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AMD And THG update 196

Mhrmnhrm writes "In the interests of responsible journalism, the gang over at Tom's Hardware has developed this article in the interests of setting the record straight about their original AMD burn-out video, and the new release (possibly from AMD) of this past week. It would seem that BOTH videos are correct, and that the question of whether or not somebody is hiding something depends entirely upon your own point of view."
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AMD And THG update

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  • So both articles are right adn wrong? THW used the basic setup most of us would use, while AMD used extra hardware? hmmm ok then............
    • Re:right and wrong? (Score:2, Informative)

      by blixel ( 158224 )
      So both articles are right adn wrong?

      Ummm... like, read the articles dude.

      Both are right, THW is more right, but neither are really wrong. TomsHardware used equipment that is currently available to people today. AMD responded by correcting the problem, and then making a new demonstration based on the corrections. So now, going foward, new motherboards are likely to be based on the corrections.
      • Yes, Tom's right in that any of us who actually buy a motherboard and AMD processor on the open market, and then lose our heatsink, will have our hardware fried.

        AMD's right in the sense that it is technically possible to add an electronic thermometer that will cut power to the box if the temperature goes too high.

        If those facts are accurate, I don't see how Tom isn't completely vindicated.

        I happen to be typing on a machine using that motherboard, but running with the hotter (faster) version of that CPU. In a tower, the bottom of my heatsink is vertical. Should a clip break, the fan and heatsink drop to the bottom of the case, and my machine fries during the time that I'm still wondering what that clunk was. I'm kinda thinking that I want an extra temperature board now. Well no, actually I want my CPU to just slow itself down like the P4 does.... but barring that, I want a temperature board.
    • So both articles are right adn wrong? THW used the basic setup most of us would use, while AMD used extra hardware? hmmm ok then............

      Well, yes. They are both correct. The problem really lies in the motherboards themselves, and THW's stated that in the first article: the motherboards don't have the thermal shutdown system implemented.

      So, in order to show that there wasn't a flaw in their processor, AMD implimented that system and demonstrated that it does indeed work. So, both articles are correct. The processor has the thermal protection. AMD handed the ball off to the motherboard manufacturers and they fumbled it.
  • Quick Summary (Score:1, Informative)

    by JohnHegarty ( 453016 )
    "Nevertheless, it must be said that the facts as shown in the video remain plausible and can be reproduced at any time. At the moment, none of the mainboard manufacturers offer a solution to this. Even highly reputable companies such as Asus and Gigabyte offer no support for this particular problem. "
    • Re:Quick Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darkonc ( 47285 )
      SO the good news is that AMD is now specifying a crude thermal protection for boards using their CPUs. The bad news is that
      • This protection doesn't exist for old (current) boards
      • It just shuts down the whole system (i.e. crash)
      • AMD didn't bother to mention that this is a patched board that they're using.
      You could probably do a board design that, instead of shutting down the whole machine, switched it to 100MZ (or some other 'safe' clock speed), but AMD hasn't quite gotten around to that, (yet).
  • AMD should have given the specs on the thermal diode to the mobo manufacturers well before the release of the chip, so it could be implemented in the motherboards that are out at the time of the chip release. It does much less good to tell them later, as they must amke costly revisions to already designed boards.
  • by doughnuthole ( 451165 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:18AM (#2496347)
    It is much more likely for a fan to die on the heatsink, than for the heatsink to fall off on its own. Someone should do a test to see if this also causes chip failure or if the sensors on the motherboard can shut down the computer before anything is damaged. The results would mean a lot more to actual users.
    • Many BIOS setups monitor their own off-chip diode. A fan failure raises the cpu temperature much slower than a total heat sink failure, allowing time for the BIOS to halt execution and power off.

      It is only the quick burnouts (less than a few seconds) that can't be caught by external diodes.
    • Toms hardware originaly covered this. Whilst the majority of problems you will experience is a failed fan and therefore a slower temperature rise. The issue of whole heatsinks falling off is becoming more of an issue as CPU's get faster they get hotter, hotter means bigger headsink/fan systems. Bigger means *heavier*, Heavier means the little plasic bits that the sink is clipped to can break!
      • Thankfully, many motherboards for AMD cpus have the alternative heat sink mounting holes. More and more commodity heatsinks are enlarging their base to take advantage of these holes. It appears you need an 80mm square base in order to use the holes.

        -Paul Komarek
    • My BIOS shuts the computer down if my fan stops turning. I like that feature ;)

    • A dead fan will trap heat in the space between heatsink fans and effectively turn the heatsink into a heater. It will heat up your chip.

