Intel says it's working with original equipment makers to determine which processors are affected.

Larry Greenemeier, Contributor

March 4, 2003

1 Min Read

Nearly one year after it began shipping its first Itanium 2 processors, Intel says it has learned of a flaw in the processor that could require a BIOS update or the need to swap current McKinley processors for the newest version of Itanium 2, known as Madison. Intel says it can't say how many processors will be affected.

One of Intel's original equipment manufacturers--Intel wouldn't say which--discovered during a stress test that certain operations performed in a certain sequence using certain data can cause Itanium 2 systems to act unpredictably and possibly shut down. Intel has developed a test for identifying the problem and is working with original equipment manufacturer partners to determine which processors are affected, a company spokeswoman says.

Intel said the partners could remedy the problem by decreasing the processor's frequency from 1 GHz or 900 MHz to 800 MHz using a BIOS update. Another option is to replace the problem processor, either with another McKinley or a new Madison, due out this summer. Intel's partners and their customers will determine the course of action, the spokeswoman says.

Several factors keep this from being a major problem for Intel. "It's been almost a year and this is only coming to light now," Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice says. "If McKinley had only been out for a month, it would be a much nastier problem."

Eunice says most users will have to test their servers to find out if they are susceptible to the problem. This means that Intel is going to its customers, rather than being inundated with complaints. "Still," he says, "it's embarrassing when you have to announce a processor glitch in your flagship product."

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