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1998-05-27 18:29:09


You Can't Test Noncomplant Chips: Shutdown



There may be as many as 25 billion embedded chips. (David Hall estimates 40 billion.) As few as one out of a thousand may be bad. That means 25 million bad chips. They must be identified, replaced, and the systems tested. But.....

According to some experts, the figure is above 1%. A 1% defective chip rate would mean 250 million bad chips. If it's 2%, it's 500 million bad chips. (Notice the error in this article -- off by 10 to one, too low.)

They are hard to find.

Replacements may be out of production.

The new chips may not fit the old motherboards.

And if you test them, you may shut down the system.

This is from Westergaard's site (May 27). The author is Victor Porlier.

* * * * * * * * *

John McMillan of CalTrans says that even though microchips in building operations and standard office equipment have many features in common, most embedded systems are unique to each enterprise. In the testing of the chips in their operations, CalTrans has found that two percent are going to be a problem. "That means that if there are 25 billion chips worldwide, we have to find the 50 million with date-aware, date-required, date-processing functions that Y2K will trigger."

"The problem is compounded," he said, " because you can't duplicate the embedded system environment for testing like you can a software application; for many devices you can't roll the date forward without destroying the equipment." CalTrans has found that those buildings put up or remodeled between 1985 and 1993 are particularly vulnerable to Y2K embedded systems problems.

Embedded systems are often hidden in the walls or machinery. An inability to track down the original vendor is common. "We are finding it is taking us about four hours per device to test out after getting them on our inventory." No wonder the embedded chip issue is of increasing concern.


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