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Intel, now Dell acknowledge Coppermine bug

Erratum to be fixed in next stepping, tightening procedures

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Updated Chip giant Intel has confirmed that it found a bug (erratum) in its .18 micron Coppermine processor which has caused it to tighten up its quality control procedures. And now Dell US has confirmed that it has put a temporary stop on shipping its GX110 PC range because of the problem. Some Coppermine processors intermittently seize up between power-up and power-down cycles. The problem applies only to some Coppermine processors. The rumours, which we have now confirmed, were posted on JC's pages, yesterday. An Intel representative confirmed there is a problem with Coppermine processors and said the bug will be fixed in the next stepping (Intel calls chip bugs errata.) In the meantime, it is tightening up its quality control checks. He said: "An intermittent issue which resulted in failure to start the boot process was reported in lab environments on a very small number of "Coppermine" (0.18-micron) Pentium® III processor-based systems. The issue does not result in any data corruption." Intel, he says, has discovered the root cause of the problem and has tightened its testing procedures to minimise problems. That probably means a further quality control test at fabrication time. He added: "This issue is considered as errata and will be eliminated in a future stepping. The Coppermine ramp is healthy. OEMs have been shipping 0.18-micron Pentium® III processor based systems in all frequencies." The representative from Dell US said that it had initiated the stop ship notice just before the Thanksgiving holiday last week. The actual stop ship too effect at the beginning of this week. "This is a dual due diligence move," she said. "We're implementing a screen for the erratum. To date, we haven't experienced any problems and we're just implementing it as an extra precaution." She said that the Optiplex GX110 was sold to corporate and institutional customers, who expected quality machines that worked every time, which is why Dell had taken the precaution. The Dell move must mean that other PC manufacturers are either already taking steps to screen chips and products, or are about to. The GX110 does not ship with Rambus memory, the representative said. Dell is still testing and qualifying this type of memory for use with its flagship corporate product. The errata list on Coppermines is already rather long for a new family of processors. You can download the latest list from Intel's site as a PDF document to check it out for yourself. The latest erratumnotbug does not yet seem to have found its way onto the list. The news could not have come at a worse time for Intel, already beleagured by other problems and stiff competition from AMD. It could also go some way towards explaining why Coppermine chips have been as scarce as hen's teeth. ® See also Intel moves to re-assure industry on bugs Why Intel Coppermines are like hen's teeth

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