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i820 Chipset Under Recall 129

Dman33 writes "This Cnet story details how Intel hit another bump in the road with its i820 motherboards. This defect is in the memory translator hub which allows for the use of standard DIMMs as opposed to Rambus. Intel is planning on just replacing the standard memory with Rambus memory, but will replace the entire board at the user's request. " The estimated cost would put a big hurt on Intel's bottom line -- several hundred million dollars worth of it.
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i820 Chipset Under Recall

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  • "A motherboard and RAM swap may not sit too well with sysadmins whose hardware must be up 100% of the time."

    Mind you, if that system is crashing all the time anyways... ;)

  • It's either good customer service or poor quality, you decide.
  • I agree. I think much of the slamming of Intel comes from people who think of them as a "Big Evil Corporation", just because they are large and have a large market share. They might be big but they are not evil. I think many of us use AMD chips simply because they are an alternative to Evil Intel. People like to side with the "little guy" even if it means some sort of sacrifice. I'm not saying that choosing AMD is a bad thing or that Intel is better.

    Intel is doing a very good thing here and it's gonna cost them a fortune.

    I'm not trying to flame anyone's just how I see things.

    Check Out Knexa.Com []
  • Revision of Step 7. Transmeta takes over the majority of the CPU biz. (I actually think that there is a chance of this happening. The technology is not as complicated.)
  • You forgot to add "nano"-something. Plus some sort of tacyon device should be involved.
  • Read more carefully. This is a problem with SDRAM being used on a board originally intended for RDRAM, there is no problem at all with using RDRAM on an 820 board. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the SDRAM either, it's the memory translator hub slapped on after the fact.

    As for Athlon's being a good upgrade path. Suddenly many of those who bought slotted Athlon MBs (which were fairly expensive for motherboards)are discovering that they must buy new boards again for the upgraded Athlons coming out over the next several months because of trace problems with the Slotted Thunderbirds.

    It sounds like both companies are having trouble keeping things user-friendly at higher frequencies. Personally, I'd rather have 4 chips running in parallel at 500mhz than one struggling at 1.2ghz
  • Do you really want a gig of RDRAM though? :P Especially with DDR PC133 SDRAM close on the horizon. . .

    Mmm, can you say 2.2GB/s of memory bandwidth? (or something close to that) :> Lower latency than Rambus, too. Serial. Ptheh. What's up with the recent obsession of converting things to serial? I see serial IDE cables just over the horizon too.

    Still, if a lot of people go for the Rambus upgrade option I wonder if the stock of rambus will hold up. There aren't many manufacturers for it, and I don't get the feeling there is a lot of rambus memory stockpiled.

    If a tree falls in the forest, and kills a mime, does anyone care?

  • by Magus311X ( 5823 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @12:32PM (#1080376)
    June 1999: I start saving up every cent I can so I can replace my Pentium 166 (replaced after the FDIV bug discovery) workstation. I'm looking forward to a Camino (i820) based motherboard.

    June 1999: i820 pushed back again.

    Dec 1999: I place an order with CDW for an Intel CC820 mobo and an Intel Pentium III 533EB processor.

    Jan 2000: RAM, Case, cooling, power supply, and everything else I ordered arrived weeks ago. My products, which were supposed to arrive in 3-5 days are pushed back "until further notice". Calls to Intel provide no further information.

    Feb 2000: It's been 10 weeks. I place a call to CDW to be told that I'm still on backorder. I place calls to Intel to no avail.

    Feb 2000: It's been 13 weeks. I call Intel to merely be blown off. I file a report to the BBB in regard to their conduct and how poorly this situation is being handled.

    Feb 2000: 3 days later I receieve a phone call from Intel, gravely apologizing for the ordeal. My motherboard arrives the same day after receiving an apology call from CDW in which they explained they were shipping CPUs and motherboards to 'higher priority' customers during the processor shortage.

    Mar 2000: 2 weeks later the BIOS fails. I suspected it when PCI steering and DMA went awry initially, but I had gotten it to work.

    Mar 2000: My new motherboard arrives, and works fine. News stories surface on yer more problems with the i820 chipset.

    May 2000: My motherboard is under recall.

    Now seriously, what am I supposed to do here? Send in my motherboard for a replacement that'll prolly take several weeks to ensure I won't have any problems? And what about the memory? Do I have to send them my 128M stick of PC100 from Crucial to get an RDRAM replacement? Even then, is the memory I'm going to get in return quality memory? Is it PC800, or am I going to be given PC700 or PC600 (which won't work!)?

    I've been quite patient through this and I've put most of it behind me and just enjoyed my spiffy new hand-made workstation. But now something else? This is ridiculous, and Intel BETTER be kicking themselves in the ass right now over wht is arguably their biggest goof ever: i820

    I plan on getting a 1.5GHz Williamette when they hit in the planned Q1 2001, and that better well not have a single problem in it, as the motherboard it'll sit on.

    Sorry if this has a bit of that "fresh rant feeling" to it, but I'm just a tad irritable over this. >_<

  • I haven't used Junkbuster. Can it be used to filter out this URL so that if I accidentally click on one of these stupid links, I don't go to it? An optional "blacklist" built into the browser would be a nice feature (and handy for work browsing).

    Is there an option for hashed URL comparisons so that my blocked list can remain secret?
  • If you can afford it, go with a DEC Alpha. ...A barebones 21164A should set you back around $500 to $1000, depending on the speed, case, and amount of cache and memory.

