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AMD Stops Overclockers Dream Motherboard 198

nerdusa writes: "The Overclocking Community got a decidedly unwelcome jolt with news today on THG that shipping versions of the TBird and Duron will be clock locked and that the Asus A7V is shipping without multiplier unlocking switches. United Overclockers, which had been eulogizing AMD for its recent poliicies, is "saddened" at having to eat its words. Overclockers are used to having their dreams dashed by reality, but this is a particularly cruel blow."
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AMD Stops Overclockers Dream Motherboard

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  • But I WANT to blow up my processor...no fair.
  • It's really sad to hear this indeed - where else will future stories about insane overclocking of poor, poor 386 chips to 700MHz come from? I mean, every quickie or two we find someone who feels a need to make their old 8088 into a dutch oven...
  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:10AM (#943371) Homepage Journal
    How do you allow people to overclock their own systems, but prevent 2 bit computer stores from
    overclocking systems and selling them as the faster system. I would not be happy to find out that that 800mhz system I just bought was an overclocked 500mhz system.

    I don't think there is a way to do it.

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by matticus ( 93537 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:10AM (#943372) Homepage
    the fact is, the new t-bird athlons will be locked to those who don't know the secrets. some hardware web sites have guides to changing the multiplier on the chip by connecting different contacts on the ceramic surface with a conducting ink pen. this just means the multiplier lock will be more difficult to overcome. before anyone flames AMD for this, remember that Intel has been locking processors since the p2-350. AMD provided a way to change the multiplier on the classic athlon (pretty ingenious if you ask me) with the goldfinger device, and they'll probably come through again. give them some credit, enough anti-amd sentiment.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    well I wonder if they are clock locked, then can you change the bus? The bus is already 200mhz, so what, pump it up to 266mhz??
  • Is this a bad thing or a good thing that they are stopping people from Overclocking there AMD's.

    I mean it will mean extra income for AMD people who want the extra horsepower in the PC will have to pay for it, instead of getting it "for free".

    But does the consumer want to be restricted to what they can and can't do with there product.

    I mean we see this in lots of other products, like cars, (some) OS's. There philosphy is: "You wnat it better, then pay for it". so is it really that bad that AMD are doing this with there chips now?

    feel free to give you remarks

    Paul Kinlan


    -
  • by Trans ( 209035 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:11AM (#943375)
    The reason they're forced to do this is because of those "Resellers" who overclock the cpu and neglect to tell the customer. When an OCed processor bonks, it's bad for the customer and AMD. It's not bad for the asshole seller though, he's probally running under a new name by now.

    I think overclocking is a damn cool thing, but I wish AMD had another way of dealing with remarked chips.

  • by Calimus ( 43046 ) <calimusNO@SPAMtechography.com> on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:12AM (#943376) Homepage
    Personaly I find this to be a very odd play for AMD. I guess I would have to ask if maybe the reason for it is that the chips arn't as stable as advertized? Or now that AMD has stolen the spot light a bit from Intel, are they picking up Intels bad habbits?

    Either way I see it becomming a sore spot fast. I've been a loyal AMD consumer and overclocker but I guess I knew this would happen at some point. It would be too esay to make your own 1ghz chip with those chips and the new Asus board. Not to mention alot cheaper.

  • what difference does it really make to AMD if people overclock or not? if they break the chip, they will have to buy a new one! Perhaps if there have been alot of people returning overclocked burnt out chips, but that's AMD's fault for not enforcing it's warranty terms well enough. some people will say that AMD wants people to have to pay for higher clock speeds. they will. sure, you can get 950 MHz from a 700 MHz duron, but how high do you think you could get a 1GHz T-bird up to? people will still pay for the higher clock speeds if that is what they want. AMD isn't making any sense
  • There is a genuine problem with people reselling overclocked systems without the buyer knowing that they're getting a less reliable system. AMD have to protect their brand name, and having hordes of people claiming that AMD chips are unreliable because they've been sold overclocked systems is not a good way to stay in business long. Yes, it will prevent the hobbyist that knows the risks and accepts them. That said, most overclockers I've met don't fall into that category -- they tend to have the mentality "wow, I can make my machine go faster" without knowing how it works, and where the extra speed is coming from (hint: your safety margin before things start breaking).
  • This is a bit of a rant beyond the AMD thingie, so bear with me.

    There's a trend running through the industry. When linux programmers write *free* drivers for new hardware, oftentimes the manufacturer is very reluctant to support the OS. Sometimes the developers have to struggle to wrench out closed specs to write the drivers, and still the corporation sees it fit to at best ignore it. Oh, and by the way, this results in more of their products being sold.

    Enthusiasts are the forerunners to new technology. Generally they are the first to embrace it and forecast where the industry is going. At the very least, they provide valuable feedback. Yet for some reason, the history of the computer industry has seen established companies simply ignore enthusiasts. This goes for mainframe makers who ignored the PC, *nix vendors which dismissed linux as a toy, and MS which dissed the internet as a useless fad. It may also be that the music industry is on this track by opposing mp3 fans instead of seeing where they are headed.

    As a larger trend, when companies which started out in the garage lose touch with their roots and ignore enthusiasts, it might mean they crumble under their own weight. But in specific cases, I simply fail to understand why companies don't support them. For instance, linux today has millions of users, and yet when I go to logitech's page to see if their cordless mouse works with linux, there is NO info on it at all. I have to dredge thru deja.com to see if anyone has posted it. Why? Does logitech not see the benefit of spending a few thousand $ to hire someone to update their web site with info about linux? Or even if drivers are needed, can't they hire a couple of guys to write them? Even if a small fraction of the linux base buys their mice, they have made a good profit.

    What am I missing here?

    w/m
  • For those of us who would like to continue overclocking our chips, Tom's Hardware already has a guide to set your silicon to whatever speed you prefer.

    This link will show you how:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/00q3/000711/inde x.html
  • Very simply. You make your CPUs so they announce to the world at bootup

    AMD-K7-Athelon-500MHz Running at 800MHz.

    There are 2 reasons AMD and iNTEL don't and won't do that however.

    Reason Number 1. It would mean having different CPU dies for each chip they sell. They aren't going to do that. They prefer to simply build a batch of chips and depending on how clean they come out you put a label on to claim a specific clock speed. Yes. Specific clock speeds are determined after the fact before labeling is done, not before.

