Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

1.13GHz Pentium3 Processors Unstable? Answer:Yes 171

brennan73 writes "Last week, Tom's Hardware wrote a very critical review of the Pentium3 1.13GHz, specifically mentioning serious stability issues. Today, HardOCP wrote an article of their own backing Tom up and describing their own experiences; they even got Anand in on it. Probably the most interesting thing to me is that none of the tested sample CPUs was able to run Tom's Linux kernel compilation test. After Rambus, this is the last thing Intel needs. Are they shooting themselves in the foot AGAIN?". Update by: HeUnique : Tom has updated the story, so I recommend to read the update.Update: 08/28 06:44 PM by H :Check out the latest burst from ZDNet - it appears that Intel will be recalling the Pentium3 1.13 Ghz. Thanks Evan.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

1.13GHz Pentium3 Processors Unstable?

Comments Filter:
  • an error in a float operation? Nah...could never happen
  • Looks like it's tome to start pumping cash into those AMD stocks again...
  • by BrK ( 39585 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:31AM (#821861) Homepage
    It seems that Intel thinks the only thing we care about is raw speed. Trying to one-up AMD is simply going to get them into a hole in terms of public perception. I'm surprised that a company as big and diverse as Intel would stake their reputation on a speed pissing-contest.

  • They laughed at me when I sold my intel stocks for AMD last year.... muhahahaha...

    -- "Almost everyone is an idiot. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you're one of them."
  • ...first of all, they've gotten really expensive nowadays, they can't supply their newest chips and the worst of all their newest addition is unstable? Oh my...

    You're addicted to the net when
    - You call 911 when your ISP goes down
  • Oh come on now -- the only way we could ever make an Intel chip blow it's floating point math was with a specially designed program, remember? Didn't AMD write that program? 8^)

  • by jabber01 ( 225154 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:35AM (#821865)
    I know, I know, there's enough M$ bashing here as it is, but... They (M$) did start this trend that Intel (and numerous .coms) seems to have picked up.

    They announce a product before it's completely designed. They "release" an unstable, unworkable version 1.0 of something, just to get their name out on a press-release. All to divert attention from a competitors product and get some cash flowing in to fund the development of version 2.0 (or 3.1) which is the actual product.

    The competitor releases their offering later, but it's of higher quality. Still, the vapour has already dulled people's minds to the competitor's efforts and value.

    Techies know better, but how many home-users and managers do? We have to make it clear to the business decision makers and the casual users, that this is not about Intel being technologically superior or better able to deliver on schedule than AMD or Transmeta or anyone else - it's marketting and it needs to be stated as such.

    Not that I think Transmeta is a God-send, but let's let numbers and solid products do the talking. A 1.3Ghz CPU from Intel, even though it's been demoed, is still vapour-ware, until it's solid and readily available.

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:36AM (#821866) Homepage Journal
    Yeah there are quite a few UK magazines and websites citing similar problems and even DOAs with the 1.13ghz chips.

    That isn't to mention the severe shortage of the actual chips. UK Mags dont even get their own chip, they have it for a few days and then instructions on who to post it to next.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just an overclocked 1ghz chip, and they've picked the best few to ship at 1.13 in a desperate attempt to one-up AMD.

    However AMD today announced real tangible availability of their 1.1ghz ath's and Compaq, Big Blue, HP, Gateway and Fujitsu Siemens are amonst the big names about to ship this in systems.

    Looks damn good for AMD
  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:36AM (#821867) Journal
    It seems Intel is pushing itself to disaster. I could rant on about issues of quality control and being far better to create something that is stable and useful to sell to the public than something that just gives you bragging rights.

    This actually makes me nervous about all the Gig chips being built. What kind of testing is really going on with these chips and is it adequate enough or are the manufacturers so eager to get another press release out in order to get a boost to their stock they are failing to realize their design is flawed?

    Intel has been suffering some serious blows, both in the technical world and in the business world and cannot afford another setback, especially since these new gig plus chips are supposed to be selling for the holiday season (as gamers are one of the first to eat up such advancements).

    If I had any advice for Intel, it would be to retrench and spew out tons of 700+ chips at low prices to build up marketshare while focusing on turning the Gig plus chips into something worthwhile. This is just an off the cuff suggestion as IANA-MBA.

  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:37AM (#821868) Homepage

    The odd thing is that we're seeing stuff go wrong now with corporate capitalism what we saw go wrong with communism.

    These huge corporations keep getting bigger and bigger, allowing themselves a stranglehold on the industry, and in doing so, they become hugely beauracratic, heirarchical, and conservative.

    So some horrible design issue is found in one of Intel's products, something that would guarantee failure for a smaller company, and what happens? Intel denies a few allegations, issues a few workarounds to Microsoft, and hires a few new spin doctors to make sure everything works okay.

    The computer industry is just catching on to this. The oil and tobacco industries have been doing it for years. Microsoft shows an uncanny brilliance for turning a bumbling mistake into a "feature." But at least, unlike Shell, they're covering up system crashes and not genocide.

    It took Communism around 80 years to become so big and unwieldy that it collapsed under it's own weight. After 114 years of corporate rule (SANTA CLARA COUNTY v. SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY [tourolaw.edu]), it seems that the incredible arrogance of corporate capitalism is putting it on the same route.

    Michael Chisari
  • The question is..

    Is this REALLY a pissing contest if AMD is shipping stable production quality processors? Isnt that just natural progression?

    How is it a pissing contest if AMD is not rushing to ship stuff (okay im sure there is some 'rush') but thats competition bud

    AMD is shipping stable stuff that is very fast.. I dont see this as a pissing contest.. its past that.. Intel is just palying catchup and playing marketing games.

