AMD refutes thermal damage video
AMD has countered Tom's video of a Palomino processor burning up when the heatsink is removed with a video of their own (hosted at *MD Zone). (Thanks to billb for the link.) The video purports to show what happens to a thermal diode-equipped Palmino processor when various sorts of cooling failures happenand the results are very different Tom's.
Obviously, the relevant difference here is most likely the motherboard. If a motherboard properly support's AMD's thermal protection measures, the CPU probably won't burn up. It's hard to say which mobos or how many actually incorporate such support. I suspect not many yet, but most new boards probably will.
Myself, I inadvertently plugged in a high-speed Pally tonight without attaching the fan on the heatsink to the power header. This was on a VIA reference board. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the CPU didn't fry.