Unit 5 Analysis 1: Pentium Flaw
Determine the nature of the Pentium flaw, how it was discovered, when it was
discovered, and Intel’s response to the flaw.
In June 1994, Intel discovered the floating-point unit flaw in the Pentium
microprocessor. On October 24th, 1994 he reported the flaw he encountered to Intel.
According to Professor Thomas Nicely, the person that he contacted at Intel later
admitted to Intel being aware of the flaw since May 1994. The flaw was discovered by
Intel during the testing of the FPU for its new P6 core.
Did Intel handle the problem correctly?
I would say no they did not handle the problem correctly at first. On November 7,
1994 the story first broke in an article published in Electronic Engineering Times, "In the
story, Intel says it has corrected the glitch in subsequent runs of the chip, and Steve
Smith of Intel dismisses the importance of the flaw, saying, "This doesn't even qualify as
an errata (sic)."
What did Intel do to satisfy customers concerned about the flaw?
In response to the public's mounting pressure, on December 20, 1994, Intel
announces plans for a total recall, replacement, and destruction of all the flawed
Pentium microprocessors. On January 17, 1995, Intel announces a pre-tax charge of
475 million dollars against their earnings, the total cost associated with replacement of
What would happen if the same type of flaw were found in a new CPU today?
I believe if this happened in today’s economy that they would go under. They
would have to file bankruptcy. The government would probably bail them out because
Intel is such a large corporation and so much of today’s technology comes from Intel.
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