  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:38AM (#821870) Homepage
    In related news, Intel Corportaion recently purchased "Tom's Hardware Guide" and "HardOCP" for a record 1 billion dollars. Intel's spokesperson had these comments early this morning:
    "We really like their [Tom's Hardware] input, and we wanted everyone in Newfoundland to be able to recieve the bounty of his wisdom. That's why we've purchased Tom's organization, and we're strategically relocating Tom to Newfoundland, where he will perform a streaming audio broadcast to everyone within earshot in his new deep, dark, hole in the ground."

    Further updates as events warrant. Rambus Corporation (Nas: RAMBUS) had no comment, but their stock spiked 30 points on the news.
  • From the referenced article: Intel and HardOCP have recently struck up a relationship that somehow involves folks other than lawyers for a change. They were kind enough to send us their new Pentium III 1.13GHz CPU to test. Along with that, they sent an Intel VC820 (i820 chipset) mainboard and some RAMBUS. Basically, they sent a computer in a box except for the hard drive. They asked us to test their 1.13GHz part on the i820 platform. Seemed like a no-brainer to me (perfect for us). Well it did not turn out that way

    Yeah, Intel approached you and requested politely, "Please test our chip on our motherboard." Hahah, sounds innocent enough. Hahaha... there's one more anti-Intel site I won't be spending my idle moments visiting.

  • I thought I read this two weeks ago... Tom trashed Intel, then contacted Intel to report a possible flaky sample. Inappropriate and hardly objective behavior. It's worth noting that Dell [dell.com] is claiming to offer the 1.13 Ghz systems.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • Is that the clockspeed as reported by the chip isn't 1.13, but 1.12999999999999.

    (Ah, now I feel all nostalgic about the old Pentium I humor, "Quality is job 0.9", etc.)
  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:42AM (#821874) Homepage Journal
    Disclaimer: I have AMD and Intel CPU's at home. I'm agnostic when it comes to processors, give me speed and stability and I don't care who it is from!

    Check out the review of the 1.1 ghz Athlon at
    http://www.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/reviews/cp u/thunderbird_1-1ghz/

    Good marks, great performance. However, look at this blurb from the review about the high return rates of high speed Athlons:

    "We haven't had any more AMD CPUs fry on us, but we did talk to a mail order house that said some disturbing things. They told us that they have had approximately a 10% return rate on AMD Athlon Thunderbird CPUs. That is a painfully high failure rate. They said that some distributors place bar codes on the underside of the Athlon Thunderbird CPUs and that these barcoded CPUs often come back with their barcodes burnt. Their Duron failure rate, however, has fallen to normal and acceptable levels."

    Could it be that both Intel and AMD are too busy racing each other to take proper care in the Quality Control arena?

  • by icqqm ( 132707 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:42AM (#821875) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure that the Intel 1.13GHz chip works fine and it's just that there was a strange coincidence and three duds were sent out to be tested.

    Also, it's a software problem


  • Putting recent events aside, Intel is still offering the best systems for just about anyone on the market. As I and several other hardware sites have said, there likely won't be anything quite as good as the Intel BX chipset for a long time.
  • It was mostly news to me because HardOCP posted their story today, and it confirms that others besides Tom are having problems. It's particularly notable because some of the larger enthusiast sites seem to be confirming one another's data.


  • Apparently the package on the Thunderbird is fragile and can be easily broken when mounting fans or heatsinks. Sorry I don't have a link.
  • Kinda reminds me of the Dilbert that went:

    "We asked for 6 months to work on this, and you gave us one month. Right now, all it does is erase your disk drive. If you're on a network, it erases everyone's disk drives. And god forbid if you have a modem, it calls up your friends and erases their disk drives."

    "We'll call it 'Quick Protect'"

    "If you have a soundcard, it swears at you."

    I wish to make a call to the hardware designers to stop releasing alpha stage hardware, and stop mis-labeling them with "1.0" version numbers. For instance, the Linux Kernel 2.2.14 should really be 0.6.02.

  • Yes, and lets remember that competition is a GOOD thing.

    It has to be true, some daytime radio talk-show host (really just a shock-jock) said so, and things like this prove it.


  • Very true, except that Crusoe hasn't been officially released - only announced as 'being in development' - 'pending production' - etc.

    Dell is accepting orders for thie Intel 1.3 Ghz chips right now, but the chip may not be usable.

    While it is true that Crusoe is not yet shipping, TransMeta isn't retailing it either. Intel IS selling their chip, well, actually, they're selling it's hype.

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

  • In this article [tomshardware.com] (I couldn't follow the link above - looks broken) I can't help but notice Tom's consistant use of the term "Satan Clara." Now maybe he's gone through a rough time with Intel, but this term really doesn't bode well for Subsequent reviews of Intel's products.

    Noticed some similar stuff with Tom's infamous Q3Test disaster of '99 [tomshardware.com]. Very passionate fellow. His reviews are still worth the effort.

    IMHO, as per

  • float value; ... value

    I thought C didn't allow bitshifting floating point numbers.

    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! [8m.com]
  • by Firefalcon ( 7323 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @06:59AM (#821884) Homepage Journal
    To the non techy user, it's the speed that sells, and that's something that the PC manufacturers seem to play on as well. Generally, unless your doing some serous work on your computer, a 500Mhz chip should be fine. At work we've been getting 550 PIIs as the cheapest that our supplier can provide, and from now on it going to be 650 PIIIs.

    Anyway, I was reading in my daily news from ZDNet:

    "Every five to six weeks between now and early next year, AMD will introduce faster Athlons - beginning at 1.1GHz, Monday"

    So they will be ahead of Intel again shortly.

