Wednesday, September 29th 2021

Is Intel Working on CPU-Features-as-a-Service Xeon processors?

Some of you might remember Intel's Upgrade Service, aka software locked CPUs that launched back in 2010 with the Pentium G6951 that could have an extra 1 MB of cache and Hyper-Threading unlocked for a mere $50. Well, it seems like Intel is working on something similar, but for Xeon CPUs this time around, although the exact details aren't clear as yet.

Phoronix spotted a Linux patch on GitHub for something called Intel Software Defined Silicon or SDSi for short. It's clear that it's for Xeon CPUs and the GitHub page mentions that SDSi "allows the configuration of additional CPU features through a license activation process." There's very little to go by beyond this, but it's not hard to draw parallels with Intel's Upgrade Service from last decade, just this time Intel is targeting its business customers rather than consumers.
Phoronix mentions that "[t]he SDSi kernel driver exposes a per-socket interface so their user-space application can provision an authentication key certificate that is written to internal NVRAM, provision their "capability activation payload", and reading of the SDSi state certificate that shows the CPU configuration state for a given processor." As to exactly what features Intel are planning on putting behind a paywall, we're going to have to to wait and see, but based on Intel's Upgrade Service, we might see things like cache and Hyper-Threading, as well as maybe AVX-512 or other "extra" instruction sets being offered at an extra cost. It might also be a feature for unlocking additional CPU sockets in a server. Time will tell what Intel has planned, but what is clear is that the company wants to be able to charge its customers more than once for its CPUs.
Sources: GitHub, via Phoronix
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23 Comments on Is Intel Working on CPU-Features-as-a-Service Xeon processors?

#1
DeathtoGnomes
so $50 per core and $25 per thread on top of that, oh and a cherry lollipop, free.
Posted on Reply
#3
Jism
Windows as a service,

Adobe as a service,

Spotify as a service,

and now Intel as a service, pay to unlock all it's features. Lol.

Garbage company. You buy a product for what it's capable for. Not skimped up or "need to register to unlock all features" blabla.

This is what that telemetry leads to.
Posted on Reply
#4
rethcirE
It's just like owning a Tesla...
Posted on Reply
#5
R-T-B
JismThis is what that telemetry leads to.
Unrelated/seperate but also a problem.

No, what leads to this is idiots willing to pay for it.
Posted on Reply
#6
Chomiq
JismWindows as a service,

Adobe as a service,

Spotify as a service,

and now Intel as a service, pay to unlock all it's features. Lol.

Garbage company. You buy a product for what it's capable for. Not skimped up or "need to register to unlock all features" blabla.

This is what that telemetry leads to.
Well if you're renting your server you're already paying a fee per core. This would probably affect most the people hosting the servers in first place, then it would trickle down to end users.
Posted on Reply
#7
TheLostSwede
ChomiqWell if you're renting your server you're already paying a fee per core. This would probably affect most the people hosting the servers in first place, then it would trickle down to end users.
Actually, what if this is a means to offer a CPU to hosting companies, where the customer who rents the server(s)/CPU(s) pay a fee directly to Intel for certain features? I mean, that would be a true XaaS scenario.
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#8
KarymidoN
this "Everything as a Service" trend has to stop...
Posted on Reply
#9
Crackong
subscribe, or your CPU runs in flat base clock ?
Posted on Reply
#10
ThrashZone
JismWindows as a service,

Adobe as a service,

Spotify as a service,

and now Intel as a service, pay to unlock all it's features. Lol.

Garbage company. You buy a product for what it's capable for. Not skimped up or "need to register to unlock all features" blabla.

This is what that telemetry leads to.
Hi,
Think we already do this though
K series chips unlocks features and they cost more.

Not to many people buy xeon chips so this isn't a large issue.
Posted on Reply
#11
Vya Domus
They'd rather take the hit of selling you a fully functioning processor for a lower price on the hopes that you'll pay up rather than just selling you a product that was missing those features and had a lower manufacturing cost to begin with. I am glad they're still spending their time trying to figure out innovative way of squeezing money out of their customers rather than just improving their technology and making better products. What corporations with deep pockets conjure up always amazes me.
R-T-BNo, what leads to this is idiots willing to pay for it.
The idiots might not have choice if they're cornered by a company that owns the vast majority of market share in that segment.
Posted on Reply
#12
zlobby
How about intel sook the D, and later, if they pay extra, they get the ballz as well?
ThrashZoneHi,
Think we already do this though
K series chips unlocks features and they cost more.

