Intel rocked the computer
industry with the announcement of a flaw in their most popular computer
chip, the Pentium Processor in late 1994. Soon after, on December 12,
IBM, the world s largest computer
maker, decided to halt all shipments of computers that contain the
flawed Pentium chip.
Intel s position has been that on an average MSDOS, Windows, or OS/2
based computer the flaw would manifest itself once in 27,000 years. They
added, however, for computers that are running programs heavy in
mathematics the flaw would indeed be noticeable and the chips in those
computers would be replaced by Intel.
On the other hand, IBM is maintaining that the probability of an
average user to encounter an error is once in every 24 days. IBM
continues to defend their decision by saying that there are millions
of Pentium users worldwide. So a large number of users are
encountering errors in their operations every day.
On November 30, Intel released a scientific document that explained
the flaw in the chip. The Pentium achieves its high speed by using new
technology in many areas of the chip. One of those area is the
floating point processor. It is this processor that is faulted.
When a certain combination of digits are divided by each other then
the resulting answer comes up flawed. The error would occur in the
fifth or higher significant digit that is being processed. The result
could be unnoticeable or catastrophic, depending on the program being
Maybe nothing. In fact, many applications do not use floating point
algorithms at all. The chance on your program being effected depends
directly on the dependance the program has on mathematics. For
example, database and file servers probably will never encounter this
error. Spreadsheets and other low intensive math programs may encounter
the error, but not very often (Depending on whether you believe Intel
or IBM). You will have a significant chance of encountering the error
if you are running math intensive software such as fractal programs,
scientific programs, etc.
Intel has set up a hotline to answer questions and negotiate a
replacement procedure if one is needed. After intense public pressure
Intel has agreed to replace all Pentium chips free of charge. All you
have to do is supply them with the defective chip. If you feel you may
have a problem or if you just want more answers call toll free 1-800-628-8686.
If you have a UNT PC with a Pentium chip in it, you will be
contacted by the Microcomputer Maintenance Shop so that they can
replace the chip.
You can access official press releases and technical information
about the problem from Intel s World Wide Web server at URL: http://www.intel.com/ Also, IBM s response can be accessed from
their World Wide Web server at URL: http://www.ibm.com/
IBM just started shipping PCs with the Pentium chip in them again.
Customers will have them replaced later, according to the company.
If you have problems or questions about this server, please contact me as soon as possible. You can send mail to the following address:WWW@unt.edu