    The rest of the story is at:

    http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/2000/ 33/ns-17477.html [zdnet.co.uk]

  • the difference is that companies have competition.

    so Intel becomes too massive and unweildy someday, so what? See how AMD and transmeta and VIA are all pounding at the door already? We've already seen IBM have it's lunch eaten, so now if Intel gets popped through this type of negligence/incompetence, a new company (at a different stage in its lifecycle) will step in to fill the gap. Thus companies can be as arrogant and rude as they like, eventually the people that have to work with them or the target customer base will look elsewhere for the product, to avoid dealing with the arrogant corp.

    If this process gets out-of-whack somehow and a company is able to entrench itself as the only game in town, then the DOJ steps in to crack em open.

    All of this serves to maintain a stable system, a corporate ecology. Birth, life and death are all factored in so that the system may perpetuate itself. There were no such measures taken for communism.

    btw, spilkas, how'd you acquire such a low UID?

  • Personally I have never even used an AMD processor simply because every one of the machines that I have are from about 1981-1993. I don't think AMD really mattered then. Furthermore all of my machines have never needed to have their CPUs replaced. In fact they work like a rock.
  • I disagree, that is absolutely objective behavior: he reported on what he had. He stated that not everyone agreed with his results. You can only claim he is incompetant (which he isn't) not non-objective.
  • Intel might, perhaps, be largely correct in thinking that (if they indeed do).

    How many casual computer users have the time and motivation to learn about computer architecture? Concepts like cache latency, pipeline depth, and superscalar architecture haven't really flooded lunchtime conversation, methinks.

    The MHz rating is an easy number to check; it's heavily advertised (machines labelled as "800 MHz Pentium II", with PII pretty much being a brand (and denoting IBM-type versus Mac-type)) and it's probably what a lot of folks observe.

    These same folks probably won't buy a 1.13 GHz machine as soon as it comes out, but when the prices are lowered on 800MHz machines and slower models, they may still use MHz to compare.
  • That should be noted as well. Also remember that you can't pick up a really nice system with an AMD chip extremely cheaply. Personally I want hard evidence that it's really "better". Isn't the AMD an x86 compatable and not really an x86 because intel defines what an x86 is right?
  • The criticism du jour for the PowerPC line of CPUs is that Intel is so far ahead with regards to clockrate. Who wants a mere 500Mhz G4, they say, when the intel world is in the 1 Ghz range. Does this news regarding stability problems imply that the PPC is not so far behind as we were led to believe?
  • Generally, unless your doing some serous
    work on your computer, a 500Mhz chip should be fine.

    Unless you want to boot windows 2000. Then that's another matter entirely.
  • Yeah. Hahah. hahaha. Ohh, that's a good one.

    (wipes tear from eye)

    ... Wait.

    I don't get it.

    Hey, I love yummy sarcasm as much as the next guy, but what the hell are you talking about? Are you implying that Intel did, or didn't want them to test the chip? Are they both too buddy-buddy with Intel *and* "anti-Intel"? Do you suggest that they made up the "Intel asked us pretty please" scenario to give their review street cred? Sorry, but it's shaping up to be a low-tolerance Monday.
  • That might work
  • I have to say that Tom's article is one of the most biased things I've ever read. Usually the bias is a bit more subtle, but Tom starts out saying that IBM's "incomprehensible" choice of intel's chip leaves him certain that IBM's execs constatly wish for a time machine so that they could go back and use a motorola chip, goes on to give a relatively reasonable explanation for the existence of microcode, then complains because his boards from before this chip came out don't already have this new "mystical" microcode (what's mystical about it?) and finishes up referring to Satan Clara. I ended up thinking that his problems may have been real, but it seems like he was determined to maximize his issues rather than try to really resolve them. I ended up disregarding all of his conclusions as he seems just too biased to take his word on this. Would you believe Microsoft if they benchmarked Linux? Why believe every work of this guy if he tests a chip he obviously hates before he opens the box?

    Evan Reynolds evanthx@hotmail.com

  • by jbridges ( 70118 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:09AM (#821896)
    I found out about this from Tom's review of the Athlon 1.1ghz, here is the key quote I forwarded to a few friends:

    It turned out that the kernel compilation failed on all three Pentium III
    1.13 GHz samples in Kyle's lab, right in front of the eyes of Intel's
    engineer. My CPU happened to be the flakiest of the three, as it failed in
    other tests on different platforms as well.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/00q3/000828/athl on-02.html

  • the difference is that companies have competition.

    You're forgetting that communist regimes have competition too. Competition with capitalism is what the Bolsheviks (and more importantly, later, the Stalinists) used to justify their attrocities.

    Corporations are creating this strange new form of nationalism. And same thing we saw with the Communist and Capitalist countries who were all too willing to work together to increase their mutual power over citizens, we're seeing competing corporations who will work together in order to increase their control over consumers.

    Strange days, no?

    All of this serves to maintain a stable system, a corporate ecology. Birth, life and death are all factored in so that the system may perpetuate itself. There were no such measures taken for communism.

    Maybe Adam Smith's version of capitalism, yes. But remember that theory and practice are very different beasts. Marx's communism had people in control of the government. Has that ever happened? No.

    Witness the amount of control corporations have over each of the candidates [billionair...orgore.com]. Would Adam Smith or any of the "fathers of capitalism" have condoned corporate control of electoral democracy?

    btw, spilkas, how'd you acquire such a low UID?

    I've been on Slashdot since about 1997 or so.

    Michael Chisari
  • It's called "vaporware" dude. And it's long been a feature of the computer industry. It's also a common feature of the open source/free software movement. "Can we say 'Hurd'?" Thought so.

    Yeah, this is sorta flamey. But it's a legit comment no the less.
  • AFAIK, they aren't really behind at all, because its a faster cpu clock for clock.

    So sure, you may only have 500mhz, but if you can do twice as much with 1mhz then an Intel cpu can, then really there is actually no difference except that one sounds nicer on a box.

    I don't know what the exact numbers are, but the situation is something like that.

