LAB NOTES

LAB NOTES

First 820s get 86ed. Intel Corp. last month said it would replace as many as a million motherboards shipped since last November in the company's biggest recall since that of the first Pentium processors with floating-point errors back in 1993.

Late last year, Intel introduced the 820 chip set, designed specifically for its fastest processors and fast memory from Rambus Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.

To accommodate existing supplies of synchronous dynamic RAM, Intel made a version of the 820 motherboard that works with SDRAM, which is cheaper than Rambus RAM.

But the memory translator hub, which translates SDRAM signals for compatibility with the 820 chip set, created too much noise or so-called crosstalk. Some systems with the defective hub would spontaneously hang or reboot.

The errors also appeared in a few workstation systems using Intel's 840 chip set.

The good news is that many system vendors recognized the 820's problems and did not ship systems with SDRAM or chose not to use the 820 chip set at all.

If you bought a system between November 1999 and May 10, 2000, with an 820 chip set motherboard and SDRAM, or if you're not certain, go to www.intel.com/support/mth/ to download a utility that checks for a defective hub.

Free for only $5. The lab recently went hunting for the free black ink promised by Xerox Corp. for many of its Tektronix solid-ink printers. What we found was not quite free.

All the Web sellers listed at www.tektronix.xerox.com charged at least some money'that is, if they offered any black ink packaged by itself instead of bundled with other $70 supplies of color inks.

We paid a penny at Dell Computer Corp.'s GigaBuys site at www.gigabuys.com. Shipping cost an extra $3.73.

Computer Discount Warehouse Inc. of Vernon Hills, Ill., at www.cdw.com, charged 13 cents for the black ink plus $5.49 shipping.

Insight Enterprises Inc. of Tempe, Ariz., at www.insight.com, charged 99 cents plus shipping at $6.60.

Multiple Zones International Inc. of Renton, Wash., at www.zones.com where PC Zone and Mac Zone are located, topped the list at $4.99.

Computer lingo. Speaking of Xerox, it has plans with 3M Co. to release electronic paper by midyear.

E-paper has the ability to erase whatever's written to it and accept a rewrite. It puts voltages across a thin plastic-like display sheet made of a material called gyricon.

The voltages change the colors of small beads embedded within the sheet to simulate erasing or writing.

'Michael Cheek, mcheek@gcnlab.com,

and Carlos A. Soto, csoto@gcn.com

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