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The Intel Pentium Issue - Essay Example

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The Intel Pentium Issue

However, the microprocessor's flow in calculating long divisions causes minor errors not usually noticeable to most computer users. For example, the accurate answer for a division equation should be 2.345678, but P5 will come up with the answer of 2.345699. (1) The error is very minor, come to think of it, and Intel testers have realized and reported this problem to the Intel managers even before the microprocessor was released in the market that year. However, there was no significant reaction from the Intel managers to resolve the issue because “no one would really notice the slight error.” Months after, math professor Thomas Nicely of Lynchburg College noticed an error during the calculation of “reciprocals of a large collection of prime numbers on his Pentium-based computer.” (2) The professor wrote to Intel but did not receive any response from them, which prompted him to post on the internet about the issue. It then became a global issue against the corporation. Obviously, bylaws seven and nine of the IEEE code of ethics were broken in various ways. Bylaw nine states that every member of a corporation must, in all cases “avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action.” (3) Intel failed to act along this bylaw by deciding to release the flawed chip in the market despite previously knowing of its problem. Furthermore, Intel's decision to replace processors would have resolved a big chunk of the problem had they not insisted the customers to prove their eligibility for that. Intel should have taken into consideration that several of the Pentium-based computer users invested their hard-earned dollars for the device. It is very true that Intel would not intentionally desire harming the customers by the defective chip, however, even minor errors could affect the customers in several ways. For example, those who deal with numbers on a regular basis like brokers, economists, or even bankers would require accuracy in every number calculation that they do. Even professors like Thomas Nicely and drug companies who tests new drugs could be adversely affected by what Intel deemed as “slight error.” Additionally, bylaw seven states that every member of corporations must exhaust all means to “seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contribution of others.” (3) When Intel testers informed the managers of the problem, the response did not go along what is stated in bylaw seven. They refused to admit making the mistake because it would definitely cause their company to lose millions of dollars. It was a total act of dishonesty to hope that the users of the newly released chip would not notice the flaw. It appears as if the managers decided to disregard the issue until problems become obvious. Doing this placed several users of the Pentium-based computers at the risk of putting their crucial work at the hands of a flawed device covered-up by dishonesty. Had Intel decided to act under the guideline provided by bylaw ten, the global issue against the company would not have happened. Bylaw ten states that “ ...Show more
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Summary

Ethics Paper: The Intel Pentium Issue (Name) (Class) (Professor) (Date) Abstract This paper analyzes the case against Intel Corporation in 1994 when they released computers containing a flawed microprocessor with an added feature called the FPU. Intel's actions and responses will be compared against the guidelines set by the IEEE's code of ethics…
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