    I agree. Alpha is a very nice architecture and quite affordable nowadays. The only drawback in running Linux on it was the not-so-optimal code that gcc produced (compilation was somewhat slow, too). But now that you can get Compaq's Alpha math library and compiler for free (IIRC), gcc performance should not be a problem anymore. Even with the suboptimal gcc code it was a number cruncher, all right. Another feature I really liked was the onboard flash-rom. You configured a standard kernel to include all the device drivers you need, compiled MILO (Alpha's LILO) against it and flashed the MILO "kernel" into the flash-rom. After that you basically had miniature Linux as your bootloader.

    And you can overclock an Alpha, too...

  • Even if they gave you PC800 RDRAM to replace your 128M of PC100, do you realize how much it would cost you in the future if you wanted to upgrade?

    Try costing out 128K of PC800 vs SDRAM....
  • It ain't a kickback. It's a public contract.

    The Register has "an article [] linking to a RAMBUS filing with the SEC [] describing why Intel is required to push Rambus memory thru the end of 2002. I can't read stockbrokerese, so I'm taking the Register's word for what this document says.

  • man, if they made a feces translator hub that worked, i'd buy it too! just imagine... relief for yourself, a little extra power for your computer, about once a day!
  • The only announced (not yet available) SMP AMD mobo I'm aware of is the Tyan Dolphin which will be available in Q4 of this year.

    The Dolphin will use AMDs 770 (aka 760-MP) chipset, and presumably support either dual Thunderbirds or Mustangs! :-)

    Note BTW, that despite the site's name, the Dolphin (and any 770 mobo) is a socket-A, not slot-A mobo.

    Micron have also just entered the AMD SMP chipset business, and will support 4-way and higher SMP.

    FYI AMD's 64/32 bit Sledgehammer processor due out next year will include a version with on-chip SMP!
  • I plan on getting a 1.5GHz Williamette when they hit in the planned Q1 2001, and that better well not have a single problem in it, as the motherboard it'll sit on.

    After an entire page of terrible problems you had with the latest Intel stuff, you end with this?

    And so the bear says, "you ain't here for the hunting, are you son?"

  • by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @12:58PM (#1080384) Homepage
    Intel's engineers are humans too, they make mistakes. ... Oh, and for all you RDRAM hatemongers: The problem has nothing to do with RDDRAM; the memory controller used in specific motherboards was not shielded properly, causing intermittent lockups.

    But RDRAM is the problem, insofar as Intel is ramming it down their engineers' and customers' throats with no regard for reality. Intel management has committed so strongly to RDRAM that they'll practically have to commit seppuku before changing their "strategy". They ought to have looked at RDRAM's risks before committing.

    I agree that RDRAM can be made to work. But the reality is that RDRAM has numerous challenges:

    RDRAM's 800 MHz frequency (with strong harmonics up to at least 4 GHz) takes highly skilled designers, especially for the PCB. It's one-third the speed of a microwave oven, fer chrissake. A recent article in (IIRC) Electronic Design showed off a 25 GHz oscilloscope for doing RDRAM design work. Few EEs (me included) are skilled at those frequencies, where every wire behaves like an antenna, and where measureable amounts of the signal are dissipated by dieletectric losses.
    RDRAM is a brand spanking new architecture. There were no off-the-shelf designs and no industry experience with it. It would be like Ford Motor Company suddenly deciding to put rotary engines in all their cars: a recipe for unlimited risk.
    Intel apparently told their engineers "RDRAM only from now on", leaving them with no ready substitute if RDRAM should have growing pains. The memory translator hub debacle is an shining example of poor risk management.

    I'm not knocking the RDRAM concept itself, just Intel's Dilbertian implementation of it. In fact, I think narrow superfast busses are the Wave Of The Future(tm). Imagine buying an extra 16 gigs of RAM, taking it home, and plugging in the optical fiber without turning the machine off. Ditto for hard drives, or monitors. Would be much easier, especially for the average person.

  • Apparently the rumor is that the problem is in the motherboard and how it has designed around the i820. Perhaps other motherboards don't have this problem (or perhaps they have their own problems).
  • I'm no great lover of Dell, but its fortunes shouldn't be based on (or ruined by) the ineptness of a monopolistic supplier.

    It isn't.

    Dell has never passed up an opportunity to trash-talk AMD chips. Their loyalty means they get almost as many CPUs as they want, while their competitors go begging. Athlon? Hey, I just bought one and am a shareholder, but any idiot can tell you AMD is at the 1% mark in the business arena where Dell is king.

    Dell gets very preferential treatment for their loyalty, and they have chosen to keep it that way. If Michael Dell called up AMD tomorrow and asked to place an order, Jerry Sanders would load up a wheelbarrow full of whatever Dell wanted and wheel it over personally. So don't tell me Dell doesn't have a choice.


  • I run a small systems company that builds high-end gaming systems for educated consumers. Three months ago, we removed Intel mainboards and processors from our system lineup. The reasoning had to do mainly with price/performance issues, along with Intel's inclination to force you into a new mainboard everytime you want to upgrade your processor. I'm pleased to report that the 90+ customers who've purchased Athlon systems from us have reported no problems at all with their ASUS K7M and ABIT KA7 mainboards. And they all survived the ILOVEYOU virus due to our policy of deleting IE and Outlook from their systems and getting them started with Netscape and Eudora Light, but that's another issue.
  • Gee, does somebody need a hug?

    Intel may hire dolts, but Dell seems to have a little more on the ball--DELL DOES NOT SHIP i820 or i840-BASED SYSTEMS WITH SDRAM. sheesh! If you want SDRAM from Dell, you will get a BX or i810 board--or an SMP workstation board designed for SDRAM.

    funny how Nintendo (fer christsake) and Sony seem to have had no problem designing around RDRAM.
  • What was with the engineers at Intel that built this piece of junk chipset? Didn't they realize people were gonna try to use it? I hope none of them still work there.


