Pentium II may have floating-point bug

Intel-watcher Robert Collins is reporting that Intel's Pentium II microprocessor--which has yet to be released--may be suffering from a bug in its FPU (floating-point processor). The bug also affects the Pentium Pro but not the Pentium or Pentium MMX. In a message posted to his Web site, Collins claims the bug concerns floating point conversions and he has posted a program that demonstrates the problem. An Intel spokesman says the company became aware of the bug a week ago but that Collins refuses to give Intel further details.

"There's an existing process we put in place since we had the Pentium flaw in 1994. We don't determine whether an issue is important or not, we let the end customer determine whether its an issue," the spokesman said. "It would be surprising if there was \[a\] large and significant \[problem\]. It would have been noticed by now."

Intel has, however, conceded that the bug is "a real issue." Whether it will have an real impact on PC owners remains to be seen. Intel engineers are looking at the Collins posting and will "fully characterize" the problem by the end of the week.

Robert Collins' Web site--called "Intel Secrets"--has been a source of much irritation for Intel, which has brought him to court for various issues. For his part, Collins claims to not hate Intel but the timing of this announcement--two days before the release of the Pentium II--seems odd since he claims to have known about the problem for a month.

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