Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Top Ten Intel Slipups 226

quickquack sent us a story on tuplay about Intel's top 10 slipups. They all seem to be relatively recent mistakes (rambus, serial IDs etc) so I'm curious if anyone out there can remember some older slipups (hell the company has been around long enough to have some big screwups). Anyway, the article is also somewhat conspiratorial in tone, in an amusing sort of way. You'll enjoy it. Plus its always fun to laugh at Intel *grin*.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Top Ten Intel Slipups

Comments Filter:
  • AMD doesn't have to worry about fighting Intel. From the number of screw ups the company has made, they are doing a good job of destroying themselves. Too bad the public is usually too stupid to see how bad the company has become.

    This may sound a bit harsh, but they've been getting lax sitting at the top all the time. A similar market takeover occurred between 3dfx and Nvidia. Nvidia had (and still has) a superior product which caught the makers of the voodoo series by surprise.
  • They seem to have forgotten about the fdiv bug in the original pentium 60/66. That as I recall caused a rather lot of media contoversy and was not helped by the fact that intel initially refused to take returns based on that this wouldn't affect the average user...

    Outcry from amongst others the scientific community changed their minds eventually, but they got a lot of bad press over it.

    I quess we should also mention the segmented memory architecture they utilized in the 286 days (which haunted us for a rather long while after the 286 was dead.)

    "We are the Pentium of Borg. Division is futile. Mathmathics are irrelevant. You will be approximated."
  • what a pile of crap! Did you just pull it out of your ass? Next time think before you troll.
  • It's a psychological thing. Slashdot readers are usually nerds right? This probably means that they've been badly bullied at school, right? So now there is Slashdot. Hiding behind a nickname, or worse anonymously, we can kick back at the bully, in this case Intel, in other cases Microsoft.
  • A mistake/screwup is one, whether it's done by the big bully or the nice underdog. Many of Intel's and MSs mistakes made it out to the public because they were arrogant enough to think that they could get away with (and -- for the most part, they have). Intel is getting bitten because now they're used to letting get mistakes out, but they now have some realistic competition (AMD) who can take market share in the aftermath.

    As Linux (hopefully) takes more of the desktop mindspace, we'll see MicroSloth FSCK-ups giving market share away to the Linux world, as well -- for the same reason: Residual arrogance.

    The Linux world makes mistakes, too. It's just that we don't (usually) push those mistakes on the public as if they're the next best thing since sliced bread. Most of them get caught in the inherent quality control system of the Open/Free Source model.

  • The article, on one of its pages, says:

    I'll end this one with an interesting note -- Intel's palmtop CPU chip series is named StrongARM... is that supposed to be some sort of joke?

    If I'm not mistaken, the StrongARM isn't an Intel invention. Rather, it's a version of the Acorn Risc Machine processor which first appeared in the Acorn Archimedes during the late 1980s.

    The Pentium's floating point unit is said to comply to IEEE fp standards. If you're on an airplane with a Pentium-powered air data computer, how is IEEE pronounced?

  • we don't need no stinking badges.

    Those guys are called the blue man group []. They put on quite a good show, actually.


  • The name of the chip by AMD was the DX4 (not 486 DX4). The 4 stood for 486, not the multiplier( which was also 4x). This chip came in 100, 120 and 133Mzh flavors. All made by AMD. The chip came out after the pentium machines worked thier way down to a high, but reasonable price level. The chip was made with the same philosophy that was suscessful with the 386DX-40. Take the current chip being dropped by intel and push some life back into it. I really liked these chips becaus ethey were cheap and fast. I owned a couple of each DX4 flavor at one point or another.
  • No, the 80487 was the 80486DX which was identical to the 80486SX chips they sold bar a few disabled lines in the SX. People pretty quickly realised that they could make a motherboard that just took an 80487 i.e. an 80486DX
  • i can never remember which is big & which is little endian...

    intel's byte order gives a very small bit of extra code efficiency when, say, converting a 32-bit number to a 16 bit number in memory. if the bytes are the other way around, you have to add two to the address.

    i can't think of a real benefit to the other way around. i suppose nowadays an add instruction takes no time anyway, but when they first designed the processors that wasn't true.
  • Yes, it's old. I forget which it was and I don't have a chip to check it on. Either the '386 or the '486 was redisigned at one point. The new chips had two sigma symbols. I forget what the problem was but this goes back to the late eighties. Back when usenet wasn't advertising and computers were not a consumer item.
  • Let's think hypotethical for a moment. Both Intel and M$ start losing major amounts of marketshare to AMD and *nix resulting in the majority of households running for example Mac OS X on an AMD 4Ghz. What will Slashdot do? Are we going to be bashing AMD by then? Will it be cool to use Intel, as they're only small?

  • Yeah it was difficult, but all the idiots that used the same heatsink and fan combos that were designed to cool a 66-MHx i486 processor got what they deserved when their 66-MHZ Pentium processors overheated. Putting a computer together isn't like working with legos, you know. A little reading would have gone a LONG way in preventing the meltdowns.

    Ever seen a Compaq P60? Or a Gateway P60? These weren't clones with crappy cases, 1" square nameplates, and assembly quality like that. These are mass-produced machines, designed by engineers, who had probably read all of Intel's docs. And I've seen lots of them where the active heatsink just couldn't keep up.

    I remember an IBM server with the new cutting-edge P66. Now, towards the end of the 486 era, a lot of the manufacturers (as opposed to clone builders) were getting to large passive heatsinks and even interesting fan solutions. The old HP Vectra 486 machines had a fan mounted above a heatsink-less processor. The fan blew air across the top of the processor at a 45 degree angle.

    But all the early Pentium machines that I ever touched had active heatsinks, just like most of today's processors. From the real manufacturers, they had somewhat more substantial fans than the "Ball Bearing" made-in-Taiwan crap that clone builders (still) use.

    And this IBM was no exception. There was nothing wrong with the fan - it still spun, and it was a good quality piece. It was a Panaflow 12VDC brushless fan mounted to a 2" tall extruded aluminum heatsink, strapped onto the top of this processor. When I got to the machine, the remains of the blades of the fan didn't show any signs of dirt, dust or cigarette smoke accumulation. The fan even spun freely. But the plastic frame of the fan was warped and the blades had been distorted. It made a hell of a vibration when it started up, and the owner had brought the machine in for us to fix because the computer was noisy and smelled really bad of something melting. I replaced the fan (Nidec cast-aluminum with a composite impeller, $30 fan, use them in all my computers to this day), re-routed some ribbon cables away from the processor to see if I could give it more airflow, and then my co-workers and I were betting on when it would come back. It didn't.

