Intel last week introduced a software utility which it hopes will put a stop to the illegal trade in over-clocked chips. Over-clocking is a technique used to make a processor run faster than its intended speed.
While this in itself is not illegal, re-labelling the processors and selling them on under the pretence that they are genuine is.
A common practice is to take a low-speed chip such as a 300MHz PII, over-clock it and label it as perhaps a 450MHz part, allowing the criminal to sell it for hundreds of pounds more than its real value. Over-clocked chips generally suffer from poor reliability as they are often running at temperatures far higher than is safe, particularly if an unsuspecting user does not know his machine is using such a chip.
While users are unlikely to come across an over-clocked chip in a machine from larger PC manufacturers, it's not uncommon to find them in systems manufactured by small "garage" PC builders who have much lower profit margins.
Intel's new tool, called the Processor Frequency ID utility, interrogates the chip and reports its original clock speed to the user, allowing them to decide whether the processor has been modified by a third party.
The utility only works with Pentium III processors. It can be downloaded from
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