AMD shipped buggy Opterons?

— 10:18 AM on April 28, 2006

AMD is scheduled to make a public statement today regarding a number of buggy Opterons inadvertently shipped by the company, according to Reg Hardware. The processors, which are said to be "perhaps no more than 3,000" 2.6GHz Opteron x52s and 2.8GHz Opteron x54s, reportedly have faulty floating-point units that can cause data corruption. While AMD has yet to reveal any details about the bug, Reg Hardware received the following information from an AMD customer:

It is believed that the glitch is triggered when the affected chip's FPU is made to loop through a series of memory-fetch, multiplication and addition operations without any condition checks on the result of the calculations. The loop has to run over and over again for long enough to cause localised heating which - and here's the real problem - causes the result of the operation to be recorded incorrectly, leading to data corruption.

To trigger the bug, the loop has to be run millions of time, the source said, potentially for hours at a time, and no other operations being introduced during the run.

Luckily, AMD is said to have determined that the bug can only be reproduced in a synthetic benchmark. Reg Hardware's source echoed the claim, saying "[t]he only thing I could think that would be coded this way would be some type of strange cipher code."
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