    ... paka chubaka

  • That is very true. The CPU market is not going to be the cash cow three years from now that it is today. As speeds increase, the cost of CPUs will hit the floor, since many applications do not require any more speed than what they have today.

    Intel is attempting to counter this by investing in new technologies. They have expanded their presence in the communications and embedded chip market and have acquired a number of companies.

    As far as design flaws go, they happen every once in awhile. Intel has one of the best manufacturing operations on the planet and get great yields with most all of their products.

    The current batch of coppermine P3's are a stopgap for the next generation of CPU's anyway. This issue is not going to be very important in the grand scheme of things.

  • So what do we do when we need ~1 million RIMMS post haste? We pay a little more (or flex our muscle) to get priority. What does the rest of the world do? They a) pay _even more_ b) wait interminably for the prices to come back down to the merely astronomical level (all the while pissing off their customers) or c) screw it and jump to DDR-DRAM.
    This does not look good for the short term _availability_, and the long term _viability_ of RIMMs.
  • But RAMBUS is moving towards more analog sensitivity. There may be fewer data lines but there are more discrete voltage levels and timing intervals between clock pulses to get screwed up by spurious signals. At least with pure 1's and 0's, ths signal is sufficiently quantized as to be readily corrected until the noise pushes it past the boundary. RAMBUS seems to be squeezing those boundaries ever closer. Lots of bandwidth improving technology has gone the way of more data lines, such as wide SCSI and gigabit ethernet. Generating noise vs. noise sensitivity seems to be the issue here.

    One of the problems I do see in motherboard design is that the paths that data and addresses have to take between the various components in the layout is, in a large number of cases, not the shortest.

    One of my motherboards, an Intel SR440BX, has a sinusoidal ringing pattern in sync with the horizontal sync pulses. The video has to traverse across the motherboard, unshielded, to reach the video connector. It's not actually getting any digital hash, but it is encountering the impedance variations along the way. Maybe this is just saying that motherboard designers don't get to (or can't) take all things into consideration as others (for example video card designers) could. Which end of a video card would you put the D/A conversion? Which end would you put the VRAM?

    Sometimes I wonder if these digital designers were sleeping in Microwave RF Engineering class

  • Never mind my crack, yours seems to give a better high!

    The server version of Willamette is "Foster" which is DDR. It's got nothing to do with cost, but simply the degrading performce of Rambus as memory sizes increase.

    DDR already exists and is used by some graphics cards. It has also been demoed at WinHEC by AMD using their 760 chipset with Thunderbird. I'll accept that DDR chipsets could have problems, as could anything else, but given the strong support for DDR from Micron and other memory manufacturers, it's crazy to suggest there's anything in the least bit broken about the standard.

  • Junkbuster can do that very easily...


    to sblock.ini file (or whatever you call it)

    you could even add a line like this

    and you won't accidently click on them either
  • IMHO, I don't think that in its current incarnation INTEL can seriously compete. Like any bloated company that became do big, bloated and powerful, they are destined to fall.
    The industry seems to follow patterns.

    Genious kid or group of individuals has/have great idea
    Small company make millions
    Suddenly large company hires high price managment
    Original people leave
    New managment comes up with bogus strategies
    Some new individual comes along with better idea
    repeat from top.

    It happened before (think Microsoft, Sybase) It will happen again (maybe linux if open source gets killed by companies that release closed products so attractive to management types that they can't refuse them and then become dependant on them)

    I know, this is all off-topic and probably redundant but I felt like saying it
  • The Register goes on, in this article [] to quote from the Intel/Rambus contract.

    Intel will use its continuing best efforts in marketing, public relations, and engineering to make the Rambus-D DRAM the primary DRAM for PC main memory applications through December 31, 2002; and (b)Intel will communicate to the top (10) DRAM manufacturers, Intel's intention to support the Rambus-D Interface Technology in its integrated circuits for low end workstation, performance desktop, and basic PC platforms.

    Intel may have sold its soul to the devil in this case, if Rambus turns out the be the flop that it apparently is. Over the next two years, it appears that Intel has little choice but to flog this steaming pile of technology. It's really too bad, AMD needs the competition.


  • Ooooo.... what a wonderful idea.

    Now I know what the Justice Department can do once it finishes with Microsoft :)

    (Hi... I'm from the Better Buisness Buerue and we'd like to talk to you about all these complaints we've been recieve in regard to bait and switch tactics)

  • You will note that I clearly stated that "Intel is planning on just replacing the standard memory with Rambus memory, but will replace the entire board at the user's request"

    They covered thier arses, but you are on the right track. I bet this is to spur sales into Rambus, and to fatten thier bottom line. Besides, now when IT staff upgrade in the future, they will have to buy Rambus!
  • by kaphka ( 50736 ) <> on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @10:23AM (#1080399)
    It's good to see that Intel is finally handling this issue. It's too bad they didn't announce this a few weeks ago, before I snapped my cc820 in half and mounted it on my wall, to serve as a constant reminder to avoid Intel products at all costs.

    (And you think I'm kidding...)
  • In one sense, this isn't news - but Intel had this problem with the i840 chipset motherboards. The fact that they have a recall though... Whoa, that sucks for them.

    Moral of the story - test before production! (and don't assume people will gladly pay for RAMBUS)

  • The cpu and ram may handle it, but remember that on a BX board to go 133 means running the AGP at 87MHz, a speed which has been known to fry some video cards.

    Important point.

    Have a look at An exploration into overlocked AGP. [] Of particular note, cards designed and cooled well (like ATI's Rage Fury MAXX) operated without a hitch. They also went overboard overlocking the 440BX to 150 MHz FSB [] cranking AGP up to 100 MHz.