    Unless of course you look at RC5 benchmarks, the Altivec PPC's just destroy anything Intel can make.
  • I did, it was written by Dr. Nicely at Lynchburg College, very cool guy, used to mow his grass ;)
  • While I don't discount the numerous problems that people have had with the 1.13ghz PIII, let's not pretend that Tom isn't strongly biased against Intel. He always has been, which in my book casts doubt on his credibility.

    That being said, there is obviously a problem with the 1.13ghz part. I would not just take Tom's word on it though. The other articles/reviews mentioned add credence to this.

  • Well, if you want proof. then just look at the benchmarks, and the overall chip design. You can find it if you just look for it on google or something.

    Also. If the world lived by your terms, then ford could say that all other cars arn't cars because they basically invented them. the same with IBM. they can say that todays PCs arn't PC because they invented them, even though todays PC are 100% compatible with the old IBM PCs
  • Difference is that the 500Mhz G4 processor is a completely different architecture.

    Are you going to tell me a 1Ghz x86 is faster than a 750Mhz Alpha?

    Clock speed doesn't matter near as much when comparing architectures. You can't say "This is faster cause its 1Ghz"
  • Who ate IBM's lunch? Seriously. IBM is a very strong company and the only reason they even had difficulties was because they had their shit stomped on by the feds. Sure MS is now "bigger" on Wall Street, but IBM is still huge, strong, stable, and not over valuated like certain tech companies (ORCL, MSFT).
  • Generally, unless your doing some serous
    work on your computer, a 500Mhz chip should be fine.

    I though it was almost impossible to "overclock" most of these new chips because of design changes. What happened?
  • From Tom's....

    Intel's Next Paper Release -
    The Pentium III at 1133 MHz
    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

  • Isn't Lynchburg in Maryland?
  • you may be using AMD chips and not even know about it. Since your chips come from 1981-83, then at least most of them came from the time when AMD was liscensed to make exact replicas of Intel chips (As was required from IBM when they chose Intel chips for the IBM PC.)

    also, I do remember back in the 386-486 days getting PCs that just stated that they had a x86 processor, and opening them up and finding out that I got a amd processor. Back then the brand didn't matter. Intel made that a issue when they started advertising in 1994
  • Well, if you want proof. then just look at the benchmarks, and the overall chip design.

    I thought that there was a modified saying like "There are lies, damn lies, and benchmarks" or something like that. What about proper linux preformance and cheap price.
  • I agree that this article taken alone might be considered bias, but part of his job is opinion based on numerical facts.

    He has proof which he (and after reading all the articles I also) believe in. He has historically not shown a preference to Intel or AMD, but has been wary of Intel's pressure to churn out the "best" chip.

    What you are describing is opinion, which he bases on fact (his tests). Compiling a Linux Kernel is a good way to test a system and if that Sig11's then there is a hardware problem. People read his articles because they respect his opinion and his tests.

    Please don't confuse this with bias (like slashdot has against Microsoft), which is arbitrary and not always based on specific fact.

  • I can actually attest that the kernels *prior* to the 1.0 release worked on x86 hardware of the day. Case in point I have a copy of a debian beta that works on kernel 0.99 or something and it worked when I decided to install it on my 486/66 proof enough for you?
  • Intel doesn't really control x86. For example AMD's 3Dnow are x86 extentions available only on on AMD chips. Now AMD is going even further by extending x86 to 64bits.
    The two chips are more or less equal in performace (try the INDEPENDENT benchmarks) but AMD is now 50% cheaper. You'd be crazy not to get it (not to mention that it will have DDR support before intel...)
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:29AM (#821915)
    ever since the failure of the bx chipset to sustain high compute loads in SMP mode, I've not trusted intel's ability to really test their cpu chips and chipsets.

    its pretty well known that if you run SMP on a bx-board, you better cool the hell out of that bx chip. and even this won't stop the inevitable lockup that will occur days or weeks after the last reboot. its a fact. and if your SMP bx system isn't locking up, you're not loading it down enough. try 4 instances of seti@home (2 per cpu) and wait a few weeks. it will lockup.

    given this track record, I don't doubt that the ghz p3 chip will also be unstable.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:32AM (#821919)
    the above links on Tom's Hardware were published a month ago. For an article published today on thje AMD 1.1 Ghz, go here [tomshardware.com]
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:34AM (#821922) Homepage Journal
    In Tom's original article he utterly trashed Intel and the sample before contacting Intel about the flaky nature of his specimen.

    He should have contacted Intel first, before writing his review. It benefits me more, as a potential customer, to know how Intel handles such a situation. That he contacted PR (public relations) doesn't help me much, as I'm sure I wouldn't contact that department with a quality issue.

    Through the articles Tom has written concerning Intel, it's not difficult to see him as bearing some sort of grudge. Other companies products may not cut the mustard in his tests, but he rarely trashes them.

    IMHO it is good for Intel to have such a critic, but it helps better if he gives them the benefit of doubt before writing their specimen off as typical of their entire offering. I would at the very least assume it may have suffered some damage in shipping and request a replacement. Returning the defective part to them may give up his "evidence", but allows Intel to determine what may have gone wrong.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • is that they cease to be capitalists. The cornerstone of capitalism is a free market. An essential part of the free market is that it includes downward mobility as well as upward.

    As they get big enough, corporations cease to like the idea of the free market, because now they're on top and want to stay there. The game quits being one of attracting customers by making a better product, and trying to find ways to FORCE the customer to buy their product.

    Ballmer call Linux "Communism". But it's really Capitalism, only measured in a non-cash currency. (prestige) Others have similarly likened Windows to other governing/economic styles. I won't comment.

    Dominion mentions that it took Communism 80 years to fall. I'd further assert that the amount of chaos in the aftermath is (directly?) proportional to the amount of time past its natural life that a dominating institution has existed. By that criteria, I think Intel could disappear less disruptively than Microsoft.
  • It seems that Intel thinks the only thing we care about is raw speed.

