Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

The Report of My Thermal Death Have Been... 559

A reader writes "Not too long ago, Tom's Hardware posted a video of the grisly events that take place when the heatsink is removed on an AMD Athlon MP 1.2GHz in an attempt to show that the chip has inadequate thermal protection unlike the Pentium 4. Apparently, this is not the case. This new video, which looks like was done by AMD, shows the system continuing to work when the heatsink is removed. Even 9 minutes of Quake3 without the fan operating wasn't enough to destroy the processor. So who is right? It's in AMD's best interest to show that their product doesn't disintigrate under extreme conditions. " Update: 10/30 14:11 GMT by H : Note that it was Terry 'quad3d' Wang that actually did the video - not AMDZone.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Report of My Thermal Death Have Been...

Comments Filter:
  • whatever (Score:1, Insightful)

    by astroview ( 105285 )
    This is a moot point, because who is foolish enough to run a system without a heatsink and fan.

    Sure a fan can fail, but there are monitoring systems that tell you when this happens...
    • Re:whatever (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GeekDork ( 194851 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:00PM (#2490791)

      The bad thing is that there are so many ways to screw up. You could get fooled into using one of those neat spacers which might happen to be too thick, resulting in inadequate cooling, thus frying the processor. The Athlon processors can burn before the POST is through, so if your heatsink has fallen off or shifted during transport, you're up for some quick, expensive fun.

      Also, you could be one of those freaks using a water cooling system (please shoot me when I start pumping water into my computer!). There's a nice article over at Dans Data [www.dansda...argetblank] about a burnt Intel Celeron(!!) after a cooling failure.

      A third problem is the limited use of most monitoring programs or a bad configuration. Motherboard protection can be configured so that all you get out of a failed fan is a nice beeping noise. I tell you something: no one can hear you scream in a dark cellar. I have an old Slot A Athlon 750 running nonstop, and if the fan fails, I'll most probably lose it. The only solution would be to have a monitoring program slow down and/or even shut down the system. Some BIOSs/Mainboards don't support this, so it would be pretty much impossible to prevent an incident directly after switching on, because when the speaker starts beeping it might be too late.

      So far, the only solution I've seen to this is an extension to the VapoChill rigs. The system is held in reset state until the cooling system has reached its (sub-zero) working temperature. Only then, the reset bridge is opened and the system is allowed to start up. I have not seen any comparable functionality on a mainboard so far and I don't know whether it would actually help or if the processor produces enough heat even in reset state.

    • Re:whatever (Score:4, Insightful)

      by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @11:40PM (#2491380) Homepage
      Sure a fan can fail, but there are monitoring systems that tell you when this happens...

      Perhaps you should read the referenced articles before posting?

      1. Many people find they need a rather big (and heavy) heatsink to keep an Athlon cool enough. These heavy heatsinks can fall off.

      2. The CPU thermal sensor used on Athlons cannot respond to temperature changes faster than about 1C/second. Tom's tests showed the CPU melting in just a few seconds, so your monitoring software would do nothing to help you in that case.

      • One problem. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chas ( 5144 )
        Tom's tests showed the CPU melting in just a few seconds, so your monitoring software would do nothing to help you in that case.

        But Tom was testing on a system that DID NOT SUPPORT PowerNow. Yes. It had support for reading the thermal diode. But, IIRC, simple support for reading the diode doesn't equate to PowerNow support.

        So yeah. If you run on an older system without PowerNow, it's the same as running an Athlon without a thermistor.

        On a setup that actually supports the thermistor, the system will shut down in time.

  • by case_igl ( 103589 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:41PM (#2490708) Homepage
    Tom's Hardware is generally known for the accurate reporting and trying to keep the playing field level in tests.

    This one should be pretty easy to test...Someone just needs to have the resources to risk frying a few dozen processors.

    I was a little surprised when I read the results on Tom's Hardware...I would have expected they could see this could be a major issue for AMD and would have run even more tests to make sure their results were accurate and not a bad batch or something like that.

    Hate to see Tom's take a credibility hit on this one, so it will be interesting to see how this one unfolds!
    • Tom's Hardware hasn't always been completely objective... they usually lean towards AMD's side.

      Tom has always been outspoken on the whole Intel/Rambus shenanigans, and he was the one who found whatever flaw it was that gave the original P3 1.1Ghz chip to falter.

      I think it's safe to say that he wouldn't be badmouthing AMD's product if he hasn't found a decent reason for doing so.
    • by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <brooks@tang[ ] ['ent' in gap]> on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:26PM (#2490860) Homepage
      I've been following Tom's Hardware for years now, since the days of truly atrocious english translations. I still check Tom's once a week or so for news and updates, and I find it a valuable resource.

      However, to me at least, he seems far too emotionally attached to his subject matter to deliver unbiased opinions. Over the past few years, I've seen him be zealously anti-Intel, anti-AMD, anti-Intel, and now fairly anti-AMD again (albeit less fanatically than in the past). He's decidedly anti-Rambus (as am I, but I don't write articles purporting to be unbiased).

      It's a good resource site, but very prone to sensationalism and exageration when flawed test results line up with his prejudices.

