On July 31, 2000, exactly four weeks ago from now, Intel released their latest Pentium III processor, which happened to be specified for a clock speed of 1.13 GHz, thus being the x86 processor with the highest clock speed ever released.
Business As Usual?
A few days before that I had received my very test sample from Intel and I was getting ready to have another benchmarking and writing weekend to get the article about this CPU ready for the launch day. I considered the article as being a rather boring and straight forward piece, which was merely supposed to state that Intel's new 1.13 GHz Pentium III was now the fastest x86 processor in the world, as usual backed up with the quality testing and benchmarking my readers are used to.
The New Processor Is Making Problems
It turned out pretty soon that the test sample that I had received was unable to run benchmarks reliably on any of the platforms that I had available. I tried a motherboard with Intel's i820 chipset, the Asus P3C-L, with VIA's Apollo Pro 133A chipset, the Asus P3V4X, with Intel's i840 chipset, Intel's very own OR840, and finally with Intel's good old 440BX chipset, the Asus P3B-F. The results were the same on each platform. The processor was so unstable that I had to call off the benchmarking completely.
Was The Missing Micro Code Update To Blame?
In the first instance I believed that Intel's new processor required a new micro code update, which is the little software that is loaded inside the CPU right after the system starts. This software is supposed to cover up for bugs in the processor core. I assumed that the only reason for the failure of a brand new Intel processor had to be a software issue and the only explanation was indeed the micro code.
I was pretty upset about this situation, because I blamed Intel for the failure in supplying me with their latest micro code update. I hadn't received the motherboard Intel was supplying with the processor sample and I assumed that the micro code update was at least available on this very motherboard. Facing the fact that I was unable to supply my readers with actual benchmark data, I sat down and wrote the first article about Intel's Pentium III 1.13 GHz and its instability. I had contacted Intel about my negative findings and I told them I would report on this issue, but the original response was "if you really feel you have to write about it, then we can't keep you ". I was delighted about how serious Intel was taking this issue.
Kyle Bennett Informs Me About Seeing The Same Problems
After I had posted my article I soon received an email from Kyle Bennett of [H]ard|OCP , stating that he had seen the very same kind of problems with his test sample as well, although he had actually received the special Intel motherboard that was supposed to be supplied with the Pentium III 1.13 GHz processor. He had seen the failures on this board also.
|"Horrible Instability Without The Latest Micro Code Update"
In fact, we found the CPU to not be close to 100% stable on the i820 board supplied even with their own Rambus.
A Faulty Part - One Or Many?
I immediately concluded that it was not a micro code issue. Some of Intel's new processors had to be faulty. After convincing Kyle that he should please go out in the open with his findings he finally agreed to send me an email stating his negative experiences with the Pentium III 1.13 GHz, which he allowed me to post. I went straight ahead and wrote a second piece about this new CPU , this time accusing Intel of supplying faulty Pentium III 1.13 GHz processors.