"It is far cheaper to make one very good chip for the highest market, and modify it slightly for lower end markets...
Now, this is the part you hate: this is the only viable alternative. There's no point demanding different designs for different market segments as that would significantly increase the cost you, the consumer, pays. You can demand chips be sold at lowest prices without being fused down, but then the company eats its own market, becomes unprofitable, and goes out of business at worst - or, at best, doesn't make enough money to fund further r&d as much as they want, which again hurts you, the consumer."
Gaming GPUs have some parts fused off. These parts are not essential for gaming performance, and powering them off with fuses gives better thermal properties, which allows more gaming performance. These things run HOT.
Finally, this hack does not really make your card into a Tesla or a Quadro, it just fools the driver with a bogus PCI ID and enables some software features that are disabled. It does not enable hardware that has been fused out.
I dont understand why users think that this is an evil practice. Its HARD to build hardware, and just like software engineers want to have reusable code, hardware manufacturers want to have reusable silicone. You are paying for the features you want. If you want a feature set that isn't mainstream and "workstation" capable, you are going to have to pay more. If you just want to push pixels quickly, then of course they will disable some high end functionality and sell it to you cheaper.
That said, I applaud the fact that they are digging in and learning to mod these things.
"I own a NVidia GTX 690 which I bought for two reasons, gaming, and multi monitor setup for work, NVidia made it very clear that this card would drive up to 3 screens in 2d, which it does quite nicely :-+... under windows :--! The tight asses have decided that if you want this feature under Linux you have to get a Quadro which has Mosaic support :palm:. So naturally I decided to look at how mod the card, as the price difference is over $1000 between the GTX 690 and the Quadro K5000 (same GPU) and, get this... the K5000 is only single GPU and clocked some 25-30% slower then the gaming card, what a joke"
It might be that he had expected 3 screens under Linux but didn't get it, so he set out to "fix" it. It seems a bit excessive to expect someone to spend $1000 for a card performing 25-30% less just to get Linux support :)
On chip lines like these, there's usually a process called "Speed Binning" where basically when you test the performance of each chip, and you put the higher performing ones in a different "Bin" than the slightly less efficient ones. You then sell the super high performance ones for a higher price, or put them in the more expensive product lines, as they will be less likely to fail.
i.e: Of all the chips that don't fail their tests and are rejected, 85% are of C grade performance, 12% are B grade, and 3% are A grade. Intel does this to get the "Extreme Edition" chips, and i'm assuming Nvidia does this to select the chips for their higher grade product lines.
Remember that the widths of the oxide tracks within the silicon is on average 40nm these days (that's only ~400 atoms across!) or even smaller. with hundreds of process steps. One big molecule from some tiny error in the production process on the wrong part of the chip may not cripple it, but may impede performance, it's just probability at the end of the day.
With regards to potential fails going into production, it does happen, there are several test phases during production to catch as many as you can, but at the end of the day you won't get them all.
Semiconductor fabrication is fantastically expensive, new Fab plants cost several billion to build, so if you want to guarantee quality you have to pay for it.
It seems like a really good idea. It also seems like it must be pretty hard to do in a way that gives you a reliable (say) 10% emerging as 'lucky.'
You design those percentage bands, generally to the size of the market you're aiming the chip tiers at. The silicon will be as good as they can get it generally, nobody wants to push bad products out. Recalls and returns probably cost more in the long term than failing more chips and suffering a worse yield.
However if only 0.5% of your customer base is interested in paying more money for a faster chip, you only cream off the top 0.5% of chips.
Clever little hardware hacks gives you oodles of geek street cred, but it may mean putting up with occasional bizarre behavior so that cred is well-earned. When silicon fails, the apparent effects can defy all logic. We can be talking about a logical AND that does something else entirely <0.001% of the time.
I'm fine with this as a business necessity, but I really wish someone would pitch a service that only throttles me during peak times. I feel like we're tossing a bunch of idle capacity down the drain.
If you're going to spend the effort to modify the card to behave as what is described in the hack, then it is really no loss to the manufacturer as they had already made a sale to you and you're forgoing your warranty in the process, so they will unlikely need to spend any further money on you.
