AOH :: PENTIUM.TXT|
About the Pentium bug and how to detect it.
Intel PENTIUM flaw has computer world abuzz
The recent revelation, and subsequent admission by
Intel, that the Pentium chip has a serious flaw relating to
floating point math calculations has the statistical and
simulation sector worried. Intel said the error occurs
approximately once in every nine (9) billion divides.
However, a few thousand number pairs already have shown
to cause errors.
THE PROBLEM: A rounding error occurs in some floating-point divide
operations, affecting numbers in the 4th thru 19th
positions after the decimal point.
PROCEDURE: Perform this operation:
The result should be zero; a flawed Pentium processor
will return a NON-ZERO answer.
CHIPS: All Pentium chips currently on the market. Intel plans
to ship reworked Pentium chips within the next month to
users with "verifiable" problems.
CONCERN: Users heavily involved in financial applications,
mathematically-intensive simulation or statistical
analysis are deemed at risk. Any computer operations
that perform millions of high-precision divide operations
daily are the prime areas of concern.
The following are NOT considered affected by this flaw:
1) Users who primarily do spreadsheets, word processing
and conventional database applications.
2) Those users who use the Pentium for file servers.
3) Users who never use the math coprocessor.
CONTACT: Intel Corp. toll free number is 1-800-628-8686.
BUG-FIX: Compaq Computer Corp. has proposed a stopgap software
solution for the interim. They plan to distribute a
software utility that will disable the floating-point
capabilities, creating, in effect, a Pentium SX, which
is estimated to slow floating-point operations by a
factor of about ten.
BACKGROUND: It should be noted that the first 486 chips similarly
had floating-point errors (bugs); Intel eliminated the
math coprocessor, resulting in the 486SX.
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