    Haven't there been some preliminary reports that Willamette will likely not run substantially faster than existing products, despite being clocked considerably faster than current products. Intel's trying to make this into a dick-size contest...the funny thing is that, this time, size really won't matter a damn.

    On a slightly related note, if Willamette is to be known informally as P4, what are we going to call the successor to Willamette? P5's already taken (codename for the original Pentium from back in the day), so I propose "Roadkill."

    / v \
    (IIGS( Scott Alfter (remove Voyager's hull # to send mail)

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:41AM (#821929)
    The issue is that heatsinks for PIII/Celeron and Thunderbird/Duron arn't interchangeable due to different physical dimensions of the chips. If you use an AMD approved heatsink or one specifically designed for T-Bird/Duron (e.g. there is a special Golden Orb version for them) then it'll be fine, but if you use one made for an Intel CPU then you may well damage the CPU.
  • Agreed. I've read both and a few other articles on Tom's site and he has reminded me how important it is to take all things with a grain of salt. Good, bad or ugly.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • I think Intel can affort mucho setbacks. They are so far up the ailementary canal of the industry; I bet if you go out on the street and ask 100 people who makes the best chips in the world, you'll get 99 answers of "Intel", and if you ask them about AMD, Sun, Motorola, or IBM, they'll say "who?".

    if it ain't broke, then fix it 'till it is!
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:47AM (#821934)
    Burnt barcodes sounds like inadequately cooled CPU's to me. It'd be interesting to know if those were using boxed processor "thermal solutions", and whether they were being oc'd or not.

    If T-Birds in general had a 10% failure rate, then I think we'd have heard about it from Compaq, Gateway, HP et al.

    Maybe Sharky's has a bone to grind...
  • As long as AMD (or someone else) won't produce an SMP chipset, there's a definite need for Intel processors. I'd rather have two or four slower processors than one blindingly fast.
  • ...as long as they provide a way for me to prove that 2 plus 2 is still equal to 5.
  • [I'd look this up, but I'm too lazy, atm] the key here is factors like Instructions Per Cycle, speed of Write and Fetch and a few other real measures of CPU horsepower, as well as mating that CPU to a good motherboard architecture. The end user benchmarks are what consumers should pay attention to, and something Apple and publications make available, regarding time to do image operations, spreadsheet calcuations, spell check documents, etc. For gamers, how many frames per second of Quake III or some other game.

    The burden for Wintel systems is having to tune the hardware and OS to work the best. Not something a lot of cheap clone makers do well. You may buy a 1Ghz PIII, but if it's thrown together it may run like a well tuned 200MHz PII.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:53AM (#821940) Homepage
    I wonder if the problem with Intel right now is simply that they're trying too hard.

    Maybe they're trying to stay ahead of AMD, and thats causing them to do things more quickly then they should, resulting in mistakes. It probably can't be good for morale over there to see that seemingly out of nowhere AMD has come in and almost taken over the high end single cpu market.

    So the guys at Intel simply want to be better then AMD, but they don't have time to do what that would actually require (some pretty major architechture changes), and so we end up with stuff like this P3, since they have to release *something*.

    I bet if management were to walk down there and say "ok, we're not going to release anything new for the next few months, I want you guys to take as much time as you need to redesign things so we're on top again", they could probably do it.

    Of course, they aren't being given a mandate like that.
  • by ravi_n ( 175591 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @07:53AM (#821941)
    I think this is a huge blow to Intel. Speeding up big, hairy compiles (like the Linux kernel) is one of the few reasons I could think of for getting a 1GHz+ CPU. If it can't do that what good is it?
  • Corporations are creating this strange new form of nationalism.

    Nationalism is earned by civic pride, good leadership, and all sorts of intangible things. Modern corporations, and Intel in particular, and buying mindshare with cold hard cash. Someone jump in with Intel's 2000 advertising budget. My guess is about 150 million bucks.

    People ask me computer questions all the time (I'm sure most of you can relate) and when asked what kind of computer they have, most of the time the response is "*something* megahertz Intel". That's the kind of massive mindshare they have and that's why the "megahertz race" is so important to them.

    I'll end with an anecdote: Five minutes after the head of the studio (I forget which one) saw the film Godzilla, he doubled the advertising budget. He knew that the film and word of mouth weren't going to put people in the seats, and tons of advertising would have to make up for it. Godzilla actually made money, entirely due to that advertising.


  • Well a quick check on www.overclockers.co.uk shows they are selling P3 650's guaranteed to 866mhz. Celeron 600's guaranteed to 900. and Ath 750's guaranteed to 950mhz.

    Overclocking aint dead yet.

  • by molog ( 110171 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @08:06AM (#821948) Homepage Journal
    AMD expensive? Last I checked the're processors were close to half the price of the Intel versions. Where you might get hit is the motherboards can be a little bit more but the most expensive one I have seen is $140 and even then, the FIC is around $100 flat and that is one of the best ones (I didn't say best so please don't nail me for that) you can get. You might need to buy brand name RAM but even then that is cheaper then RAMBus. As far as pre-assembled systems go, gateway sells them as do most of the PC manufactures. Isn't Dell the only hold out? I have seen AMD systems consistantly cheaper then the other stuff. For a direct cost comparison, see pricewatch [pricewatch.com] or compare Dell prices verses systems containing AMD processors.

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • I agree with the sentiment, but I disagree with the analysis. At one point in time Intel stock split fairly regularly, but hasn't in awhile. The chip shortages, technical glitches, and the AMD slashing prices on chips prior to its Gig chip release as reported here [cnet.com] has put Intel in a tight spot, trying to keep its growth steady in light of investor expectations.