      This is actually a specific point of failure that notebook manufacturers try to avoid. Rather than placing a fan ontop of a heatsink, they try to induce airflow across a heatsink. Thus if it fails, at least you aren't heating up your part, you just aren't providing much airflow.
  • But in the end (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baptiste ( 256004 ) <> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#2496351) Homepage Journal
    the important thing is that publicity of Tom's article got AMD off their butts to try and resolve the problem. Yes, this won't help folks with existing motherboards and I doubt we'll see the new Maxim chips on motherboards for a little while (since many aren't even reading the thermal diode yet) I think its great that Tom's HW pushed AMD in the right direction. So we can debate about who did what, conspiracy, etc but its pointless. Obviously THW blew up Athlons in less than a second. Obviously someone (possibly AMD, who knows0 had one running without a heatsink. Personally I think the 2nd video is fake in some way. I'm an AMD/Athlon fanatic - love them. But I can't believe they managed to play Quake on a CPU without a heatsink unless the mobo they used was doctored in some way to throttle speed based on the thermal diode reading.

    But in the end - its really not an issue. Yes, existing Athlon owners are at a SLIGHT risk of failure if their heatsinks fall off (I'd love to see REAL stats on how often THAT happens) But in the end, its still cheaper to replace your Athlon once than to go with an equivalent Pentium 4. So lets be glad AMD listened to the folks at Tom's Hardware - realized they were getting a black eye, and did something about it. Hopefully in a few months we can buy mobos with the Maxim chip safty valve or some tryp of clock throttler. Then the Pentium freaks will have to argue over real stuff like benchmarks and performance instead of making snide comments about Athlons burning you house down.

    • Re:But in the end (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:43AM (#2496470)
      But I can't believe they managed to play Quake on a CPU without a heatsink unless the mobo they used was doctored in some way to throttle speed based on the thermal diode reading.

      Actually, with the proper chipset, the thermal diode can be used to throttle the speed. Go look at the AMD 766 register programming manual, section and register C3A50:TTH_EN and C3A50:TTH_RATIO. The southbridge accepts a signal from a chip like the MAX6512 and will throttle the CPU when it asserts. But only if the motherboard has this hardware AND the firmware configures the southbridge to do so

    • Re:But in the end (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ahertz ( 68721 ) <> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @09:27AM (#2496620)
      But I can't believe they managed to play Quake on a CPU without a heatsink unless the mobo they used was doctored in some way to throttle speed based on the thermal diode reading.

      Just to clarify, maybe you should take a look at the video again. (You did watch the video before posting, right? :b ) Despite what the blurb on the previous article would have you believe, the didn't play quake on a CPU without a heatsink. Without a heat sink, the system immediately shut down. They managed to play Quake for nine minutes on a system with the heat sink fan disabled.

      More believeable, isn't it? Admittedly, I don't know enough about the subject to judge whether the video is fake or not, but it's not as wildly unbelieveable as all that.
    • Often enough (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tridus ( 79566 )
      "Yes, existing Athlon owners are at a SLIGHT risk of failure if their heatsinks fall off (I'd love to see REAL stats on how often THAT happens)"

      This happens a lot with computers that are shipped (eg from Dell, etc). Thats probably one of the reasons why Dell doesn't do AMD, replacing all the chips that get fried by a heatsink coming off in shipping would be a lot more expensive.

      (and I've had this happen to me before actually, although it was with a P3, which of course didn't fry because Intel put some thought into the design)
      • If the heatsink has fallen off in shipping, you can bet ther is going to be a lot of other damage to the rest of the PC. A 1 lb chunk of metal with sharp corners bouncing around inside a PC case is going to tear up the boards, cutting traces and breaking components. I've seen several machines, Intel and AMD that this has happened to, total loss, call the shipper and file a claim..
      • "Thats probably one of the reasons why Dell doesn't do AMD"

        I don't believe this at all. Lots of manufacturers ship AMD, and there's never been a big noise about heat sinks falling off. There's been lots of noise about an article that discusses what happens when a heat sink falls off, but that's it.

        Dell doesn't ship AMD cpus because they've got a cushy deal with Intel on pricing, and a long-standing relationship with Intel that makes them comfortable single-sourcing cpus. They might also like it that Intel makes motherboards, and can tests their cpus against their chipsets. Of course, Intel proved over the last year that this isn't really an advantage, because their chipset divinsion seems to have taken their eye off the ball.

        -Paul Komarek
    • >But in the end, its still cheaper to replace
      >your Athlon once than to go with an equivalent
      >Pentium 4

      When a CPU dies like this, I sure as hell have to check my motherboard and other hardwares for defects, as a "burnt" component in a box can make another. Also, the moment it comes down it may bring down a lot of data - so obviously it is NOT only the CPU price that counts.
  • Good Work Tom's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrBlack ( 104657 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:24AM (#2496359)
    I say good work to 'em. It seems THG was correct all along, but I couldn't detect the faintest sense of gloating or grandstanding in their article. They've pointed out a fairly big problem with some of AMD's chips, AMD have responded with new info to MOBO manufacturers (who will no doubt consider this new feature fairly important after the attention the orriginal article on THG received). Great. No threats of legal action by either side (AFAIK), no finger pointing, no FUD. Now if everyone could behave like this......
    • by hattig ( 47930 )
      fairly big problem with some of AMD's chips

      What - a bad heatsink retention mechanism on the socket or a badly fitted heatsink in the first place? Because heatsinks falling off happen once in a blue moon when you are transmogrified into a vole and are the subject of a ritual sacrifice.