    If you're timid about overlocking, this is a good reason to wait for i815. []

  • Yep - Intel is contractually obligated to hype (pretty much literally!) Rambus thru the end of 2002, and to push it as their sole memory option. I think the reason Intel was willing to sign such an odd contract is that they wanted to move more motherboard value onto their CPUs (i.e. get bigger % of the PC pie), and perhaps (seems a bit naieve, though...) genuinely thought that SDRAM couldn't be extended further.

    Not only is their the contract, but Intel have for a long time been propping their earnings up with capital gains from various holdings that they sell each quarter. They'd have missed estimates last quarter without this (i.e. that fat P/E you're paying for is buying you one-time capital gains, not recurring growing earnings!!!). Intel own a large number of RMBS stock warrants as part of their deal with Rambus, and need to push RDRAM to be able to turn a profit on these to help earnings.
  • [Always wait] a while until picking up on new chipsets until the bugs are worked out... Like a few years later.
    Yeah, it's always good to wait a while before adopting brand new technology. At least visit the reputable hardware review sites (Tom's Hardware, AnandTech, Ars Technica, etc) before making a purchase. Remember that each site has a bias, too; Tom's Hardware is heavily biased towards VIA and AMD, while Sharky Extreme is heavily biased towards Intel and Rambus.

    I, and almost every hardware review site on the internet, would suggest getting a tried and true BX chipset-based motherboard, a VIA chipset-based FCPGA motherboard, or an Athlon system.

    The problem with the BX chipset is that it only supports AGP 2X. This doesn't really matter right now, but it could be a performance bottleneck in the future, if you use high-end AGP video cards and play state-of-the-art games. On a workstation or server, it doesn't matter one bit.

    The VIA chipsets are often a little slower than the competing Intel chipsets. I'm not really that big of a fan of VIA, but I truly appreciate the competition that they bring to the chipset marketplace. Current VIA chipsets for both the Coppermine and Athlon support PC133 and AGP 4X. Still, it tends to perform slightly worse than an overclocked BX chipset. Not all BX boards can be reliably overclocked, though. And I would never recommend overclocking a workstation or server. That's for gaming PCs only.

    My favorite solution is a dual processor BX board. Get one that supports 100 MHz FSB Coppermine chips, so that you can put in dual 600E or 650 chips (or, if you're rich, dual 700+ MHz chips). Remember that most FCPGA CPUs do not support SMP, as per Intel's press releases.

    If you can't afford a dual processor setup, then you should look into the Athlon. It's incredibly inexpensive, plus it's quite fast, up until the 750 MHz mark or so. After that, the ultra-slow cache makes it rather uncompetitive (but it's still much cheaper than a Coppermine).

    If you can afford it, go with a DEC Alpha. The 21164A is pretty cheap now, and it uses a standard ATX power supply (300W absolute minimum, so you'll probably want a new tower case with a big power supply). A barebones 21164A should set you back around $500 to $1000, depending on the speed, case, and amount of cache and memory. You can buy a nice Quantum Atlas V 7200 RPM 18GB SCSI hard drive to go along with that barebones system for around $300. Now you're ready to kick some Wintel and Macintoy ass.

  • I'd rather have 4 chips running in parallel at 500mhz

    By the way, any ideas when 2- or 4-way Athlon-motherboards are due? AMD's homepage only says that the processor itself supports SMP, but so far no motherboards seem to be available.

    With the current Athlon pricing, a 4-way Athlon system would probably be quite an affordable system to put together. Unless, of course, the motherboard itself is ridiculously expensive (like a dual 21264A Alpha motherboard ;-).

  • Does 4.0.0 ? The XServer (experimental) for i810 still gives em a 320x200 res 8bpp under 3.3.5. This is just not good, because we've just received a bunch of PC's with i810s in them :( :( :(. No Linux here, I guess, unless we buy different Video cards.

  • For some motherboards, just replacing SDRAM by RDRAM will do no good, as the motherboard only takes SDRAM. So in these cases the motherboard would need replacing.
  • Why not just interleave 2 or 4 banks of SDRAM DIMMs into 4-way interleaved cache on the motherboard? Cost: 216 more data lines and a few more control lines, plus the larger cache (because there's really 4 caches), plus the fact that you have to have 4 identical DIMMs in place (2 for 2-way mode). How much would this design, with 512MB of RAM organized as 4x 128MB, cost, compared to 512MB of RIMMs and the associated technology?

    I declined to choose the 810 or 820 chipsets anyway because they don't support ECC (which I suspect might even be more important with RAMBUS). So I'll be using BX technology unless and until someone makes a K7 based motherboard with correct server technology (The Abit KA7 board doesn't reboot on interrupted power, so I'm avoiding that for my servers).

  • Why don't you just put "" and "" in your /etc/hosts file defined as If you want, "route reject" the IP address, too.

    You should really, really read the networking howto.
  • If the chip is supposed to be cheaper, why are the 820 based motherboards more expensive than those using BX or 810?
  • How could Transmeta possibly take over the CPU business? They make mobile CPUs, not general purpose CPUs.

    Even if the technology is new and innovative, if it's not demonstrably better than what Intel, AMD, and other embedded/mobile chip manufacturers are producing, the market will ignore them.

