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Pentium II Processors - Genuine?
Page 1 of 1
Author: kan
Date of review: 29-June-1998
Type Of Review: Articles/Editorials

How do you know if your Pentium II processor is genuine? Tray Pentium II processors are suspicious. Even 'retail box' processors are suspicious.

You bought from an authorised distributor? Cases were found where even authorised distributors are distributing 'remarked' Pentium II processors.

Your retail box may say 'Inside contains 400 MHz', but in fact it is only a 350 MHz.

According to an unconfirmed report, Interpol officers in the Netherlands found several 10,000 empty Pentium II casings in a warehouse. These most certainly weren't proper Intel spares but were intended to be used in forgeries. In most cases, the casings are forced open and replaced by ones with a more 'advanced' label.

I am going to introduce a simple program that is able to test your processor - ctP2Info. This program by Andreas Stiller, determines the internal configuration of the Pentium II and shows whether Error Correction (ECC) exists and whether it's enabled or disabled along with other information.

233 MHz
Nobody will forge this processor. Why? This is because it's the lowest end of the Pentium II processors.

266 MHz
It is possible for the 233 MHz to run at 266 MHz. Intel has implemented the 'overspeed protection' on the newer 233 MHz processors to prevent this.

300 MHz
Most people forge this processor from 233/266 processors. But this is easy to check with ctP2Info. Genuine 300-MHz-processors always have ECC, according to the Intel specification (Intel Pentium II Specification Update, Intel #243337), while 233 MHz and most 266 MHz processors do not.

333 MHz
They are clock locked at 5.0x. New processors cannot be forged easily. 333 MHz are manufactured on .25 micron, which runs typically at around 30+ degree celsius. If your 333 MHz runs hot (over 50 degree celsius), you may have a 300 MHz (.35 micron) forged to 333 MHz.

350 MHz
350 MHz P2 can be identified as forged if they are made from older 333 MHz models with stepping 0 (mask aD0). All Pentium II Deschutes processors rated at 350 MHz or higher have stepping 1 (mask aD1) or higher.

The real 350 MHz we have in house have an aluminium plate with rectangular grooves at the back which are missing on the 333 MHz. But even without this evidence there is a way of detecting the fraud. Both the 333 MHz and the 350 MHz uses the S82459AC tag ram, which are rated at 5.5 ns.

400 MHz
No real way to determine whether it's a forgery from 350 MHz except to open up the case (which voids the warranty). Only the 400 MHz uses the fastest tag ram S82459AD, which is rated at 5 ns.

Celeron 266/300 MHz
The Celeron module does not have any L2 cache and only consists of a circuit board, the kernel and a few components for line termination. Since the Deschutes kernel can take clock rates from 333 up to 400 MHz, the Celeron models could probably be run at 333 MHz, too, if it weren't for the overspeed protection. Whichever multiplier you choose: The Celeron will always run at the specified clock rate. It could be overspeed, however, by using an external rate of 100 MHz. However, there is a catch: Since the multiplier cannot be changed, a Celeron 266 which has been manipulated this way will run at 400 MHz, a Celeron 300 will even run at 450 MHz.

A further possibility to identify a forgery is the 2D matrix on the processor top. It tells the clock rate and the serial number of the processor. Unfortunately, so far only Intel and a few selected distributors have the scanners required for reading the matrix.

With this, I hope you have a clearer understanding on the Pentium II processors. You can download ctP2Info from our Utilities section.

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