      When serious reporters have all of their suspicions confirmed, they intentionally calm down and redouble fact-checking to make sure they don't embarrass themselves. Tom doesn't seem to have that concern, so I always read the site with a grain of salt and awareness of what his current emotional attachments are.

    • In high school, I used to check Tom's Hardware Guide regularly. His posting on over clocking seemed fascinating. He seemed to have a good understanding of hardware issues.

      Then I went to college, still a reader.

      Taking a few courses on hardware however, made reading his reviews painful.

      He doesn't understand hardware, and it shows. Sure, he is able to run tests, but his reasons are completely flawed.

      I don't accuse Tom of being on the take... However, I think that Tom should stick to testing, and not give his "engineering" insights that are based upon made up terminology and without an engineering basis.

      This is a more reasonable review, and the first one that I viewed of his in years.

    • That's all.

      If the mainboard is compatible & is able to read the intenal thermister inside the AMD CPU then the CPU will just throttle back more 'n more as it gets hotter & hotter, eventually when it hits the maximum barable temp it will shutdown..

      If the motherboard is not compatible, then either your computer will shutdown straight away or your CPU will fizzle (depending how your bios is setup & how your CPU fansink's fan is wired - if your fansink's fan is plugged into the motherboard's CPU fansink header connector & your bios is set to 'auto-shutdown on CPU fan failure' or something like that, then your computer will just shutdown straight away when it detects the failed fan, if not your CPU will fizzle)
    • Well... The solution is very easy. Tom and AMD simply tested different processors... Tom used an old Thunderbird, while AMD used a new Athlon with a MP core. It's no wonder the results are different.

      It's that simple!

  • Tom's Video (Score:2, Redundant)

    The video on Tom's Hardware Guide can be found here [].
    • Hmmm in the video the cpu immediately smokes right after the heat sink is removed. You can literally still see his hand taking away the sink right when the pc freezes up. Then after a thermo measurement the cpu reaches 700F ?? My electric burner can not heat up that fast let alone burn that hot. After the pc freezes of dies, the burnt cpu would logically cool down. I just don't buy it. Perhaps if the sink was removed for several minutes it would burn. But at 700F the whole mobo and cpu would not smoke but literally burst into flames. The cpu would probably die before it hits 200F and then would cool down after it officially is toasted. It would not reach anywhere close to 700F or even 550F before death in his supposed tests.

      • I used to work with all kinds of custom ICs and trust me, 700F is perfectly possible. I've even seen circuits that worked pretty well with components at about 300F. When I was a beginner HW engineer I was looking into problems with a board we were making, and I wanted to see if some components were overheating. Stupidly I touched them with my finger. Ouch!. My finger touched the component for far less than a second and I was severely burned. Think "touching a soldering iron tip with your finger" type burned.

        This isn't to mention all the times when a layout error resulted in powering on a system and watching components explode, fire, smoke, etc.

        An electric burner doesn't heat up very quickly compared to fried electronics. The reason why is simple. An electric burner dissipates a few hundred watts over an area that's at least 5cm by 5cm. When a chip fries you can dissipate 300W over an area that's less than 1cm by 1cm. That's a lot more energy in that small area.

        I've seen many components that were fried and the solder disappeared. Seeing as it takes a temp of about 400F to melt solder, it would take a lot more to flash it into nothingness.

        But don't trust me. Miswire some electronics and see for yourself.

        • Ah.. That makes perfect sense. I was told when I was young that cpu's practically run on little energy. Something like 9 or 10 watts. I guess the person who told me this was wrong. I figured 10 watts over a 5 by 5 cm area would not generate that much heat. I also assumed the smoke underneath the cpu cover was from a small fire. A fire chemically changes a burning compound by combining oxygen. I assumed after a fire, the silcon would become silcon-oxide and would no longer conduct the electricity. Of course I am not a chemical or electrical major as you can tell. If 300 watts were used then I could understand why it would overheat the way it did and if the core melted together and shorted but did not burn then it would actually burn hotter from a short. Sadly, I have learned more from slashdot comments then any cs courses I have taken so far. :-)

      • The cpu would probably die before it hits 200F and then would cool down after it officially is toasted. It would not reach anywhere close to 700F or even 550F before death in his supposed tests.

        My knowledge of electronics is limited at best, but it sounds as though you're assuming the CPU would stop conducting electricity as soon as it's "toasted" and would therefore cool down immediately. However, it seems more likely to me that once the CPU is toasted, the trace paths on the die are literally melting together inside and you basically have a big blob of nicely conductive material before long that's gonna conduct as much electricity as your power supply will provide. Just a thought. I could be totally wrong, perhaps once the CPU kinda melts it short-circuits the whole thing. This is Slashdot, I'm sure someone will correct me. :)
  • Why don't the chips come with built in heatsinks? The heatsink could be fused right to the core to provide the best possible connection. It would kick up costs, but you never need to worry about heatsink failure. My nightmares would finally stop.