Contrast this to a cable modem modification where you modify the uploaded file to allow for faster speeds, to the detriment of others. People who legitimately pay for those speeds you've effectively stolen could be hindered as a result. You're stealing from a service in this case.
So I don't think your comparison is fair here.
A better example would be those who have older video game consoles and are tapping into the RGB lines to produce a video signal superior to of what is offered out of the box. The manufacturer never intended for this but physically it allowed for it due to different markets or how the video was processed to begin with.
Here are some screenshots: http://www.reddit.com/r/gamecollecting/comments/mcmsz/my_sne...
Found this out when I was wondering what he was talking about...
The SCART method is fairly straight forward, but getting at it on other non-SCART capable consoles is something else so hence "RGB lines". :)
They give free/cheap stuff to poor/normal people and expensive stuff to rich people.
Then the expensive stuff pays for the cheap stuff.
It's like socialism for capitalists.
The company and the consumers are rational, yet for no additional cost, everyone could be benefiting from better hardware.
Unfortunately I don't have a better system to propose :)
The claim that this is not economically efficient isn't so straightforward. In particular, your counterfactual isn't "at no additional cost." It would reduce revenue to the card-maker as no one would pay the higher price for the more expensive cards. If the producer can only charge one price, then it would be somewhere in the middle, which would hurt the consumers buying the low end card. Worst case it would make the entire card unprofitable and it would never get produced in the first place.
This problem is more obvious with software, by the way: higher-end SaaS plans may cost marginally more (storage, support) but they're really mostly about price discrimination: getting people who can pay more to pay more even if you could provide all your customers with the top-tier experience.
For gamers, a low performance value yields a value of $10, and a high performance value yields a value of $12.
For professionals, a low performance value yields a value of $5, and a high performance value yields a value of $20.
If nVidia sold a single design to all of them, with a high performance value, then gamers would be willing to pay less than $12, and professionals would pay less than $20.
If they want to sell to the entire market, they have to price it less than $12, and lose around $8 from each professional buyer.
However, if they sell 2 designs (e.g: one a cripple of the other), they can derive around $10 of value from each gamer, and $20 from each professional.
The reason this is inefficient, is because for each gamer buying the crippled design, there is a loss of $2 of real value. This loss is a real value loss that could be avoided if there was some other way to extract the actual value for gamers and professionals without crippling the product.
In short, the inefficiency is not that the price is not near the production cost, but that the intentional crippling of the product (necessary to extract maximal value via market segmentation) is causing an actual value loss in the economy.
So its socially optimum to continue to do what Nvidia is doing ;).
If I had to guess, I would say their gamer card prices are by and large good approximations of the value they provide. No idea about professional card prices.
Consider, Intel produces a wide range of CPU designs specifically because production capacity is what is most expensive. Video cards are something of a special case because they are highly redundant so companies can sell highly damaged chips as slightly different models. However, demand rarely matches the rate of defects so often chips are sold below capacity.
What confuses the issue is 'pro' cards that may preform worse than 'gamer' cards, but cost a lot more. However, that's more a case of different needs. Consider, stability is a lot more important to the 'pro' market which down clocking provides. Toss in some driver tweaks and a small market and you end up with a high priced product that does not cost more to manufacture.
Look at it this way. By decreasing prices in exchange for disabling some features, they increase the total number of consumers. With more consumers the total production costs can be distributed amongst more people. Which lowers prices for everyone, including the people paying for all of the features.
nVidia chips are a classic example of indirect price discrimination, where you can't prevent arbitrage. In tech this is common because both hardware and software have huge upfront costs (new fab design, coding and testing software), and it's cheaper to produce one and cripple than it is two different designs.
Without the "high- margin" fully unlocked segments, businesses might not pursue projects at all, or greatly reduce the scope and budget for R&D. It feels wrong because humans are much more wired to feel loss than unrealized gains, but it is the best solution for everyone.
"Economically efficient" is not equivalent to "the cheapest possible goods"
It's not relevant that some industries have different practices. It would be like asking why can't manufacturing let people work from home, since it works in programming. It's because they are different industries. Their attributes, particularly in terms of R&D and capital costs, aren't on the same scale.