    Reason Number 2. Any Information the CPU issues about itself must go through the BIOS 1st. The problem is that someone with the resources of a 2 bit 10 box a day CPU manufacturer can arrange to have the BIOS altered so the quote above would say nice things like.

    AMD-K7-Athelon-800MHz Running at 800MHz.

    Of course being crummy and moronic corporations they just refuse to level with the customer and will continue to mislead you all as to what exactly they sell and why. Frankly, I think people would be nicer to them if they leveled with us.

    PS: As for Locking the BIOS. fat FSCKing chance. We have grown accustomed to adding new features and fixing old bugs by flashing the BIOS. We aren't even going back to the old days of swapping chips, let alone having no BIOS flexibility at all.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:26AM (#943382)
    > he fact is, the new t-bird athlons will be locked to those who don't know the secrets.

    You can find a couple of quick links by visiting this article [theregister.co.uk] at The Register.

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:26AM (#943383)
    Underclocking is the art of running a modern high speed processor far below it's rated clock speed. As an example I have a AMD Athlon 800 MHz processor running at an amazing 200 MHz*. My goal to run it at 4.77 MHz so I can actually win at all those video games I have. By the way, OS is Windows 2000 which runs great at 200 MHz I can't wait to try it at 4.77 MHz. *I have a resistor on top to add additional heat so the processor doesn't get to cold.
  • why do you say that?
    I was just raising some points, that I thought might have been valid.
    Sorry to hear you didn't think the same
    -
  • It seemed that AMD was quite happy with overclockers when they were competing for headlines in the Mhz race, infact i seem to remember they quitle lavishly praised Cryotech for building a vastly overclocked highly cooled system... It seems that now that they have some solid market share and a succesful brand, they want to close that door. I personally have been buying exclusively AMD cpu's since midway through the 80486 days, and probably will continue to do so, and i haven't bothered much with overclocking, but i still think it's a little tricky to walk that line between protecting consumers and confining hobbiests...
  • This is bullshit! What's next a speed regulator on my car or maybe even my shoes?

    My friend Tom Grant of Contamination [contamination.org] will be devistated by this. Tom once overclocked a 486 DX4/100 and the damn thing ran faster than my PII. Props to Tom, but he soon will be fucked in the bootyhole if you ask me.

    :)

  • Everyone is bringing up a good point when they say that the resold overclocked systems are unstable/unreliable yada yada. I have a question slightly off topic:

    Why doesn't AMD get some overclockable motherboards, and sell those under a contract? Say something to the effect (and in legaleese) "We understand these can be overclocked, and in fact, expect you too. By signing this, you're saying you will, and thus void the warranty- no more responsibility for us"? And when they sell these, sell ONE PER PERSON AT A TIME- avoids a person buying em up for his company.

    doing something like that would allow overclocks to be sold, avoid tarnishing their reputation, and even allows those damn lawyers to be pleased.

    I'm sure I begged for some flames in there. Give em to me.
  • by alleria ( 144919 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:40AM (#943389)
    CPUID and similar utilities. But you have to be saavy enough to know to use them!
  • What people should remember here is that this is not intended to hurt the overclocking community as such. It is intended to protect Average Joe consumers who don't know squat about overclocking, but still want a fast machine.

    AMD doesn't want its vendors to overclock a chip and sell that product to the consumer as something it isn't. Basically, protecting the consumers from fraud.

    Not very nice for the more technically advanced user, but good for Average Joe.

    --

  • Reason Number 1. It would mean having different CPU dies for each chip they sell. They aren't going to do that. They prefer to simply build a batch of chips and depending on how clean they come out you put a label on to claim a specific clock speed. Yes. Specific clock speeds are determined after the fact before labeling is done, not before.

    And there's a reason for this. If you didn't do it, you'd have to throw away a lot more chips, and the OK ones would get about 5 times as expensive.

  • The problem is, there is no such thing as an Athlon 600 or 700 or whatever. There is simply a chip with resistors determining which speed the motherboard should run it at.

    Some processors turn out better than others, and those are sold as higher speeds. To make a different configuration for each incremental step of a chip would be insanely expensive.

    Overclockers are a niche market, there is no reason that AMD should take that much financial damage for their sake.

    -Phredrick Dobbs
    Emperor of the Universe
    Grand and High Protector of Everything

  • This says the Asus board will not have the clock-unlocking features, but what about the Abit KT7 [abit-usa.com] which was so proudly hailed on slashdot a few days ago? Does it still have these features?
  • The question is whether you can find memory that works at such speeds.
  • You answered it there.

    You're asking AMD to increase production costs for everyone, so that 2% of their market has more freedom to fiddle around and use their parts out of spec.

    I'm afraid the world doesn't work that way.

    Ten years from now, 'Overclockers' will be remembered for what they are: the late 1990's equivalent of the maroons who put linear amps on the output of their CB radios in the past.

    You've really gotta come up with some better ways of spending time.
  • I would imagine that 90% percent of people out there have no idea what overclocking means. They flip a switch, the box lights up and they then proceed to happily pound away at the keyboard.

    As a person with a fair amount of hardware experience, I personally have no interest in overclocking my equipment. Since I also buy equipment for the entity I work for, I certainly would like to be certain that the equipment I receive is what I paid for. In the overall picture of AMD vs Intel, this is probably just an issue of quality control. The last thing AMD needs is bad publicity. Their target market isn't overclockers.

    This isn't to say that I don't respect the overclocking community. I DO feel that once you buy something, its YOURS to do with as you wish. In AMD's case, they feel it is better to repond to the needs of the many over the needs of a few.
  • by Belgarion ( 11586 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:49AM (#943397) Homepage
    You can probably still fiddle the FSB. But that pretty limits the options to a few percentages, as the FSB is already at 200.

    I've been upgrading the FSB since my 10MHz-8088 machine. I replaced the 20MHz crystal by a 26MHz from my CB radio. Worked great, but the floppy controller couldn't take it. Had to build in a switch, but that crashed the machine due to spikes and stuff. So you had to turn it off, set it back to 20, and boot to use the floppy. Not too much trouble, because the boot took only 10 seconds in those dayz.