      Is this equivalent to the i845/i850 problem where placing certain video cards in the AGP slot of some motherboards will burn out the motherboard? This will happen a lot more often than a heatsink falling off. Vans Hardware has an article up at the moment about how a Kyro II is not supported by i845 and burnt out the Shuttle motherboard.

      • I'm not sure quite how rare it is for a CPU to be run with the heatsink off. I can easily see a naive user pulling the heatsink off "for a few seconds", to check something, or to apply new heatsink compound, or in the process of playing with an old(dead) fan and/or replacing it.

        Granted -- none of us would do it, having seen the video (kof, kof), but there are a lot of people out there who, having seen it done on older (intel) CPUs, figure that it's a medium/low risk process. (oops).

        It would seem to me that the most likely time for such a failure (dropped heat sinkk) wiykd be after shipping -- I can just see some poor sod in Costa Rica with his brand new 1.4GZ Athlon, pluging his box in and smelling the processor go up in smoke while the CPU heatsink fan (accidently) cools his sound card (!).

        • Granted -- none of us would do it, having seen the video

          Well...not intentionally. It is possible that *ahem*somebody not thinking too clearly might reassemble his (Intel) computer and forget to put the heatsink assembly on. It was on for a good half minute before I realised what I'd done, so I...err...he quickly switched the machine off and fitted the heatsink/fan, and all worked fine. Now if it had been an Athlon...
          • It basically depends on your mobo, if your mobo features chipguard protection (aka, autopoweroff if no cpu fan is detected on post), your computer wouldn't even turn on. Perfect for people like me who forget to plug in fans =P.
      • I don't see how this comment is redundant. There is supporting evidence here:

        To Quote: The Pentium 4 Chipsets i850 & i845 only support 1.5 volt 4x AGP.

        Older chipsets (e.g. VIA 693 and Intel BX) support 3.3 volts AGP 2x, however newer chipsets are downward compatible to 2x/4x (e.g. 815EP, 815EP B stepping and VIA 694X) and support 3.3 volts as well as 1.5 volts.

        This does not apply to the Pentium 4 chipsets because the i850 und i845 only support 1.5 volts graphic boards (regardless of 2x or 4x). Therefore the 3.3 volts 2x VGA graphic boards cannot be installed in a Pentium 4 system any longer.

        The graphic board as well as the motherboard will be destroyed after installing a 3.3 volt graphic board. EPoX grants no guarantee in these cases of user's own faults. You find a corresponding hint to the 1.5 volts graphic boards on the pages 1-5 of the P4 user's manuals

        This sound pretty serious to me. Modern cards like the Kyro II run at 3.3V!

  • It seems to me that it is getting harder and harder to filter actual information from the mess of data and noise and corporate/media spin on the Internet.

    Remember that thing with the IBM hard drives ? I still don't know who to believe.

    I think this problem is only going to get worse. In the interests of responsible journalism, could someone at slashdot investigate, and actually come to an editorial conclusion ? The truth is out there, I just don't have time to sift through all the spin and hype to get at it.

    Who does ?

    • Remember that thing with the IBM hard drives ? I still don't know who to believe.

      Where/what is is IBM's spin?

      • According to []IBM is not publicly acknowledging that they screwed up here.

        That sounds like spin to me. If not outright lying.

        • IBM is not publicly acknowledging that they screwed up here.
          That sounds like spin to me. If not outright lying.

          I think it is neither spin nor lying, we have a specific word for it: stonewalling.

          It does still suck though, and I would have hoped IBM would handle it better, maybe more like HP dealt with the SporeStore drives, er, I mean SureStore drives.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:29AM (#2496371) Journal
    Basically, the XP in combination with all currently available motherboards will kill itself if a disaster happens (the heatsink falling off of a CPU happens very rarely). AMD responded and designed a circuit so that the CPU will shut itself down if it gets too hot, causing data loss. In this rare case, data loss isn't an issue.

    In the more common case of the CPU fan failing, the CPU will heat up more slowly. Hence the other protection mechanisms in the CPU will be used, and the user will get a chance to save their data.

    However, AMD should have designed the safety circuit they have shown off in the article INTO the actual CPU itself, so it can save itself. And it should save itself by basically clocking itself down to 100MHz or slower, so that data loss does not occur and the user can save their data. Hopefully this will be implemented in a future revision of the CPU.

    However, the instances of CPU heatsinks falling off are extremely rare, and probably attributable to either a poor initial fitting of the heatsink, or a bad socket with a weakened retention mechanism. In a tower case, the heatsink would probably fall onto the graphics card or spring onto the memory and damage these anyway...

    • However, AMD should have designed the safety circuit they have shown off in the article INTO the actual CPU itself, so it can save itself. And it should save itself by basically clocking itself down to 100MHz or slower, so that data loss does not occur and the user can save their data. Hopefully this will be implemented in a future revision of the CPU.

      It would be very nice to have such a feature, but this will require a rather large redesign. Remember the Palomino is based on the Thunderbird. Intel designed the P4 from the ground up...