Exactly. That's as if fast food chain just before serving food to customer added ingredient that would made food taste worse (and or be less healthy) in order to be able to sell you same food without this ingredient at premium price.
We don't see such behavior because in fast food industry we have heavy competition. Not so much in GPU market where two companies have most of the market and entry barriers are high.
I don't know, as I'm familiar with it early in the development of a process node they sell every top-bin-SKU they can make, and as the process matures they just have too many top-bin parts. I can only guess your argument is that in a competitive market they would start dropping the price of the top-bin SKU to move them, but that reduces the overall profit of the venture which may drive them to increase initial pricing, if profit margins are thin enough.
Basically what I'd argue is that the pricing is the symptom, not the down-binning. Down-binning exists to maintain & stabilize SKU distinction and pricing, as yields change over the life of a product.
If that was what the market wanted, don't you think that is what the market would get? I think the trouble is you are thinking "the marginal cost on a mature process" would be a few dollars.
You're right, the silicon would be a few dollars- but after testing and packaging and all that jazz, I believe most mainstream high performance desktop CPUs have a marginal cost of around $30. (Why not cheaper, like a 10MHz ARM chip? Package is expensive, due to cooling needs and pins for power & DRAM interface) So, perhaps you bring it to market for $40.
This chip you're selling probably performs like a mid-range part in today terms, in the $100-150 range. But when you consider TCO due to power draw and cooling, the numbers start to get closer.
I haven't carefully laid this out on paper or anything, but point being, if such a chip would sell so well, why is nobody doing it?
It becomes much clearer if you increase the contrast by comparing today's parts to those from a decade ago. The clocks are similar, but the performance has come a long ways due to improvements in IPC, multicore, updates to the memory interface, etc.
The extra value a producer is able to capture from price discrimination due to a relative lack of competition can be thought of as one of the ways in which the deal between producers and society called "intellectual property" functions to shift rewards for innovation toward to the producer.
Something thought "insufficient" for one end, might be in proper indeed for some other end.
If there was some other way to do the market segmentation: those who derive $X of value from the chip pay $X, and those who derive $Y pay $Y, without the crippling, then more economic value would be derived.
An example alternative for this approach could possibly be funding such developments with income tax. Then everyone can gain from the benefits of an uncrippled product, and the income tax already approximates how much value you gain from the R&D. This introduces a whole host of other problems, of course, but it does solve the crippling problem.
And they'll probably do this in their next chip.
Most people who are probably doing this are hobbyists at best. Most professionals would probably just have their company buying the cards anyway, and this hack won't at all change that.
Actually, it being a hardware hack rather than a software hack makes it even less appealing even for small shops to try. "You want to take that new $400 video card that we just bought you and do /what/ to it?" vs. "ooh, it's just a software upgrade" (even though both have the very real chance of bricking the card in inexperienced hands).
as if the company had infinite resources and didn't want to spend less.
This isn't true for startups or any kind of small business.
Also how is this any different from the Adobe scandal in Australia from a couple of months ago? I believe the Australian government even took them, Microsoft and Apple to court over charging Australians a lot more than Americans or others for the same products.
When the economics of making chips are $2B down to make the first one, then $25 for each that goes off the line, you cannot measure profitability like that. They need to recover R&D, and providing more expensive chips to the professional market through price discrimination is a good way to do this.
Once you have the mask though, pushing out chips is cheap and easy.
Ideally, the company would haggle with each and every customer, and get each customer to pay the highest price he in particular accepts. Since haggling is not feasible in mass markets, customers get grouped in segments, where the price is set to the maximum the segment will accept.
Clearly, if you misclassify a hacker into an expensive segment you get your hardware hacked :-)
I completely disagree. Even if it was as simple as just charging "pros" more money (it's not), the idea that this is somehow "undeserved money" is pretty ridiculous in it's own right.
