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Old December 7, 2007, 10:07 AM
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Default AMD Phenom, Barcelona Chips Hit By Lock-up Bug

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December 5, 2007
AMD Phenom, Barcelona Chips Hit By Lock-up Bug
By Mark Hachman

AMD has confirmed a bug that can cause its new Phenom and existing Barcelona processors to lock up. Specifically, AMD has found a bug in the translation-lookaside buffer, which can impact some of AMD's quad-core chips. AMD will rework both chips and provide a new stepping, sources said, but in the meantime motherboard manufacturers are being asked to distribute a BIOS patch that, unfortunately, reportedly cuts performance by about 10 percent.
10% wow that sucks

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"You may remember that during our Q3 earnings call, AMD acknowledged that our initial ramp of Barcelona had been slower than anticipated," AMD spokesman Phil Hughes said in an emailed statement. "However we did say during that call that we would ship 'hundreds of thousands of quad-core processors' into the server and desktop segments during Q4. AMD is tracking to this guidance. Quad Core AMD Opteron processor is the most advanced x86 processor ever introduced to the market and as such there are design and process tuning steps that will take longer than expected.
"There has been some talk about an erratum relative to our TLB cache in Barcelona as well as Phenom processors resulting in delays," Hughes added. "AMD notified customers of this erratum and released a BIOS fix prior to the Nov. 19th launch that resolves it. We are experiencing strong AMD Phenom demand and are shipping parts to channel, system builders and OEM customers."
Both of AMD's existing Phenom parts – the Phenom 9600 and 9500 – run at 2.3 GHz and 2.2 GHz, respectively. AMD's Phenom 9900, which runs at 2.6 GHz, is due in March 2008. AMD's Hughes said that the BIOS fix was distributed to motherboard makers as part of the Phenom launch. In response to a question whether the bug would be experienced by an overclocked Phneom 9600, Hughes responded that the "frequency and the TLB erratum were not tied together".

Officially, the effect of the BIOS fix on performance "varies based on workload," Hughes said.
While the news overshadows the launch of the company's consumer-oriented Phenom processor, the real impact will be felt in the server space, where any sort of a hard lock can crash mission-critical systems.
"Obviously significant errata do have an effect on sales, but because it occurred so early on in the launch of the product, they should be able to issue a fix relatively quickly, and it shouldn't have a significant impact on Phenom," said Dean McCarron, an analyst at Mercury Research.
"I think its impact will be seen a little bit more on the Opteron server side," McCarron added.
So far, the Phenom is primarily being sold through distribution channels directly to consumers. And the timing of the launch for PC makers will mist the holiday season. AMD doesn't list any PC OEMs as existing partners for the microprocessor, and OEMs contacted by ExtremeTech said that they didn't have any PC models prepped for launch until January or later. "We don't anticipate this being a problem," said a spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard's consumer desktop division.
The question for AMD is how this will be perceived by the enthusiast community, characterized by Dell evangelist Jim Clardy as "the most critical audience out there, knowledgeable and enthusiastic."
AMD could also suffer a backlash from the same community that helped drive the Athlon: server makers. That's because the Athlon and its derivatives originally appeared as the Opteron chip for servers. Although it isn't known what effect those server teams had on pushing the Athlon into desktop PCs, those same teams may now end up disparaging the Athlon X2's successor.
"Respective to Quad-Core AMD Opteron, we are only shipping processors earmarked for specific end-user installations where customers have had the opportunity to validate the stability and robustness of the solution where it leverages the BIOS fix or some other potential software workarounds," Hughes said. "Quad Core AMD Opteron processors shipping for general availability in the Q108 timeframe will not have this erratum."
The Phenom is the keystone of the company's "Spider" platform, which disclosed on Nov. 19 and consists of the Phenom, AMD's 790 chipset, and the ATI Radeon HD 3850 card. Simon Solotko, desktop brand manager for AMD, described the Spider platform as a "massive launch" for AMD.
Editor's Note: A previous story tied the bug to Phenom and Barcelona chips running at speeds of the 2.4-GHz and above. AMD denies that the bug and the chip speed are related.
Man I really hope that AMD gets going so it can be allot more competitive with Intel like a few years ago allot more people seemed to be buying AMDs instead of Intel. of course this in My own opinion.
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Old December 7, 2007, 10:34 AM
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This one is getting ugly. Rumor has it that AMD knew of this errata and kept it hush until all the reviews were in and now that they are shipping they put the fix out that does drop performance by 10%.

