AMD Confirms JPEG Issue

Posted By Van Smith

Date: July 23, 2001

AMD has confirmed that a very small number of CPUs “exhibiting a minor manufacturing issue” slipped through its product testing process and into the hands of consumers.

A family web page gained attention recently by claiming that a tiny fraction of AMD K6-2, Athlon and Duron processors contain a flaw that leads to incorrect JPEG and MPEG rendering under certain narrowly described circumstances.  The problem was also associated with specific audio issues.

According to AMD spokesman Damon Muzny, a few chips possessing these specific problems managed to fall through a crack in AMD’s manufacturing test process.

Apparently the number of impacted parts was so small, it took the chipmaker months to notice the trend.  AMD has since implemented measures to shore up the oversight. 

Muzny reported to VHJ:

…the testing methods in past production cycles of the AMD-K6®, AMD Athlon™ and AMD Duron™ processor families did not detect a small number of processors that exhibited a minor manufacturing issue that could potentially cause the distortion of JPEG images or MPEG audio/video.  The issue is not design related and has been addressed through additional manufacturing tests AMD has implemented.

Since the problem was first discovered, we've received a very limited number of customer inquiries regarding this issue, and AMD has in each case made every attempt to resolve the issue.  A very small number of AMD processors may exhibit this issue. AMD has updated its test measures, and we stand behind the quality and reliability of our products. We encourage any customer who believes they may be encountering this issue to contact their AMD field sales representative or AMD technical support. AMD technical support may be reached at (408) 749-3060.

In chip manufacturing, a certain number of parts on any wafer are bad.  The ratio of good chips to bad is known as the wafer’s “yield.”  The AMD Athlon and Duron reportedly have some of the highest yields in the industry.  Determining which chips are good and which are bad involves a lengthy product testing process.  AMD’s initial testing methodology apparently failed to take into account the very specific conditions that resulted in the release of a handful of affected chips over the course of several months.