      And if AMD implements such a feature, they shouldn't make the mistake Intel did. If the cpu is lowering the clockspeed internally, this should be clearly communicated to the outside world (the bios), so the user is aware of this.
    • Something like this will be crucial if AMD ever hopes to break into the server and workstation market in a big way...If a company is going to run a db server, they're not going to use AMD for reasons like the heat protection that will be back-patched on new mobos. A company needs the data to be there whether the cpu is gonna fry or not. Granted, frying the cpu is worse than losing a db, but not by much (either way, you may have to go to the tapes...)

      On the other hand, if this company chooses an intel system, they know (as illustrated by Tom's video) that the system will survive, though performance will die. But the integrity of the data remains.

      This, as far as I can see, is one of the main things keeping AMD processors out of higher end systems. Even though the piii/p4 performs better in some areas, a person can put a dual athlon board on the desk for around the same cost, which would more than make up for it.

      • Except that the P4 also shutdowns when the heatsink is taken off! THG is at odds with other videos *again*. So there is data loss.

        Luckily, servers are usially in racks. Hence the heatsink is on top of the CPU and motherboard. So if the retention clips broke then (less reason to as well), the heatsink would remain on the chipset.

        Look here: A good reason not to get an Intel based motherboard! "The graphic board as well as the motherboard will be destroyed after installing a 3.3 volt graphic board"...

      • "This, as far as I can see, is one of the main things keeping AMD processors out of higher end systems."

        I don't believe this. When I've heard the purchasing complain about buying AMD-based machines, it was because they were scared of breaking with history.

        *) "We've always ordered from Dell"
        *) "How do you know it doesn't have incompatibilities with Intel's chips?"
        *) "Aren't AMD's chips slow?"

        That's the kind of stuff I've heard. I've never heard "well, we have to plan for the case that the heat sink spontaneously falls off". It seems to me that if it's in you're economic interest to plan for that, you probably shouldn't be using comodity equipment anyway. These people should buy a big Tangent, SGI, Sun, or IBM box with good failover and hot-swap (at the cpu or node level) features.

        -Paul Komarek
    • Mod up parent.

      This is exactly the reason I feel much more comfortable using an Athlon, than I was right after the original, alarming Tom's article.

  • Nice to see a company respond to a valid criticism by doing something about it.

    Yes, it would have been nice if existing motherboards did it, but at least AMD didn't bury their heads in the sand and ignore the issue completely once it was pointed out to them.

    • There is an infamous firm in Redmond, WA, USA, that does react to customer complaints. They also make it clear that it annoys them greatly when someone complains. Their denials, accusations and FUD get old quickly. Applause to AMD for positive reaction, and for quickly supplying a working fix to a nasty problem. A chip design change would be welcome, and will probably happen, but you do not need to risk burning your house down waiting for it to happen.
  • ... the video released by AMD that showed no overheating problems? I didn't spend the time/bandwidth downloading it, but IIRC the claim was that it showed Quake3 running even after the heatsink was removed.

    This is contradictory to the claim that AMD's fix is to close-down the motherboard.

    The Tom's Hardware Article, although it was informative as TH articles usually are, made no comment on this video. Does it exist? What did it really show?
    • It showed Quake running for nine minutes _with_ a heatsink, but no fan. It means the CPU still get some cooling, though convection currents isn't enough.

      A failing fan is a lot more probable problem than a heatsink falling off, and is more important to guard against. And if my heatsink fell off, it's going to hit my videocard (possibly damaging it, or shorting it), which is quite a bit more expensive than the CPU in any case...

    • They made an indirect statement about the video.
      The board used in the AMD video was modified with a MAXIM health monitor chip that shut down the power supply when the core reaches 85 degrees celsius.
      I am sort of disappointed in AMD for not telling us that the board was in fact modified in the video, and that new motherboards don't have this sort of feature.
  • by Cynikal ( 513328 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:40AM (#2496393) Homepage
    it should be integrated into the cmos to choose if you want to shut off the power instantly, or throttle the cpu to a lower speed and managable temp to let the system shut down properly. I'm sure a 1.5GHz cpu could function at a low temp if reset to a 66mhz bus (or even 33) and lower multiplier, just enough power to save any data and exit gracefully.

    then again, isnt that what intel got bashed for doing with their p4? i'm not sure on the specifics of the why's how's and when's of p4's power throttle, all i remember is people pointing at p4 and saying "bad". Doesnt sound so bad now tho.

    I imagine the most important point to any failsafe like that is letting the user know clearly why exactly their computer shut down, or is running incredibly slow. maybe having the soundcard play some 70's pron music in the background would be a good enough indication that something is getting too hot? :P
    • by mgv ( 198488 )
      I'm sure a 1.5GHz cpu could function at a low temp if reset to a 66mhz bus (or even 33) and lower multiplier, just enough power to save any data and exit gracefully.

      You wouldn't need to throttle back that much at all, and I suspect that there would be little need to throttle back the motherboard bus speed.

