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A Faulty Production Sample Pentium III 1.13 GHz

Revisiting Intel's New Pentium III at 1.13 GHz
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Last night I had received a very interesting email from Kyle Bennett, the man behind www.HardOCP.com . Surprisingly enough Kyle had experienced instability issues with his 1.13 GHz Pentium III as well, although he had even used the mysterious VC820 motherboard from Intel that was specially designed for this processor.

Here's Kyle's statement:

We had no severe problems with the Intel 1.13 GHz and VC820 (supplied by Intel with 128megs of RAMBUS) but it would NOT run Prime95 even for one minute. I do not know if you use this program, but it has been an old standby for us when it comes to testing 100% stability. We could also run low resolution benchmarks inside of Quake3 but at higher resolutions where more bandwidth is utilized, we ran into problems with the program crashing.

As per my experience it was NOT due to a Video Card problem, but rather pointed to the CPU. Overall, we were not happy with the results on the i820 motherboard and moved to another platform.

As for the BX boards we tried, an ABIT BF6 and ABIT BE6-II, we could not even get Win98SE to load at the default 1133 MHz clock. Mind you, all of this was being done with components proven to run flawlessly at the 133 MHz bus specification. We did get the OS to load effortlessly at 850 MHz (8.5x100 MHz FSB). Once stable, we raised the FSB to the 133 MHz rating of the Intel CPU and was met with a flurry of BSODs.

Heat was our first thought as to an easy culprit to fix, but the HUGE Intel Stock HSF was doing a very goof job at dissipating the heat put off by the CPU. We recorded temps under the 95 degrees F mark while under load. This seemed totally acceptable to me. Tweaking SDRam settings to minimal performance to alleviate stresses from the board in other areas proved to do nothing for the problem. The fact of the matter is that we could not get the 1.13 GHz Intel PIII to run stable no matter what we tried.

We made the assumption that we had a "bad CPU" or we were making mistakes somewhere in our testing. The CPU we had was marked as a 1.13 GHz PRODUCTION CPU, not an engineering sample. We made a decision NOT to publish our findings as we were unsure as to whether or not our data was correct. This is a consideration we offer EVERY manufacturer. We committed to Intel to not report our findings on the Hard|OCP until we have concluded the problems we were having were "REAL" and not simply a fluke or due to improper testing on our part. As it stands now, the part is to be sent back to Intel and they committed to report back to us on the above mentioned problems.

Of course the findings that you posted yesterday prompted me to write this mail. While we have certainly not agreed with you in the past on certain issues, I did not want to see you getting "hung out to dry" on something I think you are correct reporting on.

To sum it up, I don't think you are off base on your report about the problems with the 1.13 GHz Intel PIII.

...
Kyle Bennett
WebMonger @ Hard|OCP
Purveyor of Smoothness @ Ratpadz
Hosting Ho @ Gamers|Hardware

Kyle might send his processor back to Intel, but it seems obvious that he was having serious problems as well. The one platform that performed acceptable in Kyle's testing was the specially modified VC820 board that I still haven't even received. However, even this platform did not show the complete stability one would expect from a system with 'Intel Inside'.

It seemed obvious that I was not the only one with a bad 1.13 GHz Pentium III sample. Both processors were official production samples with the 'SL4HH' coding, not some pre-production exemplars. One bad sample may have been just about acceptable, but two faulty samples raise some serious questions. Could it be that Intel is shipping a major amount of buggy Pentium III 1.13 GHz to their OEM customers right now?

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