Is it possible to unlock more cores on certain processors?

Victor Ong October 27, 2012

So I’ve been looking at computer processors, and it’s been rumored that some processors (like Intel’s hex-core i7-3960x) really have more cores, but they were sealed up by Intel for whatever reason.

My questions are:

1. Are there really sealed cores?
1. If so, how would I go about unlocking them?


  1. Daniel
    November 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    cute replies here :)

    First, to quickly answer the original question - No, you cannot unlock cores on Intel CPUs. Intel has never been all that fond of enthusiasts :(

    Second, you can definitely unlock plenty of AMD CPUs, ever since AM2 or so. You can actually unlock single-cores to dual (like the 140). Dual to quad (like my very own 555). And tri-cores to quad.
    (nothing is guaranteed of course, but with a good motherboard, good cooling and some luck, you can do it)

    And why do they do this you ask ? Thats quite simple. CPUs from a full range are actually produced as a single kind of die, then this die is tested and binned. The chips are then locked and sold based on how well the die performed or depending on what the market demand is at the time. Since the cost to produce a dual core at 2GHz is same as producing a quad core at 3GHz, its better to sell many 2GHz dual cores, than few quad core 3GHz CPUs.
    CPUs have always been made in this way ;) and this is one reason why Intel is not very friendly, their cost is the same for many of the CPUs they make, why be so greedy ?? :(

    P.S. I am not affiliated with AMD :) nor am I a fan-boy, Intel CPUs have been better on the average, including in my very own experience. I simply dislike their politics.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Thank you very much for this insight, Daniel!

    • Victor Ong
      December 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      What about an AM3+ FX 8350?

  2. Rakesh Mishra
    November 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    you can perform clock rate

  3. sunny rastogi
    November 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

    In AMD u can surely unlock cores...they have it inbuild ...with esd protection ..a few tutorials on youtube will help u though ..

  4. Kannon Y
    October 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Unlocking the hidden core was one of the best ways to squeeze value out of an AMD. In some ways, it still is, although it's a bit of a risk, because there's no way to guarantee that the CPU will unlock into a quad.

    As others have stated, AMD allowed for core unlocking on their CPUs, but they don't appear to be making any more CPUs with this feature. The last tri-core CPU, to my knowledge, was an A6 CPU in the Llano series of APU styled designs.

    The most common, and well known, unlocking CPU is pretty much any Athlon or Phenom with a tri-core. Tri-core CPUs were actually quadcores with slightly out of whack voltage tolerances, or other issues with the fourth core. So during quality control testing, if one or more cores on a die failed to properly engage at stock voltages, AMD would repackage these CPUs as Tri-core. Although they had disabled these defective cores, a number of motherboard manufacturers realized that the disabled core could easily be reenabled.

    All the major board manufacturers (except Intel of course!) made motherboards that featured unlocking technology, which is referred to frequently as ACC.

    The unlock rate was about 50% of tricores, with enough fidgeting, could become a quad. The process involved tuning each core individually and slightly raising the CPU voltage - more cores required more energy.

    MSI and Gigabyte probably made the boards with the best unlocking technology. ECS also had some decent unlocking features.

  5. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Not worth close to the effort.

  6. Patrick Jackson
    October 29, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Don't waste your time and energy on listening to these useless rumours. It is just a hoax. No, there is no way to do it.

  7. Alex Perkins
    October 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I think AMD only does that.

  8. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    if the cores are locked by the manufacturer, you cannot unlock them.. the prefix 'K' stands for unlocked processors, and they can be overclocked. that's it! nothing more!

    • Anonymous
      November 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Why would they put the extra cores in there then?

  9. kumar raja
    October 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I dont no in intel in AMD we can do it but it very risk

  10. susendeep dutta
    October 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

    AMD had this but it required very much technical skills and the software used to do this is not much proper in enabling those additional locked cores.In conclusion,they were not useful .It was out of scope for a common user.

  11. Jan Fritsch
    October 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I only know of AMD doing this on certain processors but it's hardly worth trying to unlock. Worst thing that can happen is that your CPU will end up dead - which is in fact the worst thing.

    I also believe they have stopped making it that easy as they are effectively losing money by people buying lower spec processors and unlocking them.

    In most cases cores, be it an actual core of a CPU or a shader unit on a graphics card are mostly disabled via laser cut or similar.

  12. ha14
    October 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

    intel will not sell you processor that has more cores with the price of less cores
    Core i7-3930K, features 6 cores, dips down to 12 MB of cache, 3.3GHz to 3.9Ghz

    IntelĀ® Cor i7-3960X Processor Extreme Edition has 15MB of cache, 3.3GHz to 3.9Ghz
    That larger L3 cache permits quicker data exchanges among the cores, which improves performance in applications that are optimized for multiple cores

  13. Anonymous
    October 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

    If the cores are sealed by the manufacturer, don't bother wasting your time, as it wont be possible.

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