Pentium Flaw Essay

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Rodolfo Llorella Jr. NT1110: Computer Structure and Logic Unit 5 Analysis 1 Pentium Flaw In 1994, Intel release it’s Pentium microprocessor with a new component called Floating-Point Unit (FPU). These Pentium chips containing the FPU made doing intense numerical calculations faster. During the fall of 1994, it was discovered that there was a flaw with the FPU instructions of division of large calculations. This flaw caused the Pentium’s FPU to divide numbers incorrectly. Only certain type of numbers showed the error, while most users would never encounter the flaw. On June 13, 1994, Dr. Thomas Nicely discovered that some of his calculations done on a computer with the new Pentium chip came back incorrect. He only discovered this because of earlier calculations done on other computers resulted in different amounts. He was only able to deduce that it was something wrong with the new Pentium chip by eliminating all other factors, such as the motherboard chipset or programming errors. On October 24,1994, Dr. Nicely notified Intel about his findings. When he didn’t get an immediate response from Intel, he posted a notice on message boards, asking if others have encountered the same errors. This caused a media sources to interview him on his findings, which caused Intel to acknowledge there was a problem with the FPU. Intel didn’t publicly acknowledge there was a problem with the FPU until November 28, 1994. When Intel did acknowledge the flaw, they offered to replace Pentium chip for customer that experience the error. Intel stated that chances of the flaw effecting customers would be extremely rare, “once in 27,000 years.” Due to customer complaints about not being able to recreate the error and not able to get a replacement, Intel started to do full replacement on January 17, 1995. Intel handled the Pentium flaw incident initially wrong, but later corrected

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