AMD's Official Response to Thermal Test Video Controversy

Posted By Kathy Smith

Date: October 31, 2001

Here is an update for the folks that had asked me about the AMD thermal diode video that has popped up on the web. That video was made for our FAEs for internal use as a teaching aid for AMD customers who ask about AMD's new on-die thermal diode's capabilities. Although it was not our original intention to make it available to websites, it was not done under NDA.

Before I discuss the video, let me state that AMD has shipped over 35 million 7th generation Athlon and Duron processors. There have been NO reports of a properly-installed, AMD-recommended heatsink and fan combo falling off in normal operation.

Also, to make sure the facts are straight, the thermal diode incorporated in the "Palomino" and "Morgan" cores is NOT a limiting factor to motherboard system logic that enables system thermal protection implementations. That diode is easily fast enough to monitor processor temperature and enable safe shutdown prior to any thermal damage, as our video has shown, when coupled to motherboard system logic designed to protect against a thermal runaway.

In the AMD-produced video, we demonstrated that a system with a "Palomino" core processor could successfully and safely shutdown prior to thermal damage. That system had appropriate circuitry for monitoring the thermal diode on the motherboard. AMD used a proprietary OEM motherboard for that test... the SAME proprietary board being used by Compaq for their recently-announced Presario 8000. We anticipate that other manufacturers will be adding this functionality to their boards soon.

The Fujitsu Siemens board tested by Tom's Hardware Guide was not capable to protect against thermal runaway because it was not designed to. It was designed for system health monitoring and for throttling system fans to enable quiet operation. That's why it failed when the heatsink was removed from the processor.

Additionally, in it's own tests AMD observed that the Pentium 4 processor-based systems it tested did not continue to operate after their heat sink and fan units were removed. AMD used multiple unmodified, third-party, Intel chipset-based motherboards for its testing. The second part of the AMD videos shows the results.

I've been asked if AMD is just now suggesting this technology to board manufacturers or if this is a knee-jerk reaction to the press it's received. I believe the fact that the board used in our video already existed when the original story hit nullifies the need to ask that question.

I've been asked what boards exist that support the AMD thermal diode in "Palomino" and "Morgan" core processors. To that I must remind you that existing motherboards were designed before "Palominos" and "Morgans" were available. Since the Athlon and Duron processors, based on the "Thunderbird" and "Spitfire" cores, didn't include an internal thermal diode, existing motherboards were not designed with thermal shutdown capability in general. As I said before, AMD anticipates other manufacturers will be adding this functionality to their boards.

I hope this clears the air about these videos. I apologize for any mix-ups, and please call me with any additional questions.

Damon Muzny
AMD Public Relations


Pssst!  Our Shopping Page has been updated.