    Darn. My FSB is now 112, btw.
  • by Dave Fiddes ( 832 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:50AM (#943398)
    Why don't guys like Intel and AMD put a teenie weanie bit of PROM in their chips (like they had for the serial number) that gets burned with the bus speed/multiplier? Then software (like the BIOS) could read this back when it does its usual CPUID trick and verify that the chip was running in spec.

    The BIOS (and/or OS) could report that the system was being over/under clocked. The OCers would love this (especially if it came up in large red and orange letters ;) and innocents wouldn't get burned by dodgy resellers.

    This strikes me as being pretty easy to implement particularly if you consider that Intel has already done this with its CPU serial number.
  • Well, the problem is, for any process that AMD can do after the production of the chip (which is when they determine the speed) which sets the REAL speed, some remarker can do it elsewhere.

    If the chip speed is determined before final packaging, which I doubt, then I guess they could test the chip, then write something, then seal the chip off.

    AMD does have a pretty interesting system, as you can see at the Tom's Hardware site linked in the story. They apparently use lasers to burn the REAL speed into the chip. I suppose they could have used this burned speed as the REAL speed, and had a softer overclocker method so that it would work as you suggested. Maybe that just hadn't occurred to them.

    -Phredrick Dobbs
    Emperor of the Universe
    Grand and High Protector of Everything

  • I overclock everything I own. Currently Intel Celeron 533's are clocking to over 850mhz. An AMD CPU with a comparable price will NOT beat a Celeron at that speed - period. IF AMD prevents overclocking then they will simply not be price competitive for my dollar and NOT receive it - simple!

    I'll be interested to see how this effects the new ABIT MB. It's supposed to allow multiplier modification in the BIOS and was to be my next purchase. Guess what AMD - ABIT and YOU will not be receiving my money if you've clock locked. For that matter even multiplier locking your CPUs may be enough to turn me away since your CPUs cann apparently not handle FSBs much over about 110mhz.

    The "issue" here is that AMD supposedly doesn't want remarked PROCESSORS. If that's really what they're whining about and not overclocked SYSTEMS then their current setup of locking the multiplier but allowing external logic to change it is fine ala ABIT. If they've decided this isn't good enough then this crap about wanting to stop remarkers is just that - crap. For that matter even with a solid multiplier lock you can still overclock with the FSB unless they've locked that too - not likely. So they've not actually stopped overclocked "systems" either.

    What EXACTLY is it that AMD is trying to accomplish? Or perhaps Tom is full of crap yet again?

    I'm voting with my wallet and so should everyone else. If AMD is going to pull the rug out and change their price\performance ratio against the Celeron then they won't be getting my money nor that of any of the friends I advise on computer purchases...
  • "I overclock everything I own. Currently Intel Celeron 533's are clocking to over 850mhz. An AMD CPU with a comparable price will NOT beat a Celeron at that speed - period. IF AMD prevents overclocking then they will simply not be price competitive for my dollar and NOT receive it - simple!"

    What I mean is - if they prevent overclocking they will NOT be able to compete. Clock for clock the AMD and Celeron "race" isn't - the AMD is a better CPU but it's amazing what an extra couple of hundred mhz will give to a lesser CPU :-)
  • its a sample it could also be credited to Pop Will Eat Itself because it was a joint song but yeah Smokey and the Bandit is the originator.
  • From the mine-runs-hotter-than-yours-does dept.

    There is an interesting point that people should start to realize, and it will be a point of education to get them to do so: CPUs do not have a static speed setting.

    Believe it or not, it took me several years to get this stamped into my head. What? Overclock? You can do that? Huh.....um...isn't that bad for it? No, and we know that now. It's the amount of people who don't know it that are causing the problems. If the attitude was that every chip can be flexed in terms of speed, the problem would lessen. Then you run monitors to check the CPU speed and protect yourself against having a burnout. Simple. (supposedly)

    If you run a chip slower than rated, it lasts longer because it's cooler. If you run it AT rated, it lasts for about its specified lifetime. Run it faster than rated, it'll most likely burn out before its rated lifetime. But then again, in most instances, rated lifetime far exceeds the practical usage of CPUs in the marketplace. So run 'em fast! Sure, they'll burn out, but not likely before you get a new one anyway.

    Really, I do see the point that AMD is trying to make. I understand the concern for dork-shops overclocking computers to make that extra buck, and I applaud that effort. However, seems to me that there has to be a better way as opposed to limiting those who want to turbo-charge their CPUs.
  • Let's face it.

    The majority of computer users out there have reservations about overclocking your CPU because trying it can be a very dangerous thing to do.

    Between running the risk of melting down the CPU, causing some peripheral cards to not work properly because you had to increase the FSB speed in your overclocking attempt, and causing general system failures because your power supply can't keep up, it's not really worth the effort unless you're willing to spend the time and effort to get top-notch system cases, extra cooling fans, extra big CPU heatsink/fans, and top-quality 300 watt or larger power supplies.

    Besides, nowadays the real bottleneck isn't the CPU. You get much more immediate benefits by getting as much system RAM as you can afford and buying a 7200 rpm or faster hard drive.
  • Ummm, yes, that's an interesting point you raise:

    When AMD produces a batch of chips they test them all out. The marketing guy obviously wants to sell them for the most money they can get.

    The Reliability guy wants them to last long enough that systems don't blow up all over the market, giving AMD chips a bad name. So, they're as stable as advertised. The problem comes into being when people use them in ways they're not advertized as being stable for.

    It's 'miracle' enough that they're yielding chips as fast as they are these days. Consider that if there's a 'clever trick' that can be used to squeeze more out of the chips, AMD is already doing so.

    Personally I am just tired of the local ma-and-pop hardware shops refusing to warranty a CPU chip after it leaves the shop. They're forced to do so, because otherwise they'd rapidly become the free spare parts bin for all the overclockers. I'm tired of a small segment of the market creating an excuse for the owners of the shops to just wash their hands of their responsiblity to stand behind what they sell. And I suspect I'm not alone in this.

