Monday, September 20, 2010

AMD has the free upgrade solution....

     Yesterday I made the post about Intel offering the "Paid Upgrade" for the power you already own. Today I'm discussing the AMD Unlocker thats avaliable in most new mainstream motherboards from your Teir 1 vendors such as Asus, MSI and Gigabyte.

     "Free Cores?!?" you might say "Why does AMD do this?" Well to understand this, we must understand a bit about how AMD and Intel make CPU's and GPU's. The mass produce these tiny chips, and then stress test them in the "Unlocked" form. If Batch A doesnt perform as well as hoped, they clock them down to a stable speed, and market them as a cheaper CPU. If Batch B performs MUCH better, then they clock it UP, and sell it for a higher price. This allows for 3 things:

  • Cost Variance for people of any budget without having to actually BUILD 10 different chips
  • Proper Stress testing of the quality parts. You (should) never buy a 700 dollar video card and have it fail. 
  • Overclockability for the Enthusiast group. People who enjoy spending a little on the chance of tweaking the product
     AMD decided they might as well take advantage of this manufacturing process to help sell some more low-end Dual and Triple core units, thus "Unlocker". This is a hardware based unlock of the 3rd and 4th Cores on some chips. We'll be looking at the AMD Phenom II 555 Black edition as an example. 
     Reasonably priced at 99 dollars from most retailers, the Phenom X2 555 is a 3.2ghz processor, Dual Core, and boasts 6MB of cache, making it the snappiest AMD I've used in some time. Whats interesting however, is that AMD built these chips with all 4 cores online and functional, meaning this is one of the most perfect chips for the Unlock. Keep in mind, some of these wont work, and may have a genuinely defective core, but if you're willing to take that risk, it makes for one of the cheapest and fastest QuadCore AMD's on the market today. 

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