Perhaps I can explain briefly. The "deserved"(sic) price is a value where both buyer and seller are comfortable doing business. In most cases, this is not a single value, but a range of values. At the minimum threshold the seller turns comfortable, and then there's a range where the transaction is possible and at the maximum the buyer turns uncomfortable.
Now, while for a given product and fixed seller, the minimum value of the agreement range is fixed, the maximum is dependent on the buyer. Yes, it is possible to sell all products at the minimum, but then you are giving all shared value to the buyer. Even if you are aiming for fairness, the transaction should occur at the middle of this agreement zone (the buyer buys at less than his maximum price, and the seller sells above his minimum price).
You could tackle this difference between consumers on a case by case through individual negotiation. Obviously this is not practical, so the next best thing is segmentation.
You may think this as unfair, but this is a result of seeing a half-empty glass. Segmentation allows for a company to subsidize "cheaper" products using "premium" products. If a cheaper product covers variable costs (but not fixed costs), and does not cannibalize the premium products, segmentation allows for prices below what would be possible if the burden of fixed costs had to be assigned to the cheaper segment. In industries where most of the cost is fixed (as in semiconductors), segmentation is key to achieving large volumes without compromising the ability to profit.
A while back there was a way to unlock an AMD 6950 GPU to a 6970 as well. Had something to do with unlocking some memory modules since the cards were identical.
I just absolutely loved reading this line. I had been away from 'hacker culture' for nearly two decades (probably ever since I became serious about my studies back in middle school and I stopped 'having fun' with my studies and interests) and finally seem to be growing back into the mindset. This kind of tinkering, exploring attitude is so wonderful, even just as an observer to this story it makes me feel like I'm regaining my childhood innocence again.
In the post he says:
"the GTX 690 and the Quadro K5000 (same GPU) and, get this... the K5000 is only single GPU and clocked some 25-30% slower then the gaming card, what a joke"
so wouldn't it be downgrading the card to make it usable on linux? maybe not idk much about linux, drivers, hardware etc.
Frankly, throwing in resistors to modify how it get's identified by the computer is really a hardware hack for a software problem.
The drivers are stupid, and they're deliberately choosing to not use card features.
I think its the physicality of what he has done that causes this. To me it 'feels' like somebody modifying a thing he had bought to make it more useful - we do this all the time without any moral qualms, such as modifying a pair of jeans so they fit you better. Or you can pull apart cheap AA batteries to get more expensive watch batteries contained inside . Nobody would dare claim such behaviour is immoral.
Yet somehow what this guy has done is skirting a moral boundary and using a keygen is widely considered 'wrong'.
1 - http://www.howtogeek.com/95390/hack-apart-a-12v-battery-for-...
When you buy (a license to use) software, (at least nowadays), you're paying for the right to use the software, not the actual bits on the disc/file.
When you buy hardware, you're paying for the materials and manufacturing effort that produced a physical thing.
Given that mass reproducing hardware is non-trivial compared to software, there is often little/no/paper-thin DRM on hardware. Thus the OP could modify his graphics card.
On the other hand, look at cell phones. Given their legal connection to a service contract that is enforced with SIM cards, providers have a convenient form of DRM to enforce limitations on modifications.
How would you feel about a binary patch that modified the driver to treat a card with the low-end PCI ID as if it were a high-end card?
However I don't think the same social contract exists for hardware. It might be part of the hacker spirit but hardware modifications are encouraged and often celebrated. People who make their BMWs drive faster than they should or make Blu Ray lasers into lightsabers are applauded in a much different way than software pirates. Again, I can't really explain the cultural distinction but I'm very aware of its existence and that's why I can't see any objection to this Nvidia hack.
Some might suggest Epson sell the printer at such a low price because they expect to earn money from the ink.
What you're not getting when you hack your hardware to perform outside its bounds is the guarantee from the company. For example if you're sold a processor for $X dollars clocked at 2 GHz you're receiving an implicit guarantee that for Y years the product will be capable of performing every advertised combination of operations correctly. If you have a problem with this processor it is then reasonable for you to seek support for your problem/design etc. If you notice you can run this processor at 2.5GHz which would normally cost more money and for your application nothing appears to glitch you're welcome to do so. If you later encounter issues with occasional incorrect calculations you pretty much gave up the right to complain about that issue.