    I overclocked, by mistake, years ago when I set the AT-bus multiplier wrong on my 486 motherboard (back when 486 motherboards were $600 affairs). I ran the AT-bus at 12 MHz for a long time, getting much zippier performance from the video subsystem. It also inadvertantly caused the machine to be unstable under certain conditions. But I never pretended when I discovered my mistake that I was doing anything particularly clever.
  • Why doesn't AMD get some overclockable motherboards, and sell those under a contract? Say something to the effect (and in legaleese) "We understand these can be overclocked, and in fact, expect you too. By signing this, you're saying you will, and thus void the warranty- no more responsibility for us"?

    Nice idea. But that would mean AMD getting into the motherboard business (which, AFAIK, they don't do now). They could come to some arrangement with an existing company (e.g., Asus, Abit, GVP etc.), but there would still be the problem of people using the chips on motherboards other than the ones with which they were sold. Yes, they could make a physically different connector for overclockable chips to prevent this, but the market size wouldn't justify it.

  • to overclock our systems day in and day out. Right? Yes it breaks the warranty, but if your OC'ing your gonna know what your doing for the love of god! I just had to say what i think. Though if some store does try to sell CPU faster than they are that is kind of cheap. The only way to solve this is examine the comp yourself. Get a program which checks the clock speed or check your BIOS, if you have a BIOS multiplier option or some other horse. -Dest
  • Many cars do have speed limiters. The Chrysler 300M (without the sport package does). Apparently even the BMW M5 has a limiter, somewhere around 155 MPH. Those are both the highest performance cars produced by their respective manufacturers (avoiding issues of who really owns Chrysler, and the Dodge Viper).
  • by BLKMGK ( 34057 )
    If they've changed this from the way it WAS then they are indeed hurting the overclocker. Lock the multiplier on the chip such that the chip can't be modified and remarked so that it looks like a faster chip - fine. But changing it such that motherboards like the ABIT can't change the multiplier using external logic? Bullpucky!

    Even with the way they've supposedly done it now I can overclock with the FSB so how does this protect anyone from buying an overclocked "system"? It doesn't! If the FSB could be jacked up over say about 110mhz I might not be so unhappy but I've not seen many reports that can do it. What's that give me against say a Celeron 533 that runs 850mhz and costs a few dollars more than a DURON?

    What exactly are they trying to accomplish?
  • Don't high-end foreign cars have speed/horsepower regulator chips on them? I know there's a scene of people modding their cars up with chips as if it was a Playastation for better performance.
  • Gold Finger Devices just make sense. AMD should put a set of pins or some way to connect a GFD to its chip, but to do so make it so you have to remove a cover and then addon a circuit board that is to big to hide inside the cover of the CPU. This way you allow people to overclock there processor but you can just stick a GFD on a processor overclock it, and remark it. Since most people will notice a big chunk of pcb sticking out there processor.
  • I underclock my awesome work machine machine by running Windows NT.
  • I can think of two reasons for this, sales is one, since unlike intel, they can't afford to lose money on this venture, and it's position in the market place isn't quite as secure as intels.

    I think however one of the most important reasons is to prevent the remarking of processors, which seems to have moved to AMD chips recently. It's a dissapointing turn of event, but AMD may not have had a whole lot of choice.
  • by gunner800 ( 142959 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:06AM (#943414) Homepage
    Much of the wild-ass speculation (also known as Slashdot groupthink) is that AMD is doing this because unstable overclocked systems are damaging their brand name. I think this is a plausible explanation, although none of us really know the motiviation.

    If this is the reason, I'd suggest an alternative. Don't impose restrictions on motherboard designs, impose restrictions on vendors. They could make their licensing such that in order to sell AMD products, overclocked systems must be clearly labeled.

    Selling an overclocked system that's not labeled could be penalized simply by making the vendor liable for repairs, or by having to pay AMD a crapload of $$.

    Poof, no more (especially) unstable systems with the AMD name on them, and no more angry overclockers.

    Or am I smoking crack? I'm basing this on the way Smith & Wesson is handling their vendors after the lawsuit, but processors are not handguns.


    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • Actually, you don't need a PROM (or, exactly, you don't need a specific PROM : the Duron/Tbird surface copper contact rows can be seen as a special-purpose PROM in its own right).
    All you'd need is a way to read the copper contact values (some mechanism like CPUID) into the processor's registers.

    The problem is, the BIOS is waaaay out of control from AMD (or Intel). There could be "black hat" motherboard sellers which could quite easily sell "mute" motherboards (all motherboards sold right now are "mute"), so that the luse^Wconsumer still get screwed.

  • Sure enough, Tom's Hardware has done it again. Although it may seem messy, removing fine lines from the cpu packaging itself with etching solution, it sure beats cracking open the Athlon casing and constructing (or buying) a hack method of setting clock multipliers.

    The thing that gets me is: there is no (obvious) reason that a motherboard manufacturer couldn't produce a board that 'ignores' AMDs settings. It could provide a display such as: CPU: AMD Duron 700 @ 950Mhz because it could get the manufacturers specification from the links on the cpu and then use its own settings for the actual clock. Flashing something like an omnious red "CPU Overclocked!" message on startup would dismay would-be reseller from selling cpus out of spec to unsuspecting users and tarnishing AMDs well earned brandname. Is this a viable solution for hardcore overclockers and AMD alike?

    Just my 2c but at the current abismal $AU exchange rate that comes to about 1.2c US! Utopia isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  • AMD is looking out for its less savvy customers, namely those who buy whole systems at once. A remarker could just buy several of those motherboards, build systems, overclock the chip, and then sell them for a great profit. Then, when he starts getting sufficiently paranoid, he disappears. It's not that hard, really.

    AMD was attempting to, but has failed, to prevent a remarker from having the technology to cost-effectively remark their chips. The chips are overclockable, as you can see here [tomshardware.com].

    -Phredrick Dobbs
    Emperor of the Universe
    Grand and High Protector of Everything

  • You can still overclock Athlon/Duron the same way you do Celeron/PIII by increasing FSB speed.

    There is no difference between AMD and Intel in this regard - they BOTH lock the multiplier. While it might have been cool to allow it to be adjusted, there is no way to prevent remarkers from abusing this.

