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Counterfeit Pentium IIs More Widespread Than First Thought

Though Intel has acknowledged the existence of counterfeit version of some Pentium II processors, the problem is more widespread than the company first suspected, especially in the United States. Intel reports that a few less-than-honorable resellers have been buying 266-MHz Pentium II processors only to make minor adjustments (called "remarking") and repackage them as 300-Mhz chips. Often, the chips are passed on to consumers installed inside machines purchased from smaller computer stores. Until recently, it has been difficult for consumers to tell whether machines they purchased were legitimate, but a German magazine has released a software utility that can tell the difference. The program has so far detected counterfeit chips in the United States, Germany, Russia, Israel, Spain, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. So far, though the problem originally was thought to be confined mostly to Europe, more than half of the 72 confirmed reports have occurred in the United States. The number of fake chips has caught both Intel and industry analysts by surprise because it was widely believed the Pentium II was resistant to remarking. The process has been used in previous years to counterfeit Pentium and MMX processors. The driving force behind widespread counterfeiting is price. When selling the chips in large quantities, crooked resellers can make thousands of dollars selling remarked chips. The software utility can differentiate 266 and 300 Mhz Pentium II processors because only the 300-Mhz model ships with Intel's Error Correction Code installed. If the utility fails to detect ECC, the chip is very likely a counterfeit. Serial numbers of suspect processors can be compared to Intel's records for confirmation. AMD Rolls Out New Processors American Micro Devices has announced it will release its new K6-2 microprocessor May 28. The new chip, formerly known as the K6 3D, is AMD's best and likely will be priced to compete directly with similar Pentium II processors. A company spokesman said the K6-2 will perform comparably to Intel's fastest processors. The K6-2, which features a much-improved floating point processor, is designed specifically to run graphical programs. The chip is compatible with motherboards featuring the new 100-MHz system bus. Though the 100-Mhz system bus support is expected to be a draw for some computer users, most motherboards still run at 66-Mhz. By the time 100-Mhz motherboards are considered standard, the K6-2 will have been out for several months and virtually all new processors will support it. But AMD's improvements in floating point performance, which stem from the addition of 21 new instructions, have been widely acclaimed and have attracted the attention of both Cyrix and IDT. After the K6-2's release, AMD is expected to add to the product line with a 350 MHz version, as well as a yet-to-be-named version of a chip currently known as Sharp Tooth. That processor, currently called the K6-3D+, features a secondary cache similar to that included with the Pentium II. Longtime industry partner IBM very likely will be the first manufacture to announce support for the K6-2. Other companies should begin announcing later this month whether they will adopt the new processor.

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