Intel has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged that the company manipulated benchmark scores for its first generation Pentium 4 Processors. The suits also alleges that Hawelett-Packard helped Intel manipulate scores in order to cover up “pervasive design flaws” that resulted in “dismal” performance compared to previous generation Pentium III and AMD Athlon CPUs.
The lawsuit states, “Intel used its enormous resources and influence in the computing industry to, in Intel’s own words, ‘falsely improve’ the Pentium 4’s performance scores. It secretly wrote benchmark tests that would give the Pentium 4 higher scores, then released and marketed these ‘new’ benchmarks to performance reviewers as ‘independent third-party’ benchmarks. It paid software companies to make covert programming changes to inflate the Pentium 4’s performance scores and even disabled features on the Pentium III so that the Pentium 4’s scores would look better by comparison.”
When the Pentium 4 was introduced it brought with it a new micro-architecture called Netburst. It featured a 20-stage pipeline, which was twice a long as its predecessor in order to hit higher clock speeds. Intel even stretched things out further in Prescott, which has a 31-stage pipeline. The downside of design was that the longer stage pipeline meant a greater penalty when branch mis-predictions occurred. Intel has figured that the higher clock speeds would make up for the deficiencies in the longer pipelines. Power dissipation and heat presented challenges that saw the end of Netbusrt in 2006.
The lawsuit says that Intel deceived customers by introducing a pair of benchmarking tests called WebMark 2001 and SYSmark 2001. Both of these “made the Pentium 4 appear superior to the Pentium III and Anthlon.” The lawsuit also claims that these benchmarks were created in-house by Intel and not by a neutral benchmarking company like Intel claimed.
Intel has agreed to settle the lawsuit agreeing to pay each Pentium 4 customer $15 in reimbursement. This is if you bought a computer with a Pentium 4 processor between November 20, 2000 and June 30, 2002. If you did you can file a claim here and find out more about the lawsuit.
Image courtesy of carrotmadman6.