      You would definately want to throttle back the multiplier to slow down the CPU. This would be more efficient as you would reduce memory bottlenecks at the slower CPU speeds.

      Probably equally important, you would need to reduce the voltage to the CPU - as CMOS gets higher performance with higher voltages but at the cost of higher wattage.

      Probably just dropping the speeds back to a few hundred MHz would suffice - certainly many CPU's of that ilk don't have fans, just heatsinks (and smaller ones than the current AMD's do at that)

      My 1c worth (After allowing for the Aus/US exchange rate)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        You probably don't want to change the clock speed in any way - you may want to HLT the cpu for a given %-age of time. There should be Suspend-Pins on the CPU that allow for such things to be controlled from the outside.
        • but then it would just delay the enevitable, seeing as how the cpu will burnout in a matter of seconds.. my sugestion was based on a way to get the cpu to last long enough to shut down the computer properly and save important data, while allowing the cpu to survive the ordeal.

          then again, i am not an R&D pro, so who knows.. theres probably even more ways to accomplish this..
    • then again, isnt that what intel got bashed for doing with their p4? i'm not sure on the specifics of the why's how's and when's of p4's power throttle, all i remember is people pointing at p4 and saying "bad". Doesnt sound so bad now tho.

      Intel wasn't bashed for including the power throttle. They were bashed for the poor design that engaged the throttle during normal operations. When the P4 is pushed hard, it responds by reducing the amount of work it does to reduce heat. This means that its performance specs are in excess of the heat dissipation specs. This should never happen in a well designed processor. If Intel had properly engineered the P4, the only time the power throttle should be engaged is during an emergency, like a fan failure.

  • I think they're taking this a tad too seriously... tr ike-01.html

  • No big deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mathness ( 145187 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:08AM (#2496426) Homepage
    Several things strike me as odd about this "news" (2nd article) and the first article which spawned it.

    -"Siemens assured us that the thermal protection circuitry is definitely working on their motherboard." (1st article)
    Well, it did not work anyway, whoops. And therefore AMD must be at fault here?

    -"We rushed to the telephone to confer with Siemens. 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." (1st article)
    Okay, they check with Siemens. Why not have a chat with AMD? If the thermal diode can only work this slow, why can the AMD engineers make a working shutdown with a common electrical component?

    -"AMD showed us how all Palomino CPUs could be protected against overheating with relatively little effort." (2nd article)
    Wonder why Siemens could not make this? They where the ones who claimed that the MB would protect againt meltdown, and that it worked. AMD said that the thermal diode worked. And showed it on a modified MB, which have no protection from the start.

    THG is making a big fuss, about a somewhat minor problem. And THG was too biased against AMD, I can only hope I was biased enough the other way ;)

    And what is up with this "We saved the hardware manufactors and you" theme in the 2nd article?
    Are they losing commercial revenue?
    • Yes, it sounds like Siemens blamed the AMD chip when it was really a deficiency in their motherboard design. It ALSO sounds like AMD recommended motherboard circuits to support their chip that are not adequate if the heatsink falls off, therefore most or all mobos for the Athlon presently in production can smoke the CPU in this case, and that AMD's video used a modified mobo.

      In short, neither Siemens nor AMD was entirely truthful, and if you buy a complete system, you need to open the case and make sure everything is where it belongs before turning it on. That's good advice whether or you've got AMD or Intel. We techies already know that, but Dell, etc., are shipping a lot of computers to people who DON'T know it, and might not be able to check for things like this even if the computer mfgs sent along instructions...

      I don't know why THG didn't get AMD's input before publishing the smoking Athlon pictures. Maybe they didn't ask, maybe AMD didn't answer. But now AMD knows there is a slight problem, they should put the fast-acting shutdown circuit in their recommendations for the mobo mfgs, and quality mobos for Athlon will soon have it. And Dell, etc., will evaluate whether it costs more to require that on Athlon mobos, rather than occasionally having to replace a burned-up CPU and possibly the whole mobo.
  • More on amdzone. P4 (Score:4, Informative)

    by leuk_he ( 194174 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:11AM (#2496431) Homepage Journal
    AMD zone [] also has an update on this story. The most interesting thing (to me) is that they have a 2nd video [] that show the P4 shuts down. With possible data loss like the modified XP tom was shown in munich.

    • That's an easy one; they disabled the P4's on-chip thermal protection (see this document [], section 2.4). All P4 systems are required (see section 2.4.4) to enable it by default in the BIOS, but it can be disabled (in case you want to use your own heat management system using the on-die thermal diode mentioned in section 2.4.6).

      This probably should have been expected from AMD zone...
      • What i did see on the P4 video:

        -It first slowed down.
        --> This indicates some thermal protection is available. Or what part of the thermal protections are you reffering?
        -It shuts down after some time .
        --> you did expect a cloud like tom's AMD procs?

        And according to the intel link you posted this is exactly what should happen. Seems like tomsh P4 did not run hot enough (135C) to completely shutdown.
      • That's an easy one; they disabled the P4's on-chip thermal protection (see this document [], section 2.4).