    Given that AMD has been selling 900MHz Thunderbirds downbinned to 700MHz, and that Duron appears equally overclockable (same way as Celeron), I'd still rate AMD as very overclocker friendly!
  • I guess I liked the idea of a non-locked processor when I first saw the review, although I'm not sure why. But I also didn't believe that AMD would really produce the new chips without locking the multiplier. Obviously they are concerned about remarking...we've seen plenty of evidence that it happens.

    But what about a less sinister reason? It doesn't make much economic sense for AMD to sell a 500MHz processor that any old Joe can overclock to 700 or 800MHz just by changing the multiplier. And what happens when somebody really juices the chip and it fries? Is AMD supposed to replace it under warranty? Obviously not, but how are they to know?

    Of course, the determined hacker is going to overcome this, I'm sure. You hear about all sorts of tweaks, from add-in interfaces to a soldering glob job to conductive ink on the traces. And that's OK...because it's pretty apparent when the chip fails what caused it.

    I'd sure like to have a non-locked processor, but I think that they are a thing of the past...and given that chip prices tend to fall rapidly, I think that overclocking is less of a way to get a faster chip cheaper and more of a way to get bragging rights.

    My take? It's a non-issue.

    =h=

  • I think AMD no longer gives a rat's patoot what overclockers do. When they needed every sale they could, of course they glommed on and 'allowed' hackers to OC their chips. Now that they have just enough respectibility (again:) and just enough OEM contracts (again:) they no longer need you. Don't worry: should the sales swing to Intel as a result of this or Merced, or whatever, AMD will once again be trying to court the OC crowd.

    (BTW, for those who care: I tend to be chip on the processor and spend money on the graphics, network, and disk subsystems. Works for me.)

  • The real reason Intel/AMD don't like overclocking chips is because it allows people to buy cheaper chips rather than the more expensive, faster ones. Seeing as the actual production cost of all the chips of the same type is basically the same, the margins are MUCH higher for units which pass testing at higher speeds. If they put in your (very sensible) idea they would basically be saying "hey guys - we don't mind if you spend $100 and instead of $400!", which is obviously against their best interest. By bringing up the spectre of "evil overclocking dealers" they can excuse putting in the multiplier locks etc.

  • imagine a beowulf cluster of those!
  • I've seen AUTOEXEC.BAT files with an
    ECHO Really Fast 486 at 50MHz
    in the first line (a few years back, when clock relabelling first started to be an issue for dodgy retailers). A few weeks ago I even saw a similar message in the boot.ini of an NT box ! Back in the days of Turbo buttons, some used to swear blind that the little LED displays on the front of the case (remember them ?) were an accurate measure of clock speed.

    If you want to stop customers being ripped off by dubious retailers, you need to start with smarter, or better informed, customers. Telling them that clock speed doesn't matter(*) and that bundled WinModems are evil would be a good start. PC buyers are still naive and falling for bad deals that only look impressive in an advert.

    (*) If it really matters to you, then it's your problem to find out how to check it. Don't be a label K1DD13 who thinks it's K00L just because it has the equivalent of a Tommy Hilfiger label on it.

  • I was lurking in alt.scooter (a discussion group for the dweebs among us who own motorscooters (including me =:-) ) and somebody with really bad english asked how to overclock his 50cc scooter. People do that sort of stuff a lot. a 50cc scooter is actually quite happily capable (on flat terrain) of going 40mph, but by law to be sold as a Class B moped in new york state they are governed to 30, which sucks.

    On the other hand my Vespa 90 goes 45 so i had to get a full motorcycle license to ride it. On the plus side, i can now legally ride my motorcycle too =:-)
  • We need to realize that there are more "average joes" out there than "Technically advanced users." Besides... There will be workarounds.
  • It's 'miracle' enough that they're yielding chips as fast as they are these days. Consider that if there's a 'clever trick' that can be used to squeeze more out of the chips, AMD is already doing so.

    True... but not at the low end. I've read many an article telling how the low-end Slot-A Athlons (550-700 MHz) are really re-marked 750's, because they aren't much harder to make, and it's simpler to make them in large batches and mark 'em down as needed.

    So while it's true that it's a 'miracle' that they can make the high-end clocks... the low end sometimes has a lot of room. That's why 1GHz t-bird only overclock to around 1.1GHz... and even that probably isn't altogether stable. Wherease a Slot-A 550 can be easily overclocked to 750Mhz, sometimes higher, depending on the batch.

    -rt-
  • The Government wants to reign in control so that bad people don't have them. Bad people will still have them and now I won't.. Why.. cause I'm a good person.. and good people get fucked every single day because of a stupid people. I just wish I lived in a world where when stupid people did something, people realized it was stupid people and not the good people. Dammit, don't tell me how to live! I'm an adult dammit.

    -Malachi

  • Many computer companies never were enthusiasts. Apple started out that way but IBM never did and many other startups stopped being enthusiasts very early when they realized they could make a buck.

    Enthusiasts are not an accurate predictor. While linux seems to be taking off, tons of other enthusiast projects have gone nowhere. Tons of enthusiasts still write text adventures on the net, but I doubt a video game company is really going to start developing them commercially again.

    Companies develop for a platform for several reasons. One, it has the most marketshare so they can make more profit. Two, its easiest to develop for so they can make lots of profit. Three, its what the company itself uses so they know there is a market. Linux faces many problems because its not the marketshare leader and its not what the company uses either. It can easily slip under the non-technical management radar even though the techs all use it at home. All things being equal Linux is probably easier to develop for, but a company may not have many/any professional linux programmers, so all things may not be equal.

    BTW you have no "right" to overclock. So while AMD may be hurting its enthusiast market, its also going to make more money because many of those enthusiasts are going to have to buy more expensive chips now.

  • ...and given that chip prices tend to fall rapidly, I thinkthat overclocking is less of a way to get a faster chip cheaper and more of a way to get bragging rights.

    I agree with the most part, but I think that the price gaps between high and low end processors can be a little puzzling. Look at any table of speed/price for Pentium IIIs or Athlons and there is a point in the table where prices suddenly rise by hundreds of dollars for a puny 50Mhz increase. A 650 Mhz Athlon (we don't have Duron here in oz yet) is 70% the speed of a 950, but less than 30% of the price. The money I'd save by purchasing a cpu for a few hundred dollars less (and overclocking for the same performance) would buy a nice stick of ram, a big hard disc etc.

