Intel Releases 3 "Upgrade Cards" for Sandy Bridge

Less than a year ago, reports pointed to a scratch-off "upgrade card" Intel was selling that enabled additional features on the Pentium G6951 processor. For $50 USD, owners of that specific CPU could purchase the card at any participating retailer, download software straight from Intel, and then use the number printed underneath the scratch-off surface. This unlocked a full 1 MB of L3 cache and HyperThreading support.

Eleven months later, Intel has released three more scratch-off upgrade cards for second-generation Sandy Bridge processors including the Core i3-2312M processor, the Core i3-2102 processor and the Pentium G622 processor. All three receive increased-yet-unspecified clock speeds thanks to the upgrade, but the Core i3-2312M, its SKU changed to the i3-2393M after the upgrade, receives additional cache. Depending on the application, the revved i3-2312M will be 10 to 19-percent faster, the i3-2102 (or i3-2153) will be 11 to 15-percent faster, and the Pentium G622 (or Pentium G693) will be 15 to 23-percent faster.

Although Intel didn't provide actual upgrade numbers, AnandTech speculates that the i3-2312M, which ships clocked at 2.1 GHz with 3 MB of L3 cache, may be cranked up to 2.5 GHz and an extra 1 MB of L3 cache. The i3-2102 (3.1 GHz, 3 MB) could be 3.6 GHz after the upgrade and the Pentium G622 (2.6 GHz, 3 MB) could be 3.2 GHz after the upgrade. These numbers are based on the performance gains Intel reported in its press release.

Right now it's unclear how much these upgrade cards will cost although it's assumed to be $50 as before. But as pointed out, this may be a costly upgrade for Pentium G622 users who originally paid around $65 for the CPU. Then again, these upgrade cards may be ideal for those who purchased OEM PCs and can't physically upgrade the CPU without voiding the warranty.

  • bak0n
    So if I'm understanding this correctly, Intel is selling a faster CPU that you have to pay extra to fully use?
  • big_BDS
    This is the dumbest thing ever, will just go with AMD then I know what I'm paying for is what I'm getting.
  • jblack
    Wouldn't it be great if Intel would tell you exactly what you were getting instead of "15% faster" with increases in Frequency/Cache?

    I've looked on Intel's site and they don't list the specs for the upgraded models anywhere.
  • IzzyCraft
    Herp this is what happens when amd can't compete intel can artificially cripple their cpus to match amd's power/price point and still turn a profit, while at the same time turn even more of a profit selling keys to unlock more power from the cpus.
  • You do realize that the lower end processors are just high end processors with certain features disabled?

    AMD does not make ANY triple core processors, they are quads with one core disabled...

    Pretty much every modern intel has the architecture to support hyperthreading, it's just disabled on certain models by the firmware.
  • dread_cthulhu
    Yeah, this is profiteering at its finest... I'll stick with AMD, thanks...
  • Confused Turtle
    big_BDSThis is the dumbest thing ever, will just go with AMD then I know what I'm paying for is what I'm getting.
    I've heard of people unlocking cores on their AMD processors. They throttle stuff too; they just don't offer upgrades. If you had purchased one of these throttled Intel processors earlier, you would still get the performance you originally expected from them.

    I don't like the idea of disabling hardware as part of the bleed you for every cent scheme myself. But the worst thing you can do for a cause is give bad arguments for it.
  • kastraelie
    Frankly I'm shocked. Not at Intel but at my friends and others I see on the net who think this is some new form of profiteering that hasn't been seen/done before...

    This is what AMD, Nvidia, ATI, and Intel have been doing for well over a decade now...except now when Intel makes it easier, cheaper, and open to everyone people complain. People really must be slow to catch on.

    It used to be you bought an artificially slower chip from the factory, and if you wanted to upgrade you replaced the ENTIRE chip--spending more money and having the hassle of taking it out of your system and installing a new one. Now you just pay an extra 50 bucks and instantly make it faster...

    With GPU manufacturers it is the same thing...release the top end chip and keep disabling/removing features from it and selling it at lower price points to cover your market.

    Yes, sometimes they go "up" by adding faster memory or "unlocking" the multipliers...but it essentially the same thing. Like sticking a Cobra sticker on your v6 mustang.

  • gto127
    So basically intel is charging you to unlock their cores so you can overclock & have a little more cache. No thanks. I'm waiting for Bulldozer.
  • beenthere
    You're a fool if you pay $50 extra for these trivial upgrades.