Math Bug Confirmed in Pentium Chips — Earlier this month, reports of a floating point division bug in Intel’s Pentium chip began to surface on CompuServe and in Usenet newsgroups such as <comp.sys.intel>. Mathematics professor Thomas Nicely of Lynchburg College in Virginia is generally credited with the first public announcement of the bug, which Intel claims to have discovered as early as June.
The bug – involving double-precision floating point divide operations – occurs once in every 9 or 10 billion divides and seems unlikely to affect the average user. However engineers, analysts, and others who bought Pentium systems as a substitute for high-priced workstations have expressed genuine concern.
Intel claims to have corrected the problem in currently shipping Pentium chips, but there are no part-number changes or other markings on the corrected chip. According to the 21-Nov-94 issue of Electronic Engineering Times, Intel indicates they will replace the part if customers are concerned. However, Intel is apparently not planning to upgrade existing Pentiums or inform their customers. In the meantime, programs are circulating which determine if the bug is present on a given machine. [GD]
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