REMEMBER THE FUSS about AMD X3 chips and the ability to unlock them? Well, it seems like AMD did the right thing, or didn't do the wrong thing, and the dual cores are unlockable as well.
You might recall there was some fuss about unlocking the X3s to X4s with a BIOS change. It wasn't a huge technical leap, just knowing the right obscure setting to change, and in no time, you had a fourth core. From what we are told, it still works, and that is the crux of the next step in this saga.
Early on, people were FUDing about the fourth core being there because of manufacturing defects. Hundreds if not thousands of unlocked X3s later, we have not heard one reliable report of a defective core. Four digit sample sizes are not conclusive, but to me, they are a good bet if you are spending three digits on a CPU. AMD took a beating, and now they are backhanding back.
The real debate was happening behind the scenes. AMD was considering hard locking enthusiasts out of the unlock. We have said this was a bad idea. The number of people unlocking versus the sales gain was a clear win for AMD. Two months later, no one at the local MicroCenter even remembered the unlock ability, so the number of unlocked cores will fade in short order. All blocking the ability now would do is bring it back in a negative way - imagine the headlines of "AMD cuts enthusiasts out". Luckily, this is not the case, and we hear sanity prevailed. There will be no official squashing of the fun, but it won't be endorsed or supported either.
Why is this important now? There is an X2 coming soon, but it is not a new die, it is an X4-2. The best news? According to the Korean site GiggleHD (translation here), these too can be unlocked. If this keeps up, we could see a resurgence in enthusiasm not seen since Intel started hard locking multipliers to save us from ourselves.
With any luck, such unlocking will continue, and instead of locking chips down to prevent [insert paranoid excuse here], both AMD and Intel will simply hard encode chips with their name and part number. This would prevent the selling of remarked, unlocked or whatnot chips, while still allowing enthusiasts to have their fun too. That would be a win-win for all. µ