Maybe it is just the fact that we actively follow industry news, but I think this is the dirtiest most unethical business ever, the whole computer industry, software, hardware, game development, you name it. There seems to be no end to what they will do to scratch what they can from our hard earned dollars.

Shame to, the x2 4200+ is the best low-mid range chip out for the money, go with that.
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Old December 7, 2007, 10:44 AM
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It's actually more than 10% on average. 57% drop in FireFox.

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Originally Posted by TechReport
Across every test we ran, the difference between the Phenom 9600 with and without the TLB patch averages out to 19.8%. However, if we rule out the synthetic memory tests and consider only the application tests, that difference drops to 13.9%.
TechReport
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Old December 7, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by 1Tanker View Post
It's actually more than 10% on average. 57% drop in FireFox.
In other words the shiny new 2.2ghz Phenom 9500 will act worse than a 4400 X2. That is just stupefying. Though I am glad I held off bringing in a new mobo and phenom for Christmas. I try hard not to get bitten by "version 1 syndrome" but boy that was a close call.

May you R.I.P. AMD Phenom. Intel Quads here I come...errr just as soon as they release the 9450 that is.
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Old December 7, 2007, 11:28 AM
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I've got 4 months on my Q6600@3780mhz, never had a crash. I boot xp, vista 32 and 64 and ubuntu 7.10. Great chip.
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Old December 7, 2007, 11:39 AM
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This is MUCH ado about nothing. I will put it plainly: this is the Tech Report getting their rocks off on AMD and it disgusts me to no end.

First of all this TLB errata shows up VERY rarely in the chips and will not even affect 99% of the programs out there. If you are experiencing problems with system hangs and whatnot, THEN you shoudl download the fix. I know 5 people running Phenoms WITHOUT having any system problems. So, like I said, this is utterly and completely blown out of proportion. Period.

Need I remond everyone that at last count, Intel had an Errata list with 162 entries for their Conroe chips. But, lo and behold it was taken down about a week ago...just when AMD's ONE problem hit the headlines. The only listing left about it is from the good ol' Inq: Errata list shows for Core 2 Duo - The INQUIRER

I am still trying to see if I can find the list again but like I said before: try to ignore this nonsense.
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Old December 7, 2007, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AkG View Post
In other words the shiny new 2.2ghz Phenom 9500 will act worse than a 4400 X2. That is just stupefying. Though I am glad I held off bringing in a new mobo and phenom for Christmas. I try hard not to get bitten by "version 1 syndrome" but boy that was a close call.

May you R.I.P. AMD Phenom. Intel Quads here I come...errr just as soon as they release the 9450 that is.
Just so Intel isn't left out of the festivities.. there's word of a possible bug in the Penryn Quads.

BeHardware

The good thing with Intel, is that they can fix their erratum with a microcode update(right in the chip), without having to issue a performance degrading BIOS fix. I'm sure this will get a little noisier though as well.
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Old December 7, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKYMTL View Post
This is MUCH ado about nothing. I will put it plainly: this is the Tech Report getting their rocks off on AMD and it disgusts me to no end.

First of all this TLB errata shows up VERY rarely in the chips and will not even affect 99% of the programs out there. If you are experiencing problems with system hangs and whatnot, THEN you shoudl download the fix. I know 5 people running Phenoms WITHOUT having any system problems. So, like I said, this is utterly and completely blown out of proportion. Period.

Need I remond everyone that at last count, Intel had an Errata list with 162 entries for their Conroe chips. But, lo and behold it was taken down about a week ago...just when AMD's ONE problem hit the headlines. The only listing left about it is from the good ol' Inq: Errata list shows for Core 2 Duo - The INQUIRER

I am still trying to see if I can find the list again but like I said before: try to ignore this nonsense.
Found part of the list: http://www.geek.com/images/geeknews/...1_21__full.gif

And if this one is still around, straight from Intel: Intel® Core™ Duo Processor and Intel® Core™ Solo Processor on 65 nm Process Specification Update. Use link from Web Server.
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Old December 7, 2007, 12:18 PM
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Lol figures its just a rare occurrence I guess that competition will use anything to keep ahead or get ahead
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Old December 7, 2007, 12:34 PM
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I hope AMD can start rolling out those 2.4ghz+ phenoms soon. For a nonoverclocker the current phenom though is a nice chip with a lot of potential in the newer MB.

Over the next year with their GPUs tailored to this chip I hope we see some good competition perfomance-wise in games at least.

Those 45nm quads look impressive though---but whether or not they perform as well as the Phenom with next years AMD GPUS will be interesting to see.

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