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Old 22 July 2015, 10:57   #113
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Dublin, then Glasgow
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I think some of the problems in accepting the concept here come from the use of the word "crippled". What you're getting for the low price is a fully functional board that can do everything its specifications say it can for that price. It's absolutely *nothing* like buying a car with 3 wheels and paying more for the 4th. No matter how you look at it, the car with 3 wheels can't be used, whereas even the most basic ACA1221 configuration will offer a significant speed boost over a bog standard A1200.

But since we're on the subject of cars, I can think of a much better example that happens all the time in the automotive world. For example, the venerable 1.8 litre turbo engine used by Volkswagen in millions of VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars. Its power output ranges from ~150BHP to close to 300BHP, even though the entire engine is physically the same. What's the difference? Firmware that affects timing, fuel management, throttle control, turbo use and so on. That's all. My car has that engine and puts out 225BHP. Does that mean my car is crippled? Of course not. Should I bitch and moan to Seat that they sold me a crippled car? They'd laugh me out of the garage. And I bet all those millions of people who bought the Mk 4 Golf GTI are pretty peeved now that they suddenly realise they bought a crippled car that only puts out 180BHP, even though the hardware is designed to do 300. I can see them all now, banging on the doors of the VW showrooms, demanding that their cars be uncrippled.

It's a pretty trivial operation to upgrade the firmware to release the potential of the engine since the firmware has been reverse engineered. You can pay any car tuning place around €200 and they'll happily install a replacement firmware image that unlocks a whole heap of extra power. Or you can pay an extra couple of thousand when you buy the car to get a manufacturer-approved unlock that does the same thing.

From working on software and hardware development in the medical industry, I can tell you very similar things happen there too. It's the same machine physically, but the customer pays more for extra features that are enabled in firmware prior to shipping.

Anyway, it's perfectly normal practice in many industries, and not the crazy/foolish/insulting/cynical move some people seem to think. I guess these people would be happier if the board was missing the physical RAM chips and cost €10 more than it does due to additional development costs outweighing the cost saving on the chips. Now *that* is silly.
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