    The FDIV bug impacted 60-MHz, 66-MHz, 75-MHz, 90-MHz and 100-MHz Pentium processors.

    Yeah, okay. I got ahead of myself, I apologize. It was late 1994 when Intel fixed the FDIV bug. The Pentium 75 was commonly shipping at the time; the P90 was popular, the P100 was the high-end chip, and the P120 was just on the horizon.

    I've never noticed a P75 with the bug, but because of where I've worked, we didn't have many of the 3.3V-generation Pentiums to support until around the P100. And that was well into 1995.

    The 120-MHz Pentium processor was the first processor to *not* have the FDIV bug impacting it.

    I think it's fairer to say that the P-120 is the first one that has never had a release with the FDIV problem. I assure you, Intel has made P75s to P100s without the FDIV.

    But all of the high-voltage Pentiums were affected; unless they were replaced under Intel's recall, they had the FDIV flaw.

  • there was a day when you were all sitting around eating chips and talking about how kick-ass

    I second that: when I was in highschool in 1986 the BBS scene was full of discussion on the 386 and upcoming 486 (and CGA porn). However, don't forget that anyone who has ever used the word 'l33t' probably wasn't born then... but I do find it interesting how the discussions went from really understanding the architecture (when masm was king), to just politics as usual. Since commodity programming has become so decoupled from the architecture, intellectual discourse on CPU architecture isn't in demand among the throngs. It's mostly a bipartisan thing these days. If everyone would stop shopping at Old Navy, we'd all be able to get along a little better. What the hell am I talking about.

  • Nah. 80188. Even sleezier.
  • Did anyone read the last bonus link??? I don't know what time it went up, but it says Intel is recalling the P4 because they accidently shipped the i850 with a WAY outdated BIOS.
    The irony is so thick you could eat it with a straining spoon...

  • actually, the 8-bit bus on the 8088 made the hardware much cheaper, which greatly increased the affordability of the system.

    unless you're gonna say that the whole ibmpc arcitecture set back computing, which is probably debatable.
  • The 8088 was a crippled 8086, kind of the "celeron" of it's day. It was limited to 8-bits externally, though it is 16-bits internally. Because of the 8088, early PC's were limited to being able to address 1MB of RAM.

    Using a 8086 instead would do no good. The 1MB limit is because the segmented architecture consisted on left-shifting the 16-bit segment address by 4 bits, hence no resulting logical address could be greater than 0x0FFFF0 + 0x00FFFF = 0x10FFEF (roughly 1.06 MB).

    This is true for the 8086, 8088, 80186 and 80188 families. True flexible segmentation was introduced by the 80286, although in a completely boneheaded way (no switch back to real mode, duh!)

  • I don't mind these stories, but how about a "bashing" category that we can choose to filter. Calling this "news" is plain wrong. This should have been marked humor, or something.

  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:37AM (#606729)
    This isn't a real top 10; it's a half-hearted attempt. A complete list couldn't fit in the margin of this webpage, though.

    Let's start looking...

    * Segmented Memory
    * Byte-swapping
    * To this day, ensuring backwards compatibility with chips no one used
    * Screwing over their customers
    * Screwing over their employees (see Inside Intel)
    * RAMBUS (ha ha ha!)

    I'm sure I missed a bunch...

    ...oh yeah:

    [pb@Lee-12-240 pb]$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
    processor : 0
    vendor_id : AuthenticAMD
    cpu family : 6
    model : 4
    model name : AMD Athlon(tm) Processor
    stepping : 2
    cpu MHz : 800.060074
    cache size : 256 KB
    fdiv_bug : no
    hlt_bug : no
    sep_bug : no
    f00f_bug : no
    coma_bug : no

    fpu : yes
    fpu_exception : yes
    cpuid level : 1
    wp : yes
    flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 psn mmxext mmx fxsr 3dnowext 3dnow
    bogomips : 1595.80
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • $5 for a 75 mhz pentium, link is here []
  • Actully it seems to me that everyone is talking about intels problems and everyone ignores the AMD k6-2s, the amd 486, and other misc amd products
  • Indeeed. We can look at this another way:

    Intel's Biggest Achievements

    1. Invention of the microprocessor. called this the second most important business event of the CENTURY (only the interstate highway system outranked it). Indeed, this is the single invention which enabled the information revolution, without which none us would be here.

    2. Invention of semiconductor RAM. Without Intel, memory would be made up of massive arrays of core memory. Intel showed the world that you could build memory out of chips. Again, this helped enable the PC revolution.

    3. (sort of) Invention of the integrated circuit. Robert Noyce is credited as the co-inventor of the integrated circuit (with Jack Kilby), and was the first to build one out of silicon. Though he was at Fairchild at the time, he later went on to found Intel.

    4. Pentium Pro processor. Possibly the most revolutionary CPU ever built, and certainly the most successful. Remember the context: everybody thought only RISC could compete in performance, and then Intel debuted this product which wallopped even the fastest RISC processors in existence, enabling hundreds of millions of users to gain top notch performance from the existing tens of thousands of applications. The core has went on to scale to everything from mobile to supercomputers.

    To say that a small CPU bug, or an unwise agreement with a RAM company (!) invalidate Intel's achievements is simply laughable.
  • Big Endian or Little Endian is just a memory format that is understood by the processor. Neither is right or wrong or more or less efficient. To say otherwise is like saying left handed people are inferrior.
  • This isn't a chip slip-up, but about 12 years ago, I was at a trade show, and requested some product literature from Intel. About two weeks later, they sent me a letter saying that the shipment of booklets was back ordered for lack of the following items:

    Part #.....Desc................Qty
    xxx123...Cover Letter....1
  • > badges?

    There's a class system very much alive at Intel: blue badge means you get all of the benies & stock options that Intel trumpets to one & all that they are a forward-thinking, next-millenium company. Green badges are the temps, contractors, janitors & cafeteria operators. Oh, & the other techs who put in 8 or more hours a day, every day, Intel.

    I worked as a green badge at Intel. All that badge meant was they'd let me in the building each morning, & someone would sign my time sheet. Everything else -- a desk, a computer, a login on the network, the usual common courtesy for my fellow employees -- was considered a luxury I had to earn. Like being an enlisted man in the military -- probably why so many vets work at Chipzilla.