A similar example might be bolts for spacecraft. Many of the bolts for these spacecraft cost 100x more than the incredibly similar bolts one could obtain at a hardware store and often times may come from a very similar production line. The reason the spacecraft bolts cost more is because they've specified a very rigid set of minimum tolerances they require and stringent tracking requirements (if a bolt fails on one part of a spacecraft you may be able to get a list of every other bolt made in that lot, get the reference samples to test and find every individual location they were placed on that and other craft). It's not necessarily that the bolts cost substantially more to make but they do cost somewhat more to verify or select each piece from the line to meet the requirements. Even though hardware store customers might be able to buy bolts with spacecraft quality performance they just didn't pay to ALWAYS get bolts with spacecraft quality performance.
That said being a hardware person I'm not sure I feel the same way about software as many of the people here. It sort of feels like the primary argument is "hardware modification feels hard to me so its different". To me it seems like where it would be acceptable to modify a piece of hardware I own I should be able to open a debugger or disassembler and patch my software to enable any feature that's inherently part of the product (or new features if I wanted to add them). Now if that breaks updates, causes me to lose work or leads to problems I'd expect to be on my own like I would with hardware.
I'm sure my opinion isn't particularly popular, but changing a resistor and changing an if( premium ) to if( true ) just really don't seem all that different from where I am.
Although, I understand hardware is dramatically different than software, it's using the same principal -- the same reusable bits to assemble many different products, and then just using tools to mask features unless a user pays for them.
Then again, why should software be any different? Why shouldn't we be able to unlock the hidden features of our software with hex editors, and serial key generators?
What do you guys think?
This is a matter of price discrimination. Nvidia wants to be sure they have a chance to sell their gear to every single person who has money to spend on graphics cards at a range of price points.
Consumers have smaller wallets than professionals, but both have similar needs. So the company performs a "hack" that allows them to extract maximum revenues from each segment.
Let's take this to an absurd extreme. Sennheiser did this by crippling their low-end headphones with a piece of foam to limit audio quality. Savvy audiophiles simply popped open the cans and removed the foam. No quibble with that, right?
For me, companies have every right to practice price discrimination by fiddling with their hardware. And I think consumers have every right to mod that hardware. A few tinkerers are unlikely to break a meticulous price discrimination model like Nvidia's, and I think it's probably a net win for the company to have a chunk of their userbase who love them so much all they want to do is tinker in this way.
There's many other areas of life to specialize in, not just technology/engineering side of things. I think general fair play trumps an incentive to learn and hack.
Who's getting screwed? The gamers who lose out on pro features many don't even need?
The answer is both.
Really what they should be used for is dissuading bad thinking, trolling, or poor rhetoric.
What do you think?
And to hit a little more close to home - think of all the web companies doing exactly the same thing. There are usually 3 or 4 price points, each segment operating within the same code, but features enabled for the higher price points.
I see the same thing happening here. The 'performance' of the cards are the same after this hack, but the driver software 'lights up' exposing extra features. You could say the price differences pay for the driver features.
And with this nvidia case, the hardware hack only lights up new features in the drivers. It's exactly the same principle, and one others have shown is acceptable market practice.
Is a professional going to risk it to save a few bucks? I'd bet not.
On the other side, usually you don't own the software but only a license that grants you permission to use it.
Shrink-wrap licenses attempt to end-run this by making the product unusable unless the user agrees to forfeit his existing property rights. The legality of these sorts of after-the-fact licenses on a traditional retail purchase is very unclear.
It's for this reason that many do not object to cracking or modifying software which they have purchased. Indeed, there's no definitive argument that one shouldn't.
unless, of course you signed an agreement to not do that, in exchange for a cheaper price on the phone and some period of contract with a particular carrier...
yes you can - as long as you didn't have a prior agreement to not do it. For example, you downloaded a piece of software off a torrent site. you didn't have any prior agreement with anyone about anything. The agreement between the uploader who originally first distributed the software and the copyright holder is the only place that is valid in my view.