  • Actually it can be done fairly easily through PR. The same sort of idea but make available a program that will look the CPU Serial# up in the AMD database on-line. Require AMD authorized resellers to include some funky floppy/CD with the program on it (of course it works in Win32 only but you can cut/paste the serial number into an on-line form)... call it the TrueMHz(tm) program... "Does you AMD processor have TrueMHz?"(tm).

    Ooo... ahhh... a new buzz word.
  • with my incredible power switch, i can underclock my awesome machine to 0 MHz.
  • On-die fuses.

    The same die is used for multiple speeds, as noted elsewhere, and chips get sold at the speed for which they test reliably. There's no way of knowing which chip will be a 700 and which a 750, and thus the chip can't be set to directly reveal its identity.

    However, the *range* of speeds at chich a chip might test are known ahead of time. With this, it is possible to put something destructable to indicate speed. Have fuses inside for the range of 600-900, in increments of whatever, and blow those for speeds in excess of the rating. A similar method for the physcial chips would be break-off tabs indicating hte speed; break off distance beyond which the chip isn't verified.

    hawk
  • Actually on latest Amd processors there are no resistors but rather the multiplier is locked by burning jumpers with laser after the chip tested. Tom's Hardware has a little more on this..
  • Why do you have not have the "right" to overclock? Should the hardware designer not be at liberty to apply whatever clock (s)he likes to any chips in the design? The manufacturers publish datasheets which show the timing graphs, but what right do the manufacturers have to mandate the clock rate which is applied to their chips?
  • The "...ar[e]n't as stable as advertized[sic]..." argument could only fly if they actually advertised the chips overclocking ability as a feature. AMD has never boasted OC as a feature for consumers. I doubt their decision has anything to do with Intel. It's just a natural decision they were forced into because (probably) they get a bad rap when some poor schlep burns up his new computer. The consumer doesn't/shouldn't HAVE to know about overclocking. His first reaction to a fried AMD chip will be "AMD sucks. Their chips don't work." This hurts AMD.
  • Tom tells you how to over clock it anyway. It's just a little harder. goto http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/00q3/000711/index. html and Tom will tell all.
  • ...how to find out if a system is overclocked or not? That's easy: Every CPU has a unique serial number (like the PIII). AMD publishs a database on their web site which shows which serial number runs with which clock speed. You can even create a little program that will read that serial, log on to the web site, and display the clock speed of your CPU vs. the clock speed of your system. Of course this rises a few privacy questions... but this could be overcome.
  • AMD has a horrible problem with people remarking their Slot1 chips. The problem is most distinct in Australia. Read the Monday Blurn on Tom's Hardware [tomshardware.com] for the scoop (including the contents of correspondence from AMD. However, this morning Tom turned around and disclosed how to get around the "lock" and overclock the chip anyway. The overclock involves burining away and recreating the contacts on the chip. The advantage to that is that chip alterations will be very, very, very obvious (or at least I believe that to be the case - we'll see soon).

  • Most classic Athlons don't overclock much past 105 FSB (before you go spouting the 200 FSB number at me, that's DDR, and most BIOSs use the smaller number, as far as I know).

    I don't see the newer chips ones being much different, and with BIOS settings going to 105, 110, and to the stratosphere, I don't see you getting much of a boost just by playing with the FSB speed. If you want the goods, you have to play with the multiplier.
  • I seem to have spotted your deliberate mistake. To run a CPU faster than it's standard rating you need to increase the clock multiplier, yes. However you also need to feed it extra energy to run faster, i.e. you have to up the voltage. Chris.
  • Intel already has some kind of PROM in their chip for the microcode/ID stuff and AMD could put something simular in too, in fact they only need some fuses which they can very very easily incorperate.

    Test/rate the chip and program speed in PROM and blow fuse to make reprogramming physically impossible, or just use a set of fuses and blow the right ones to encode the speed if you dont want to use EEPROM or some such.
  • This sux big fat oprah titties. I have on order, a motherboard and CPU, that I know COULD do 950Mhz+ but I WON'T be able to. So let's see my options now...

    1) Duron 600 with an Asus A7V with the VIA KT133 chipset, which will probably have just as many little problems as the KX133 did, seeing how they're just about the same. tentative price $250+

    2) Celery 2 566 overclocked to 873Mhz+ on the very excellent stable 440BX chipset price $215

    I was all for getting a Duron, but now after waiting and waiting for a decent mobo, they're coming out overpriced and castrated, just what I wanted. Bah, if no one was allowed to know about the clock multipliers before hand I'd have nothing to complain about, but it's kinda like hearing from a friend that he test drove a kick ass car. Then you go to buy one, and they stuck something behind the gas pedal so you can't push it all the way down, but the price remains the same.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In most modern chips you can only underclock down to some minimum rate. Below that rate the dynamic registers within the CPU and other associated chips doesn't get refreshed often enough and the whole system crashes.

    I know, because I progressively underclocked a 286 system years back. It started out with a 16 MHz oscillator block (8 MHz system) and worked when I ran it with a 2 MHz oscillator block. I have some 32 KHz blocks, however, that it just wouldn't work with.

    It's painful watching a 8 MHz machine go through a POST running at 1 MHz, mind you. You end up counting through each step of the floppy drive stepper motor during the floppy drive seek. If you tolerate waiting through the Memory check, of course.
  • Given that most motherboards that can accept the Pentium III already have at least ATA-33 IDE hard drive support, the best thing to do is get a 7200 rpm or faster hard drive. That makes a big difference if you're reading big files.

    And with the price of CD-ROM drives so darned cheap nowadays, you should also consider getting a 48X to 52X drive for US$50-US$60, too. ;-)

    When your system has enough system RAM, it will run quite fast because the OS doesn't have to use the hard drive as virtual memory, which speeds things up quite a bit.
  • So this person suggests a solution and then explains how his solution won't and can't work.

    And then people moderate it up as insightful.

    I don't get it.
  • Depending on what industry a developer works in, all sorts of horrible things can happen if chips are designed in out of spec. In the Medical Device Manufacturing industry, you'd damn well better be using chips within the specification of the manufacturer. I suppose in more trivial markets, i.e. game consoles, designers can get away with whatever they feel like doing.

