Intel Preps Software Defined Xeon CPUs: Buy Now, Add Features Later

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Intel Preps Software Defined Xeon CPUs: Buy Now, Add Features Later

Intel has published a patch (discovered by Phoronix) that enables support for its Intel Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) mechanism in Linux. The technology is meant for upcoming Intel Xeon processors and is designed to activate additional silicon features after a processor has been deployed.  

The patch does not mention any specific features it is meant to unlock or any specific Xeon Scalable processors it is meant to upgrade (we think Sapphire Rapids), yet it gives some general understanding how it is supposed to work. As it turns out, the whole process is purely software, so it does not require any manipulations with hardware. Therefore, it can be done relatively easily. 

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Intel’s SDSi initiative seems to be a major one, yet Intel is not new to offering software upgrades to its CPUs. The most recent example of such software upgradeability is Intel’s Virtual RAID on CPU (Intel VROC) technology that relies on the Intel Volume Management Device (VMD) hardware built into the CPU and has to be activated using a special hardware key. The company also once offered its Upgrade Service software upgrade capability for its entry-level client CPUs that would increase their clock speed, unlock a previously unused portion of cache, and activate Hyper-Threading technology. 

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