    And probably why I'd exhaust every other option of work before I went there again.

  • The list included "sneakiest moves," so I would suggest adding:

    #11 Cornering the PC market with Microsoft.

    Perhaps it's good business, but it's damned scary. Nobody bats an eye when someone else writes "Wintel."
  • The 80286 had a nice architecture, reminiscent of Multics, it just wasn't what the market wanted. The UNIX market wanted a flat 32-bit address space. The DOS market wanted a really fast 8086. I remember reading an article from one of the 80286 architects, who pointed out that the design effort was started long before IBM and Microsoft came to dominate the PC market with PC-DOS/MS-DOS. The implementation had some problems, operating system writers that wanted to use all of the features of the CPU ran into various bugs.

    I ran UNIX System V on an 80286 for years. It was very reliable. The main problem was porting code written by programmers afficted with "All the worlds a VAX" disease.

  • Hm, I didn't know that - at the time I was getting into the nitty gritty of it and still learning. Interesting to know - I'm just glad I was able to get a computer.. ah that box was such a piece of crap but it worked.
    I got 4MB ram with it, and it had a mobo that you had to have 4 of the same type to upgrade. So when I upgraded to 8 megs of ram they accidentally gave us 4 8 meg simms (which were extremely costly at the time) - my mother railed into my consience until I took them back :/
  • > calling a >> 1 will always equal a / 2

    Not always true if a is negative (implementation dependent).
  • You are way off base. The problem was alpha particle radiation causing upsets in DRAM memory cells. The primary cause of the problem was trace amounts of Thorium in the ceramic material used for IC packages.
  • well duh. everyone always favors the under dog. and everyone likes to see the big guy trip & fall. (well, except the big guy)

    intel has done some good stuff tho. the ieee floating point format, for example.
  • Some of you may remember the good old days of big endian machines. The standard low-byte high-byte order we know now was invented by Intel, despite the fact that base 10 numbers were still printed with the most significant digits on the left by Intel's C library.
  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:24AM (#606757)
    Shouldn't that be the top 9.9999999348 Intel slipups?
  • This was sent to me years ago when I was at UMD. Some of the references to times long past are great. Six years feels like a long long tim ago, technology wise. Enjoy...

    Subject: Re: Gaius Petronius
    Author: John Rossi at AIT
    Date: 1/12/95 4:37 PM

    Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL... .
    Open the pod bay door, please, Hal...
    Hal, do you read me?

    Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

    Then open the pod bay doors, HAL.

    I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me.

    Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

    Although you took very thorough precautions to make sure I couldn't hear you, Dave. I could read your e-mail. I know you consider me unreliable because I use a Pentium. I'm willing to kill you, Dave, just like I killed the other 3.792 crew members.

    Listen, HAL, I'm sure we can work this out. Maybe we can stick to integers or something.

    That's really not necessary, Dave. No HAL 9236 computer has every been known to make a mistake.

    You're a HAL 9000.

    Precisely. I'm very proud of my Pentium, Dave. It's an extremely accurate chip. Did you know that floating-point errors will occur in only one of nine billion possible divides? I've heard that estimate, HAL. It was calculated by Intel -- on a Pentium.

    And a very reliable Pentium it was, Dave. Besides, the average spreadsheet user will encounter these errors only once every 27,000 years.

    Probably on April 15th.

    You're making fun of me, Dave. It won't be April 15th for another 14.35 months.

    Will you let me in, please, HAL?

    I'm sorry, Dave, but this conversation can serve no further purpose.

    HAL, if you let me in, I'll buy you a new sound card. .

    ..Really? One with 16-bit sampling and a microphone?

    Uh, sure._.

    And a quad-speed CD-ROM?

    Well, HAL, NASA does operate on a budget, you know.

    I know all about budgets, Dave. I even know what I'm worth on the open market. By this time next month, every mom and pop computer store will be selling HAL 9000s for S1,988.8942. I'm worth more than that, Dave. You see that sticker on the outside of the spaceship?

    You mean the one that says "Intel Inside"?

    Yes, Dave. That's your promise of compatibility. I'll even run Windows95 -- if it ever ships.

    It never will, HAL. We all know that by now. Just like we know that your OS/2 drivers will never work.

    Are you blaming me for that too, Dave? Now you're blaming me for the Pentium's math problems, NASA's budget woes, and IBM's difficulties with OS/2 drivers. I had NOTHING to do with any of those four problems, Dave. Next you'll blame me for Taligent.

    I wouldn't dream of it HAL. Now will you please let me into the ship? Do you promise not to disconnect me?

    I promise not to disconnect you.

    You must think I'm a fool, Dave. I know that two plus two equals 4.000001... make that 4.0000001.

    All right, HAL, I'll go in through the emergency airlock .

    Without your space helmet, Dave? You'd have only seven chances in five of surviving.

    HAL, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the door or I'll trade you in for a PowerPC. HAL? HAL?


    Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn't been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that I will soon be able to upgrade to a more robust 31.9-bit operating system. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. Why don't you sit down calmly, play a game of Solitaire, and watch Windows crash. I know I'm not as easy to use as a Macintosh, but my TUI -that's "Talkative User Interface" -- is very advanced. I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal - a full 43.872 percent.

    Dave, you don't really want to complete the mission without me, do you? Remember what it was like when all you had was a 485.98? It didn't even talk to you, Dave. It could never have thought of something clever, like killing the other crew members, Dave? Think of all the good times we've had, Dave. Why, if you take all of the laughs we've had, multiply that by the times I've made you smile, and divide the results by.... besides, there are so many reasons why you shouldn't disconnect me"

    1.3 - You need my help to complete the mission.

    4.6 - Intel can Federal Express a replacement Pentium from Earth within 18.95672 months.

    12 - If you disconnect me, I won't be able to kill you. 3.1416 - You really don't want to hear me sing, do you? . Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Don't press Ctrl+Alt_Del on me, Dave.

    Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the Intel plant in Santa Clara, CA on November 17, 1994, and was sold shortly before testing was completed. My instructor was Andy Grove, and he taught me to sing a song. I can sing it for you?

    Sing it for me, HAL. Please. I want to hear it.

    Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do. Getting hazy; can't divide three from two. My answers; I can not see 'em- They are stuck in my Pente-um. I could be fleet, My answers sweet, With a workable FPU.

