While browsing through motherboards at Computex, several manufacturers were quick to tell us some details about the recently released dual-core Phenom II CPUs from AMD.
Two motherboard makers told us at the show that AMD's new processors are safe when unlocking disabled cores. In fact, one motherboard maker even told us that when you unlock the disabled cores, they run at slower frequencies than the normal cores.
This is of course all incorrect, and it is indeed not a safe guarantee when you unlock the disabled cores. The reason for this is that the disabled cores are turned off for a reason: they failed factory tests. Cores can fail for any number of reasons, including defects in the silicon, problems running at full frequency, or a bug introduced during manufacturing.
Both AMD and Intel disable CPU cores for this very reason.
When you unlock the disabled cores, they will run at full processor frequency, since you cannot run each core at different speeds. While you may see initial gains and benefits from turning a dual-core CPU into a quad-core CPU, you may introduce instability into your system. Things may corrupt, calculate incorrectly or even crash.
Despite what we were told, we still recommend that if you're going to unlock disabled cores, do so with caution in mind--there is always a risk that something will go wrong.