    No offense, but I think you are missing the point. I totally agree that engineers aren't supposed to design out of spec, but I think the original poster was talking about the end user. If I buy a CPU, I would think I absolutely have the right to do with it whatever I want. I can fry it in the microwave if I want to, I can overclock if I want to. All on my own risk, naturally.

  • I don't think the original poster's point was that companies should start major development projects based on what the enthusiasts were doing, just to be "ahead of the curve". He's just looking for customer service, and he sees no reason why the customers most excited about a company's products are the ones the company seems least interested in keeping.

    My take on it is that they figure they have to do less to keep you as a customer, because you're already really psyched about their product. Of course, if the companies were more encouraging to the enthusiasts, they might get a competing company's "enthusiasts" to jump ship. And if customers paid attention to the way these companies treated loyal fans, they might be a little leery of committing their business to a company whose level of service varies inversely with how intersted the customer is in the product.

    Ah, well. One more reason to get on the clue train [cluetrain.org].

    phil

  • The serial number which is printed onto the chip package can be rubbed down and a new serial number can be added. It just makes remarking a little more difficult.

    This happened with the Pentium MMX and with DRAM modules some years ago. And Intel decided correctly that the only solution is a multiplier lock.

  • This is a bit of a rant beyond the AMD thingie, so bear with me.

    There's a trend running through the industry. When linux programmers write *free* drivers for new hardware, oftentimes the manufacturer is very reluctant to support the OS. Sometimes the developers have to struggle to wrench out closed specs to write the drivers, and still the corporation sees it fit to at best ignore it. Oh, and by the way, this results in more of their products being sold.

    Enthusiasts are the forerunners to new technology. Generally they are the first to embrace it and forecast where the industry is going. At the very least, they provide valuable feedback. Yet for some reason, the history of the computer industry has seen established companies simply ignore enthusiasts. This goes for mainframe makers who ignored the PC, *nix vendors which dismissed linux as a toy, and MS which dissed the internet as a useless fad. It may also be that the music industry is on this track by opposing mp3 fans instead of seeing where they are headed.

    As a larger trend, when companies which started out in the garage lose touch with their roots and ignore enthusiasts, it might mean they crumble under their own weight. But in specific cases, I simply fail to understand why companies don't support them. For instance, linux today has millions of users, and yet when I go to logitech's page to see if their cordless mouse works with linux, there is NO info on it at all. I have to dredge thru deja.com to see if anyone has posted it. Why? Does logitech not see the benefit of spending a few thousand $ to hire someone to update their web site with info about linux? Or even if drivers are needed, can't they hire a couple of guys to write them? Even if a small fraction of the linux base buys their mice, they have made a good profit.

    What am I missing here?


    I agree that enthusiats really help decide where the market goes, but you have to remember that until something reaches the rest of the market, it is a very small niche product, that doesn't really count as far as revenue goes. Let's take the Logitech mouse example. Let's say there 500,000,000 computers in the US today. Of those, maybe 5% need a new mouse per year (and that's being REALLY generous). That's 25 million mice sold. Linux has maybe 5% (that's probably a little high, but it works)of the PC market, so that's 1,250,000 Linux users who need mice. OF these, maybe 40% will buy a Logitech mouse. That's 50,000 mice. And probably half of these people would be influenced by whether they are using drivers from Logitech, or ones that someone else has written and uploaded to FreshMeat. So that's 25,000 mice purchases that could be affect, out of 25 million mice (that's .1% of total mouse sales). If they make $5 in profit from each mouse, that is a total of $125,000 per year, which is nothing and probably just about what they would have spent to make the drivers.


    People can talk about how companies support causes, but in the end, it all comes down to money. There is usually not any money to be made on the small enthusiasts market, until it is no longer an enthusiast's market.


    And don't forget that the enthusiast market is wrong as often as it is right, so it's not really a sure gamble.

  • That depends on what clock speed you're talking about. The lower speed parts overclock better because there's more headroom in the core voltage.

    The Duron, which is cheaper and only exists in "slower" (still 600MHz+) speed grades is much more overclockable though.
  • See, the funny thing is, you think you're being funny but you're actually mistaking the "no power" state for the "no clocks" state. Running a system at 0MHz is a sort of demanding task; it requires that NO timing signals be sent to the CPU (thus maintaining the CPU indefinitely in whatever state it's in), but that the CPU be ready and waiting to start working again the instant the clock starts again.
  • Umm, i can think of a way to do it, but it isn't a technological solution.

    You do the same thing to a 2bit computer store that overclocks machines and sells them as legit that you do to a 2bit clothing store that sells fake versace jackets as legit. You call in the police, and the police charge them with fraud and/or misleading business practices and/or deceptive advertising. I guess they could claim that since that 500 mhz AMD overclocked to 800 mhz really was running at 800 mhz, they were telling the truth even if AMD intended it to run at 500 mhz, but i seriously doubt that they could get away with it. Not that i know anything about law.

    As for how you catch them.. well, i'm not so sure about that.

    Still, this isn't a technological problem. It's a socioeconomic problem. Don't try to find technological solutions to law enforcement problems; technology can always be worked around by just adding more technology to the mix. Laws can't really be worked around, and if there are holes in the laws the laws can be changed. This is, of course, assuming that the republicans don't suddenly decide that they will filibuster and block all "bills requiring computer vendors to state openly whether they have overclocked or otherwise modified the material they are selling from the state it was intended by the manufacturer" unless the bill contains a passage banning second trimester abortions. -mcc (score, 0: gibberish)

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @08:10AM (#943466) Homepage Journal
    Reason Number 1. It would mean having different CPU dies for each chip they sell. They aren't going to do that. They prefer to simply build a batch of chips and depending on how clean they come out you put a label on to claim a specific clock speed. Yes. Specific clock speeds are determined after the fact before labeling is done, not before.

    Not quite - if they are locking frequencies then what they're probably doing now is bonding out the frequency programming pads when the package the die - what this means is that the robot that solders the tiny wires between the chip carrier and the die wires up different wires depending on whether wafer sort decided that the dies were fast enough ie they decided how fast the die ought to be before they packaged it, not after - most chips get 2 sorts of tests - before and after in order to weed out bad die early - packaging is an expensive step - also all the die on a wafer tend to run at the same speed because they've all received the same processing - sometimes extra circuitry is added to a wafer to allow it to be easily characterised.

