AMD discloses K6-Win95 glitch

Summary:Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has advised customers of an incompatibility between the latest versions of its K6-2 processors and certain versions of Windows 95.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has advised customers of an incompatibility between the latest versions of its K6-2 processors and certain versions of Windows 95. If the incompatibility occurs, systems will fail to boot.

That's bad news for the Sunnyvale, Calif., company, which this week announced 366MHz, 380MHz and 400MHz K6-2 processors that are used in systems from some of the leading PC makers, including Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Personal Computer Co. and Hewlett Packard Co.

AMD (NYSE:AMD) posted an advisory on its Web site stating that "when you are starting Windows 95 OSR [OEM Service Release] 2, 2.1 or 2.5 on a computer with an AMD K6-2 processor running at speeds of 350MHz and above, you may receive one of the following error messages:

Device IOS failed to initialize. Windows Protection Error. You must reboot your computer.

Windows Protection Error. You must reboot your computer."

Problem is "very intermittent"
The advisory notes that the problem is "very intermittent at 350MHz, but occurs more often at higher speeds.''

A Compaq official said the Houston-based company isn't likely to be affected by the problem since the majority of its Presario PCs are sold with Windows 98.

According to the AMD Web site, the problem is "caused by a software timing loop that is sensitive to processor frequency and is not a processor erratum, and does not occur with Windows 98 or Windows NT."

A free fix, which is an update to the operating system, is available from Microsoft Corp. by calling (425) 635-7000. The fix should correct the problem in future K6-2 processors.

AMD officials couldn't be reached for comment. It is unclear whether AMD knew about the debilitating bug before announcing the new processors on Monday at Comdex/Fall.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Operating Systems, PCs, Processors, Software

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