1.13 GHz by Intel

You might remember a rash of PIII 1.13GHz Reviews posted when the NDA was lifted a couple of weeks back. We had a 1.13GHz part to show to you guys, but we held back a review. We usually reserve "postage" for things we have done instead of things that we did not do. This time we want to explain what did happen and why. Strangely enough, it includes Tom and Anand...

UPDATE: August 28, 2000; 12:44PM

I just got off the phone with Intel and we posed the question this morning whether or not they have found any problems with the 1.13GHz PIIIs. George Alfs of Intel has this to say. Intel has tested all weekend and has been able to reproduce the Sysmark2000 and Linux Kernel Compilation failures. George stated Intel has "found marginalities" in the 1.13GHz PIII part and will be working with their OEMs to either "refund or replace" what 1.13GHz PIII CPUs that have made it to the end user.

Kyle Bennett

Intel and HardOCP have recently struck up a relationship that somehow involves folks other than lawyers for a change. They were kind enough to send us their new Pentium III 1.13GHz CPU to test. Along with that, they sent an Intel VC820 (i820 chipset) mainboard and some RAMBUS. Basically, they sent a computer in a box except for the hard drive. They asked us to test their 1.13GHz part on the i820 platform. Seemed like a no-brainer to me (perfect for us). Well it did not turn out that way.

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First thing we did was put the test system together and fire up some Win98SE action. Got that stable, along with all the needed drivers for chipset, video card, and network card, then proceeded to bring all the test files over to the fresh drive. Found Prime95 first and started the "torture test". It crashed. It crashed multiple times. I decided that I must have had a bad mainboard. I had NEVER seen a bad Intel CPU.

Brought the 1.13 part over to an ABIT BE6-II BX chipset board with the same amount of success. Frequent crashes to the point that the system was really not operable. I spent two more days jacking around with that CPU and finally decided one of two things. One, there is something wrong with my CPU, or two, there is something wrong with our testing. Being a weekend, Intel is out of contact and the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) lifts first thing Monday morning. That means all the "other guys" will have their reviews posted while I am still trying to figure out what the hell is going on. So be it. Won't be the last time we get beat out of the gate.

I spoke to Intel Monday morning and they really don't say much besides, "Send it back for evaluation." That is what I expected. Let's face it, some yahoo in Dallas that has an OC website says his stuff is hosed. Go figure! :) Seriously, we went through a series of questions and while they were not showing fear, they certainly wanted to know what the hell was going on.

After that, I had a reader send me a mail that said Tom of Tom's Hardware Guide is off criticizing Intel's 1.13GHz CPU. Now at this point I have looked at Anand's 1.13 Review and another, but I forget who's. (I think Gamers Depot) Both Anand and GD, seem to have had no troubles with any platform they tried the CPU on. Tom's i820 board did NOT show up in time for testing, so he used a BX chipset board and experienced loads of problems. What I saw was that Tom was basically having the same troubles as we were having. Also, he was the only one to be saying this publicly. I dropped him a mail and told him that we had some problems too. We also sent a mail for him to post in order to shore up his argument that Intel had a faulty CPU on their hands or at least the one WE HAD was acting oddly.

Here is that mail we sent to Tom and the page it is posted on THG is HERE.

We had no severe problems with the Intel 1.13GHz and VC820 (supplied by Intel with 128megs of RAMBUS) but it would NOT run Prime95 even for one minute. I do not know if you use this program, but it has been an old standby for us when it comes to testing 100% stability. We could also run low resolution benchmarks inside of Quake3 but at higher resolutions where more bandwidth is utilized, we ran into problems with the program crashing.

As per my experience it was NOT due to a Video Card problem, but rather pointed to the CPU. Overall, we were not happy with the results on the i820 mainboard and moved to another platform.

As for the BX boards we tried, an ABIT BF6 and ABIT BE6-II, we could not even get Win98SE to load at the default 1133MHz clock. Mind you, all of this was being done with components proven to run flawlessly at the 133MHz bus specification. We did get the OS to load effortlessly at 850MHz (8.5x100MHz FSB). Once stable, we raised the FSB to the 133MHz rating of the Intel CPU and was met with a flurry of BSODs.

Heat was our first thought as to an easy culprit to fix, but the HUGE Intel Stock HSF was doing a very goof job at dissipating the heat put off by the CPU. We recorded temps under the 95 degrees F mark while under load. This seemed totally acceptable to me. Tweaking SDRam settings to minimal performance to alleviate stresses from the board in other areas proved to do nothing for the problem. The fact of the matter is that we could not get the 1.13GHz Intel PIII to run stable no matter what we tried.

We made the assumption that we had a "bad CPU" or we were making mistakes somewhere in our testing. The CPU we had was marked as a 1.13GHz PRODUCTION CPU, not an engineering sample. We made a decision NOT to publish our findings as we were unsure as to whether or not our data was correct. This is a consideration we offer EVERY manufacturer. We committed to Intel to not report our findings on the Hard|OCP until we have concluded the problems we were having were "REAL" and not simply a fluke or due to improper testing on our part. As it stands now, the part is to be sent back to Intel and they committed to report back to us on the above mentioned problems.

Of course the findings that you posted yesterday prompted me to write this mail. While we have certainly not agreed with you in the past on certain issues, I did not want to see you getting "hung out to dry" on something I think you are correct reporting on.

To sum it up, I don't think you are off base on your report about the problems with the 1.13GHz Intel PIII.


Kyle Bennett

WebMonger @ Hard|OCP

Purveyor of Smoothness @ Ratpadz

Hosting Ho @ Gamers|Hardware

Now this is where the really neat part of the story starts to happen, because while this is an article about the 1.13GHz Intel CPU, it is also about some of the hardware community coming together for the greater good of all involved. Yes, that means you.

Tom Pabst and I got on the phone and discussed what exactly had happened and he was happy that we wanted to support him on this. Now things between THG and HOCP have not always been good, but, we still could not just leave him "out there by himself" when we could back him up. I know what it is like to catch some heat when you happen to be the only guy making waves out of the hundreds out there. That is why we wrote him the mail.

Now at that point we sent our CPU back to Intel for testing. Tom made sure he was keeping his so we in some way had PROOF that what we were saying was not totally bogus. Intel got MY cpu and could find nothing wrong with it.

We heard that certain sites in the community were bashing Tom for his unpopular opinion and decided to do something about it instead of bitch. We decided to ask everyone to "put their money where their mouth is," so to speak.

While Intel was working with my original CPU I got in contact with Anand of AnandTech fame, and asked him to do me a favor. I asked if he would send us his 1.13 GHz CPU. He quickly agreed to do this and sent the part out almost immediately. We also got with Tom and he agreed to send his CPU. He was not quite as quick as Anand, but with good reason. Tom finally got his VC820 mainboard from Intel. This is the only platform that Intel suggests will support the 1.13GHz part at this time. His experience can be found at this link. Tom's testing with the VC820 board went a little better, but Tom ventured into using Linux to test instead of simply Windows98SE as I was doing. Tom discovered some VERY INTERESTING stuff here.

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Just a little summation here. Anand is sending his CPU to use to test, and Tom is sending his CPU to test. Tom also was kind enough to send a hard drive set up with Linux so we could test the CPUs under his Linux Kernel Compilation test. Which I am told by Tom, is very easy to set up for anyone familiar with the "ins and outs" of Linux. The particular flavor and version that was supplied by Tom was SuSE Linux v6.4 with Kernel v2.2.14. My explanation of that may be incorrect, but you Linux junkies will for sure get the gist of it.