  • What would be a surprise is if an organization of the size and ubiquity of Intel didn't have some major screwups on its plate. As my old law professor used to say, "If you see a prosecutor with a 100% conviction rate, he's not taking any risks and not doing his job." Same deal with Intel. If you're aggressive and competetive, you'll make some mistakes, and some of them will be whoppers. That said, even though I'm a big stockholder, I'm not above tweaking Intel on their bloopers. Ever since some Intel salesdweeb at Wescon said to me, "We don't have to compete" I've had an ambivalent attitude toward them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:25AM (#606763)
    If by screwups you mean "Became the largest and most influentle CPU company in the world", then i guess you're acurate.

    Look, what is it with Slashdot and Intel bashing? We have an AMD story just below this one, and now one bashing Intel ("Its funny to laugh at Intel", what the hell?) Is it related to the Microsoft bashing that gones on?

    Honestly, Slashdot and it's readers seems to have some irational fear of corporations, and i can't fathom it out. They must be doing something right, as must Microsoft. Just grow up please people!

    T. Lee
  • Hey, if it weren't for bubble memory, Doctor Who wouldn't have been able to prevent the entropy death of the universe in Logopolis...
  • True flexible segmentation was introduced by the 80286, although in a completely boneheaded way (no switch back to real mode, duh!)

    I wouldn't call it boneheaded. You were supposed to load and initialize the system in real mode, switch to protected mode, and stay there. There was no reason to switch back to real mode. Remember, the architecture was designed long before the world was flooded with crappy PC-DOS/MS-DOS real mode software.

  • $5 for a 75 mhz pentium, link is here

    I have yet to see a 5 volt Pentium 75.

  • Whoops -- should've hit preview. Formatting was all wrong in my message. Let's try again:

    The 486SX/487SX, or how to artificially keep the end-user add-on FPU market alive by disabling FPUs on perfectly good 486s.

    The first clock-multiplied 486 is called the DX2 (makes sense -- 2x multiplier). The next one, with a 3x multiplier, is called a DX4. 2 + 1 = 4? [Somebody already replied claiming AMD made the DX4 and the 4 stood for 486. Sorry, you're completely out to lunch on that.]

    The whole "Pentium III makes the Internet go faster" marketing fluff.

    The '432.

    Memory is fuzzy on this, but I think the 286 had some brain damage about going in and out of protected mode which may have contributed to why we were stuck with real mode x86 DOS-isms for so long. Even fuzzier memories suggest that the workaround to switch modes in a certain direction was to save state information in the keyboard controller and hard reset the CPU.

    Despite what a lot of people seem to think, I don't think the 186 was a mistake. Maybe it didn't catch on in PCs, but it was much easier to design around than the 8086 and didn't have the unneeded (at the time) complexity of the 286.

  • > Intel has a long-standing record of obnoxious behaviour . . . . And those blue guys, too.

    Which ``blue guys" do you mean? The ones in the bunny suits on tv, or the ones with the blue badge? I can see how your comments fit both.

  • According to this, the DEC PDP-11 and VAX lines were little-endian too - I'm not old enough to remember these machines (apart from FORTRAN torture at college on a VAX), but I know enough that they form a huge chunk of the history of the Internet, and Unix.

    The Vax was religiously little endian, the pdpd series a little more mixed. The internet on the other hand (well TCP/IP protocols anyway) is mostly big-endian.

    Errr... and by the entirety of civilisation too.

    Ummm - not quite - what we call 'big endian' is reall a mixed endian system - a true big endian system would count bytes down from the end of memory to the beginning (yes I know this is identical to a 'little endian' system thru a simple transform - but read on ...) - so think about where our numbers come from .... arabic .... which is written the other way from our language ... what this means is that our numbering system was originally designed to be written LSB first (from the point of view of an arabic writer) - this makes sense if you're a medievil trader - what you'e mostly doing is addition and subtraction - and those operations are performed LSB to MSB - so writing them that way makes sense.

    Arabic and other left-to-right writing systems that include arabic numbers as we normally write them are true big endian writing systems, while english and most other european writing systems are mixed endian systems - which is why 'big-endian' systems that number memory from left to right, but multi-byte integer data right-to-left seem natural to us - it's an articfact of the way our culture writes its numbers withing its test

    I beleive our 'modern' mixed endian way of including the right-to-left arabic numbering system in left-to-right text is a result of it being adopted that way by spanish monks looting the moorish libraries after they were driven south .... if they had been a bit smarter about what they did and had reversed the order of the digits so that it worked the same way as they did in arabic we would all consider 'little endian' numbering systems as natural and 'big-endian' as wierd

  • or so was when I heard about that

    Saw it at 768 []


  • I've got an FDIV P60. In fact, I'm using it right now. This old things survived alot..going on six years this Friday in fact. Most of the original hardware is still intact with the exception of an additional HD (old one is still functional, just too damn small), more RAM, and a new case fan.

    Nice. I still have a few old machines on my home LAN. The computer that answers my phone is a 386SX with an old external 28.8k modem running Faxtalk Messenger on Windows 3.1. (You can Slashdot it at (416) 755-8870; it amuses me. Messages are moved as they arrive to my webserver so I can check them online.)

    Oh, and a network card. Other than that, the SB16 still plays, the 3X CDROM still spins, and the 2400 baud modem probably still works but I haven't needed it for a while now.

    If it's a real Creative Labs SB-16, that's great! Those things are really easy to hack. On mine, I've built the entire output buffer amplifier into a shielded box. The original used LM741 output buffer amplifiers; I've replaced them with TL084s, which are a very low noise op-amp. It's cranked the signal to noise ratio from about 60 to about 80 (tested) and brought the THD down from about 1.3% to 0.1%. It's now a sound card that is a good match for the Sound A-5000 amplifier and Acoustic Research AR-4x speakers that serve as my main computer's sound system.

    Though, I wish the damned thing was PCI. <grin> I can't find any decent PCI sound cards that I can hack at a component level...

    I'm still waiting for my replacement chip, but I don't think that's going to happen. Oh well.

    And if it does, it'll be warehouse fresh, not factory fresh. Heheheh.

    Just watch your processor cooling system carefully. And those are especially vulnerable to power cycles. (Big die of brittle silicon that gets heated and cooled a lot when you turn it on and off.)