    • the chip manufacturer has no way to know what obstructions exist around the processor, so it's best to leave it to the end user to come up with a heasink/airflow solution that's best suited to the chip's application. Designing a heatsink that woul work in *most* of the cases would either limit the market for those chips, or would force the chip manufacturer to spend more money producing 2 differnet chip packages for those who can't use their "ok" heatsink.

      And there's aht whole modularity thing. Using some arctic silver thermal compund with a good heatsink is wholly adequate for pretty much any overclocker's situation - usually something else becomes a limit before the joint between the die and heatsink becomes the limiter.
    • Why don't the chips come with built in heatsinks?

      Generally, the retail (boxed and shrink-wrapped) version comes with a heatsink/fan already attached. I have such an athlon, and the fan is hideously noisy.

      The OEM version doesn't come with any extra stuff because Original Equipment Manufacturers usually want to make their own decisions on things like this. However, end users (even inexperienced ones) often buy OEM CPUs because they're cheaper, and occasionally have problems such as fried CPUs as a result.

  • On my athlon 800... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by miahrogers ( 34176 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:45PM (#2490724) Homepage
    I had the heatsink sorta fail. We think that the fan stalled, and that led the processor to heat up. It ended up killing my motherboard, but oddly not my precessor. I bought a new motherboard, and got a big heatsink along with some extra case fans, and now the system works fine.

    I'm impressed that that heat could fry the mobo but NOT The processor, it's sort of weird actually. But there are a whole lot of things on most motherboards right next to the processor, and on mine they all looked slightly burned.
  • ...but this new video shows the same results as the TH video! After about 2 seconds with the heatsink off, ths system SHUTS DOWN.

    Only when the heatsink is left on, but the fan power is disconnected, does it last 9 minutes.

    The thing doesn't last 9 minutes with the heatsink off, crikies....
    • I mean, isn't that what you want a system that's malfunctioning to do, shut down? If it didn't shut down, then it would continue to heat up and roast your cat which was using your tower as a space heater.

      Maybe I'm missing the point...
    • by ryanr ( 30917 ) <> on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:17PM (#2490840) Homepage Journal
      No, Tom's results show that when the heatsink is removed, the blue smoke gets out. The AMD video shows the machine shutting itself down. The differences is that the Intel processors simply slow way down, but keep running.

      AMD's test is apparantly usings a thermal shutdown sensor, which shuts the power down when the CPU gets too hot. Not all motherboards have those, and they can be disabled in software. Intel processors apparantly have a similar function built-in.
  • The article ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forager ( 144256 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:47PM (#2490732) Homepage
    Here's the original Tom's article [].

    Here's the text of the new article direct from the source []:

    Thanks to the millions of people who e-mailed me about this.

    Do we title this: We TOLD You So!
    or do we title it: Maybe we were right about him?
    or do we title it: AMD Won't Burn a hole in your wallet, or your motherboard?
    or do we title it: AMD Slaps Around Little Tom-Tom? as Van Smith put it?

    Well whatever you want to call it, there is a new video out on the internet showing what REALLY happens to an AthlonXP (or MP) when your heat sink falls off, or when your fans fails. Now I'm not saying that Tom Pabst is completely wrong, but let's just say this makes his testing methods look a little 'suspect' at best. Here's a quote from Van Smith:

    A video has appeared on the Internet countering a huge dose of FUD my former employer inexplicably dumped on his readership a couple of months back. The new video, with AMD credits all over it, is entitled "How an Athlon(tm) MP 1.2GHz Really Copes with Heat Emergencies." The piece demonstrates the AMD Palomino Athlon subjected to brutal circumstances such as heat sink removal while playing Quake III and boot up attempts when a CPU cooler is not attached. In all scenarios, the Palomino comes out unscathed. A similar though much less thorough test came out with unsurprisingly different results at Tom's Hardware. Ouch! Looks like dispensing bad medicine can result in a mouthful of looser teeth. Good job Ben & Joe, perhaps you can also give THG a crash course in analyzing computer technology.

    The video also presents the much more realistic situation when the CPU fan fails. In that case the Palomino continued to play Quake III for several minutes before shutting down. Again the chip was undamaged.

    This video may look like it's from AMD, but I'm pretty sure it's not, even if it makes a great case. The original download site appears to be down, so I mirrored it onto AMDZone right here.

    Other mirrors: Mirror. []

    Update: One of our readers e-mailed me to give me his first hand experience with the thermal control capabilities of the AthlonXP:

    I installed my amp1800 (sic) with the heat sink rotated 180 deg. and after 3 hours of trying, incessantly, and not being able to boot I found the problem, I rotated the heat sink and all is fine. I must say, I was sweating bullets when I found the problem.

    No fried chip, no smell of burned silicon. Looks like the thermal diode is working.

    (end article)

    • Re:The article ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bconway ( 63464 )
      Questionable testing methods? He performed the EXACT SAME TEST on four processors, and both Athlons failed miserably. Regardless of how he tested them, the fact remains that the Intel chips didn't suffer damage, and the P4 KEPT RUNNING. Now, all of a sudden, AMD has a nice video out saying how their chips won't fail. Sorry guys, it's too little, too late. We're not falling for it.
    • Re:The article ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by austad ( 22163 ) ran an article the other day that said they were installing an 1800+ XP processor, and reached across the desk to grab something, bumping a key on the keyboard, which booted the machine with no heatsink and destroyed the processor. It looks to me like the current 1800+ XP's still don't have any sort of heat protection. Not that I care. It's not like they are very expensive, and the probability that your heatsink is just going to fall off is pretty low anyway. If the lack of heat protection keeps the cost down, then I'm all for it.