    What they could do instead is to add an extra set of pins saying what speed they think the chip should run at and make those available in an internal register for the OS to print at boot time. This way you could have overclocking and a CPU that announced how fast its manufacturer thinks it should run.

  • How do you allow people to overclock their own systems, but prevent 2 bit computer stores from overclocking systems and selling them as the faster system. I would not be happy to find out that that 800mhz system I just bought was an overclocked 500mhz system.

    Processor serial numbers.

    Oops did I say something wrong?

    There is no reason not to have a unique number assigned to every CPU manufactured. If companies lock their software to a CPU serial number that's their own perogative but I certainly wouldn't be buying software from them. A unique ID which could be fed into a CGI script at AMD.COM and return what it was desgined to run at would be the best by far.

  • They're complaining because a motherboard manufacturer had some DIP switches on a pre-release board but got rid of them for the production product. Big deal. That's good engineering; any diddle knobs, DIP switches, or jumper pins you can eliminate should be eliminated; you get rid of a manufacturing step and simplify installation.

    I'd be more impressed with the overclocking community if they reported uptime. "It works" does not mean "it stayed up long enough to run the CPU speed meter program". "It works" means "we ran the AMI CPU diagnostics [ami.com] for 72 hours with the machine in the burn-in oven at the max rated system temperature and there were no errors".

    If they worked on cars, the overclocking crowd would be at the side of the freeway waiting for a tow truck.

  • Look, I said originally that more or less that overclocking can be dangerous -if you don't know what you are doing-.

    Overclocking is more than just cranking up the speed of the CPU. Because higher speeds can heat up the CPU quite a bit, cause bus speeds to be beyond the safe limits of many peripheral cards, and in many cases cause a bigger draw on the power supply, knowledgeable people will do things like get a high-quality CPU heatsink/fan, extra cooling fans, a beefier power supply and check around to get peripheral cards that works at high-than-normal bus speeds.

    In short, if you want to overclock your CPU, you better do your homework or you'll be wondering why the CPU literally melted down and you're getting strange OS crashes.
  • K, that makes sense, I guess. Still, someone pointed out that you still rely on the BIOS to faithfully report the manufacturer's rated speed. Not sure how you ever get past that anyway.
  • You can add a security fuse that is blown after the chip's ROM is programmed. Once the security fuse is blown, the ROM can't be reprogrammed.
  • Reason Number 1. It would mean having different CPU dies for each chip they sell. They aren't going to do that. They prefer to simply build a batch of chips and depending on how clean they come out you put a label on to claim a specific clock speed. Yes. Specific clock speeds are determined after the fact before labeling is done, not before.

    Actually, it wouldn't necessarily mean that at all. The way they will probably do it, which Intel is already talking about, is to install a small PLL (Phase Locked Loop) circuit into the processor at marking time. This locks the processor to one frequency, period. It would not only prevent multiplier changes, it would also prevent changing BUS SPEEDS. Intel seems to be ate up that people are buying Celerons and setting them at the 100 Mhz bus that the die was designed for.

    I know - the article is about AMD. If you want to know how to overclock these processors, there is an article on Toms Hardware today that tells exactly how to do it. Multipliers and all.
  • The chip alterations probably will be obvious, but the "boxed" processors are sold with a fan attached. It should be possible to overclock a processor, put it into a counterfeit box, move the holograms from the original box, reattach the factory fan, and sell it as a higher clocked processor. When the fan is permanently attached to the processor, nobody ever looks underneath it.
  • No. He's a fucking moron. However, I'll let you off on the assumption you're insulting the moderators, not making a serious claim :)
  • Go Here. [tomshardware.com]

    Fixed.

    Mong.

    * ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • I'm basing this on the way Smith & Wesson is handling their vendors after the lawsuit, but processors are not handguns.

    What vendors? Hardly anyone is buying S&W since they bent over for Clintigula.

    --

  • If you have have a clue, you know what the limits of your components are, and you don't go beyond those limits. Chips are not designed for a particular speed; they are simply sold by batch. Some will clock faster than others. If you *don't* clock your chip to the fastest speed that it will run at reliably, you're missing out on performance, and not getting your money's worth, IMO.

    I've been quite happy with my OCd Celerys; the one I'm using now is an SMP system with two 333s @ 500 MHz @ 2.00v. Didn't even have to boost the voltage! :-)

    And it's been extremely stable.

    --

  • Too bad - my PMMX 200 wasn't locked, and it would run at 100MHz bus speed. Stable at 250, 266, and almost at 300 (for a few hours anyway). Those were the days... the 300a @ 450 isn't too much of a slouch, either...
  • Will this lead to a slocket-A setup, and continued sales of slot A boards?

    I mean, those with Slot A boards can just pop the case off of the module and stick a goldfinger on there, but the upcoming PGA style AMD chips aren't going to work quite so easily...

  • The "sell one person at a time" really throws a wrench into things. For one thing, this means that AMD can't sell bulk anywhere. They have to handle direct, individual level sales, which is a significant administrative burden. Secondly, they're never going to make enough money on individual Mobo sales. Manufacturers make their money selling to retailers and wholesalers in bulk. They cut out admin and other costs. Turning any profit for AMD would be very unlikely, once they've gone to the trouble of developing a board (especially since that isn't their area) and building the infrastructure to sell and move the things.

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"
  • That's entirely feasible, however chips can't just 'spout out' what speed they are supposed to be running at. If you want that information printed at bootup, the BIOS has to do it.

    BIOS's are flashable, and it's fairly easy to change a text string (like "533") to another one (like "800") with a hex editor.

    Once you have the thing in protected mode running a known OS (something you have loaded yourself, lest the evil bios flashers of doom also edit a couple DLL's or kernel /proc code), then the BIOS is, in theory, out of the picture and cannot interfere with a protected mode API for accessing this PROM.

    I'd imagine you could put a protected mode CPU identifier program like this on a floppy disk (after all, memtest86 compiles down to 18kb or so).

    But, you can hardly expect the target market that AMD or Intel is attempting to defend to do that. So that's why AMD and Intel don't do that. Oh, and people don't buy motherboards with non-flashable BIOS's anymore.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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