    I figure that someone will buy Transmeta before they make it too big. Intel or IBM could afford to buy small European nations.
  • When you send yours in for replacement, borrow some extra DIMMs and populate the mother to the max! They might replace the board in that case, but obviously it would have to be one that at least handles that much. Beware they might replace 4 128MB DIMMs with 2 256MB DIMMs on a board with only 2 DIMM sockets. Whatever number of sockets you do have, max them out with the largest DIMMs you can get. At worst case, you get your DIMMs back.
  • I'm running on the i810 with a glorious 16bpp and 1280x1024. The drivers aren't in the default X distrib, but intel gives one out at /release_notes_1.htm []


  • you're kidding, right?
  • This defect in the i820 chipset has been known for more than a month, as I read about it about 5 weeks ago on Tom's Hardware Guide, in an article about Intel's prescence at some hardware convention.

    From what I see, RDRAM is just another attempt by Intel and Rambus to cram proprietery, poorly designed technology down everybody's throats so that eventually everyone will be paying up the ass for RAM because it is the one and only standard (hmm... sounds like an OS I know of...).

    Anyway, I also found this article [] on Tom's Hardware comparing the performance of RDRAM with SDRAM, with some surprising results.

  • I mean, how often do you think this would affect the user? How often would it freeze up? I'm guessing it'd be pretty rare.. I mean, i have an i820 motherboard, with these exact specs, and I haven't noticed any proble....MTH ERROR- 10101001010011001010101110101001010011001010101101
    101010010100010111011100101010101001000110010101 01
  • As the problem is in the MTH, I suspect that all m/b manufacturers who use SDRAM with the i820 will be affected.
  • EXCACTLY! The i820-based P3C-2000 motherboard only takes 100 Mhz SDRAM (but has a 133 Mhz front bus go figure!).

    I'm very glad this is happening, I'm calling my hardware dealer right now. :-)

    - Steeltoe
  • I'm going to try not to make this sound like flamebait, but.... you were a fool to buy into Intel's marketing. Why the hell did you pre-order untested, new technology from an overpriced online store (CDW)?

    Didn't you read a single review of the i820 chipset before placing your order? There are hundreds of web sites dedicated to educating consumers about new hardware trends.

    Putting SDRAM on an i820 board is ridiculous. It slows everything down to a crawl (it's slower than a previous generation BX board!), the chipset is unreliable, the major innovation is proprietary RAM, and you're buying an Intel motherboard, something definitely not recommended by any hardware review site.

    Next time, do a little research before you buy your hardware.
  • From the Register Article: "The reason for Intel agreeing to these terms is likely to be the existence of patents which hold the two companies in a tight embrace."

    Guess we should be happy about living in a "free" market, right?

    Btw, I didn't buy my i820 out of choice. My company/seller made that choice for me sponsoring 80% of the cost over 3 years (yeah, I know I sold my soul on that one _NOW_ ;-).

    - Steeltoe
  • Yeah, they're the one's who think the solution to ILOVEYOU-virii is putting a filter on the exchange server filtering out messages 'ILOVEYOU' in the topic..

    - Steeltoe

  • Does anyone know why it is that Intel has been having all these problems lately? I mean, first RDRAM and the Camino chipset thing (where they put a piece of metal over one of the DIMM slots to keep you from using it), low yields on the faster P-IIIs, now this. Is it just a string of bad luck, or is Intel doing rushing production on these things in order to compete with AMD, or what?
  • I bought 9 Alton motherboards. Worst mistake I ever made. Tossed those, then bought 9 more Boardrunners. Not too bad, but it turns out that 2 of them have the i820. Crap. Can't win. Can't break even. Can't quit the game. SOL.
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:36AM (#1080423) Homepage Journal
    ... must be pretty big for Intel to put up with this crap. Sometimes I wonder if they went with RAMBus just to prove that they owned the market. Some peopl are so gung-ho Intel (and usually MS) that they'd buy TurdRAM if Intel sold it, with a Feces Translator Hub.
  • I have an i820-based P3C-2000 (SDRAM only). When I first got the machine I noticed that all the slots on the board was set to "debug", which means that the board is setup to handle noise better (allowing overclocking). This is NOT the default setup from Intel. However still, my machine hang itself in most 3D games due to problems with my Rage Fury-something card. A new video card (same type/manufacturer) fixed that problem, I later bought a GeForce which also worked well.

    However, try leaving your machine on with lots of 3D graphics going on over time, say 6-12 hours. At least MY box freezes up. Sometimes games freeze up also, but it happens VERY infrequently now. Perhaps once a day if I play all day (which I don't). It also happens during gameplay (once a week or so), so it's NOT the screensaver..

    No, I didn't buy i820 out of choice, but got it cheaply through my (ignorant?) company.

    - Steeltoe
  • by horis ( 153675 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:32AM (#1080425)
    a while until picking up on new chipsets until the bugs are worked out... Like a few years later.
  • my comments:

    first off, why go bleeding edge with new technology that is untested when a simple upgrade of the only technology would work cheaper, faster, quicker?

    DIMMS were an upgrade on SIMMS(double insertion Mem mod,single insertion Mem mod) that saved us from pairing SIMMS together and also upped the speed of the RAM chips.

    SDRAM goes to DDRAM(single data rateRAM, double data rateRAM). i think they should just go all out and quadrouple the assossiation of a DDRAM, double the pincount for bandwidth sank, and also up the size, 200Mhz DDRAM would act like 1.6GHz allowing 32GB/s+ memory bandwidth which is enough for a processor up to say 2.5Ghz before memory bandwidth is an issue again, then just 4xassossiation and size and your good to go. Also, motherboards should have oldschool cache slots on the main board for a "level4" cache module that would be a standard DDRAM DIMM that would run at FSB speed. Or just do a massive convert of the current computer standards and go to all RISC and DDRAM on a new style bus more like an EV6 alpha bus

    "AMD to the bank"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:36AM (#1080428)
    This defect is in the memory translator hub which allows for the use of standard DIMMs as opposed to Rambus.