    The general populace do believe Intel is the only chipmaker, but that belief is slowly being eroded with cheaper AMD chips coming out. Intel needs to take decisive action in the areas it already holds marketshare. Again, I feel I need to state, IANA-MBA.

  • I bet if you go out on the street and ask 100 people who makes the best chips in the world, you'll get 99 answers of "Intel",

    I'll take that bet. I figure more people will say Frito-Lay. I suppose it depends what street you go out on.
  • I'm not going to get in-depth on this, but the primary issue with Windows is that it usually comes installed in Jack-of-all-Trades manner. For those familiar with the end use of a PC or workstation a custom install can be performed to omit certain features and designate how resources will be used (memory, caching, paging, etc.) The less tasks the OS has to manage, the more efficiently it usually accomplishes each. (My PC at work is usually paging (swapping memory to disk) with only a couple small applications running (but I didn't set this beast up.) Problem is, most users just assume when things get slow that they need more power. Often better drivers become available for controllers or other devices which can reduce memory usage or run faster. The typical end user doesn't know and usually can't be bothered with such details.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by Aos ( 24560 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @08:30AM (#821960) Homepage
    AMD CPU's require VERY GOOD cooling, and many people would try to use either cheap heatsink/fans or ones meant for celeron or FCPGA P3. These are NOT interchangeable generally. In some cases contact will not be made with the chip (e.g. some Alpha coolers have small feet). AMD specs require higher contact force to be applied. Without heatsink/fan, the 1GHz cpu will burn in 8 seconds (source : AMD). There really is no chance to see this coming (like, system hanging or failing to boot); if you screw it up, it will be dead right there and then.

    Second problem is that cpu core is exposed and extremely fragile. Couple that with very hard to clip on heatsinks (see contact force above), and you get many cases of cracked core. I did it myself, luckily it was just a small scratch and it still works. The biggest offender was the very popular Golden Orb.

    AMD chips runs very hot. VERY hot. So cool them well and they will serve you well.
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @08:42AM (#821961)
    AMD's 760 and Via's KX266 chipsets will both support Athlon and Duron SMP, and with both be out around the end of the year (Christmas?).
  • It has split 3 times over a 3 year period. And the stock is doing extremely well right now (and for the past couple of years). :-)
  • "Satan" Clara? Grow up, Tom. That's just as juvenile as referring to Microsoft as M(dollar-sign).

    Commenting only on this article, and not the follow-up, let's review a couple of points:

    1)Tom didn't test on the Motherboard he was supposed to test on
    2)He didn't have the required microcode update
    3)Tom DOES NOT receive ANY MONEY OR ENDORSEMENTS from ANY competing hardware manufacturer, ESPECIALLY NOT AMD

    What kind of excuse is it for Tom to say he doesn't believe in Microcode updates because they supposedly disable certain functionality?

    Now, let's review a couple of points from the follow-up article

    1)Tom glosses over reports of other people doing well with their testing, and gives well overdone attention to problem cases
    2)Tom claims that Intel COULD BE shipping faulty chips to OEMs with little factual basis, then treats his claim as a FACT for the rest of his article
    3)Tom heroically posts his "scathing" letter to Intel PR, but oddly enough "forgets" to post Intel's reply. Perhaps he considered Intel's reply long-winded, but after the two previous full-text quotes, I somehow doubt it could possibly be any worse.
    4)Tom seems to think himself somehow godlike in his heroic letter, saying that Intel couldn't possibly disagree with the opinions of the great Thomas Pabst.

    I used to respect Tom's Hardware, but have you ever noticed that whenever there are banner ads for one product on his site, the competition mysteriously receives bad reviews?
  • ... real world tests. Compiling a Linux Kernel is not a bogus WinBench / WinTune / WindTunnel / Optimized-for-Intel-because-they-paid-us benchmark tool, it's a real-world CPU stresser. Going through the hundreds of thousands of lines of code is a tough job for the CPU, and therefore is what I consider a valid test.

    Thanks Tom!
  • Dimension XPS B used to support 1.13GHz...

    http://www.dell.com/us/en/dhs/products/series_di men_desktops.htm

    But 1.13GHz choice has now been pulled:

    http://www.dell.com/html/us/segments/dhs/choose_ dim_b.htm

    Remember that Tom's was the first one to speak out against Rambus memory when everyone else was claiming how great it is. Now even Intel have vindicated Tom's Hardware, and are moving from RDRAM to DDR.

    Looks like Tom's may have been the first to point out the PIII 1.13 GHz problems too. I think Tom's anti-Intel reputation is just because everyone else has an unrealistic (i.e. out of date) idea about how good Intel are, while Tom's isn't afraid to call it how they see it.
  • You're forgeting something... if you release unstable software to the public, you could always distribute a patch later to fix the problems. This is not true of CPU's...

    "Evil beware: I'm armed to the teeth and packing a hampster!"
  • by llywrch ( 9023 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @09:03AM (#821975) Homepage Journal
    >Here's the thing I don't really understand (well, I understand it, but I don't accept it): Most programs and games don't need that fast a
    >processor, so why are people buying it? The need for speed?

    'Cause they're told they need it.

    A recent issue of _Consumer_Reports_ stated that a new buyer should expect a minimum speed of 1 GHz in her/his new computer (unless it's used for non-CPU intensive tasks like word processing & Email).

    Sheesh, I've been using computers with an average speed in the 400-600 MHz range (well, my home computer has two 400 MHz), & I have seen no problems with any of those being ``too slow". (For once, Andy is ahead of either Bill or Linus.)

    The only reason I can think that _Consumer_Reports_ would state that is because the OEMs' PR flacks talked them into it.


  • Those guys aren't running CPU diagnostics [ami.com], and they should be. Then they could make some coherent statements about the problem, rather than "it doesn't work."

