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4/28/2006
07:16 PM
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AMD Reports Potential Heat Problem With Some Opteron Chips

AMD says only a very small number of chips are affected. It will make available diagnostic tools for identifying susceptible chips, which it will replace at no charge.

Advance Micro Devices Inc. on Friday said that it has discovered a potential heat problem with a small percentage of Opteron chips run under extreme conditions, and said as many as 3,000 processors at customer sites could be affected.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chipmaker said it was making available diagnostic tools for identifying susceptible chips, which the company would replace at no charge. The potential problem affected single-core Opteron x52 and x54 processors manufactured in late 2005 and early 2006.

AMD and a computer manufacturer discovered the potential problem during testing of the chips at the request of a company that was considering the use of the processors in a server cluster under extreme conditions, John Taylor, director of product communications for AMD in Austin, Texas, said.

The test conditions involved running floating-point intensive code sequences, a highly computational task usually performed in research labs, under higher-than-normal ambient temperatures, Taylor said. Because of the intensity of the computations, the chips tested also ran at higher temperatures than normal.

The test showed that under those conditions, less than 1 percent of Opteron x52 and x54 product lines could fail to perform the computations correctly, Taylor said, adding, "This has not been observed in a product or real world environment."

Because of the tests, AMD has changed the screening process for rating the two product lines as the chips come off the production line, Taylor said. As a result, some chips that would have been rated with clock speeds of 2.8 MHz in the past would be listed at 2.6 MHz, making them less likely to be used in extreme computing environments.

AMD did not expect the incident to have a material affect on it financial performance, Taylor said.

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