Friday, September 22, 2006

Faded Glory

I've been asked for details about unfairness in reviews. This would tend to show both Toms Hardware Guide and Anandtech in an unfavorable light. And, this is unfortunate because there was a time when both of these websites had integrity and honesty and weren't afraid to say what was true. I'd like to look back at what was probably their finest hour.

When AMD launced its K7 processor, Intel had genuine competition for the first time. During 1999 both AMD and Intel pushed the chips to be faster than their competition. This reached a breaking point when AMD announced a 1.1 Ghz K7 and Intel followed with the announcement of a 1.13 Ghz PIII. What followed was both impressive and commendable.

July, 2000. Anand Lal Shimpi at Anandtech had received a 1.13Ghz sample PIII that appeared to work fine but Thomas Pabst at Tom's Hardware Guide had not received the special motherboard with microcode patches and found that the processor wouldn't run on any other board. However, Tom found that the chip would run at 850 Mhz.

Intel's Next Paper Release: The Pentium III at 1133 MHz

As it turns out the new Pentium III at 1133 MHz is utterly unable to run reliably at this speed without a brand new micro code update, while it performs fine if you 'underclock' it to e.g. 850 MHz. So if anyone wants to make you believe that Intel was easily able to bring the 'Coppermine' to 1.133 GHz then this guy is either incompetent or a liar.

Tom was surprised to see that Anand's chip ran just fine. Tom tried updating the BIOS's but still had problems. Intel did tell him that Kyle Bennet at HardOCP also had problems but suggested that their two faulty chips were a fluke.

Revisiting Intel's New Pentium III at 1.13 GHz

Intel said that they didn't have another chip to send to Tom. So, Anand sent his own sample chip to Tom. Tom tested the chip and then sent both his and Anand's to Kyle where an Intel engineer was going to observe. Tom sent along a harddrive with Linux to run a compiler test that he had found made even Anand's more stable chip crash.

Latest Update On Intel's 1.13 GHz Pentium III

Intel admitted that there were problems with the chips and pulled all of them that had been sent out. They had to delay release for another quarter until the problems were fixed.

Intel Admits Problems With Pentium III 1.13 GHz: Production and Shipments Halted

Tom received a lot of criticism when he was the only one who had a bad review. Intel brushed aside the problems and even retaliated by not giving Tom information about the next P4 release. It would have been easy for Tom to just give in and move on. But, Tom had backbone and persisted. He kept going and looking for the answers. He organized cooperation among three different review sites and got the problems documented. He really went out of his way to find out the truth.

Anand said, " The latest shock came in the complete recall of the 1.13GHz Pentium III processors which was almost single handedly inspired by Dr. Thomas Pabst of Tom’s Hardware. "

Tom deserves praise for his actions along with Kyle and Anand. This was a time when review sites showed what real review sites do. This was when truth was more important than anything else. This was what once was.


Anonymous said...

I'd rather say it was somebody not wanting to look bad.

Anonymous said...

what in the hell happend to thg. it has a gestopo over there

Darth Solarion said...

Hi, Thanks for the most interesting article. It seems that things have since degraded then though.

It appears too that many have selective memory over the incident.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

It appears too that many have selective memory over the incident.

What do you mean?

Darth Solarion said...

No one mentions that incident anymore. It faded into the dusts of history, even as the Intel fanboys gloat about this and that.

Scientia from AMDZone said...

I assume you are talking about Intel's delivering a defective product. That really isn't the point. AMD also had problems with the transition to 130nm and then later had problems with SOI. Remember that on the original unofficial roadmaps K8 was scheduled for the 1st half of 2002. Then a month later this got moved to the 2nd half of 2002. K8 was actually released about a quarter late in 2nd quarter 2003. The important thing is just being honest and telling about the benefits and flaws of each company as they are.

Anonymous said...

"ODMs have already received samples of AMD's Revision (Rev) H"