        I doubt that.
        There are 2 levels of thermal protection in the P4:
        It automatically switches itself to 50% duty cycle if a certain temperature is reached.
        But: 50% duty cycle are still 30W power, far too much without a heatsink.
        The limit without a heatsink is around 10W, perhaps even less.

        The operating system can read the current temperature, too, and switch to a more aggressive throtteling. IIRC down to 12.5% duty cycle.
        Probably Tom tested with a board where the OS/BIOS/ACPI (I'm not 100% sure who does what) throtteled to 12.5%, and there was no auto shutdown without a heatsink.
        AMD has choosen a board without that 2nd throtteling limit. The CPU overheated and shutted itself down

  • by Strepsil ( 75641 ) <> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:14AM (#2496438) Homepage

    OK, I suppose I want to see AMD as the good guys here, since I love their products. Even so - I can see how things could spin a little more in their favour if you're inclined to be generous.

    Firstly, let me say that I belive that thermal protection integrated into the CPU, like to P4 has, would have been the best way to go - but then we'd all be complaining about how expensive the new Athlons are, wouldn't we? AMD give us lots of grunt for our dollars, and we can't expect them to pack every little feature into the CPU for the great prices they give us, any more than we can expect Apple to sell us an iPod for 50 bucks.

    Now, the original article at Tom's has the following interesting quote ...

    We rushed to the telephone to confer with Siemens. 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.

    I pointed this out the other day, too. A Siemens Engineer was consulted. Excuse me? An AMD CPU just fried itself on a Siemens-made board, and they don't ask the CPU manufacturer why it happened - they ask the board manufacturer. That's not where I'd be directing my enquiries if I was doing the test.

    Now AMD prove that with a simple external board, everything shuts down and saves the CPU - just like we'd want to happen. To me, this suggests that the thermal diode has no problems reacting in time, and that maybe the board manufacturers screwed up or cut some corners when they were developing support for it.

    It's understandable, for the same reason AMD didn't pack the chip full of power management goodies. Keeping costs down on goods that are bought by very price-conscious buyers looking for maximum performance at the best price. They implemented support that was adequate for a fan failure, which is the most likely thing that'll happen in real life. They could well have decided that a simpler circuit was all that was necessary, since a heatsink isn't likely to fall off.

    Most likely we'll never know the full sotry. Everyone will blame everyone else, and in a year or so we'll forget all about it because the hardware will be obsolete. We'll have new problems. In the meantime, everyone has the message that they should be careful that they install their CPU cooling devices properly. AMD will recover from any negative press. Hell, Intel put out a bunch of CPUs that couldn't do Math at one point, and they survived. :)

    • The problem I see is that AMD didn't make clear originally how to implement the on chip diode to make it work. The first designs were clearly not working the way people expected them to. Thus, AMD comes out with a new implementation, which does work, but will require a new rev of the motherboards.
    • You are letting your obvious bias get in the way of what is going on. AMD should have some sort of internal thermal protection system to stop this. The P3s do, the P4s have the best implementation. Price is not a factor here either. There are many, many very rudimentary amplifier chips and power regulators [] have thermal protection built in and they cost less than a dollar. I'm not expecting a throttling design like the P4, but at least a freeze like the P3 would be nice.

      This isn't directed at you but I think its funny how a few months back everyone was bitching cuz the P4 would throttle back when hot.. hehe.. my how the times have changed. Guess, thats the difference between understanding and knee jerk reactions.

  • Let me get this straight - no, really. If I remove the apparatus that helps to cool something down, its temperature will go UP? Increased temperatures might cause something to melt?
    I really don't see the rocket science in all of this. Heat sinks are strapped down to your CPU by a firm metal clip for a reason - they are necessary to keep your CPU cool - and by 'cool' I mean 'functioning'. Run a current through a thin piece of metal and the metal heats up. Physics. Try it yourself with some thin copper wire and a 9V battery.
    Motherboards that are equipped to switch off when things get too hot would be great, but how many of you have had your heat sinks fall off? I am guessing a very small percentage - hardly worth the economic cost of equipping all motherboards with the sensor device. (Remember, that cost will just filter down to us anyway, so you might as well buy the device separately if you are worried.) If you're kicking your PC down the stairs twice a day, it might be worth investing in a little protection, but chances are you've got other worries by that point.
  • Tom's site [] has to be the single best example of independent oversight via the web. One more example of the internet showing its shregnth of fighting corporate ass-covering FUD. It's just amazing what started as a one man web project can do to get the truth out. Last I heard, Tom really isn't a doctor, but he sure has earned the respect of netizens and corporations alike.
    • single best example (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, that explains all the Pentium 4 ads that were on his page when he did the original article.
    • Tom's site is known to be a "take a stand" site where Tom and crew are looking to piss on whatever company didn't send them a reviewer sample quickly enough (how many times has a bad review started with "We barely have time just because they just sent us the board. All the other sites got theirs last week. Wahhh! Wahhhh! RESPECT MY AUTHORITY: I AM THE TOM!"), or because someone didn't return their phone call, etc. They're like some sad gang of retaliation experts looking for an axe to grind. It's like the National Enquirer of hardware sites.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:57AM (#2496521) Homepage Journal

    Tom's shows what happens if you use any Athlon
    with any currently available motherboard.