    Why can't they fix with the good ol' fashioned method of "reversing the polarity of the positron emission trail" or "modifying the deflector shield harmonics to emit a resonance"?

    I mean, what is the problem! Are these people stupid or something?
  • It's difficult to follow the logic at Wall Street (if there's any) but I was wondering why the hell the bad news from Intel affected the whole semi-conductor sector. Why Motorola for example saw its stock go down? They have nothing to do with the ridiculous i820 Chipset.
  • Hmm, I wonder if they would upgrade 1 gig of DIMMs to 1 gig of RAMBUS. If so, it would be worth buying an i820 just for this purpose :) Chris
  • Wow. Defects in something related to RAMBUS. Intel is really starting to lose points on reliability. As I recall, the GHz PIII comes with an oversized fan and a recommendation that it not be used in mission-critical systems. At least they've got the responsibility to fix the system right. Ironically, their proposed fix will actually increase RAMBUS profits, since Intel will have to buy a whole lot of it. Problem is for those who will want to upgrade later. They need the whole motherboard replaced. I think my next PC will be an Athlon.

  • well as far as DVD is concerned (without clogging the CPU) & 'video out' quality is concerned, the ATI card leaves the GeForce for dead.
  • I wonder if intel was spending too much time following the microsoft trial, not enough time reading their schematics?


    Here's my Microsoft parody []. Where's yours?

  • Get yer acronyms right ;)

    SIMM = Single Inline Memory Module
    DIMM = Double Inline Memory Module
  • So.... Did the engineers do this on purpose? It seems that Intel is really hell-bent on killing RAMBUS.

    A motherboard and RAM swap may not sit too well with sysadmins whose hardware must be up 100% of the time.
  • It was for reasons like that I purchased my NexGen machine and the AMD K6-2 machine after that.

    AMD is really giving Intel a run for its money in terms of quality, price and performance.
  • It strikes me that intel's in a dilly of a pickle if they plan to swap regular pc100 dimms for rdram. What's to stop a person from claiming (maybe even legitimately) that they needed 2G RAM on their new mobo? Go out and spend whatever it'll cost for 2G of pc100, and then let intel swap it up to rdram? You'd make a killing!

    Another application would be to buy several of these, as needed. Buy a boatload of ram for one, and when they replace it with rdram, use that to feed the others.

    They weren't kidding when they talked about damage into the hundreds of millions. That rambus investment is starting to look more and more painful for intel shareholders.
  • by loki7 ( 11496 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:40AM (#1080438) Homepage
    The Register [] has been reporting rumours of a recall for a few weeks now. More info at 00025.html []


  • by Pont ( 33956 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:40AM (#1080439)
    This has gotta hurt. It takes a lot of guts for a company to eat a bunch of revenue like that, especially when they aren't doing so hot in other areas.

    [Off-the-wall and highly improbable conspiracy theory]
    Or maybe they are doing it purely to entrench RDRAM in the market.

    Step 1) Oh no, that SDRAM makes things buggy. Let's replace it for free with RDRAM for ya! (Who wouldn't go for it?)

    Step 2) Now that EVERY i820 board has RDRAM, more RAM companies make RDRAM, the price of RDRAM goes down, and the price of SDRAM goes up

    Step 3) Revisionist history starts pointing the finger at SDRAM for being an unreliable technology, not the i820.

    Step 4) More and more consumers scoff at anything that doesn't use RDRAM ("Sheesh, your RAM runs at a puny little 133Mhz! Mine runs at 800!")

    Step 5) AMD is hurt by the fact that none of their CPUs run on a chipset that uses RDRAM.

    Step 6) While Intel flushes cash fighting AMD, HP takes over the majority of the CPU biz. (OK, maybe not.)
  • Intel's problem is stupidity. They should not allow its employers to leave.

    I wasn't aware Intel's employers were leaving... ;-)

  • The important thing with Intel isn't thier technology, most home customers, and a lot of business customers, (and myself) couldn't tell you one thing about what the technical difference is between an Intel chip and an AMD chip, or even between an Intel chip and a Motorola G4.

    Intel has a name, created by a gigantic campaign, and continued by a gigantic name. It is the name that makes Intel the industry leader, and they will swallow just amount any amount of money to keep that name.

  • You mean technology hasn't already leveled out?

    Several friends are in the market for a home PC. They don't need it to do much, just some word processing, the ocassional spreadsheet and some web browsing.

    Personally what I would love to recomend is PII-266 with 128mg of ram, a 10gig hard drive
    and a 56K modem. This is what I bought 3 year ago and it would work fine for their needs (in fact I might even argue it would be over kill).

    If you start playing games it might even be sufficient for most of them (depending on your graphic card).
    Why do they need more?
    What does your 'average' person use their computer for?

    Web Browsing
    Word Processing
    Spread Sheet
    Playing CD's

    The thing that pushes the resources on the computer more then anything else is the games. If their idea of a game is Minesweeper or Solitare (as boggling as it may be to me who is in the middle of playing FinalFatasy8, Tiberian Sun and is anctiously awaiting the Homeworld expansion pack... and yet addicted to Mille Bourne on my Palm Pilot when I commute on the subway), then they don't really need any more computer power. Barring a major revolution in the way things are done (like the introduction of better Voice Recognition software, or Video Conferencing), the only time they should need to replace a system is when it dies (or they need an additional unit).

    If Linux can make a move into the desktop (for the average clueless user) then its ability to push the resources of a machine might make the machine viable over an even longer lifespan for your average user (I was using KDE and Gnome on my p166 with 40mb very happily).

  • I'm been running my FSB at 83 MHz, with the AGP bus runing at 1/1 for quite a while now, with a few different video cards, none of which have had any problems. Just make sure you use a card that can handle it, and it'll be fine.