The chorus of "The hardware is hardware, and we can do whatever we want!" misses the point.
It is a good point sargun. One I wish I had an answer for.
Perhaps one explanation lies in the fact that some level of risk and skill and ingenuity and research is required to actually mod hardware. So we feel like the hardware modders deserve the fruits. But at we feel like the software "modders" don't, because most of them are thoughtlessly running some riskless script devised by someone else.
I am not saying this should be our attitude. I am just saying I too have the knee-jerk reaction "the hardware is the hardware" but am far less certain when it comes to software. And I don't really understand why.
With a software hack, it's much more fearful because once it gets packaged as a crack, it's four clicks to a perceived infringement on the copyright holder's rights. A barrier to entry this low makes software mods much more frightful to rightsholders.
Though the grandparent is right that these are similar practices in principle, people react differently because one is perceived as a widespread threat to the traditional mechanism of creative livelihood and the other is perceived as an advanced hack that will be done only be a couple of tinkerers. Most people are happy to provide encouragement and information to the latter group, but are more worried about the first group, as most software companies depend heavily on copyright law for their business model.
This reality is at least partly responsible for the emergence of software as a service. Can't crack what you don't have.
Intel had been using the same dye for multiple CPU SKUs for a long time now. Though people have figured out how to move between the various skus with ease.
The one thing to keep in mind with hardware like this is that the different price points and SKUs are more than just making money. A lot of the time the SKU a card or chip is set at has to do with the yield quality of the pieces as they are manufactured. It's amazing to realize that when a new line of some cutting-edge tech comes around, they are going to have a 50% or less yield rate on their products. Sometimes they can use lower priced SKUs and take features away as the components will operate better without those features.
With SaaS it sometimes feels kind of different probably because we really do see it as a service (as it states in the name, btw.). and feel that the company offering us the service deserves more compensation for more things they do for us.
i think this inefficiency exists because there is no perfect competition (i.e., anyone can start a semi-conductors company and compete in the market).
We should push for a future where there _is_ perfect competition, and this problem will resolve itself. For example, 3D printing is a viable method of reaching such a future, if the printing tech keeps increasing in fidelity and durability etc.
One would be tempted to make the argument of costing the company sale of an otherwise higher priced product, the method of fixing this would involve having entirely separate design and/or fabrication for the two tiers of components. This is far costlier than the price gap afforded to a handful of technical and risk-taking customers. Unless the ease of the transition is reduced to "Flip the big red switch from 'Fast' to 'Faster'!" then this sort of missed sale amounts to a rounding error for Nvidia, and certainly does not even match the cost that would be necessary to protect against it.
As someone who spent nearly a decade in the semiconductor industry, testing wafers and packaged die, the economics of binning and market segment are understandable. As a electronics and RF geek, I've done plenty of mods and customization that voiding plenty of warranties.
The only issue would be if a third party did this mod in volume and repackaged the card as something it was not originally.
Having said that, distinguishing in software would mean that open source drivers such as Nouveau won't see any difference between the cards and can advertise all the features always.
Edit: After looking at the screenshots closer, that seems to be the case.
The device ID 0x11BA becomes 0x118F. Vendor ID remains 0x10DE on both. Memory, CPU and other important stuff are basically the same.
If the professional counterpart is actually worse for gaming, perhaps its because the resources are allocated to supporting multiple displays instead? In that case, is it reasonable to consider this crippling the device?
Is it worse for gaming only because of multiple displays (I.E. actual difference in architecture) or is it different in how the funcionality is offloaded by the software based on the device ID? Until there are benchmarks of an actual game played being played before and after, it would be pretty hard to tell.
FastFood monopolist adding too much salt to its cheapest food products so it can sell less salty versions of same products at premium prices ... seems severely pathological.
Hardware monopolist crippling cheapest products so it can sell non-crippled ones at premium prices ... sort of ambiguous. Legit market strategy or conning customers?
Graphic design software make selling crippled versions of their software cheaper so it can sell fully featured version at premium price. Totally legit.
What's the difference?
How is anyone conned if the specs are honest?
