--> PLEASE SIGN -- Petition to Intel on the Pentium Design Flaw

Jon Noring noring at netcom.com
Wed Dec 14 23:00:59 EST 1994


[Hurry!  Signature gathering for this petition EXPIRES January 15, 1995!]

Following this short introductory section is the petition statement to Intel
regarding the serious FDIV design flaw in their Pentium processors.

I encourage you to read the petition statement carefully, and if you agree
with all three terms (given near the end of the statement), to then "sign" it
via Internet e-mail using the instructions which follow the statement.  Do
follow exactly the directions on how to "sign";  they are not difficult.

Note that only those with valid Internet-accessible e-mail addresses can sign
this petition.  Signatures submitted any way other than via Internet e-mail
will NOT be accepted.  Many BBS and nearly all on-line services, such as
CompuServe, do have Internet e-mail access of some kind.  If you are not
sure, or don't know how, ask your sysadmin/sysop for assistance.

Please do upload this petition statement as soon as possible to any BBS and
on-line service in your area.  If you have access to one of the major national
on-line services such as CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL, etc., do try to upload it
there.  We are trying to get at least 5000 signatures.  Even more signatures
are entirely possible if we each put in a little effort to inform others,
such as friends and coworkers, about the petition.

I plan to submit the signatures to Intel and to the news media by January 15,
1995.  However, I will still accept signatures as late as January 30, 1995.

Thank you for your signature!  And let's get this petition drive going!  We
only have four short weeks, and it's the Holiday Season to boot.

Jon Noring


****************Beginning of Petition Statement to Intel********************

   Date:  December 14, 1994
Subject:  Petition to Intel on the Pentium Design Flaw

Dear Intel:

We, the undersigned, are very concerned about your handling of the floating
point divide (FDIV) design flaw found in all of your Pentium processors
manufactured until very recently.  We do acknowledge that perfection is hard
to achieve in any product.  However, there are certain types of imperfections
that are serious enough to warrant special attention and treatment.  This is
clearly one of them.

Your actions to downplay the FDIV design flaw have only created confusion and
hostility among your loyal customers.  In addition, the fact that you knew
about the design flaw from July, but did nothing to warn Pentium users about
it, and even continued to ship Pentium processors with the FDIV design flaw
to resellers until very recently (and probably still are), only adds fuel to
the hostility felt by Pentium owners and would-be owners.  We know it is not
your intent to alienate your customers, but that is effectively what you have
done by your mishandling of the situation up to the present.  We urge you to
change course immediately.

You are right in saying that a large number of Pentium users will not be
adversely affected by the FDIV design flaw since they are not using their
Pentiums *now* for intensive floating point calculations.  However, a
significant and also large number of Pentium users, including scientists,
engineers, designers, financial professionals, students, mathematicians and
statisticians, and ordinary spreadsheet users, to name just a few of the
affected groups of Pentium users, could encounter this error, with many
possible negative consequences.  Engineers typically do design calculations
where an error could seriously affect public safety;  financial analysts
dealing with large sums of money where an error in the 4th significant figure
(as the design flaw is sometimes capable of producing) can result in millions
of dollars of losses.  And do not forget that many of your customers bought a
Pentium for what it potentially could do, not just to run applications they
are currently using.

Your claims that it will occur so rarely (e.g., once every 27,000 years for
the typical user) as to be inconsequential are totally unfounded, as many
recent posts by competent scientists and mathematicians to the Usenet/Internet
newsgroup 'comp.sys.intel' have demonstrated beyond a doubt.  In addition,
IBM, a major seller of Pentium systems, recently issued a press release also
doubting your claims, stating that even the ordinary spreadsheet user could
encounter this FDIV error every few days -- for a large company with many
spreadsheet users, this could lead to several errors per day, some of which
could prove costly.  Many scientists and engineers have reported that they
had to throw away months of costly calculations since they are not sure the
answers are correct, or that others will call into question the results
during the peer review/publication process.  Even several Ph.D. students have
reported on Usenet that they have to rerun months of calculations, delaying
the completion of their thesis by several months or more.

In addition, your implied argument that it wasn't discovered for a long time
as being proof that it is not serious, is also incorrect.  As an arithmetic
flaw, which does not give any warning, it is especially insidious because
when it does occur, the user is usually unaware of it (that's why it took so
long to be discovered *and* publicized).  Only by rerunning the code on a
machine with a proven reliable FPU can the error be seen.  Most of these
codes take so long to run, even on the fast Pentium, that rerunning the codes
for verification is very costly and thus are usually not undertaken.  Upon
hearing of the FDIV design, many Pentium users have rerun FPU intensive
calculations on FPU reliable processors and some have reported finding serious
discrepancies that went previously unnoticed.

