Intel unveils “On Demand” pay-as-you-go feature unlock service for data-center CPUs

Intel On Demand for Sapphire Rapids server CPUs

The company introduces a new program to unlock certain features for ‘Software Defined Silicon’. 

Intel On Demand, Source: Intel

Intel server customers will have more flexibility when it comes to choosing the right SKU for their systems. The company has just announced its On Demand program, which will make it possible to unlock certain features on modern server CPUs after they were purchased.

Intel confirms that On Demand will include the following technologies:

Security Upgrade

  • Intel® Software Guard Extensions

Communications & Storage Suite

  • Intel® Quick Assist Technology
  • Intel® Dynamic Load Balancer
  • Intel® Data Streaming Accelerator (when applicable)

Analytics Suite

  • Intel® In-Memory Analytics Accelerator
  • Intel® Data Streaming Accelerator (when applicable)

By hiding some features behind a ‘paywall’ Intel will be able to offer fewer SKUs, while customers will have no need to replace processors should certain features become suddenly available. This is what Intel describes as ‘Consumption Model’, where customers can align their infrastructure with necessary services as they are needed.

Intel On Demand, Source: Intel

The new program is aiming at datacenters for now, fortunately with no official plans to include consumer hardware. However, Intel had already experimented with the idea of unlocking consumer hardware for a certain fee. The program called Intel Upgrade Service made it possible to unlock bigger cache or hyper threading support on certain low-end CPUs. Unfortunately for Intel, it has been met with nothing but criticism, but for the data-center market this may actually work out.

Intel is yet to confirm the full details on this program, including pricing for each feature and which SKUs specifically can be unlocked. Those details may become available after 4th Gen Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids is released, which is now scheduled for January 10th.

Source: Intel via Tom’s Hardware

Leave a Comment