      Something that isn't a very widespread problem hardly warrants adding more circuitry and increasing the cost of a CPU.
      • From an earlier HardOCP article []...

        "One thing that has been worth looking forward to is the addition of a thermal diode inside the core of the AXP CPU.This will for allow you to read the core temperature when the right hardware and software are present. You might have seen a famous hardware site make the statement on a video recently that even while their Palomino has a thermal diode in place, it burned up anyway when they removed the heatsink. Well, this was no fault of the AMD CPU, just the fault of the misinformed operator. You must have a board that has the ability to utilize the diode and also have the proper BIOS to facilitate a system shutdown in a high core temperature situation. Of course, making it work cooler now allows us to speed it up and make it work hotter later!"

        Tom's is usually pretty accurate but he too has had some knocks on his credibility from time to time. I think the best thing we can take from this whole incident is never take any site's opinion as gospel. Always read several site reviews before making a decision about a product.
        • Well, this was no fault of the AMD CPU, just the fault of the misinformed operator. You must have a board that has the ability to utilize the diode and also have the proper BIOS to facilitate a system shutdown in a high core temperature situation. Of course, making it work cooler now allows us to speed it up and make it work hotter later!"

          And, from THG's article [], it's stated that (a) only 2 motherboards were known, at the time, to contain that circuitry; (b) THG used one of those boards (from Siemens), and was assured "that the thermal protection circuitry is definitely working on their motherboard"; and, from Siemens' engineers that, (c) "the thermal diode of Palomino is unable to react quickly enough. Only 1 degree/s is what the thermal diode is able to handle."

          I'd say, all in all, Tom was pretty accurate in his reporting on this. Assuming his board and CPU weren't out-of-spec faulty, and that Siemens' knows what they're talking about (which we have no reason to doubt, they did design the mboard logic to communicate with the CPU diode), my conclusion is that the diode didn't react quickly enough to shut down the system. Are the AthlonXP's and/or a different motherboard able to cope better? Perhaps...But the one THG used certainly wasn't.

          And now we know one of the ways AMD cuts costs....It's a pretty unlikely scenario, IMO, but it deserves recognition at any rate....

      • Re:The article ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by slamb ( 119285 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @10:38PM (#2491213) Homepage ran an article the other day that said they were installing an 1800+ XP processor, and reached across the desk to grab something, bumping a key on the keyboard, which booted the machine with no heatsink and destroyed the processor.

        You're saying that they worked on a powered machine and blamed AMD when they fucked it up.

        ATX power supplies, unlike AT power supplies, run power through the motherboard whether the system is on or not. Some newer motherboards have a giant green LED in the middle of the board to alert you of this fact. (It even glows for like five seconds after you pull the power, since the capaciters take some time to discharge.) This is what makes possible the keyboard power-on feature that you described, as well as scheduled power-on and such.

        You never work on a machine that is receiving power. Since they made such a basic mistake, I wouldn't trust their diagnostic skills. Don't believe them when they say heat fried the processor.

        (Side note: while you don't want the machine to be powered, it is a good idea to make sure the machine is grounded to avoid static damage. For this reason, I'd suggest plugging it into a power strip and turning off the power strip. Ground but no power.)

        the probability that your heatsink is just going to fall off is pretty low anyway. If the lack of heat protection keeps the cost down, then I'm all for it.

        Agreed. Someone made the comparison between running a processor with no heat sink and running a car with no coolant. The car isn't exactly going to like it, either. Why do we consider this such a problem for PCs? Heatsinks don't just fall off. If they did, it couldn't be good for the system anyway to have a huge conductor rolling around on your motherboard.

        • Re:The article ... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ShavenYak ( 252902 )
          Heatsinks don't just fall off.

          Tell that to the remains of the 1GHz Athlon I have sitting on my desk. One of the nubs on the CPU socket broke and let the heatsink fall off while I was at work. I'm not sure how long the CPU lasted, but it was dead when I got home. From that point on, I won't buy a heatsink that only uses the two middle nubs to latch on.
    • Re:The article ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChrisMul ( 13717 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @10:01PM (#2491095)
      The video demonstrates an AthlonXP processor. Tom was testing the "pre-XP" version. This leads to a VERY unfair comparison...Tom directly mentions that the XP will use the same core that the dual-capable Athlons do...this core does have built in temperature management. The Pre-XP processors DID NOT and WOULD FRY if left unhelped. This doesn't demonstrate that Tom's test was wrong or his results invalid...this shows that AMD knows they screwed up but were at least smart enough to fix the problem in the next significant rev of the chip (though that doesn't fix the situation for those of us with Pre-XP chips)
      • Re:The article ... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Millyways ( 262662 )
        Tom did test the MP version of the Athlon which has the same core as the XP (palomino). He also tested a pre-XP version both gave very similar results.

