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A potentially serious flaw discovered in the Pentium microprocessor can be fixed, Intel Corp. says, by using software, but it could take a while for Intel to distribute the patch to customers. Reporting from Santa Clara, California, the Reuter News Service says the flaw would let a malicious programmer send an illegal command to the Pentium chip that would freeze the operations of the personal computer or network server.
"The flaw appears in the original Pentium and Pentium with MMX, two of the most popular chips in the world," Reuters notes. "It does not appear in the newer Pentium II."
Intel says it found a software solution to block exploitation of the flaw and is working with major software vendors, such as Microsoft Corp., to implement the fix in various operating system software.
"An Intel spokesman said a specific timeline is not available because there are at least eight operating systems on the market, and delivery of the fix would vary from company to company," says Reuters. Meanwhile, Intel told the wire service the flaw would not occur in everyday use of personal computers. Instead, a programmer would have to intentionally issue a specific command to the Pentium, which would "crash" the system. The machine would have to be turned off and back on to recoverfrom the crash.
Scientists at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs have come up with a transistor that is five times faster and one-fourth the size of conventional models.
The tiny transistor -- about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair -- is also a power miser, consuming between 60 and 160 times less power than transistors currently in use.
Lucent Technologies has not said when the new technology will become commercially available, but industry experts project such transistors to be standard by the year 2010.
Tnx: The Wall Street Journal
Associated Press & Hudson Division Loop