Guest
yeababy!!!
2000-04-12T21:57:38Z
Intel faces another 820 chip set fu. But
you should have paid a grand for that wonderful RAMBUS.

Intel Corp.'s problem-plagued 820 chip set is coming under attack again, this time by frustrated users reporting its
failure to work with SDRAM. But Intel says the blame resides with memory makers who are producing sub-standard components.

However, an official with at least one major SDRAM maker contends the fault lies with the 820, not the memory.

In recent months, 820 users have contacted Intel to report a number of failures
involving the chip set when packaged with SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM). While the
820 was designed to be used with RDRAM (Rambus-based memory chips), the chip
set is currently packaged more often with SDRAM.

During the first quarter of this year, more than 80 percent of the 820s shipped were
packaged with SDRAM.

Following up on reported problems, Intel said it discovered that the trouble stemmed
not from the chip set but from the failure of memory makers to include a key
component with the memory modules or else program the component correctly.

The component problem

Troubles involving the 820 arise when the memory translator hub, which is added to the chip set to enable it to
work with SDRAM, seeks to query the memory modules by connecting with a component called an SPD (serial presence detector). The component, found on SDRAM DIMM modules that meet PC100 industry standards,
stores information on the size, speed, voltage, and row and column addresses of the memory chips.

Intel said that memory makers, in order to lower their costs, are leaving off this component, a type of EEPROM, or memory chip, that can store information without power.

Without the SPD, the 820 is unable to utilize the memory modules, making them useless.

"A couple of things happened -- either the vendors didn't put on the SPD or they
didn't program it with the right information on the true nature of the DIMM," said
Sunil Kumar, product marking manager in Intel's Platform Components Division.
"So when the translator tries to read and understand what kind of memory modules there are, it is either getting the
wrong data or no data at all."

But getting SDRAM manufacturers to address the issue isn't easy, Kumar said. "The non-compatible DIMMs are available from many of the 200 manufacturers out there."

Intel also is hoping to get the word out by contacting motherboard manufacturers so that they can further inform their customers of the need for SPD.

I beg to differ

But an official with one SDRAM manufacturer derided Intel's explanation.

"I don't buy that. I think that if people were having problems with the SPD or improper coding it would affect every
chip set, and not just the 820," the official said, speaking on the condition that his name not be used.

The official also said he doubted that many SDRAM makers are failing to include the SPD. "I don't know of anyone who's making these modules without an SPD. There are too many systems out there that won't boot if you
don't have an SPD."

The problem, the official said, is most likely the BIOS that ships with the chip set.

"There's no clear standard on what the contents of the SPD are supposed to be," the official continued. "It's really a
function of the BIOS. If the motherboard is looking too closely at what's supposed to be in the SPD contents, then I'd say it's the fault of that BIOS on the motherboard."

Intel said it studying possible workaround solutions that could involve tweaking the BIOS.

The reason the problem with the SPD hasn't arisen before the 820, Intel's Kumar said, is because Intel's popular BX chip set didn't require the component. "But with the future-generation platforms, it's a requirement," he said.

In particular, the 820 is a more complex chip set than the BX, said Peter Mueller, an applications engineer at Intel.

"Because of the fact that we have a translator hub out there, it's like another level between the actual memory
controller and the DRAM, so you've got an extra chip in there," Mueller said.

Addressing the problem, "which basically boils down to a sub-standard DIMM," isn't easy, he said.

"The only option you have, which will cost you performance and still may result in instability, is you program some
default set of values (into the BIOS). You default to the slowest speeds, the lowest-common-denominator sort of
idea, but of course you're giving up some potential performance," Mueller said.

Intel's 820 chip set already suffers from a tainted image. Beginning with its twice-delayed introduction last fall, the
820, Intel's first chip set to support Rambus-based memory, has come under considerable scrutiny.

After delaying the initial launch, Intel in September cancelled the unveiling once again, this time only a day before its
official launch after it was unable to resolve a problem involving the use of three memory slots for RDRAM.

Eventually, the company decided the best way to address the problem was to make two slots available for RDRAM, restricting systems to only 512MB of RDRAM.

In February, Intel acknowledged another 820 problem involving the memory translator hub with error-correction
coding that resulted in corrupt data. The discovery of the problem spurred the chip maker to scrap plans for three
server motherboards based on the chip set.

------------------
A Lord, Supreme Being and Reigning Monarch of afa-b,
Debunker of the Half Baked Air Disaster Conspiracy Theorists,
Archangel and Random Buggerist of the Technical Critically Inept,
A Puzzlement to the Great Geezer,

Sponsor
yeababy!!!
2000-04-14T11:34:38Z
http://www.theregister.co.uk/index.html

Caminogate: Will the horror never end?

Intel's chipset from hell, the i820, has projectile vomited in Chipzilla's face yet again.
The cursed Cape Cod mobo hit the headlines again this week, this time Intel blaming
memory manufacturers for problems with the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) chip
included on new SDRAM DIMMS.

The SPD holds information about the speed and size of the memory and passes it to
the system BIOS. If the data is missing or unreadable, the system either hangs or fails
to boot at all.

Older BX boards don't need the SPD chip at all - progress, eh?

But memory manufacturers point to a couple of issues: firstly there isn't a firm standard
for exactly what format the data in the SPD should take, and secondly, this is a BIOS
issue, and therefore Intel's problem, not theirs.

