Jan 122018
 
Test PENTIUM for floating-point error.
File NEWMATH.ZIP from The Programmer’s Corner in
Category System Diagnostics
Test PENTIUM for floating-point error.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
NEWMATH.DOC 6520 2683 deflated
NEWMATH.EXE 13940 8880 deflated

Download File NEWMATH.ZIP Here

Contents of the NEWMATH.DOC file



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This is a shareware program to test Pentium* processors for a floating-
point-unit (FPU) flaw. If you find this program and/or the following
information useful, please send $5 to New Math C/0 Jim Munno, 3528 Forest
Haven Drive, Laurel MD, 20724. It will be greatly appreciated.



* Pentium is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation.
=============================================================================

Lately, there has been considerable news regarding the estimated two
million defective Pentium chips which are "out there" computing and crunching
away. If you have recently purchased a Pentium based computer, you may be
wondering if your machine has the faulty chip, and if so, what can be done?
The following information will help you decide what your best course of action
is.



HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHIP IS DEFECTIVE ?
----------------------------------------

Easy. Simply run the accompanying NEWMATH.EXE test program. It will
instantly test your processor and tell you the results. If your processor
passed the test, then your worries are over. On the other hand, if your
processor failed the test, read on, it may not be all bad news.



MY PROCESSOR FAILED THE MATH TEST, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
----------------------------------------------------

The first thing you should know is that, strictly speaking, the error in the
FPU does not force the processor to return incorrect answers. Rather it
causes a loss of precision. Although some purists would argue that a loss of
precision is a wrong answer, you should understand that you accept round-off
error from your computer all the time. However, the loss of precision error
caused by the FPU defect can be greater than any round-off error you've ever
experienced on any of the Pentium's predecessors. Secondly, you should also
know that the errors are rare. Intel's research suggests that these errors
are likely to occur only one time for every nine billion divide pairs.
Furthermore, the loss of precision can occur in the fourth to 19th decimal
place (with the fourth place errors being more rare than the 19th).

Additionally, just because your chip contains the FPU defect doesn't mean that
it will adversely impact your work. It depends on the kind of computing you
do. If your Pentium based machine acts as a network server, then the FPU flaw
will not affect its performance. If the bulk of your computing involves word
processing, desktop publishing, or the use of drawing packages, then again,
the flaw will not impact you.

Suppose, however, that you are a "power user" and you perform large, complex,
spreadsheet calculations on a daily basis. Then, according to Intel, it is
highly likely that you wouldn't "see" an error for thousands of years. On the
other hand, if you perform continuous mathematical operations requiring
intensive division with an emphasis on precision, then it is more likely that
your work can be impaired by the chip defect.



I'M STILL NERVOUS. THE FPU FLAW MAY IMPACT MY KIND OF COMPUTING. WHAT NEXT?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Call Intel. Their customer service group can be reached at (800) 628-8686.
They're quick to answer the phone and are straight-forward about the problem.
You can also call their FaxBack service on (800) 525-3019 and request document
#9788 for a more detailed description of the FPU flaw.

Currently Intel is offering to replace your chip free of charge, if you feel
it is necessary. They'll ask you a few questions, take your credit card
number, and send you a new processor. Put the new processor in your system
and send the old one back to Intel. (I imagine they'll charge your credit card
if they don't get the old processor back.)



MY CHIP MAKES MISTAKES, SHOULDN'T I REPLACE IT ANYWAY SINCE IT'S FREE?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Not necessarily. Especially if you know your kind of processing won't be
impacted by the flaw. Furthermore, consider the frequency of the errors
induced by the flaw. If you are a typical user, It will likely take you
thousands of years of computing before you experience the loss of precision
error. Additionally, it's doubtful that the error will even be meaningful.
(How often do you really care what goes on in the tenth decimal place of your
computations.) Compare this with the probability of messing up your computer
while swapping chips. "But I've got the greatest technician in the world.",
you say. Okay, so he or she only breaks something once in every ten-thousand
repairs. Still, it's much more likely that you will bust a video card, or
static zap an IC than you'll be stung by the FPU flaw.

STILL, IF MY CHIP HAS THIS FLAW, MIGHT IT NOT HAVE OTHER PROBLEMS?
------------------------------------------------------------------

O.K. so your faith is shaken. We were always told that computers don't make
mistakes, the people that use them do. Now here's a chip that bursts that
bubble. Don't despair, there may be a remote possibility that there are other
flaws in the Pentium, but it is highly unlikely. Especially given all the
scrutiny this chip has been subjected to as of late.

SO WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?
--------------------------

If you are a high power user doing lots of math with emphasis on precision,
give Intel a call. Otherwise, don't let media hype make you tear apart your
machine unless you know you really need to. You may do more harm than good.


 January 12, 2018  Add comments

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