The Internet and the Pentium Chip Controversy

Essay by jrlegg December 2006

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Executive Summary

Wherever possible, this analysis and its alternatives analyze the Pentium chip controversy form the perspective of the reviewer. Rather than repeating the facts, the reviewer uses them to draw his own conclusions and ideas about the case. Although some of the facts are vital to the analysis and demand repeating, every effort has been made to ensure the reviewer's conclusions and ideas are his own and not just a repeat of the case.

While, there may be some overlapping when necessary to get the idea across, the analysis is presented on section by section basis with each section building on the last. The sections are: Background, Perceived Product Risk, The Internet and its Influence, The Scientists and the Public, Alternatives, and Conclusion. Revealed in this analysis is the issue of the case and selected alternative responses and actions Intel could have instituted instead of the ones presented in the case.

Full effort has been put into this analysis and the writings should reflect that effort. The analysis begins with some background and concludes with the selected alternatives. At the conclusion of this analysis, the issue, conclusions, ideas, and recommendation should be transparent.

In June 1994, Intel Corporation discovered a flaw in its high-powered Pentium processor. That is where this analysis begins.

Analysis and the Issue


In 1994, Intel Corporation was enjoying the near monopoly it had created in the microprocessor industry. By June of that year, the company had discovered a flaw in its recently released Pentium processor. Intel's experts concluded that the flaw was trivial. It corrected the error in subsequent production, but did not report the flaw to computer makers and the company continued to sell hundreds of thousands of flawed chips that had already been produced.

In October, Dr. Thomas Nicely, a mathematician at...