In light of the fact that memory costs more than the motherboard itself, then it is surely
sensible to modify the cheaper component. Intel is now looking at producing a revised
BIOS for the CC820 which will take a rather more relaxed attitude to SPD data.

Intel has a list of recommended memory for the 820 on its web site, but there is now
an issue even with approved memory requiring a hardware modification to the mobo.
A product change notification was issued for the CC820 by Intel on March 28,
advising users to replace a capacitor with a resistor.

This change prevents a problem occurring where the capacitor - which is supposed to
smooth out the power going to the DIMMS - occasionally discharges itself, sending a
spike to the memory which is interpreted as a data corruption, hanging the system.
Adding a 150 ohm resistor between the Memory Translator Hub (MTH) and the
SDRAM eliminates the bug.

While this component change is hardly rocket science, it will be way beyond the
technical capabilities of most users, so the dreaded phrase 'product recall' is looming
large on the horizon.

And as if this was not enough, there is now an issue with certain AGP graphics cards
hanging the system because the mobo doesn't supply enough voltage to the AGP slot.
The mobo has to support either 1.5 or 3.3 volts to the AGP slot, depending on whether
the card is a 2X or 4X device.

The Asus Geforce DDR card requires 3.3 volts, but the CC820 only supplies 3.07
volts, causing the uncharitable to wonder if the CC820 was designed on the back of a
napkin by the janitor at Satan Clara.

Intel points the bony finger of blame at the power supply manufacturers here,
recommending changing to a more expensive switched power supply.

So here we have a mobo that only works with some memory, doesn't work all the time
even with that, requires that you put the DIMMs in a specific order, needs component
changes and a new power supply.

Engineers have a technical term for such a product - crap.

Not too long ago, Chipzilla had a reputation for solid, reliable (if not particularly
high-performing) mobos. The 820 with its slug-like MTH certainly maintains the
modest performance part, but has undoubtedly permanently damaged Intel's
reputation for quality motherboards.

------------------
A Lord, Supreme Being and Reigning Monarch of afa-b,
Debunker of the Half Baked Air Disaster Conspiracy Theorists,
Archangel and Random Buggerist of the Technical Critically Inept,
A Puzzlement to the Great Geezer,

John Shepherd
2000-05-28T16:28:38Z
All these messages about the i820 chipset has me "very uneasy". I just purchased a Gigabyte mother board (GA 6CXC) it has the i820 chip in it. I plan to use my available sdram (3 X 128 megs) Should I worry, and cancel the order? I have a few days before it gets to my special order place? Thanks.. John
Quote:

Originally posted by yeababy!!!:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/index.html

Caminogate: Will the horror never end?

Intel's chipset from hell, the i820, has projectile vomited in Chipzilla's face yet again.
The cursed Cape Cod mobo hit the headlines again this week, this time Intel blaming
memory manufacturers for problems with the Serial Presence Detect (SPD) chip
included on new SDRAM DIMMS.

The SPD holds information about the speed and size of the memory and passes it to
the system BIOS. If the data is missing or unreadable, the system either hangs or fails
to boot at all.

Older BX boards don't need the SPD chip at all - progress, eh?

But memory manufacturers point to a couple of issues: firstly there isn't a firm standard
for exactly what format the data in the SPD should take, and secondly, this is a BIOS
issue, and therefore Intel's problem, not theirs.

In light of the fact that memory costs more than the motherboard itself, then it is surely
sensible to modify the cheaper component. Intel is now looking at producing a revised
BIOS for the CC820 which will take a rather more relaxed attitude to SPD data.

Intel has a list of recommended memory for the 820 on its web site, but there is now
an issue even with approved memory requiring a hardware modification to the mobo.
A product change notification was issued for the CC820 by Intel on March 28,
advising users to replace a capacitor with a resistor.

This change prevents a problem occurring where the capacitor - which is supposed to
smooth out the power going to the DIMMS - occasionally discharges itself, sending a
spike to the memory which is interpreted as a data corruption, hanging the system.
Adding a 150 ohm resistor between the Memory Translator Hub (MTH) and the
SDRAM eliminates the bug.

While this component change is hardly rocket science, it will be way beyond the
technical capabilities of most users, so the dreaded phrase 'product recall' is looming
large on the horizon.

And as if this was not enough, there is now an issue with certain AGP graphics cards
hanging the system because the mobo doesn't supply enough voltage to the AGP slot.
The mobo has to support either 1.5 or 3.3 volts to the AGP slot, depending on whether
the card is a 2X or 4X device.

The Asus Geforce DDR card requires 3.3 volts, but the CC820 only supplies 3.07
volts, causing the uncharitable to wonder if the CC820 was designed on the back of a
napkin by the janitor at Satan Clara.

Intel points the bony finger of blame at the power supply manufacturers here,
recommending changing to a more expensive switched power supply.

So here we have a mobo that only works with some memory, doesn't work all the time
even with that, requires that you put the DIMMs in a specific order, needs component
changes and a new power supply.

Engineers have a technical term for such a product - crap.

Not too long ago, Chipzilla had a reputation for solid, reliable (if not particularly
high-performing) mobos. The 820 with its slug-like MTH certainly maintains the
modest performance part, but has undoubtedly permanently damaged Intel's
reputation for quality motherboards.