    There are lots of things that the CPU can do wrong that won't cause a crash. Floating point errors, for example. MMX problems. Trouble in 3D extensions. Those are features that generally don't affect the control path in system software. You need to run diagnostics, 3D renders that check that the output matches a standard image bit for bit, and such. For that matter, when they run the "Linux recompilation test", do they check that the generated code matches some known-good reference? Probably not. Like the overclocking types, if the whole system doesn't crash, they're probably happy; all they wanted was to see the CPU benchmark run anyway.

    However, from what they wrote, it looks like Intel reached 1.13MHz by narrowing the temperature margins, not by actually making it faster. That's a desperation move.

  • Not true...I just now went to Dell's site and was easily able to choose a PIII 1.13ghz for a Dimension XPS B. Look again.

    As for Tom's objectivity and bias, I stand by my original statement. I did not say he was incorrect, just that he has repeatedly been very forgiving of AMD and very quick to bash Intel.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday August 28, 2000 @09:14AM (#821982) Homepage Journal
    AMD's ascendance to technical superiority couldn't have happened at a worse time for Intel. They were focussing all their energy on getting IA64 working and AMD came out of nowhere and blindsided them with a faster and less expensive chip. In a panic over losing their bragging rights, Intel started cranking up their current chips past what they could tolerate and AMD's been merrily keeping them in that panic mode by cranking up their chips right along with Intel. And AMD's chips seem to be able to handle the speed increases better.

    I think AMD will keep Intel in their current tizzy right up until they deliver their death stroke in the form of sledgehammer. Intel will again be taken completely by surprise as they were focussing on gaining their bragging rights back in the 32 bit world, which will be inconsequential in just a few years. I don't expect they'll last much longer after AMD catches them flat footed in the 64 bit arena.

    Of course, Intel's been doing a lot of stuff right with Itanium. They've been making sure that a lot of OSes will run on the chips before the chips are even out the door, and they're making sure heavily optimizing compilers are available for the chips. AMD could still screw it up and become the technological almost-ran in the 64 bit arena. And Intel still has a lot of influence in the motherboard/chipset manufacturers. It doesn't matter how technologically great your chip is if there isn't a motherboard you can put it in (Witness the continuing lack of Athlon SMP motherboards.)

  • > I'm surprised that a company as big and diverse as Intel would stake their reputation on a speed pissing-contest.

    Probably because most big companies are run to optimize their stocks rather than to optimize their products or satisfy their consumers. The massive press attention to AMD is going to make people rethink the value of their Intel stock. Therefore Intel must react.

    IANAFinancialAnalyst (as you probably already figured out).

  • Last week, the fastest PIII speed on Dell was 800MHz. This week, it's "NEW! 1GHz." That seems to reflect what you can actually get that works, as opposed to selected samples shipped to journalists.
  • I'm running Windows 2000 on a K6-2 with 64MB of RAM, and it runs a lot faster than Win 98 did.

    Yes - because Windows 2000 has better page memory management on small memory systems. Shame that it is less fast for more memory systems - check MS's own benchmarks. 128MB is where you start to lose out and it gets worse above there relative to Win NT 4.0.


    Toby Haynes

  • I'm not sure what you're looking at.

    Try this link (same as I posted above).

    Select Dimension XPS B Processor [dell.com]

    If you can find a place on Dell's site that lets you select a 1.13GHz processor, then please post the link!
  • I hate to whore onto an early comment, but the full ZDNet story is available now [zdnet.com].

  • Generally, unless your doing some serous work on your computer, a 500Mhz chip should be fine

    I can remember when people were saying that unless you played games, a 486 had more than enough power. And of course, they were right. The power available on the desktop today is far more than is needed for general office tasks. I have a P233 64M laptop that I run NT and MS Office '97 on primarily and it's easily powerful enough, even for apps like MATLAB. A P120 is enough to Windows 95 and Office 95 on without trouble.

    You see, chips are very reliable pieces of equipment, much more so than, say, cars or even saucepans. There's no built in obsolescence, hence Intel et al need to create it, which they often do through marketing, in addition to encouraging ISVs to create ever more resource-hungry applications. They have almost no choice now but to compete on speed and hype - as the old saying goes, he who rides the tiger cannot dismount.

  • I disagree with your placement of absolute value on "cpu diagnostics" like AMI diag. They are useful in troubleshooting a system with obviously faulty hardware, and narrowing it down to which hardware is faulty, but are far from a all-inclusive test.

    These tools are quite good for finding a CPU problem which is always present. They are WONDERFUL at finding intermittent memory problems. They suck at finding intermittent cpu problems or system load related problems. why? They only test one subsystem at a time (which they have to do if they want to isolate the problem).

    System diagnostics, like AMI diag and others, tend test one subsystem of the computer at a time. It does a quick processor check and confirms the FPU doesn't have any documented bugs (ie: test for fdiv bug, F00F bug, etc. Stuff that the linux kernel does on boot anyway), then it does a extensive memory check, then an extensive video check, and maybe an extensive disk check. This will detect most errors in any given subsystem, and will isolate the problem since you are testing it by itself.

    It does not however tend to find problems like the ones Tom was experiencing. The ones that only crop up after 20 minutes of combined heavy use of multiple subsystems at the same time. And yes, different problems do occur under these conditions. For example heavy disk access tends to very slightly increase the amount of voltage ripple on the power supply. This may or may not be a problem if all you are doing is reading the disk and checking the bytes. There is the possibility of this causing problems if, say, a memory write happens to be occurring within 20ns of the start of a disk head-seek. Onboard capacitors might level out the voltage problem somewhat, but it might only fall into the trouble zone if several such memory transactions occur within a certain time frame (ie: 50 within 200ms).

    Since Tom was actually able to boot the system and run it under light to moderate load tests, I would be very surprised if a simple "one subsystem at a time" system diagnostic detected the problem.