        I suspect the problem may be that the motherboard Tom used did not properly support the Palomino core's thermal diode protection. This is not a problem with intel cpus as they have all the required saftey circuitry on die.
        • Re:The article ... (Score:2, Informative)

          by Trepalium ( 109107 )
          Read Tom's original article: "A motherboard that doesn't read the thermal diode is unable to protect the new Athlon processor from a heat death. We used a specific Palomino motherboard, Siemens' D1289 with VIA's KT266 chipset. [...] The engineers assured us that what we had seen was for real. The thermal diode of Palomino is unable to react quickly enough. Only 1 degree/s is what the thermal diode is able to handle."

          It's also probable that the Athlon XP is of a different stepping than the Athlon MP, and the 1 degree/s limitation was remedied (or it was a siemens board problem that they were unwilling to accept responsibility for).

    • Funny, Maxim's first app note for the MAX6512 [] is Simple Circuit Activates Fan When Processor Heats Up [].

      So it is apparently a mobo feature that uses a thermal diode integrated into the processor. Is the thermal circuit in the Pentium totally self-contained?
    • Re:The article ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mabs ( 2595 )
      Look, I agree with this guy, and not with many, many other comments, did you people not notice the suggestion in the Toms Hardware Guide test that it was done with a cpu _NOT_ running at it's recommended speed?

      I reguarly overclock my CPU's, and I know, that if something stupid like a cpu fan falling off blows up my cpu, IT WAS MY FAULT, not the manufacturer who has already stated the recomended maximum speed of their cpu.

      And the suggestion that the motherboard makes a difference, LOOK PEOPLE, if you aren't going to read, don't comment, the thermal diode is ON the core! 2nd search result on google [], in the very first sentence of the article!

      A friend of mine had a pre palomino Athlon and he run it for 2 weeks without a fan, with NO permanent damage, and this computer is only used for watching DivX's and playing the latest games.

      And, as a personal opinion, in the last 12 months, toms has been awful, and, I hate to say it, but completely wrong, when it doesn't suit the people with the big dollars, but we can't blame poor Tom, he get stuff before release, and has to keep the right people happy, or they probably wouldn't give the stuff too him. What a screwed up world...

  • I can attest to an Athlon 1.4 GHz @266FSB not burning when booted with an improperly fitted heat sink. It failed at / didn't make it to POST. However, fitting a heatsink properly, the machine worked fine. Tests in bios, when I made it, showed the system getting up to 75oC before locking (hard!). Much research into this, prior to refitting my heatsink (using acetone to take off heatsink thermal pasted and replacing it with a good silver compound), showed that Athlon 1.4's do get up to 60oC at operating temperature. Mine operates around 50oC, with an ambient temperature of around 27oC. Indeed, these machines heat the room they are in.
  • Toms review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:51PM (#2490752) Homepage
    If you read the toms hardware review, it said the athlon MP/XP thermal diode were capable of detecting no more then a 1 degree/celcius per second change and no more ... they've carefully engineered this "test" so the rate of change is below that threshold... toms test was worst-case and thats what you have to plan for.
    • Re:Toms review (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Strepsil ( 75641 ) <> on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:57PM (#2490780) Homepage
      Actually, if you read through the article (finally found it), it was a Siemens engineer that claimed the thermal diode was the problem when the CPU fried on one of their boards. AMD was not consulted.

      It could well be a case of passing the buck because they didn't want to blame their motherboard which may not have implemented support for the thermal diode properly. That's my conspiracy theory, anyway.
    • Re:Toms review (Score:5, Insightful)

      by James_G ( 71902 ) <james AT globalmegacorp DOT org> on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:59PM (#2490787)
      they've carefully engineered this "test" so the rate of change is below that threshold

      I'm sorry - how did they "carefully engineer" it so the rate of change is below the threshold? It looks to me like they pulled the heatsink straight off, which is exactly what was done in the Toms hardware review. So now you've seen two basically identical tests product completely opposite results. Who to believe eh?

      Personally, I couldn't care less. The odds of a heatsink accidentally dropping off are pretty slim anyway, so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

      • So now you've seen two basically identical tests product completely opposite results

        The tests aren't basically identical. AMD was using a newer version of the processor, with different thermal protection. AMD's tests are relevant if you are putting together a new Athlon system. Tom's tests are relevant if you are worried about an Athlon system that is a month or two old or older.

    • toms test was worst-case and thats what you have to plan for.
      Can you really sit there and claim with a straight face that I should be planning for my heatsink to fall off? Should I also be planning for someone running over my box with a truck? I don't even have a power surge protector.
      • No, but when you design a CPU (as AMD did), you plan for the heatsink to fall off. And as for being run over...Dell at one point had laptops that were rugged enough to be run over by a car. you wouldn't need that level of design in a desktop case, but it is logical to assume that laptops will take more abuse.
          • No, but when you design a CPU (as AMD did), you plan for the heatsink to fall off.

          Why? Really, why would you? You can't protect people from idiot rash. All over AMD's tech documents, you get the message repeated over and over and over: for the love of god, don't power this up without a heat sink and fan. It couldn't be clearer.