    While it's correct, it's like griping about no RDRAM support on an Athlon board. The feature isn't supported by the motherboard yet. End of story.

    The AMD video shows what happens when you use an Athlon with a thermistor in motherboard that has the Power Now thermistor support..

    And while it's also correct, it's basically vaporware until such a board debuts.

    • You can't really blame every Athlon mobo out there just becuase they didn't know about this feature 2 years ago when it didn't exist. That's just like saying that I want to run a p3 in a p2 board, it might work, but then it might not. hell, lets see if a p3 in an old outdated motherboard still has thermal control and move on from there (if you really want to compare technology vs outdated mobos, but who cares?)
  • Toms stated:

    "In conclusion: as a result of our findings in the Hot Spot video AMD decided to consider finding a solution to protect its CPUs from overheating and the company wants to bring it to the market"

    , but the fact is that the Athlon XP have had a thermal diode from the beginning ( e_papers_and_tech_docs/24309.pdf). The fact that most MB manufactures doesn't use the diode might tell something about the likelihood of the cpufan falling off!!
    • I've seen 3 or 4 fans fall off, always when the computer was shipped. That's out of hundreds of computers. It's not a real big problem, but it's certainly a problem. Most mobos nowadays don't go to hobbyists or techies that build their own boxen, they go to corporate desktops or naive home users that are NOT GOING TO OPEN THE BOX BEFORE PLUGGING IT IN. So if their heatsink/fan fell off, the Athlon will melt down.

      The fact that most MB manufactures doesn't use the diode might tell something about the likelihood of the cpufan falling off!! The mobo in THG's article did use the diode -- just not with a circuit that would react instantly. With a dead fan it would run for several minutes, then shut down; with no heatsink, the CPU melted before the mobo reacted. Apparently all unmodified mobos are the same, which leads me to think that AMD recommended the too-slow circuitry.

      I'm still wondering why THG didn't get AMD's response before posting their original article, but it does look like they've persuaded AMD to recommend some changes in future mobos...
  • by Anonymous Bullard ( 62082 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @09:10AM (#2496564) Homepage
    While I've followed the Athlon performance discussions with no little amount of awe, I've been frustrated by the heat issues and the related power consumption. Due to reasons beyond my control, heat, relatively speaking, is an environmental issue where I work. Humongous HFC's aren't the ideal solution to this problem IMO.

    Recently I've started pondering whether it would be possible to take one of the newer Palominos (eXPee+ series Athlon) and underclock it (e.g. from 1,333Mhz to 1Ghz or even lower) via the multiplier and voltage while keeping the external bus speeds (which aren't part of the heat problem) intact or even slightly overclocked.

    Has anyone studied the underclocking opportunities of Palominos with the latest mainboards? Waiting for the move to a 13 micron silicon-on-insulator process is starting to get on my nerves. ;-) VIA's latest C3 (800Mhz) looks technically "cool" but it understandably lacks DDR support and tick-for-tick its performance still sucks compared to the K7 designs by AMD.

    Also, does anyone know if the upcoming "finer" Athlons will be compatible with the mainboards on sale today?

    Or should I just give up on AMD and go for a P4 when the DDR-boards become available?
    • The XPs have the problem that their L1 bridges (which are the ones controlling the multiplier lock) are not only cut but have small troughs between them where they are cut. I will assume that the Palominos have the same problem, otherwise it would be a trivial pencil trick to unlock.

      1. Clean out the troughs. They have scorch marks
      2. Use tape to cover the bridges, but expose the troughs, and fill them with some glue of sorts, then sand them down level
      3. Use pencil trick or conductive ink.
      4. Change multiplier as you like.

      If you use one of the VIA boards (not sure about the DDR ones, but the SDR for sure) you can run the CPU at 200mhz bus, down from 266, but then bump the memory bus back up to where you want it since they are seperate.

      There are several guides online on how to do this. A quick search should yield several.
  • I just finished my first week with my AMD 1.4 TBird. I've had to make a lot of changes to the system, as I was having heat issues. I rely on sites like THW and AnAndTech, but now I'm confused. I read that story THW did, and I downloaded the "AMD" video. Why is it so freakin hard to find out the truth about something?
  • dont they keep on playing (Q3) for several more minutes after they shut down the cooling mechanism in the alledged AMD video ??

    If the power is cut off abruptly, it makes no sense, the new AMD modified board detects the extra heat and shuts of the power, and according to THG the processor would fry withing seconds, so how did they play for several more minutes ???

