering Xeon processors for server infrastructure for many years and would like to pay now for a certain level performance and virtually unlock the upgrade to the next performance level when needed.
While this might sound absurd to someone who is just saving up to buy a new PC for personal use, the concept of software upgrades, with the subsequent payment of a royalty to the original equipment supplier, is everything. entirely reasonable for corporate clients.
Although not immediately obvious to retail customers, processor manufacturers (Intel or AMD) usually include the same physical silicon in entry-level processors, but also in those priced considerably higher. higher, the performance delivered to the consumer. the end being announced only by the label with the name of the model and the selling price. It is not uncommon for a hardware manufacturer to have more working chips than it can sell in the high-end segment, artificially limiting the capabilities of high-quality chips just to be able to keep up with the demand for lower price range. So why not deliver the best performing chips at the consumer asking price anyway, keeping open the option to take them to the higher performance level, after paying the price difference presented as a “upgrade” option? at the level ” ?
In order not to risk too much controversy from retail consumers, Intel has decided to introduce the software called Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) exclusively for the Xeon line of processors, as evidenced by the latest version of the Linux kernel (5.18 ). So Intel customers who are already using Xeon processors will be able to permanently unlock higher levels of performance by simply applying a microcode update (the CPU equivalent of the BIOS update), with the entire process being reduced to a simple restart of this server.
At this time, Intel is not disclosing full details of the pay-as-you-go upgrade program. For example, in addition to unlocking actual performance, we might also see what is known as feature unlocking, such as enabling support for more RAM (e.g. increasing the limit of 2 TB to 4.5 TB of RAM), the activation of certain virtualization technologies and thermal management.
To put things into perspective, it’s worth mentioning that there are currently 57 different models of processors in the Xeon Scalable range, the ability to “upgrade” to almost any CPU version without removing hardware for hardware interventions , possibly paying less for the purchase of a brand new CPU will surely arouse the interest of many buyers.