          You might as well say that AMD should design chips for people who run bare mains voltage wires across the pins. It's willful and self inflicted. You can't design on that basis.

  • by Blymie ( 231220 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @07:57PM (#2490781)
    All this shows is a motherboard with sufficent onboard temperature monitoring, shutting down because the CPU is over heating. It has nothing to do with the CPU having any sort of built in temperature throttle like the P4 has (or even the 68040 had). Tom's Hardware and this video are showing two completely different and seperate things. One shows how a motherboard reacts in order to save an amd cpu (this current video), and the other shows what happens if the cpu is left to cope with a heat problem on its own (Tom's tests) without the motherboard stepping in to rescue it.

    I wish people would at least FILTER some of these posts. Its seems that /. just doesn't care some days... or maybe its just on slow days ;).
    • Perhaps these two groups should get together and provide a list of motherboards which work properly with the AMD processor?

    • So in my understanding, you are saying that the board must use the die temperature signal to save the chip, whereas the P4 has this integrated on chip. It takes the die temp and then skips clocks while it is too hot. As the chip cools, clocks are allowed through. The end result is a nice slowdown of performance, but actually no crash!

      If this is a feature that needs MB support, it should be explitly advertised as such and then we may see fully XP supporting boards.

  • AMD has been around awhile, why wouldn't they test this? The original article was pretty sensational... is this some kind of /. retraction? Anyways, I feel pretty sure that these chips are not a fire hazard, and I dont usually store anything flammable inside of my box. If I burned one, I'd call AMD, and they'd replace it, I guess.

    Besides, alot can be forgiven of the company that gave me a real math co-processor and "fast" math toys on Hercules graphics for my 4/8 mhz(turbo!) 286.

  • by UnAmericanPunk ( 310528 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:11PM (#2490821) Homepage

    I watched this video and found it quite interesting. One difference between this video and tom's video was the motherboard and chipset that was used, that could have something to do with the different outcomes. Tom used some motherboard I've never even seen before, I had to hunt the net to find info about it. The new amd video uses a motherboard with the amd 760 chipset.

    My other issues against tom are the benchmarks that he uses now, compared to what he used to do. Last review I just remember seeing the bapco and quake3 tests. Which is interesting because of all the rumors that bapco and intel are the same company. Read here []. Then the quake3 benchmarks... umm, wasn't that what the P4 was optimized for? I remember back when the K7's first came out and tom threw a barrage of tests at it... a good FPU one was the 3DStudio one (which I didn't see in the last test).

    Lastly, I remember the massive intel ad banners on the site when Tom did the 2Ghz P4 review...
    So in my eyes, Tom sold out and I don't trust his reviews anymore.

    • When Tom tested Atlon 1800 XP vs Intel 2 GHz he used lots of different benchmarks, including quake, unreal torunament, dronez, evolva, 3DMark 2000, 3DMark 2001, Sisoft Sandra, and Cinema4D.

      Seems very thorough to me. Also he concluded the Athlon was better than then Pentium.
    • That just shows how blatently misinformed you are. Thom has always been pro-AMD. All of his article conclusions are always in favour of AMD and the Athlon, ever since it came out. The performance to cost ratio is clearly won by the Athlon, that and the competition AMD is throwing at Intel is what Tom talks about. He is always very objective, that's why he gave us the true results of what happened when the heat sink is removed and the CPU handles the heat. Not the motherboard mind you, the real CPU thermal diode. If he had wanted to destroy his reader's opinion of AMD, he'd have done it a long time ago with biased articles, showing only the benchmarks that favor the Pentium.
      His job is not publicity, it is reviewing.
  • I'm thinking of buying an Athlon XP (when the Asus A7V266-E with the new fast VIA chipset becomes available). I'm not that afraid of loosing the CPU or even the board. The chance that my heatsink falls of it not very high. On the other hand, I am afraid of fire hazards in my house. And I'm not sure whether the chance of an Athlon setting fire to my house is zero. If it's not, it's not really an option for me to buy one and I'll probably go the P4 route.

    I wish I had some certainty about the actual danger of these chips. Again: I don't mind the very small risk of loosing a CPU/board . I do mind any risk of a fire.
    • by No-op ( 19111 )
      I'm so glad that I'm not the only person who worries about this. the little server I leave running 24/7 is using a 466 celeron clocked down to 333 (on a slotket.) this is specifically so the tiny box will run with minimal noise and heat, so I won't have to worry about some sort of massively hot system short circuiting and roasting my living room.

      I love big computing equipment, but not when it's sitting in my house making noise and sucking power :)
    • Re:Danger? (Score:3, Funny)

      by hattig ( 47930 )
      I would put the risk of a fire from an overheated CPU at about the same as the risk of being run over by a Vorlon battlecruiser.

      1) CPU burns out internally, then everything stops
      2) Nice metal case around computer

      You can set fire to chocolate if you use it as a heatsink though - look at the HardOCP archives.