  • by De Lemming ( 227104 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @10:23AM (#2496871) Homepage
    On Ace's Hardware [], this subject is discussed thoroughly the last days. An interesting article can be found here []. Some thoughts from this article:
    - the component needed for proper protection of the cpu costs $0.85 (in quantities of 1K).
    - "Obviously, Siemens used an external temperature probe and tried to pass it off as using the internal diode."
    - The reaction time of the thermal diode is certainly not 1 degree/second: "At our worst case rise of 300C/sec, that translates to a response time of less than 1ms. No way would this result in a fried CPU if power off is immediate upon the signal occurring."

    For a matter of fact, an engineer told a friend of mine it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to develop a thermal diode with such characteristics (1 degree/sec response time).

    You can find the main thread of this article here [].
  • If there is any company out there with even an ounce of marketing savvy, they will create an adapter board that contains the thermal protection circuit. It will plug into any motherboard's CPU socket and the Athlon XP/MP will plug into it. If they want to add more pizazz to it, they can add an alarm beeper, LEDs, or a temperature readout.

    Think of the number of potential customers! There's a huge market of upgraders out there -- people with existing boards into which they'd like to plug an Athlon XP. Then there are server guys who have so many systems that failures are statistically guaranteed. With this device, they'd just have to replace a fan/heatsink. Without it, they've got to install a whole new CPU.
    • Small problem: how are you going to get the heat sink to fit with an adapter board between the CPU and the socket? I think you could actually increase the chance of frying your CPU because you'd have to have a more complicated (and therefore more failure-prone) heat sink mounting mechanism.
      • The socket for the CPU, whether on the adapter board or on the mainboard, will still have tabs for mounting a heatsink. The adapter could even, itself, be attached to the mainboard via the mainboard socket tabs.

        Look at the design of PGA-to-slot adapters [] made to allow use of Socket 370 CPUs in mainboards designed for Slot 1 CPUs. You mounted the CPU on the board, the heatsink on the CPU, and the board in the slot. Worked fine. Look at the products to adapt CPUs from one family to another. [] These support voltage regulation and the use of a heatsink. (They are a stupid waste of money in almost all consumer PCs, but they point out the mechanical viability of such a solution.)

        In fact, this would be a particularly easy one as there would need to be no significant offset between the two sockets. You only need to connect to four pins (3.3v, gnd, 2-pin thermal diode). The "output" could be a jumper to the two-pin power switch connector the motherboard. Problem solved.
  • I just got an athlon 1.4 GHz and the freaking heat sink is the size of a softball and the CPU fan makes more noise than a Pratt & Whitney JT-8D jet engine. I'd KNOW when the fan stopped blowing.
  • by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @11:38AM (#2497234) Homepage
    When I removed all 20 lug nuts from my car, I could only drive it for about 1 seconds before the wheels fell off. The brake discs got smashed on the pavement, the road got scraped up, and worst of all, I spilled my margarita!

    The car is clearly defective since the wheels fell off when I removed the lug nuts.

    And what's worse is that my drink tasted awful when I slurped it out of the carpet.

  • While, I was setting up my dual Athlon system. I wanted to test system with just one processor in it. So, I took the fan off and forgot to remove the processor. The processor fried in under 2 seconds. It was my dumb mistake so instead of returning the processor, I bought a new one.

    After this recent news, maybe it wasn't my fault. Who's responsible? Am I for making such a dumb mistake or AMD for not providing good thermal protection?
  • Am in the process of building an AMD 1.4 (spaceheater) box and will use a Swiftech 462 heatsink that bolts to the mobo. Which should pretty well eliminate the possibility of it falling off!

    In light of the THG article, I may even replace the cpu fan frequently.

    And then I will cease to worry about it

    AMD works for me, and the price is right.
  • Just as it should be (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gotan ( 60103 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @03:51PM (#2498905) Homepage
    I read the first article and was quite impressed by the P4's performance of just going on at a slower clockrate. I also found it quite informative, that an Athlon might not only fry itself, but also the motherboard or even start a fire. The point is quite valid, that the heatsink might fall off during transport (although i suppose one would hear the loose heatsink rattling in the case) and will take a little more care with present CPU/Mobo combinations.

    Let's not forget, that the throttling technique got some critique when it became known, mainly because the user wouldn't know about it, and it seemed a cheap way for intel to resolve heat problems with the P4. Toms article showed, that the throttling is quite a good feature to have (it would be even better, if there was a way of notifying the user without counting clockticks). So the first thing i thought after reading Toms first article was: "will AMD something similar, and when?". Now the followup shows, that AMD is aware of the problem, and is willing to spend some effort to offer solutions.

    While the Motherboard-solution is more like a quick hack useful enough for present boards and AMD-CPUs, i expect something built into the CPU next time (at least a sudden shutdown should be possible, altering clockspeed at runtime might be a different story, and probably takes some haggling about patented technology with intel).

    In conclusion i think things are as they should be: the test has made AMD aware of the fact, that protecting the CPU from overheating is a feature customers want, and they set to work on it and offered a quick solution after a few weeks. Noone tried to ban the story from toms site and people actually got together and talked about the problem without shifting responsibility around.

    I still think the Athlon has the better bang for the buck, but i won't mind shelling out a little more money for a mobo with overheat protection.

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