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Intel Corporation Message Board

  • mcjr0699 mcjr0699 Sep 29, 1999 4:37 PM Flag

    Xeon III problem?What do you think?

    San Francisco--Sep 29--Confirming its second
    glitch this week, Intel Corp.
    told Bridge News today
    that it has asked computer makers to stop
    shipping
    Pentium III Xeon-based servers in some configurations.
    Intel officials say a
    flaw occurs when certain
    versions of Intel's highest-end chip are used
    in
    8-processor servers using Intel's motherboards and chips.

    * * *
    Intel said the problem affects only Xeons
    with 512 kilobytes or 1 megabyte
    of level 2 cache,
    not the most robust chip, which comes with 2
    megabytes of
    cache.
    The bug, which can cause servers
    to restart during operation, also appears
    to
    occur only when the Xeon chips are used with Intel's
    Saber motherboard and
    Profusion chip set. However,
    Intel has asked computer makers to do
    further
    testing on their systems as well.
    IBM and Dell said
    they would ship systems only with the 2MB-cached
    Xeon
    until the problem is resolved.
    Intel spokesman
    Chuck Mulloy said the chip giant is working on a
    solution
    and hopes to have one within a few weeks.
    In the
    meantime, Intel is continuing to ship the Xeon, even in the
    troubled
    512KB and 1MB configurations, because the problem has
    not cropped up with
    systems based on non-Intel
    motherboards.
    News of the Xeon problem follows word Monday that
    Intel was delaying
    indefinitely the launch of its
    820 chip set, the first chip set to support a
    new
    memory technology licensed by Rambus Inc. A

    s
    Bridge News reported last week, a glitch can cause data
    errors on computer
    motherboards that use the 820 and
    have 3 sockets for Rambus-based memory.
    Officials
    at Intel and computer makers said that the impact to
    customers
    from the Xeon problem should be minimized by the fact
    that most that would want
    the Xeons for a server
    with 8 processors would also want the highest level
    of
    cache memory. Cache is high-speed memory set aside for
    often-used data, with
    level 1 cache referring to memory
    on the processor itself and level 2 cache
    being
    external.
    While most of the big name computer makers that
    are offering the 8-processor
    machines are using
    Intel's companion chip set and motherboard, Compaq
    Computer
    Corp. is using its own motherboard. Compaq said in a
    statement that it is not
    experiencing problems in with
    any of the Xeons.
    "Compaq designs and
    manufactures its own 8-way server motherboard, and
    after
    weeks of thorough testing, Compaq and Intel have
    confidently determined that the
    'bug' is confined to the
    Intel Saber motherboard, and there have
    been no
    problems with respect to the Compaq design."
    All told
    Pentium III Xeon shipments for computers with 8
    processors are
    probably in the tens of thousands, and
    that is with all levels of cache.
    However, the
    550 MHz Xeons are also Intel's most expensive chips.
    The P-III
    Xeon with 512KB of cache lists for $931,
    the 1MB version has a sticker price of
    $1,980. The
    unblemished 2MB version costs a hefty $3,692. All prices

    are for 1,000 unit volumes.
    A source at one
    computer maker says the problem is noise generated by
    the
    P-III Xeon in the 512KB and 1MB configurations. The
    source said that while some
    motherboards appear to be
    able to withstand the noise, others, such as
    the
    Saber, cannot.
    Intel says the problem is a signal
    issue that occurs only when the voltages
    are near
    the limits of the specification.
    Whatever the
    cause of the problem, Intel's big customers may be
    growing
    frustrated by having to deal with what they see as Intel
    problems.
    "They have problems with the 820, they have
    problems with this," said the
    source. "In the long run,
    customers are frustrated and OEMs (computer makers)
    are
    losing out." End

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