Your present policy of downplaying the seriousness of the FDIV design flaw,
by using incorrect statistical analysis (your so-called "White Paper"), and
by your massive PR media blitz which tends to only give your side of the
story (you call it a "subtle flaw" with shades of double-speak in George
Orwell's "1984"), is especially serious and adversely affects your
credibility.  Your offer to replace the Pentium processor for those who, in
your opinion, could be affected by the flaw, is tainted by your fairly strict
and seemingly arbitrary qualification criteria, as well as your lackluster
effort (effectively none) in trying to inform Pentium owners about the FDIV
design flaw.  Your so-called "Six Point Plan" to handle the situation is
clearly motivated by damage control rather than by trying to satisfy your
customers.  There is a BIG difference.

In summary, your mishandling of the entire situation only serves to alienate
both your customers and stockholders, and may even make you legally liable
for endangering the public safety and for economic losses of various sorts.
We are certain you and your stockholders don't want this.

We, the undersigned, therefore make the following demands, which we hope you
will consider as friendly recommendations from your loyal customers:

1) That you will offer a free replacement Pentium processor (which has been
   updated so as to fix the FDIV design flaw without slowing down FPU
   performance) to any owner of a FDIV-flawed Pentium processor who requests
   a replacement, with *no questions asked*, and with *no exceptions*.  In
   addition, you will make it easy, logistically, for the requester to obtain
   the replacement processor, and you will pay all reasonable costs for
   effecting the replacement.

2) That you will make a *good faith* effort to inform all Pentium owners of
   your replacement offer in demand #1 above, for example, by half to
   full-page advertising in major newspapers, magazines, trade and scientific
   journals, notices to Pentium system resellers, universities, research
   laboratories, etc.  All notices and advertisements must include a clearly
   objective and concise assessment, written by an expert in the field not
   associated *in any way* with Intel, of the FDIV design flaw and in what
   type of applications it could cause problems.  The assessment must
   reference, *without comment*, information recently released by IBM
   concerning the potential frequency of FDIV errors to spreadsheet users.
   The notices and advertisements must also include the information from
   demand #3 below.  The campaign to inform Pentium owners must begin within
   six weeks from the acceptance of our demands.

3) That you will publicly release information on how to determine, by the
   serial number printed on the processor, a FDIV design flawed Pentium from
   one that has this design flaw fixed.  This information must be posted to
   the Internet as well as provided to your resellers and to the editors of
   the major PC-related consumer magazines and PC-industry newsletters.
   

We, the undersigned, believe the above demands are not harsh, and will help
you to gain credibility and confidence among all computer users.  In fact,
this may actually result in a marketing victory for you, as people speak
enthusiastically and do business with companies who follow the principle that
"the customer is always right."  They will see you as a company who cares for
the little guy, with the result that your long-term success is assured.
Without such consumer confidence, no business has ever been able to thrive in
the long-term.  We ask that you choose to put your customers first, and the
long-term profits will surely follow.  We are certain that your stockholders
would also wholeheartedly agree with this assessment.

Intel, do the right thing!

Signed,

********************End of Petition Statement to Intel***********************


INSTRUCTIONS FOR SIGNING THIS PETITION

It must first be noted that this is a petition, not a vote.  By "signing"
it you agree with *all* the demands of the petition statement.  If you do not
agree with all the demands, then your only recourse is to not sign it.

In addition, all e-mail signatures will be gathered and will be submitted to
Intel as well as to the news media, thus they will become "public".

To sign this petition, send e-mail to the following Internet e-mail address:

                     ===========================
                      intel-petition at netcom.com
                     ===========================

In your e-mail message, include the following information:

1) For the Subject line use the phrase 'Intel Petition Signature'.

2) Anywhere in the body of the message, include the following line:

   SIGNED  <Internet e-mail address>  <Your full name>  <flag>

   The word 'SIGNED' should be in upper case.  The field labeled '<flag>'
   is an *optional* entry indicating if you own or use a Pentium-based
   computer ('1' means you do, '0' means you don't.)  You need not include
   the '<' and '>' characters as shown above.

   You can include special comments on separate lines if you like, but these
   comments may never be sent to Intel and/or to the news media.  Please
   don't include the petition statement itself in your e-mail signature
   reply.  If you don't provide both your e-mail address and *full name* in
   the signature line as outlined above, your signature will be rejected.


Within a few days of receipt of a signature meeting the above requirements,
an automated acknowledgment will be e-mailed to you for e-mail address
verification purposes.

Thank you for signing this petition!

Jon Noring

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