"No, no schematic, what I did was look for resistors that looked like they had an alternative position, have a look at the photos and you will see what I mean. Any that I suspected of being a strap I used a meter to check if the resistor was connected to ground of 3.3V directly, and looked where the general traces were going in the area. If they went towards the GPU and connected to one of the rails it was a pretty good bet that it was a hard strap."
What I'm more surprised by is the fact that this was done by external resistors at all. Almost all chip configuration like this these days is done with on-die fuses that can't be hacked.
HTML source of the print friendly version: https://gist.github.com/anonymous/5193769
Or less artifacty screenshot: http://i4.minus.com/itHdo0GR7zXw1.png (Sorry to steal any thunder!)
Not affiliated, but minus.com doesn't compress high-res PNGs into JPEGs like imgur does (it's only at a certain size that imgur does it, but it's annoying for screenshot threads, or in this case).
Why did you save the image with transparency?
Edit: see also this, currently on the frontpage: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5394928
I am well aware of the seriousness of the assault on our freedoms on behalf of the corporate overlords.
And I would rather be chided for being ridiculous writing this comment than rewarded with an uneasy laugh of the people that recognize how close to home it hits.
Geforce cards are crippled in software so you wouldn't want to use them for CAD work. Quadro cards are crippled in hardware and software so you wouldn't want to use them for gaming or computation, respectively. Although Teslas are also stress tested for data reliability so perhaps it's unfair to say the Quadro cards are unsuitable for computation because they're crippled intentionally.
These days you don't just toss a chip when it fails a test - you design the tests to exercise different physical regions of the chip to identify the location of a defect. You also design the chip in a way that allows you to power down different regions and behave like a lower priced part.
So a defective quad-core CPU might be sold as a dual-core part, or as a variant with a smaller cache. You have slightly finer grain control on a GPU, and very fine grain control on RAM or flash.
Think of any product you see out in the world - and I guarantee you that there is some level of price discrimination going on. It really is very expensive to develop completely different lines of products - any rational company would just slap on a few restrictions and a different brand name and bam! whole new market being served, with the existing one remaining in play.
It's actually quite elegant.
But I don't know enough about Nvidia GPU hardware design, and I'm sure he wouldn't be publishing this hack if it didn't work well.
So really, this is equivalent to software piracy/unlocking software with a product key. He's not changing the actual capabilities of the hardware, just what driver software it unlocks.
2. You are unlikely breaking any bizarre U.S. reverse engineering law by doing it.
Silicon manufacturers have long used the approach, to just manufacture the top of the line chip and then after testing, deactivate certain parts of the chip, to sell as a lower product. It was famous with AMD processors, where you were able to unlock more cores. The thing is, often those cores were disabled for a reason. I would not be surprised if a similar sheme would apply here, too.
Makes sense. Quadro cards are used for life critical visualizations, e.g. finite element analysis of a bridge. That's what justifies their expense. Rendering speed only needs to be "fast enough." The premium is on accuracy and reliability.
Its sad that GPUs are very bulky and dissipates heat, discourages me to buy one to play games once in a while. And expensive too.
NVidia makes decent video cards and such, but they're almost all based off a single reference design. It saves money on component costs and production time for third parties. Why make three different boards, using three different GPUs, when all you need to do is determine how much RAM you want to stick on it and choose the component layout for the specific product.
What other awesome hardware hacks radically improve the value of your equipment, be it electronic / analog? We're talking about the 100%+ value improvements here.
Is it possible that the new drivers for this card are so unstable just because nVidia is trying to thwart this type of hack?
If that's the case, totally unacceptable to cripple my machine just because they want to prevent other people from altering their cards (which I will immediately begin to look into how to do myself now).
Even if they knew about it before hand, it's not like a critical vulnerability or something; just an interesting modification to hardware (rarely how intrusions happen) that very few people know to implement correctly and fewer still who would want to do to their cards.
Even the original tone of "crippling" hardware seems a little far fetched to me now, it seems like these cards are just optimized differently for specific tasks (gaming, or workstation).
Still would be nice if they could get their drivers working better under windows 7.
So what is the difference then?