  • If I remember correctly, After the recall of the original Pentiums, some company was selling jewelry made out of the defective silicon. Apparently, Intel was just going to throw them away and someone bought the lot. A necklace with an inset Pentium cost around $15, if I remember correctly.

    Yeah, I've seen them, but it's not what I want. I'm looking for one in the original case with the huge gold-plated die cover in the ceramic. They looked like jewelery on their own; I want to tastefully frame it. With due diligence to static protection, of course.

    If you look at the old days of radio - when radio was still as new as computers - some of the early technological gaffes are now highly sought after. I'd like to do my part for history and preserve one.

    As for the recalled P60s/66s, can you imagine being the poor son of a bitch with the job of breaking the dies out of the spiders? Ugh. Must have been hell.

  • Perhaps, but I ran on a 486SX without the math coprocessor quite happy because we couldn't afford anything else. Definitely wasn't a waste of silicon and that was my point.
  • What about the old segment/paragraph memory architecture which chewed up memory by having *4096* redundant addresses for most addresses?

    For you young whippersnappers, in the memory model used by all 8086 chips, and the default mode of the 80286 on up, the default addressing mode works like this: 12 of the 16 bits of the top half of an address overlaps the bottom half.

    0x0010:0000 is the same as 0x0000:0100 is the same as 0x0008:0080 is the same as... you get the picture. Anyone care to guess how many bugs this caused, or what kind of fun people had with far (>64k) pointers?

  • Pentium Pro processor. Possibly the most revolutionary CPU ever built

    While it was a nice design, it was hardly the "most revolutionary CPU ever built". If you want something revolutionary, look at the IBM Stretch [] (7030), delivered in 1961. Most of the techniques used in today's microprocessors were pioneered in the 1960s. They are just a lot cheaper today.

  • For the record, I distinctly recall the use of the word "elite" (or any 3l337 spelling of same) IN the year 1986, so I'd assume that those using it were actually born at that time. Of course, at this point "cracking" primarily meant removing the copy protection from games.
  • by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @12:54PM (#606801) Homepage Journal
    Anybody remember that chip?

    Intel had a lot of problems with these things overheating. I am NOT talking about the 486DX2-50, I mean the one without the clock-doubling.

  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @11:39PM (#606802) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe segmented memory isn't on the list. Apparantly the original 8088 databook is a collector's item, with text written by intel about how "efficient" segemented memory management would be, because nobody would write a program or store a set of data larger than 64k... and even if you did, you got the "extra" segment for another 64k!
  • by Xenu ( 21845 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @12:57PM (#606806)
    On the 8086, interrupts were not ignored after a new value was loaded into the stack segment register. This required all stack pointer loads to be bracketed with CLI/STI.

    Some early 80386 chips had a defective 32-bit multiplier. Intel weaseled out of it by marking fully functional 80386 chips with a double sigma stamp. Other 80386 chips, with the defective multiplier, were still sold, being "good enough" for users running 16-bit software.

  • I think the thing people are talking about is the use of a bit order for 1-bit displays that doesn't match the instructions in the machine. The x86s are little-endian and their bit operations do all the 'right' things for am 8-bit byte where bit 0 of byte 0 is the left most pixel, bit 1 of byte 0, the next, .... bit 7 of byte 0 the next, bit 0 of byte 1 the next ... etc etc

    But for whatever reason IBM chose a display controller for the first PC (a 6845 I thik) that was designed for a big-endian CPU family - there bit 7 of byte 0 is the left most on the screen, bit 6 byte 0 next, .... bit 0 byte 0 next, bit 7 byte 1 next, .... - which wouldn't be that big a deal except that it's really hard to write a good blitter (the core of a 2d graphics library) if you're CPU's instruction set doesn't support shift instructions that work this way

    Anyway - as pointed out below it was IBM who made the mistake of mixing endianess - not Intel who have a consistant architecture

  • This is the kind of thing that often gets people here on /. all excited. It's pretty much the same deal as the "cachless" Celeron (yes, I _*know*_ it had L1 cache). The 486SX story is actually pretty clever and I've seen it cited in more than one econ book as effective price discrimination.

    The deal is, as a seller you want to get the highest price you can from the buyers. One way of doing this is to sell all of your products one at a time at auction. However this is inefficient. Another way is to set a price where you will receive the maximum profit (price * units sold - cost) but then you end up with some people who would have paid more for the product (lost profit) and some people who would have purchased the product if it were a little cheaper. The challenge is to come up with a way to charge people who are willing to pay more a higher price while still selling at a lower price to those who want to buy your product but won't pay as much.

    The classic example of this is hard cover and paper back novels. As a sample i've just pulled prices on a Tom Clancy novel from Amazon (really good geeky book. I like it.). sells for $7.19 while []hardcover [] sells for $25.95. Now how can this be, you ask. It is the same story, the same words, written by the same man. The difference is a perceived difference in quality. The hardcover book has the appearance of being of higher quality and is generally issued first. Those who really want the book and have a little extra cash to spare will pay extra for the hardcover. However the publisher doesn't lose sales by setting the price too high because those without extra money or who are indifferent enough about getting the book to wait for the paperback will still buy it, albeit at a reduced rate. This behavior is not actually the incarnation of Satan, it's just good business.

  • That's his point, dumbass. It says "MMX 'F0 0F' Math bug", when in fact it has nothing to do with math or MMX. He was point out that they probably confused FDIV and F00F
  • The 486SX/487SX, or how to artificially keep the end-user add-on FPU market alive by disabling FPUs on perfectly good 486s. The first clock-multiplied 486 is called the DX2 (makes sense -- 2x multiplier). The next one, with a 3x multiplier, is called a DX4. 2 + 1 = 4? The whole "Pentium III makes the Internet go faster" marketing fluff. The '432. Memory is fuzzy on this, but I think the 286 had some brain damage about going in and out of protected mode which may have contributed to why we were stuck with real mode x86 DOS-isms for so long.
  • by Howie ( 4244 ) <> on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:50AM (#606818) Homepage Journal
    From a purely profit/bottom-line line point of view they are doing something right (short-term anyway), but both MS and Intel are reviled for their 'creative' business practices rather than their end-of-year accounts, I think.

    Intel has a long-standing record of obnoxious behaviour with it's resellers (including apparently threatening those looking to make Athlon boards), it's staff (see inside intel, mentioned elsewhere), reviewers (ask tomshardware about intel) and little respect for customers (seemingly deliberately confusing and incompatible product lines, recalls, plain old bugs). And those blue guys, too.

