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Re: Article in Time Magazine

[email protected] (Hadmut Danisch) wrote:

>> All the more reason to use Linux or FreeBSD - an OS you have the source for,
>> on hardware that you can examine.

>How would you want to examine a pentium processor?

>Just an idea:

>Take the block move instructions and attach a little state machine.
>If a certain sequence of bytes is detected, a fuse somewhere on the chip
>is burned and the processor could switch irreversible into a mode where
>it does partial incorrect calculations. Send someone an email, an IP packet
>or an ethernet packet and you can expect the packet to be moved by a
>block move command. 


Err, ummm -- what I meant is that _you_ are the one that purchases,
installs, and decides on the processor, moterhbooard, RAM and accessories
(like a PCI video card, SCSI controller, etc).   If you want to go all the
way to the microcode on the chip, then that's another thing altogether.  I
was mentioning microcode in the IBM way, being the thing you load on the IPL
startup disk for a naked machine, not the embedded circuitry.  

Short of having a degree in Electronics Engineering, along with a scanning
electron microscope (for viewing the chip masks) and a whole lot of
experience with the chip in question, you are stuck with a trust of the chip
manufacturer.  No disagreement there.  But, should there be a malicious
"bug" in a chip, expecially in the PC world, it would show up sooner or
later (as shown by the Pentium FP error).  ALl the more reason to NOT be the
first one on the block to upgrade (I still have Xenix on a 286 for my kid,
Linux up on my old 386DX40, and my 486(NT) is just fine.  I only recently
aquired my first Pentium now that they are cheap enough for a P5-90).