    I could drop the AGP bus down to 2/3, but then I lose about 1 FPS in Quake3 ; ) Can't have that.

  • by Dman33 ( 110217 )
    (And you think I'm kidding...)

    No, but pictures would surely be nice! 8P
  • Nintendo got rambus working right on their platform, why can't intel?

  • just rumors. Allegedly the Athlon is well designed for smp, I have been waiting to hear about this as well. Several sites have suggested mid-to-late summer as a release date for smp Athlon boards. If I were planning, I'd count on sept-oct - and expect to need socketed Athlons
  • Actually, it's nearly the same thing, but not exactly... the problem wasn't with the Athlon - it was the chipset and often power draw. Note that AMD doesn't actually make the chipsets (nor the voltage regs), while intel is actually designing and fabbing the faulty parts here.
  • There's a problem running slot-A Thunderbirds (Athlon successor) in *SOME* KX-133 mobos due to Via having violated AMDs timing specs. AMD's own 750 Irongate chipset is fine for slot-A Athlon->Thunderbird upgrades (not that AMD intend to sell slot-A TBirds other than to OEMs). However, some mobo makers such as Abit and Asus are already releasing BIOS upgrades that make their KX-133 mobos Thunderbird compatible.

    If you have a slot-A mobo and want to upgrade from Athlon to Thunderbird, then there should be third party "slocket" cards that'll let you use a socket-A Tbird.

    So this KX-133 issue is a Via screw up, not an AMD one. More importantly the slot-A TBird is only a VERY short term OEM transition product. Aside from this, TBird/Duron/Mustang are all socket-A chips, and need a KZ-133 socket-A mobo.

    Personally if I had a, say, 700MHz KX-133 Athlon I'd not be looking to upgrade to TBird, but would hold out for a KZ-266 DDR 1.3/4GHz Mustang due out in Q3/4! Or maybe even an AMD 770 dual-SMP Mustang! :-) If you're in the market for a new Thunderbird based PC, then go for a KZ-133 socket-A mobo which should let you upgrade to Mustang.
  • Will Intel replace non-Intel motherboards (eg Asus CUC2000) which are based on the i820 but only have SDRAM slots, not RDRAM? Or will Intel only replace Intel branded boards?
  • So.... Did the engineers do this on purpose? It seems that Intel is really hell-bent on killing RAMBUS.

    RAMBUS is Intel's baby. They do not want it killed, I guarantee that.

    I think the real problem is how shitty RAMBUS as a technology really is. There's an excellent article on Tom's Hardware [] for those interested in discovering the truth behind RAMBUS.

  • Intel owns a large number of RMBS stock *warrants* with various strings attached.

    If Intel did simply own RMBS stock then (absent their contract with Rambus) they could simply sell or hold it and specify memory subsystems based on simple price/performance considerations.

    As it is, with the contract and warrants, Intel is coerced into pushing RDRAM regardless of whether it makes sense.
  • Sure. I'm not just kidding. We see all these problems with various chipsets (even AMD and VIA have serious problems with good memory controllers) becouse the gap between CPU clock/speed and memory clock/speed becomes frightening.

    While CPU need a only few clockticks to operate instructions or data cached somehow the access to today's DIMMs is really terrible. If there's a cache-miss the CPU waits very long time(ie. hundreds of clockticks) till the data is fetched properly. And, if using DIMMs, the same situation is if you want to switch between reading the memory and writing the memory. Really lazy. RIMMS go further this way.

    It's a long time from Pentium/66 with memory bus operating the same frequnecy. Now we have PIII or Athlon with 1GHz but the memory is still 100MHz -- pain in the ass.

    I have an alter-ego at Red Dwarf. Don't remind me that coward.

  • I just hope AMD does not rename the Duron the 'Pinto'.
    I am looking for the AMD Expedition though, or the Taurus..
  • No, the first Athlon chipset was AMD's own 750 "Irongate". It was always notorious with GeForces.
  • or, buy a G4 PowerMac and be done with it.

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • Just wookies...
  • by tdsanchez ( 15549 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @12:32PM (#1080458) Homepage
    Intel's engineers are humans too, they make mistakes.

    The problem is, this isn't solely a symptom of Intel's engineers goofing... Intel has been trying to get Camino out the door for quite a long time now (I believe the first publicly announced roll out date was more than a year ago). If they can deliver millions of CPU's (which are arguably much more complex than a memory controller) why then, can't they deliver an 820 that works. Remember, this is a company with billions of dollars to spend and thousands of the brightest minds in the industry... They ought to be able to deliver a memory controller that works in a reasonable amount of time.

    This latest 820 debacle is more of symptom of political infighting and a company collapsing under its own wieght. There's an awful lot of 'us vs. them' infighting between the various processor and chipset marketing/design teams. Trust me [].

    Just like they replaced all those Pentiums with the FDIV bug

    ...but only after a tremendous backlash from customers after Intel told them that Intel's engineers would decide on a case by case basis who would, wouldn't get replacments.

    The problem has nothing to do with RDRAM

    ...excpet that it has EVERYTHING to do with RDRAM. Camino is an RDRAM memory controller, right? So... I don't know how you could say that this has nothing to do with RDRAM.

    So please, guys, cut Intel some slack here.

    No... they don't deserve it. They've screwed countless customers (think Dell and many other OEM's) with promises of Camino based motherboard delivery, and every time, they've managed to screw it up. Dell has taken it in the shorts for several quarters now due to Intel's inability to deliver Camino and Camino based motherboards. I'm no great lover of Dell, but its fortunes shouldn't be based on (or ruined by) the ineptness of a monopolistic supplier. Expect the governement to start looking at Intel again before too long... I do.