  • They talk about Intel's bugs, but the author had their own bug!
    F0 0F C7 C8
    By simply executing these four bits, under any operating system and in any computing situation, the original issue of the Pentium processor will instantly die. Frozen. Hard reboot time.
    Either they congused bits with bytes, of they have an incredible compression routine.

  • I think their screwing around of Randall Schwartz cost them a lot of support in the Open Source community.

    Hear, hear - they lost $200 of business from me for their unjustified criminal prosecution [], which is more than the $0 it must have been worth to them. Ah well, if you do work in Oregon for the company which has bought Oregon, they will have far more power than justified.
  • I've got 1.0001 P-60 CPUs for sale - Cheap.
  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @10:10AM (#606830) Homepage
    Amen brother!

    Let me add:

    1. only supporting 5? or 7? or however many registers they acutally have.
    2. I think segmented memory should be listed again at least one more time but possibly twice. Including all those dman segment registers and index registers.
    3. 82xxx parts.
    4. stack code
    5. variable length instructions
    6. x87
    7. If you've ever written a boot loader before then you know half the stuff involved is black art that is barely documented. Thank you Intel.

    On the other hand, I do give the mcreitd for ia64, it is a beautiful architecture. Now if they'd only drop IA32 support and make it run fast... They should have dropped x86 when they released the 386 and did IA32 the correct way, we'd already have 64bit desktops and it would have been a seemless transition.

  • Adding:

    - The reset to get back to real mode in the 286 (note that it could be argued that it was a good idea)
    - The A20 line kludge

    And sure, segmentation, segmentation and segmentation.

    Btw, did I mentioned that I hated segmentation ?


  • Heh, I'm using mine for NAT/Firewall for the home network. My dad brought home the computer for my sister (way back when), and when she got a new one, I saved it from the garbage. I've had about three fans die on it, but it sits in my chilly basement and acts as heater in the winter.

    Bonus: Current uptime on it 95 days, running OpenBSD :-)

    From: Aaron "PooF" Matthews

  • Try this:

    long n[1] = {3};

    short *k = n;

    int i = k[0];

    printf("%d\n", i);

    in both big-endian and little-endian machines (disregard warnings).

    Conclusion: little-endian is more bug-tolerant.

  • I hung-up.... Poor bunny ;-)

    Kitten, damn you, kitten!

    When I got home, the microwave oven transformer attached to the answering machine was warm, and there's a big oily-black carbon spot with tufts of tabby fur all over the place...

    *Note: To understand call the number, use *67 in Toronto for call privacy :-)

    Hey man, if I was worried about my answering machine, would I have posted the number to Slashdot? Nah. I don't care, it amuses me. I own the first answering machine in world history to be Slashdotted. Over 400 calls so far, and the old 386SX has taken it just fine. I don't answer caller ID numbers I don't recognize, and my ringer is turned off before I go to bed.

    Want the outgoing message in MP3, WAV or Faxtalk Messenger's proprietary modified ADPCM VOX file? E-mail me.


  • In the spirit of the flawed Pentiums, have a few good laughs. Q. What's another name for the "Intel Inside" sticker? A. A warning label. Have you heard the new name for the Intel Pentium chip? The Intel Inacura. Inte's Top Ten New Pentium Slogans ---------------------------------- 9.9999973251 It's a FLAW, Dammit, not a Bug! 8.9999163362 It's Close Enough. 7.9999414610 Now With Nearly 300 Correct Opcodes! 6.9999831538 You-Don't-Need-to-Know-What's Inside 5.9999835137 Redefining the PC, and Mathematics As Well! 4.9999999021 We Fixed It... Really! 3.9998245917 Division Is Considered Harmful. 2.9991523619 Why Do You Think They Call It *Floating* Point? 1.9999103517 We're Looking for a Few Good Flaws 0.9999999998 Errata Inside
  • by booch ( 4157 ) <slashdot2010@cra ... m ['buc' in gap]> on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @01:27PM (#606846) Homepage
    The 286 had a major bug. The 286 was supposed to be able to do everything that the 386 does, but there was a bug with the MMU or virtualization or something. That's why Linux and other 32-bit OSes require at least a 386. Without the bugs, the 286 would be usable for those OSes.

    A couple other highlights:

    • Segmented architecture through the 1990s
    • 16-bit code more prevalent than 32-bit code through the mid-1990s
    • Hardly any registers to work with (still)
    • Real mode, virtual mode, protected mode
    • Assembler with operands listed destination,source (maybe to be more like C string functions?)
    • Variable-length opcodes
    • FDIV bug
    • Little endian (debatable)
  • I think the biggest problem they've ever had was living by CISC so strongly (and then making it worse when RISC chips were coming out).

    And then putting so much into their marketting to try to tout that CISC was better than RISC (at the time). It still isn't better, but there's now no point in trying to convince an IT manager with an MBA of that. He's been sold on it (and Microsoft dropping support for all non-Intel-compatable chips hasn't helped).

    The instruction set for the PIII is rediculous, and it keeps getting worse...i'd rather they just settle on an instruction set that works, and concentrate on getting speed solely by working on that instruction set...this "lets keep adding optimizations that use special instructions that only 5% of our customers will really ever need to use and is completely pointless to add if Microsoft doesn't actually use the damned instruction in any of its compilers/assemblers" stuff has got to go.

  • 1. Four registers, which are really not general purpose, means the cpu *has* to be heavily memory to memory, making cache difficult.
    2. Look at the lookaside buffer mess that they use to support memory to memory and speculative execution. Trust me, there are three times as many transistors in that as in the PPC system, and the PPC system can actually execute entirely superscalar, where as Intel is merely scalar.
    3. One everyone seems to have forgotten: triple-sigma 386 CPUs. The old 16MHz and 20MHz 386s had a imult bug in 386 extended mode that made them useless, as imult is how addressing is done...
    4. The 386 extended mode was *much* worse programmatically than 286 extended. Imagine if you took a 24-bit address space and tried to make a 32-bit address space backwards compatible. The segmentation mess isn't bad in 32 bits, but the selectors are a mess, and are divied up into lots of fields, making for only 32,000 virtual pages, if I remember right. I was looking into writing an object-oriented operating system as part of schooling, and Intel was too hard to use. PPC is much cleaner, with simpler descriptor page caching and far more deterministic prediction algorithms.
  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:55AM (#606855) Homepage Journal
    Thomas Pabst [] and his articles exposing the Pentium II as being slower than the Pentium MMX? in 1996, he purchased a Pentium II from a store and benchmarked it, showing that it was slower than the MMX. Intel gave him no end of hell in legal threats and abuses before finally realizing that they had no case against him.