    Single-step diagnostics are akin to turning each light in the building on and off 50 times one at a time. This will likely find all problems with burnt out bulbs, bad switches, bad wiring, bad ballasts, etc. This is certainly a very valuable test to perform, but it is by no means all inclusive. You may later discover that turning all 20 lights in one circuit on at the exact same time will cause a circuit breaker to trip as all 20 starter ballasts kick in at the same time.
  • does "runs on my machine" == "perfectly stable" like the previous poster said? No? Well then shut up.


  • My sincerest apologies, the last time I checked the stock (2 months ago) it had not split and had missed its estimated mark of when it expected to split.

    The issue I am talking about has little to do with comparing stock prices with AMD, but the fact that AMD is coming on strong, able to ship more 1 gig chip for the holiday retail season, not suffering from the same chip shortages as AMD.

    And according to this [cnet.com] recent article, all 1.13GHz chips by Intel are being recalled. Meanwhile AMD began shipping [cnet.com] its 1.1GHz chips today.

    From the AMD article:

    "Shares of both companies have surged this year amid strong PC demand and the general upturn in the PC market. As of Friday, AMD shares were up more than 138 percent for the year, while Intel shares were up more than 77 percent. AMD shares split 2-for-1 last week."

    We can see that AMD is coming on strong with a greater supply of chips, which I believe can be interpreted that its 4th quarter earnings are going to continue the growth trend.

  • Toms opinion hasn't changed, depending on how you look at it, he is either biased, or seriously Pissed Off at Intel, and it does come through in what he writes.

    Of course, this time apparently he was right.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Hard OCP article had something to do with this, apparently they had an Intel Engineer there to watch as the Kernel failed to compile rather dramatically.

    You know, he probably went back to Intel HQ and mentioned this little problem.

    Of course, it could be that Dell simply couldn't find a way to make a system using these things that was at all stable, and they complained to Intel quietly about it.
  • Instead of people admitting that Tom was right in his previous review, the same people that claimed the supposed instability was just a product of Tom's bias now are attacking him for bias again.

    Well, Intel has recalled the chips. Could it be then that the sites that did not discover the instability have a pro-Intel bias, instead, and that Tom was just calling it as it was?

    Oh, sure, Tom has a bias. Guess what -- so do a lot of people criticizing MS software. A bias doesn't mean you're not telling the truth.

    Intel's chips had flaws serious enough for Intel to recall them. Tom was right, and those who accused him of distorting the truth owe him an apology.

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • Update: 08/28 06:44 PM by H [hemos.net] :Check out the latest burst from ZDNet - it appears that Intel will be recalling the Pentium3 1.13 Ghz. Thanks Evan.
    Around these parts, it's about 5:15pm.

    I guess dates in the update section don't get changed for my timezone like dates on stories and comments?

  • It's much the same as the experience I had some years ago. I was playing the online combat flightsim 'Warbirds', and had got myself a 200Mhz 604e CPU card for my Mac. A number of other gamers were having problems with view freezing- if they looked to the side, for instance, it'd be an appreciable fraction of a second before they got an updated view. This wasn't happening to me, but it was happening with Macs as fast as 300mhz... running 603s and 603es. You could say the 604e had more 'torque' and not be too far wrong... in practice this meant the lower-Mhz 604e would _easily_ outperform the higher-Mhz 603s in just about any realworld situation.

    The 604e had a huge aluminum heatsink but no fan- it ran fairly hot for a PPC chip, being a 166mhz 604e hopped up to 200mhz by Daystar Digital. After a while, I got a 300 mhz G3 card in another upgrade (still have the 604e card, too). The G3s are said to be the next-generation equivalents of the old 603es- power-efficient, higher-Mhz, that sort of thing. Mine ended up roughly twice as fast as the 604e for most tasks, most easily measured by POV renders which take a good long time- also, FPS framerates at least doubled, when Q3test came out I was unable to try it as the 200Mhz 604e made it a slideshow. The 300Mhz G3 started to make things vaguely playable.

    The G4s apparently are to the G3s as my old 604e was to the 603s. Be afraid. Be very afraid. That, or gloat a lot if you have one ;) lord knows I am tempted to waste a bunch of money and spring for a G4, even though not a thing that I do really requires one.

    One factor that should be considered is how much code is tailored to the weaknesses of x86. As things develop, this should even out- apart from a tendency in the high-end x86 world to turn to increasingly byzantine compilers in desperate attempts to make these complicated mechanisms work :) such things have little appeal to _me_, though, and I enjoy running a (admittedly 300Mhz-slow) computer that uses comparatively simple and straightforward compilers and happily spins its tiny wheels for me, cooled only by a purple heatsink the size of an ornate postage stamp. Small is fscking beautiful, I say. :)

  • I think what people forget about the Pentium III core is that it's just a highly-evolved version of the original P6 core dating from the middle 1990's. Unfortunately, Intel seems to be reaching the limits of the PIII core right about now.

    The Athlon core is literally a "from scratch" design, with faster pipelines, a generous 128 KB L1 cache, and an all-new FPU core that processes FPU and MMX instructions much faster per clock cycle than a Pentium III does. The latest "Thunderbird" Athlons now also has on-die CPU-speed 256 KB L2 cache, which really cranks up the speed of the CPU.

    The results are obvious: in tests where FPU power is at a premium, the "Thunderbird" Athlon beats the PIII hands down at the same clock speed. The Athlon has found its niche for users of Windows NT4/2000 and Linux because of its flat-out internal CPU speed.

    The Athlon is still somewhat throttled by the somewhat weak VIA KX133 and KT133 chipsets (though the vast majority of users won't know the difference), but that will change soon with new VIA, ALi and AMD chipsets that not only will support DDR-SDRAM but also SMP using the features of the EV6 CPU bus that the Athlon runs on.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.