    I remember Andy Grove once saying that Intel's biggest enemy was itself.... That's looking more true everyday.

    Don't believe Intel's hype, and don't feel sorry for them. They work their engineers and production workers VERY HARD and VERY LONG for relatively low pay (like I said, trust me []) and make up the difference with stock options. Well, if the company, as a collective, performs poorly (as Intel has over the past year and half or so), alot of the compensation that comes in the form of stocks options will devaluate and Intel's talent will look elsewhere for a company that can manage its own complexity and avoid political infighting an turf battles.

  • I think they're spread thin - they're trying to bring out a new CPU family (itanium) while at the same time they finally have some real competition from AMD at the top end and an erosion of profits in the middle and low ends. Oh yeah and the current jobs environment in the valley means that chip designers are evaporating to networking startups way faster than you can hire them.

    Having said that I know there's a often lot of luck in getting on-the-edge chips to yield well - and they are probably really pushing the limits to keep up with AMD (as are AMD).

  • by gfecyk ( 117430 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:47AM (#1080471) Homepage Journal

    RAMBUS is an expensive joke! The i820 can't even keep up with the "old" 440BX based solutions. Have a look at a March 8th article [] that goes into all the gory details. To quote Mr Pabst: "Rambus seems to be a rather nasty disappointment."

    Not everyone will want to overclock a 440BX board to 133 MHz, but since so little hardware is actually overclocked, and even then only by 30%, you stand little chance of ruining anything. Just make sure you use a CPU and SDRAM rated for 133 MHz FSB.

    If anything, wait for i815 [] to come out. This is supposed to be the "real" successor to 440BX.

  • by gblues ( 90260 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:48AM (#1080472)

    ... but this is really good customer service on Intel's part. Will it cost them? You bet.

    Intel's engineers are humans too, they make mistakes. But, when the mistakes happen, Intel takes care of its customers. Just like they replaced all those Pentiums with the FDIV bug.

    Oh, and for all you RDRAM hatemongers: The problem has nothing to do with RDRAM; the memory controller used in specific motherboards was not shielded properly, causing intermittent lockups.

    So please, guys, cut Intel some slack here. It's not like AMD is bulletproof, either (Athlon/GeForce, anyone?).

  • Beacuse Data and Dax are working for AMD. I am afraid there are no Star Trek people working for Intel :^)
  • So, they make this chipset, and it's supposed to save you all this money, and lower TCO of workstations, by performing multiple operations.

    It actually sucks, it's dog slow, etc - but it IS cheap, and it sells like hotcakes, and now a million or so peecees are around there using it.

    Hehehe, sorry, I can't stop giggling at the irony of it, this chip that's made to save money is costing everyone out the butt.

    In a perfect world, maybe some IT managers would sit up and say 'hrm, well, maybe we should not keep buying the cheapest piece of junk workstation that ibm/compaq/hp makes..'

    Or maybe not.

  • Step 4) More and more consumers scoff at anything that doesn't use RDRAM ("Sheesh, your RAM runs at a puny little 133Mhz! Mine runs at 800!")

    Step 5) AMD is hurt by the fact that none of their CPUs run on a chipset that uses RDRAM.

    Actually, AMD has a RAMBUS license agreement, and the technology to implement it. However, they aren't planning to. They believe DDR is the way to go, regardless of which direction Intel is headed. I think AMD is getting into the habit of following their own tracks.
  • by Ho-Lee-Cow! ( 173978 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2000 @09:52AM (#1080477)

    ...which is why MS stamps theirs out. Intel has competition and has for some time, so they have to innovate the old fashioned way.

    Of course, that means mistakes, rush jobs, recalls, and all the problems that go with them. I also tend to think that users are not seeing the bang for the buck out of these new RAM technologies. PC100 was a good thing, but how much farther can we climb in sophistication before there really is no visible difference in performance/the technology itself tops out?

  • Doesn't Intel have to support Rambus contractually? I mean, isn't there some kind of deal between the two, where Intel has to use their memory and be seen supporting them in good faith?

    If so, when this deal expires, watch out RMBS...

    Your Working Boy,
  • Very true. In my Intro to PC Systems class, we have some extremely entry levels users. About two weeks ago, we were disassembling some old "Classic" Pentium systems, and came across on that ran on AMD K5s. Most of them could not understand the concept that they were *not* Pentium's. Several of them even think that Pentium is a speed rating of some sort. It's beyond their ability to realize that Intel has competitors.

    Intel has been very successful in this and I believe it will get them through RDRAM, and just as the Athlon was the make or break chip for AMD. I believe that Willamette and Itanium will be the turning point for Intel. I know it won't break them, because Intel is huge and will be around for a long time, but these will the platforms that decide their future role.

    As far as dropping all the cash on this RDRAM and i820 mess, it's small beans for them. Intel has *HUGE* cash reserves, on the order of $11 billion dollars in cash and equivalents. It's liabilities are much smaller, on the order of just over $1 billion dollars. So it's not money that is going to be Intel's problem, its going to be reputation, marketshare, and people looking for alternatives.

    Intel has always been a pioneer and an innovator. And they continue to do that, unfortunately they can only maintain problems like this in a market recently opened up to competition for just so long. People already are and will continue to start taking solutions from AMD seriously, as with other competitors.

  • No Linux here

    No Linux, or just no X?

  • I would suggest that in that case, they'll probably replace the motherboard. They are offering to upgrade the RAM, because if the loss is the same, they want to start moving people to RDRAM... However, I doubt that they'll let you get away with rediculousness... they'll just ship out a new board.


BLISS is ignorance.