This is from at least 2005.
Not that long ago, I believe it was asus, did market some amazing power savings magic with an associated chip which turned out to be just a slab of chip-like plastic.
On the flip side, a Unisys/Burroughs mainframe era tech told me decades ago of a model that had a very expensive “Go Fast” option….
If you bought the “Go Slow” option and decided to upgrade, he’d drive out to your site, “Tadah! Your super Go Fast upgrade has arrived!”, do all the antistatic safety stuff and pull out your old board from the cabinet, take your new board out of the anti-static bag and put it in, putting the old board in the bag… Power up, Wheee! We’re Going Faster!
On the way to the next customer, he’d stop on the side of the road, pull out your old board, flip a few switches on the maus klavier (dip switch…), drive to next customer “Tadah! Your super Go Fast upgrade has arrived!”
This is vaguely similar to what processor manufacturers do today—the difference between two chips might just be which features are turned on (although it’s usually the lower-binned chips that get features disabled since they would be unstable at higher frequencies or with more cores). The pricing is somewhat artificial.
It depends a lot on the manufacturer and how well they guess the market. For example, 486SXs were initially 486DXs whose FPU failed tests. Later, yields increased, but demand for 486DXs didn’t grow at the same rate, so Intel just disabled the FPU. The same happened with some of the Pentium vs Celeron branding: the early Celerons had faulty caches, the later ones had some of the cache disabled.
A lot of CPUs are designed to be able to operate with partial failures. The best example is probably the CPU in the Playstation 3, which had 7 Cell SPUs instead of the 8 that were available in IBM’s workstation / server chips. They got the price down by designing it to tolerate a single manufacturing defect. If it hit the CPU cores, they sold the chip as an accelerator. If it hit one of the SPUs (most of the area was SPUs, so this was most likely), they disabled the faulty one and sold it to Sony. If everything worked, they had their high-end chip.
You only see the high-end chips sold as low-end chips when the yields are higher than expected and reducing the price of the high-end ones would not increase demand enough to make up for the lower margins. There have been some great examples of this. A load of the early Celerons were sold to run with a 66MHz front-side bus, but you could bump this to 100MHz and they’d still be stable. The ABit BP6 was famous for this: you could buy it and two 300MHz Celerons for less than a 450MHz Pentium II (just the CPU), bump the FSB to 100MHz and have a dual-processor SMP machine where each core was a shade slower than the PII (smaller cache, but otherwise identical). The Axia Y stepping Athlons were similar: the 1GHz version ran happily at 1.33GHz.
Apart from the binning based on speed/defects as described by /u/david_chisnall , often times chips with the same design are artificially limited in features in options to produce lower-spec chips. This is currently obvious in Intel vs. AMD marketing and market segmentation; Intel segments heavily this way, so if you want a chip that supports ECC RAM or lets you tweak/overclock various settings, for Intel you have to buy the Right Chip in their zoo of different variants even when they’re all basically the same design. In contrast, all AMD chips support the same features – though not all AMD motherboards do, so there’s still an element of marketing over content there.
Speaking of ASUS, I bought a motherboard from them recently and had to reboot and tweak settings around 100 times (no exaggeration) trying to find the magic setting that would allow my RAM to run at the advertised, apparently-supported and acknowledged (by the board itself) speed.
It’s fine really but I expected hardware to require less guesswork these days.
Would it hurt to mention which setting?
No, and it also wouldn’t hurt to ask nicely.
But here you go:
… now it just goes into BIOS every boot and won’t let you choose a boot device …
There’s quite the level of needless obfuscation in there. You’re right. This would be hard to find.
Two pieces of info I found while searching:
Changing to the other slots didn’t help.
Nothing I tried with voltage helped at all.
I have no idea why picking this one setting has resulted in a bootable system with D.O.C.P. Standard set (and therefore PC3200 speeds) but I’ve backed up my BIOS settings to a USB stick and I’m not touching it again! At least this reminds me why I prefer using Macs. None of this hassle just to get what you’re promised!
To add pain to injury:
Did anyone else read “Bad motherfuckers: how to recognize and avoid them”?
Just check their wallet.