    • Might as well worry about the HV caps that can be found in every device that has a switching power supply.
      I've got a busted UPS that had a large cap go poof, and while this appears to have liberated a rather large amount of smoke and heat, only things within 2" on the board were damaged.
      Point is, most violent component failures don't do much damage, and it helps that most electronic devices are cased in metal.

      I'd say the chance of your Athlon setting your house on fire is about as high as your DVD player setting your house on fire.

      C-X C-S
  • by Murphy(c) ( 41125 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:28PM (#2490866)
    I work for a local computer shop, and although we are no Dell or Gateway, we've seen a lot of weird hardware stuff over the years.

    And the fact of the matter is that AMD CPUs can really burn up just like in Tom's Video.

    We've seen more than once, a customer coming back with what he said was a defective AMD CPU, and when we check the CPU, we could see the adhesive barcode that we put on the underside of each, partially burned out !

    And don't get me started on the damn fragility of those AMD CPU, we've got dozens of them broken because some guy slipped when installing a fan on them.

    • "We've seen more than once, a customer coming back with what he said was a defective AMD CPU, and when we check the CPU, we could see the adhesive barcode that we put on the underside of each, partially burned out !"

      Not that I'm taking sides, but have you bothered to check if the *working* AMD chips (and Intel chips) are burning their adhesive out also? It sounds like you're using regular barcode stickers, and personally I doubt that they can even survive a cool CPU for any extended period of time.

      .. You have one guy that's broken a dozen CPUs and he still works there? How much CPUs has he damaged that you don't know about? .. are these the same ones your customers are returning? :P

      Jason []

  • by Codeala ( 235477 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:49PM (#2490921)
    I object to this type of video trash. They provide an unrealistic, degrading portrayals of CPUs that take off their heat sinks/cooling units for no apparent reason! Like that sort of things happen all the time in real life.

    I don't care who is making them, it must be stopped. Will someone think of the children!
  • by Aztech ( 240868 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @08:54PM (#2490932)
    But they're using a separate temperature probe and modified bios! The problem is most mobo manufacturers don't include the bios code to shut the system down... or cheap mobo's don't include a thermal diode at all. What they have demonstrated isn't implemented on 99% of the Athlon systems out there, Intel is somewhat better, this isn't going to save Joe Blogg's chip.

    The new Athlon XP+ range now includes an internal diode like most Intel chips, by the time external sensors beneath the ZIF reacted it was too late, fried chip. So an internal diode, great you may think, but basically nobody has implemented the code to even query the sensor let alone set up the board to auto-shutdown. Tom used a board that implemented reading the internal sensor, it did just that, but the auto-off functionality wasn't there, again, fried chip. If AMD have to use an older Athlon with an external diode then it pretty much proves the functionality for reading Athlon XP sensors isn't on any board, yet.

    Also... this thing crashes, certainly better than a fried chip but remember the P4 automatically scales clockspeed to temperate and doesn't crash, even if it means running at 100mhz (no data loss).
  • I killed a Tbird by running it without a heatsink for a whole 4 seconds. It got very hot, VERY fast. I know several other people that have done similar things. 9 minutes? I think not.
  • Frankly, I'll believe Tom's first. He at least can claim to be an independant agent (though I'm sure I'm about to get 50 replies telling me about his secret AMD funding), so I think he might be a bit more impartial than the "AMDzone".

    I can hardly imagine how there could be this large a difference. Either the systems were NOT the same (hardware-wise), or the burn-out chip was poor quality, or AMDzone is lying, or Tom's is mistaken/lying, or this has been misreported.

    I see no way in which you could "mistake" as to whether or not a processor burst into flames upon cooler removal. That sort of thing is pretty much an either-or that anyone with eyes can determine.

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @09:06PM (#2490972) Homepage
    I propose a new test: strap the mobo+Athlon to a wall.

    Scientifically fire a .45 into the heart of the processor. Run performance test.

    Tests may show that the Athlon does not hold up under impact of a projectile. A video of this process may be necessary to prove the point to the skeptical.

    Naysayers and Athlon proponents may argue that this test does not reflect real-world operating conditions, but who cares -- it's a great video.
  • OK -- AMD has my vote for no other reason than using my current "heads-down" development soundtrack: the Matrix.
  • Ahem. ATTENTION! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by centron ( 61482 )
    If you look at both videos, the thing to notice is that Tom's tests were done using VIA chipsets, whereas AMD's tests were done with AMD chipsets. There is NO discrepency here. VIA's chipset is to blame because it doesn't shut down the system!

    Go back and watch again. I think this makes far more sense. AMD would not publish a video that was outright forged, they would be silent on the matter. Tom would not gain anything by publishing misleading data.

    • Re:Ahem. ATTENTION! (Score:2, Informative)

      by vanillicat ( 258354 )
      The Intel chip is still better, because the mobo didn't matter. The chip underclocked itself, or shut itself down, without any additional assistance. This is superior to any sort of motherboard dependency.
  • It's very easy to proof that a processor can't work for so long. Just put it under midday sun in Rio de Janeiro(+100F), and you see your CPU goes to the CPU's heaven.