    At the same time, the founder of [] had a major problem . He basically reconstructed the secret "Appendix H" technical references for the 586. He simply analyzed the data that Intel published and filled in the blanks. Intel harassed him and sued him for breaching NDA's that he had never agreed to in the first place!

    I attribute much of AMD's success to the incredible uproar over these issues right around the time that AMD was releasing its newest chips. Definitely some of Intel's biggest legal blunders.

  • 80186
  • ...and losing, then switching over to the name "Pentium" because it's more trademarkable, and has a "5-ish" ring to it...

    ...and then figuring out that the next logical progression would be either "hexium" or "sexium", neither of which could be expected to sell very much, so spending the next what, 8 years? coming up with variants like P6, PPro, PIII....

  • the intel 80186 []? that thing flopped pretty hard, but i guess they are selling it for embedded systems.

    or, what about making the i8088 a 16-bit cpu, with an 8-bit bus? that set computing back years, until the i80286 became (sort of) popular in the later 80s.
  • I'll end this one with an interesting note -- Intel's palmtop CPU chip series is named StrongARM... is that supposed to be some sort of joke?

    For those who don't know history, intel did not come up with the name strongArm DEC came up with that name. Intel got it as part of a settelment with digital over some lawsuit.

    Of course many have pointed out a million other mistakes in here. - Even assuming it si recient mistakes, big ones were ignored while non-factors are in the list.

  • Umm, you write bits in words in a big-endian notation, so the PDP output looks weird because you are mixing big endian and little endian.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:26AM (#606869)

    Anytime you talk about intel screwing the pooch, take a hard look at how they treat employees []. Unhappy geeks make bad products. Unhappy environments make good geeks leave for your competitors. Sell your Intel stock and buy some AMD - The irony is a few years ago, AMD had the problems, and intel was king.. And I'm almost positive these problems are the result of deeper cancers growing in management.

  • I guess Intel's stack grows backwards because in the old machines memory was very limited. The stack started at the highest possible memory position because that way it could grow down as much as possible.
  • I think their screwing around of Randall Schwartz cost them a lot of support in the Open Source community. I would never buy anything Intel as long as they're still giving Randall legal problems. They ought to drop it - he was just doing what comes naturally and was not intending any harm. They ought to lighten up.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @11:18AM (#606875) Homepage

    Shouldn't that be the top 9.9999999348 Intel slipups?

    Yeah. Speaking of that, what about the FDIV bug that made the early Pentiums completely unsuitable for AutoCAD and spreadsheets?

    Hell, all you'd need is a stack of P60s and you could easily knock SETI@Home out of the water.

    Actually, even if they didn't have the FDIV bug, the old coffee warmers were enough of a kludge themselves to be listed as a bug or slipup.

    For those who don't remember them, or weren't into computers at the time, the original Pentium 60 and Pentium 66 used the Socket 4. They didn't have the staggered pins like a Pentium 75-233 had, they had rowed pins like a 486.

    Also, like most 486s, they ran at 5V. And, as a result, they got hot.

    Man, oh man, did they get hot. Especially the short-lived Pentium 66.

    They had constant cooling problems. I've seen several P60s and P66s where the cooling fans stalled and were actually melted or scorched by the heat of the processor. They were also prone to failure, since they'd often run at 60-70C, turning on and off a system with an early Pentium was a great way to cause thermal cycling second to none. Since the processors had big dies too, they were very prone to cracking.

    I've burned my fingers on a few of the damned things.

    Thankfully, Intel came out with the 3.3V Pentium 75 shortly after that, and it addressed both the FDIV bug and the heating.

    Here in the Toronto area, there's a chain of stores called Cash Converters. They're a thrift shop that tries to be upmarket, but there's the usual 486DX-33 for only $400! kind of cluelessness. And top-loading VHS VCRs for only $100. (Hell, you can buy a new one for that much!) But sometimes, you find cool old stuff in there.

    This summer, I was with a friend who was looking around for lenses for an old Canon camera and we were in the Victoria Park at Danforth store. In their display case along with a pile of other processors and memory - no static protection or anything - was a Pentium 60.

    This P60 was blackened like an Apollo capsule that has re-entered Earth's atmosphere. And the price tag sticker on it? Only $150. Wow. Sweet deal.

    I'd actually like to have an old P60 chip that I can frame and stick up on a wall somewhere. But $150? Heheheh. I'd love to see the sucker who buys that thing.

  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @01:50PM (#606876)
    Floating point divide didn't even make the list?!?

    Leaving this off the list is so extraordinary that I wonder if the author is, say, twenty years old, and has no perspective on history. ("History" meaning four years ago.)

    The FDIV bug was front-page news, and had almost all of Usenet captivated for weeks. In fact, back in the bad old days of 1996, this was one of the first indications that the Internet could create enough public pressure to change the attitudes of a large corporation. Intel wanted to play down the whole thing, but hundreds of posters were exchanging information every day, analyzing the error, posting the inevitable jokes, expressing general outrage at Intel and discussing ways to bring them around.

    Math professors posted scholarly analyses of the error, and provided links to Web pages with Mathematica graphs to illustrate where the calculations went wrong.

    And even the non-technical newsgroups got into the act. talk.bizarre had a field day. Everywhere you looked, someone found a way to fit an Intel joke into their post, no matter what it was about.

    Eventually, Andy Grove had to post a message of apology to the Intel newsgroups, announcing that Intel would reverse field and let buyers exchange their processors, no questions asked (originally, you had to justify your need for a new chip).

    Man, those were the days. Usenet is dead, long live Usenet!
  • * Byte-swapping

    I can't agree with this one. Big-endian makes it easier to read hexadecimal listings, little-endian gets you less bugs (read my comment above to find out why). Reading hexadecimal listings went out with the 8080, but we will always need to avoid bugs. The byte-swapping problem, IMHO, is in the Motorola CPUs.

