Monday, November 23, 2009

Microsoft recommends not to use Nahelem due to serious bug

See here.

Intel didn’t specify this bug until September when it was mentioned in its specification updates under AAK119 (Xeon 5500), AAM123 (Xeon 3500), AAO89 (Xeon 3400), AAJ121 (Core i7-900) and AAN87 (Core i7-800, Core i5). ... Microsoft now describes the disaster under error number 975 530, provides a hotfix (on e-mail request) that is not further specified and otherwise proposes the non-serious solution of disabling the power saving states C3 and C6 – which would also shut down the Nehalem’s turbo-boost feature. And it gets worse: the editorial office received a non-published raw version of the error report that even included the brusque “preferred solution” of not using the processors in question.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

AMD and Intel Settlement

Well, those who wanted to see some dirty stuff are disappointed. Intel and AMD signed a settlement agreement.

One thing in the agreement is that Intel will not dope benchmarks:

"Intel shall not include any Artificial Performance Impairment in any Intel product or require any Third Party to include an Artificial Performance Impairment in the Third Party’s product.As used in this Section 2.3, “Artificial Performance Impairment” means an affirmative engineering or design action by Intel (but not a failure to act) that (i) degrades the performance or operation of a Specified AMD product, (ii) is not a consequence of an Intel Product Benefit and (iii) is made intentionally to degrade the performance or operation of a Specified AMD Product."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Windows 7 + Phenom II is a winning combination

The small 320GB hard drive in my desktop is getting filled, so I bought a bunch of 1TB external ones. But a small internal drive is always a limitation. So I decided to do some upgrade. And I found the simplest and probably the cheapest upgrade is to get a whole a new PC powered by AMD technologist and Windows 7.

I was buying a Windows 7 Notebook (a beautiful Gateway machine powered by AMD Turion X2) at BestBuy, and the guy managed to sell me a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for $50. So I decided to build myself a Windows 7 desktop. What a joy for a man who does not wear suits.

My configuration: Phenom II X4 805 (2.5 GHZ); GigaByte MA785GMT-UD2H; 1.5TB Seagate drive; 4GB DDR3; and a $34 case+350 watt PS. Adding the $50 Windows 7, total cost about $450.

The Phenom II X4 805 cost me only $80, which was a bargain. I was going to buy the Athlon II X4 620, but at this price, the 805 is a better deal.

There are a lot of dirt cheap Nvidia based AMD MBs out there. But they are pretty much obsolete. The AMD OverDrive utility only supports the ATI 700 series chipset. Also, the 785G IGP has much better performance.

I have to praise the MA785GMT-UD2H motherboard. It has ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics and VGA+DVI+HDMI, eSATA, i1394, Optical output for audio, GbE... Most importantly, the motherboard is mATX but with 4 memory slots. The build quality is very good by just looking at it. But remember, this MB needs DDR3 memory. There is another one that supports DDR2.

I hurriedly plugged in the CPU, the memory, and the system POSTed. Then I installed the hard drive, copied Windows 7 files onto a USB key, and changed the BIOS to boot from USB, and Windows 7 installed without any problem. Then I used the Easy Transfer program to move data from the old PC to the new one. The program did a fairly good job of keeping the original data. I did need to manually adjust Mozilla Thunderbird to use the old data though.

Using the AMD OverDrive program, it determined that I can bump bus reference clock by 24MHz, resulting in a 2.8GHz speed for the poor X4 805.

So right now, I am typing from this Windows 7 computer. Actually, it is predicting what I am typing...

The system is so stable and so fast... I totally forgot the hateful days when Vista was crashing or freezing...

I also managed to play some 3D games. The 4200 is about 20x faster than any Intel IGP out there. If you buy an Intel PC with Intel IGP, your kids are gonna curse you for not being able to play runescape or WOW. So buy some decent board with decent graphics to improve your user experience as well as family relationships.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Intel-Dell secret pact exposed by lawsuit

Fun stuff to read. Like a Mafia story. Now, read my analysis back in 2005.

On December 6, 2004, Intel’s Otellini emailed Intel’s Dell account representative about his concern that Dell would defect to AMD: “I had the analysts dinner tonight. One of the analysts … said he talked with Kevin [Rollins] today and Kevin told him it was ‘inevitable’ that Dell would use Opteron…” The next day, the Intel executive promptly forwarded this email onto Dell’s lead negotiator with a plea for help in securing “incremental support” for Dell. Hours
later, Dell’s lead negotiator emailed back that Michael Dell was on board: “Sitting in the car
right next to msd [Michael Dell] as I type. He’s aligned. I’ll get with kbr [Kevin Rollins] when I
return. I’m positive that incremental mcp will get kbr aligned.…”

117. Later in the day, Intel’s negotiator wrote that “we’ve made a lot of progress in the
last couple of months – you guys had a ton to do w/it!! … I’m struggling finding the incremental
meet comp exposure .... I need some help here …”. Dell’s lead negotiator emailed back: “This is
really easy. MSD [Michael Dell] wants $400M more. I’ve been trying to figure out the

118. Three days later, on Dec. 10, 2004, Intel’s Dell account representative submitted
the “list of meet comp terms” for internal approvals at Intel which “assumes we can negotiate
[Dell] down to $300M.” In exchange, the first item on the term list expressed Dell’s
commitment to “Maintain CPU and Chipset MSS [market segment share] --- Commitment to ‘05 roadmap.” In other words, what the payments bought was Dell’s commitment to “maintain”
exclusivity. Intel’s Dell account representative emphasized that “there is no middle ground ...
we either keep them emotionally or pull back the majority of our support….”

In fact, Intel’s payments to Dell shot upward, roughly doubling in less than one
year. Under these circumstances, Dell did not launch AMD-based products at that time.
According to a wire service report dated from Phoenix Feb. 23, 2005: “Dell Inc. has renewed
confidence in Intel Corp. as its sole supplier of microprocessor chips and is no longer seriously
considering rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. as an alternative supplier, Dell’s chief executive
said … ‘That’s looking like “No”,’ Rollins said of Dell’s decision not to use AMD. ‘For a while
it was looking like “Yes”.’”

In one internal Intel email, an Intel executive imagined the following response by
Dell’s lead negotiator to Intel’s attempts to sell Dell more high-end server CPUs: “[I]f I was
[him], here is how I would respond: ‘I am losing [expletive deleted] mss [market segment share]
cause your CPU sucks and your chipset sucks … I am losing [be]cause HP is using [AMD’s]
opteron and IBM has [IBM’s own chipset product] which is killing [Intel’s chipset product] …
it’s your crap Intel that is causing me to lose!’” He further imagined Dell arguing: “‘And you
want me to spend more money on a stale 5yr old platform … and others will have superior
technology? I know I’m a dumb old Texan, but that even sounds stupid to me!’”