Not to many people buy xeon chips so this isn't a large issue.
UK's gas shortage and empty shelves weren't a big issue until the island turned into Fury Road...
Posted on Reply
#13
R-T-B
Vya DomusThe idiots might not have choice if they're cornered by a company that owns the vast majority of market share in that segment.
In any other age/timespan, I'd say "but AMD!" but... yeah. Silicon shortage. You may have a point. I still would not pay for it, I'd simply not pay for the feature.
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#14
DonKnotts
So Intel decides to start playing with an idea like this when they are actually starting to lose ground to AMD in that market segment? This seems almost self-destructive to me.
Posted on Reply
#15
TheLostSwede
DonKnottsSo Intel decides to start playing with an idea like this when they are actually starting to lose ground to AMD in that market segment? This seems almost self-destructive to me.
Well, we don't really know what it'll be in the end, right now it's just speculation beyond what little Intel has posted on GitHub.
That said, with past history, it's hard not to draw conclusions.
Posted on Reply
#16
DeathtoGnomes
JismWindows as a service,

Adobe as a service,

Spotify as a service,

and now Intel as a service, pay to unlock all it's features. Lol.

Garbage company. You buy a product for what it's capable for. Not skimped up or "need to register to unlock all features" blabla.

This is what that telemetry leads to.
toilet as a service,
TheLostSwedeWell, we don't really know what it'll be in the end, right now it's just speculation beyond what little Intel has posted on GitHub.
That said, with past history, it's hard not to draw conclusions.
I'd venture to say anything Intel does is speculation and is using PRs just to scare people. :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#17
Wirko
Why would anyone pay for that when you can still find web sites which let you download more ram for free?
Posted on Reply
#18
Darmok N Jalad
Yeah, I saw that article the other day. If true, what a grift. I'm curious if one would be able to just buy CPUs with the features out of the box, or if all SKUs will be disabled by default until you pay up. This would seem like fake news if they hadn't already done it once before. Probably just a way to appear more price completive at the baseline only to bite you later.
Posted on Reply
#19
R-T-B
DeathtoGnomestoilet as a service,
This is a thing. It's called City Sewer.
Posted on Reply
#20
TheoneandonlyMrK
At Op, this is the way.

Intel's way, I would go RISC V before I buy anything I have to pay a subscription to use.

A lot of big companies are looking at this as a concept.

Put electric seats in everything.

Put cruise control on everything.

Phone up, pay, use it until you stop paying.

How the actual Fffff, does this help us consume less, getting shit we don't need, how is that going to help getting to a carbon zero world, making more shit people may never use.
On chips, even server chip's (though if Intel thinks it's money it'll be in consumer chip's soon) it's just as balls, it costs to make shit retards (Intel)in resources ,all to get another slimey sub, Maybe, this shit needs consumer blockage in any market.

I've worked at places that built shit with software unlockable quadrupoles priced in the thousands for the key after spending a lot.

No thought of the waste of resource or man hours.


IMHO it's abhorrent, vile, greed incarnated.
Posted on Reply
#21
Wirko
Some people are excited at the idea of having FPGA blocks inside their CPUs ... but there is zero chance that programs/software/definition/configuration files (what's the correct term?) would come free of charge.
Posted on Reply
#22
First Strike
Well, I don't think Intel is trying to go anywhere with this. "XX as a service" only works for an integrated end-user solution, where no one other than the vendor itself can define the end product experience, like a car.

This pattern does not work for individual components. A CPU cannot function on its own. In this case, it needs an OS and peripherals for the activation which Intel has a dubious control over. Anyway it has similar issues with console cracking, if not greater.

Most probably they will sell those BS inside datacenter solutions rather than as PC components.
Posted on Reply
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