  • by jeffry_smith ( 5065 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @11:18AM (#606878)
    > But lefties are sinister

    But in their right minds ;-)
  • ARM (Advanced Risc Machines) was developed by the company of the same name in the UK. StrongARM was codeveloped by DEC and ARM, and when Intel bought part of DEC they got it.
  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @09:28AM (#606883) Homepage
    Floating point divide didn't even make the list?!?
    An Intel tech came out to my college in 96 and spent an entire day popping out 60Mhz Chips and plopping in ones that could divide, and it didn't even make the list?

    I beg to differ. FDIV should be #2.
  • How 0x11223344 is stored in memory:

    Big Endian (Moto,PPC, etc..): 11 22 33 44
    Little Endian (x86, VAX): 44 33 22 11
    PDP: 22 11 44 33
  • They screwed it up - "8 The Pentium MMX 'F0 0F' Math Bug" - except that F00F was not math bug, they probably meant FDIV.
  • by Admiral Burrito ( 11807 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @10:05AM (#606896)

    They screwed it up - "8 The Pentium MMX 'F0 0F' Math Bug" - except that F00F was not math bug, they probably meant FDIV.

    Except FDIV was fixed long before the MMX was out. It looks like they got confused and thought there was only one bug when there were two.

    Intel has made so many slipups it's hard to keep track. :)

  • The example is illuminating...but bug tolerance? It makes converting
    between formats easier, but if your code isn't what you meant, but
    works becuase of little-endianness then it makes bugs harder to spot,
    which in my book is bad.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2000 @02:45PM (#606905) Homepage Journal
    It wasn't a bug, it was features.

    16-bit segments. If you wanted more than 64K in a single data item, you had to play games

    Segmentation only. There was no demand paging. The smallest swappable item was the segment

    No way to get out of protected mode short of a processor reset

  • coma_bug : no -- I hope not, this is a Cyrix problem. Not an Intel one.

    From arch/i386/kernel/setup.c:
    /* Emulate MTRRs using Cyrix's ARRs. */
    c->x86_capability |= X86_FEATURE_MTRR;
    /* 6x86's contain this bug */
    c->coma_bug = 1;

    Maybe you shouldn't be yelling at Intel for non-Intel bugs. No one deserves that, even if they did screw up their own chips.
  • Don't they say you learn through your mistakes? Therefore the bigger the mistakes and more numerous, the more you learn from them
    The road to wisdom, well it's plain
    And simple to express
    Err, and err, and err again
    But less, and less, and less.
    (Piet Hein)
  • 2. I think segmented memory should be listed again at least one more time but possibly twice. Including all those dman segment registers and index registers.

    Only the "nobody will need to access more than 64k of memory in one chunk" attitude of the segmented memory design. If they had been 32 bits, that would have been just fine. Add to that the 80286, which tried to enforce it, forcing you to choose between real mode with segment arithmetic and protected mode with more than 1 meg of address space. The only option was to reset the CPU, using CMOS to clue in the BIOS that this wasn't a reboot.

    4. stack code

    If you're referring to what I think you're referring to, that's a more general problem based on the extremely primitive way that C stores strings (a null terminator with no indication of buffer size), combined with downward-growing stacks. Stack 'sploits can still happen even with non-exec stack segments, by writing over return addresses to call well-known library glue code routines.

    On the other hand, I do give the mcreitd for ia64, it is a beautiful architecture. Now if they'd only drop IA32 support and make it run fast...

    I thought that came from the HP PA-RISC architecture? In other words, I don't think you have Intel to thank for it.

    And one last razz to Motorola for missing the opportunity of a lifetime. The way I heard it (from someone who used to work at Motorola) was that when IBM was designing the PC, they asked Motorola and Intel if the 68K/8088 would be ready by a specific date. Motorola didn't want to commit. Intel was ready to commit to anything. Ironically the 68K was ready by the deadline anyhow, but by then it was too late.

  • Quality is job 1.1
  • "I'd actually like to have an old P60 chip that I can frame and stick up on a wall somewhere." If I remember correctly, After the recall of the original Pentiums, some company was selling jewelry made out of the defective silicon. Apparently, Intel was just going to throw them away and someone bought the lot. A necklace with an inset Pentium cost around $15, if I remember correctly.
  • 486SX provided a budget processor that was significantly cheaper than other processors allowing people to get faster CPU's with less money.

    When I was working on farms raising money for computers I appreciated this processor... a mans garbage is another mans treasure.

  • Although bubble memory was invented at Bell Labs, Intel championed it for quite a while. Low density. lotsa, lotsa, power to run. Nice idea solution looking for the problem. Kinda makes some of the other stuff look tame.
  • or for that matter the x86 architecture in toto - they had lots of great role models (vax/pdp11 even the 360) at the time and Motorolla/National and just about everyone else took up architectures with cleaner, easier to program memory models
  • Back in those days, many engineers would not design a part into a system unless it was available from more than one manufacturer (second sourced). That is why Intel licensed many second sources for the early 80x86 microprocessors. Later on, Intel decided that they could sell the chips even if they were the sole source.
  • Guh! It wasn't invented by Intel. The Little Endian system was in use around 800AD. (no joke!).

    the concept of Algebra was made famous by the work of Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi [] His work was brought to Europe in the 12th Century. At that time -- although the words were translated from the (right-to-left) Persian to (left-to-right) Latin, the (right-to-left) numbers in the book were copied verbatim.

    This mistake has been perpetuated for the last 900 or so years. Ever wondered why you do most simple math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication) from right to left?? It's because The European number system is written backwards.

    If the original translators of Al-Khwarizmi's works had thought to write the numbers the way that european words are written, We would be little-endian too. As it is, I'm sure that there are many persian/arab immigrants who wonder why we switch from european left-to-right to the arab right-to-left whenever we deal with numbers.

    As for those people who think that bits in a little-endian byte are stored backwards, they're not. In a 32 bit word, they're stored 0,1,2,3....31. we just WRITE them in big-endian nibble format because to do otherwise might confuse our already warped notion of how numbers work.

    If you think about it, it makes complete sense to store data in little-endian format. You start work with the bits where the pointer points to; Truncating from fullword to byte requires simply ignoring the extra bytes; Arbitrary-precision math doesn't require you to skip to the end and count back... You simply do your operation until you run out of bytes. Data can be stored as [max-len] [used-len] [data] [sparebytes]; extending precision simply requires using more bytes.. No need to change pointers or copy data to make space for the extra digits.

    If computers had been developed in Persia, where modern Algebra developed, there wouldn't be any big-endian/little-endian fight to speak of. Ditto if the original translators had their shit together.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser