Intel is giving buyers of some computers the chance to upgrade their PCs by boosting the power of the processor. The pilot scheme of helping the customers upgrade their computer would involve purchasing a card which has a security key that unlocks the extra features via the web.
Critics are of the opinion that Intel has come up with an idea to charge customers for something the chip can already do. To this Intel defensively said that the scheme was introduced to offer "choice and flexibility". "The pilot in a limited number of retail stores will centre on one Pentium processor, one of our value brands, and will enable a consumer to upgrade the performance of their PC online," Intel spokesman George Alfs said. "This saves the user from buying a new system or taking it in for a physical upgrade."
Initially, the cash-based card upgrade scheme will apply to computers having the G6951 desktop processor. According to Intel a sister chip, the G6950, costs $87 (£56) each when bought in batches of 1,000. Reports said that they would retail the up-gradation- card for $50.
The upgrade would increase the size of the chip's cache memory and unlock a technology known as hyperthreading. This would make the computer more responsive and help with data-intensive tasks like video editing as it enables a workload to be spread dynamically shared across the two processors.
The G6951 processor is a dual core 2.8Ghz chip from Intel's i3 family which is targeted to the lower-end desktop machines. The G6951 is not available for the consumers yet but is expected to be used in Gateway's SX2841-09e desktop machine that will only be available from the Best Buy store soon.
The web pages that Intel has launched to support its "down the wire" upgrade service will be piloted with a "limited number" of customers in the US, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands.
"The upgrade mechanism here is a basic one, so it won't be long until the process is hacked. It's highly confusing for the consumer. To be honest, it's not really worth the $50 and customers could spend their money better.", said Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and he also added, "This is a bone-headed move for Intel to make."
Steven Mostyn of the Tech Herald noted that Intel is not the first tech player to charge its customers for locked content. "Major publishers within the video games industry have long since adopted the profit-wringing strategy of locking gameplay content on disc until players shell out extra for 'downloadable' access."