A slip of speed

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

IN AN embarrassing confession, the US- based Intel Corp, one of the world's giants in microprocessor technology, has admitted that a snag in the software used to measure the speed of Pentium microchips, caused it to exaggerate the chips' processing speed by an estimated 10 per cent.

The error was discovered by its us competitor, Motorola Inc in the first week of January. The claims of speed of the chips was made on models of Pentiums of at least 100 megahertz since last September and on Pentium Pro chips since last November. Reportedly, the error was caused by a bug in the software written by Intel to achieve maximum test speeds in a test called SPEcint92.

Says Linley Gwennap, editor of Microprocessor Report, a newsletter published from California, that the Intel episode will hopefully lead to third- party testing of microprocessor and to checking of the standards used to predict the chip's speeds. "Because there is so much at stake for these companies, there is a natural temptation if not to cheat, then to push the rules as far as possible regardless of whether an average person would see that level of performance," he observes.

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