    But we can also put it to work in alaska and we don't even need the coller :o)

    Whatever, these tests are just like the others. Tom's test was prepared to see when the processor crashes, and the AMD test's was made so the processor survives for a long time. It's a matter of statistics.

    A joke now:

    • The FDNY had a building on fire and aske technical opinion for three different professionals:
      The mathematics made his calculations and said tha 2.351 liters of water was enough to solve the problem
      The physics drawed some schemes in the paper and said that 2.500 liters was enough to solve the problem
      The engeneer loked up, stayed quiet some secondes and said that 4.000 liters would solve the problem The statistic saw the problem and aske the fireman, "How much water do you want to spend?"

    And that's what have happened in both tests.

  • I don't care... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by athlon02 ( 201713 )

    Now I would certainly like to see a ~20W Athlon (which I have heard about, can't say where) some day, but even if they don't get that low and if they do burn up with no thermal solution, I don't care...

    If you run it without any thermal protection you should know better... Even a P100 needs some kind of cooling (albeit not as much as anything now-a-days), so if you're running without, tough luck... If you thermal solution fails, you better have made sure in advance that the chip was under warranty for such things or that your thermal solution provider had a warranty in case their product failed or perhaps never works in the 1st place. I hope the Tyan Tiger + AthlonXP 1800+ MPs come down in price and then I plan to buy them and have a nice SMP system, and I could care less if it runs kind of hot, as long as it does what it's supposed to do and as long as the heatsink/fan/whatever I have does what it's supposed to do.

    Now if when we eventually have fiber optic processors &/or quantum computers in people's homes and they burn themselves up, yeah then that'd bug me, but face it metal conducts, it's gonna heat up, plain and simple.

    And if you totally disagree with me, that's kewl, I don't mind, you're free to care about such things if you want, I just felt like saying it doesn't seem to be that critical of an issue to me.

  • by dustpuppy ( 5260 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @10:00PM (#2491092)
    I recently (two months ago) bought myself a Athlon 1.4 Ghz CPU and because the fan that was supplied with it was so noisly, I switched it for another fan. However, I was careless and didn't mount the heatsink/fan properly onto the CPU (basically they weren't touching).

    Let me assure you that the Athlon 1.4 Ghz is more than capable of destroying itself within 5 seconds if it doesn't have adequate cooling.

    I am now Aus$400 poorer and a little more careful.
  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Sunday October 28, 2001 @11:20PM (#2491344) Homepage Journal
    When I watched that TH video, it struck me as odd that the intel chip had no heatsink compound and the athlon did. Personally, I think it was that compound burning, not the silicon or housing...
  • One thing is removing the heatshink while the CPU is running. If this happens accidentally (ex., the clip breaks and the heatsink falls off), it'll probably hit graphics card, short-circuiting it. So even if the CPU survives, your system still crashes. But the chances of this happenning are very, very slim.

    A different thing (rather more likey) is the fan stopping while the heatsink remains on the CPU. This has happened to me once, with an Athlon @ 1GHz, when a cable got stuck in the fan (whoever designed those Titan Majesty coolers didn't remember there are cables inside the case). After about 1 minute the motherboard started beeping and the system froze (I don't know if it this was a safety measure taken by the board - an Asus A7Pro - or a consequence of some error). I turned the power off, pulled the cable from the fan, let it cool for a couple of minutes and turned it back on. It still beeped for a while (it was at about 90 C) but booted normally, and it's been working fine since.

    Anyway, an appropriate heatsink is a requirement of the CPU, just like a proper electrical supply. If you feed a CPU 220 volts instead of 1.7, it probably won't last long either...
  • After 9 minutes, the video camera stopped working because the room all of this took place in was cooled to -50 degrees C...
  • by Twid ( 67847 ) on Monday October 29, 2001 @02:09AM (#2491639) Homepage
    I just got a new Athlon 1800+ CPU with an ABIT KG7-RAID motherboard. It had a thermisistor for the CPU with good default settings, and it has a CPU FAN RPM detector. In the BIOS you can turn on a feature to shut the system down if the CPU fan fails, and you can also set alarms for CPU temp.

    So, given that, I'd rather have the better performing and cheaper Athlon system. The risk seems minimal and by the time time you pay slightly more for the Intel CPU, the Intel mobo, and the Intel Rambus RAM, you're paying a lot more. My personal opinion.

    - Twid

  • Hold yer horses! (Score:2, Informative)

    by billcopc ( 196330 )
    You're forgetting one very important detail. The CPU presented in that little video clip is the Athlon MP, the new Palomino core that supports SMP. I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that AMD made their new MP processors resistant to heatsink/fan failure, following on the heels of Intel's P4.

    The processor that Tom Pabst had fried is an older model, using the T-Bird core. It is only fair to assume that the old Athlons didn't have this overheat protection built in (which becomes obvious for all of us who have fallen victim to those stupid rubber spacers on early heatsinks).
  • My cat knocked over my PC with a AMD1.2 MP with thermal protection software and sensors that worked and within 5 seconds, there was a horrible smell and a fried CPU. My Pentium 733s fan failed and it ran for 2 hours until the computer shut down. I like AMD but for the love of God, Don't let your cpu's fry so fast!

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant