Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Hardware Your Rights Online

Does A Pentium 4 Need A Weapons License? 766

Posted by timothy
from the it-can't-even-carry-a-gun dept.
WindBourne writes "It appears to be that the U.S. house of Reps. want to classify Pentium 4 and above CPUs as weapons. This would mean that all these will require export licenses. Apparently, they have not heard about that the far east has developed large CPUs as well that are used in beowulf clusters." According to the article, this clause is unlikely to appear in the final version -- but stranger things have happened.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Does A Pentium 4 Need A Weapons License?

Comments Filter:
  • I tought... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hummassa (157160) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:52AM (#9582169) Homepage Journal
    They were manufactured in Taiwan or someplace... ?! can anyone clarify this to me?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582218)
      well.. another country to be liberated soon
    • They were manufactured in Taiwan or someplace... ?!

      How do you say "Beowulf" in Mandarin?

    • Re:I tought... (Score:5, Informative)

      by VAXman (96870) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:59AM (#9582307)
      Most are manufactured in US; the only foreign countries where they are made are Ireland and Israel. They are packaged in various places around the world (Costa Rica, Malaysia, Philipines, etc.).
  • by Donny Smith (567043) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:53AM (#9582177)
    Athlon is definitively a dangerous weapon - it can cause 3rd degree skin burns
  • Air travel (Score:5, Funny)

    by eggoeater (704775) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:53AM (#9582182) Journal
    So can I still fly with my "weapon"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:53AM (#9582192)
    ..so perhaps we were justified going in there after all.
  • How would this help? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:53AM (#9582197) Homepage Journal
    Foreigners could simply obtain SPARC or MIPS specs and fab a multi-GHz version of those. Since these chips are better designed for multi-processing, foreign powers could scale them just as high as a PIV cluster, and run their nuclear simulations. Time to worry more about refined Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239.

    • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:55AM (#9582230)
      Now we're going to have to arrest you for disseminating this information.

      Sincerely,

      The Feds
    • by TamMan2000 (578899) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:17PM (#9582588) Journal
      Q: What did it take for the US to build it's first nuclear weapon?

      A: Several brilliant people and a hell of a lot less computing power than a single P4 (you could run all the programs they ran on a palm pilot in under a day).

      It would take even fewer brilliant people now, since it has been done before... Trying to keep the computing power to build a nuke out of the wrong hands is futile at best.
      • Generally there are two barriers to building a nuke:

        1. Obtaining the materials. Uranium is very difficult and expensive to refine. The US has done their best to keep their process for refining out of foreign hands, but someone with a large enough industrial infrastructure could figure it out. One reason why third world countries have to steal U235 is because they lack the necessary infrastructure.

        2. The only way to know if a bomb will fission properly (i.e. it will blow up and not just very hot) is to test it. This tends to show up on lots of spy satellites, seismic detection equipment, and radiation monitors. Thus enemies are generally prevented from completing any bomb they might be developing. The only known shortcut to this procedure is to use a computer to simulate the bomb. If the simulator results look good, they know they have a good chance that their bomb would work correctly during a live conflict.

        Remember, the biggest trick for third world and terrorists parties is to keep the weapon secret. It's somewhat difficult to stop after you've used it, but if people hear of it ahead of time you're program (and possibly you) is dead.
        • by TamMan2000 (578899) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:37PM (#9582847) Journal
          number 1 is the only real problem for a terrorist group.

          for number 2 they just do the test, at a target... If it fails, it is still a dirty bomb, if it suceeds, well then they blew up a city...

          Knowing that it will fission it not necisarry for using the weapon. If fact, a failed nuclear detonation on US soil would inspire extraordinary amounts of fear, a long the lines of "what if it works next time...?".

          For a 3rd world nation, a sucessful test is exactly what they want, a big sign that says "don't fuck with us, we got the bomb". They don't want secrecy, they want publicity.
          • by confused one (671304) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:47PM (#9582983)
            Yes, but there's a flaw in that logic. If a third world country sponsors terrorist who "test" a nuclear weapon in a US city... even if it doesn't work (dirty bomb)... we might be tempted to show them how a real one works.

            I'm not saying I condone this; that it's politically or morally correct. You have to admit it's a real possibility.

          • number 1 is the only real problem for a terrorist group.

            Correction, number 1 is only a real problem for anyone who would actually USE an ABomb in today's world. Larger countries (who are capable of developing an ABomb) certainly wouldn't be looking to tangle with the US's HBomb and Neutron bomb arsenal.

            for number 2 they just do the test, at a target... If it fails, it is still a dirty bomb, if it suceeds, well then they blew up a city...

            Believe it or not, the US is not a primary target for terrorists who get nukes. Most terrorist organizations want us out of the way because we help Israel. If they actually DID acquire a nuke, then they'd want to use it on the Israelis. The only downside is that a nuke that fizzled would only anger Israel and produce the combined force of Israel, the US, and many European powers against the perpetrator.

            If fact, a failed nuclear detonation on US soil would inspire extraordinary amounts of fear, a long the lines of "what if it works next time...?".

            For a 3rd world nation, a sucessful test is exactly what they want, a big sign that says "don't fuck with us, we got the bomb".


            Because they can already see that the US is going to roll over and let them keep "their bomb". ...

            HELL NO! We'd nuke their sorry asses (bomb and all) out of existence before we allowed a credible threat to US soil. Geez, what do we look like over here? Children who are afraid of being spanked with a rod? Hell, I'd be the first in line to sign up for war if we had a real nuclear threat pointed our way!
            • by TamMan2000 (578899) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:01PM (#9583140) Journal
              Because they can already see that the US is going to roll over and let them keep "their bomb". ...

              HELL NO! We'd nuke their sorry asses (bomb and all) out of existence before we allowed a credible threat to US soil.


              Why have we not turned North Korea into a parking lot by now if that is the case?

              We know it would be a blood bath for both sides if we invaded, and a nuclear preemptive strike would be completely unacceptable (plus they might actually be able to nuke Seoul in the time between becoming aware of our attack and impact). It is easier to let them have their deturant as long as they know that using it means they get nuked. It is a mini cold war.

              Geez, what do we look like over here? Children who are afraid of being spanked with a rod?

              A nuclear weapon is a lot more than a rod.
            • HELL NO! We'd nuke their sorry asses (bomb and all) out of existence before we allowed a credible threat to US soil. Geez, what do we look like over here? Children who are afraid of being spanked with a rod? Hell, I'd be the first in line to sign up for war if we had a real nuclear threat pointed our way!

              Pack your bags - N Korea has a nuke or three and the missiles to send them as far as Seattle. Did we invade them? No, we went after a third world pissant who was stabilizing his country.

        • by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:07PM (#9583211) Homepage
          1. Obtaining the materials. Uranium is very difficult and expensive to refine. The US has done their best to keep their process for refining out of foreign hands, but someone with a large enough industrial infrastructure could figure it out. One reason why third world countries have to steal U235 is because they lack the necessary infrastructure.


          Obtaining the materials is easy. I for instance just drive over to Gera-Leumnitz (it's on the Autobahn between me and my parents) and dig in the hills there. If someone wants to see an Uranium mine from close, I may direct you ;) You have a nice view on the Koenigstein mine near Dresden, if you go to the Koenigstein Fortress [festung-koenigstein.de].

          And the process itself is not that difficult. It's just very, very slow. Take any industry grade centrifuge (one to process dairy milk will do), coat it with something which doesn't get solved in Hydrofluorid (HF) (like porcellain, gold), solve the Uranium in HF to get UF6 (Uraniumhexafluorid) and start centrifuging. Because the weight difference between 235U and 238U is quite small (1%), it takes a very long time to enrich 238U, but it can be done. Everything else is patience.
        • by fnj (64210) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:29PM (#9583431)
          The only way to know if a bomb will fission properly (i.e. it will blow up and not just very hot) is to test it.

          Well, it's the only way to know 100%, but if competent engineers build a Little Boy (Hiroshima) gun-type bomb, they can be very, very confident without bothering to test it.

          The Little Boy bomb design was never tested because it was such a no-brainer that it would work. Built as a back-up to the Fat Man (Nagasaki) implosion type bomb, it was always taken for granted that it would work, while no one was that confident about Fat Man, which was why the design was tested in the Trinity test.

          In a gun-type bomb, you take a slug of fissile material with a hole in it, and build a gun into the bomb to literally shoot a fissile projectile into the hole. Nothing could be simpler in principle. You need precision and competence in the design, and you need to know that projectile will assemble into the slug, but not fly right through it, and you need to tend to some details I'm not going to enumerate, but that is pretty straightforward engineering.

          Little Boy was not very efficient. It had an 85 lb slug of U-235 and a 55 lb projectile of U-235, with what IIRC was a modification of a common 3" gun to shoot it. Only 1.38% of the U-235 actually fissioned, but that was enough to produce an explosion equal to 15,000 tons of TNT.

          Little Boy wasn't very "little" either (10 feet long, 9700 lb). But that isn't much of a package requirement to take out a city with a very high assurance factor.

          It always escaped me why the US (or someone else) didn't simply mass produce gun-type bombs, rather than apply the tremendous amount of science and engineering to perfect the implosion assembly type, of which Fat Man was the first design of many.
          • by HeghmoH (13204) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:14PM (#9586132) Homepage Journal
            It always escaped me why the US (or someone else) didn't simply mass produce gun-type bombs, rather than apply the tremendous amount of science and engineering to perfect the implosion assembly type, of which Fat Man was the first design of many.

            The gun design requires a lot of refined material, which is expensive. It also doesn't scale. You can make implosion bombs use fantastically small amounts of material, or you can scale their yield up greatly, or use them as the trigger to a fusion bomb, and they will be cheaper to produce (even if more expensive to design) than the gun design. When you're making thousands of them, using less material is a significant gain. When you're planning on using thousands of them in a full-scale war that you want some people to survive, using less material is also a significant gain. And when you want to stick them on top of missiles or inside bombers to launch them at your enemies, making them as small and as light as possible is yet another significant gain.
    • by onion2k (203094) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:34PM (#9582818) Homepage
      Better yet, as I'm a Brit I can make a killing buying these chips and sellng them on to countries that my government doesn't have silly rules against. Exactly the same way Europeans used to buy IBMs and sell them to Russia during the cold war.

      1. US government make silly rules.
      2. I start import/export co.
      3. ???
      4. Profit.

      Cheers.
  • by jokell82 (536447) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:53AM (#9582198) Homepage
    Back when the fastest x86 chip was a Pentium 2, the G3 received this same classification. Apple even ran ads that proclaimed their "weapons grade" status. Looks like Intel is finally catching up with an Apple chip that's two revisions old. :o)
  • by setzman (541053) <stzmanNO@SPAMstz ... sandremoveit.org> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582203) Journal
    This ignorance is often displayed by many politicians, regardless of political orientation. Anything we can do to change it? I really don't think so. Politicians just want to do what they can to get (re)elected.
  • new? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hennar (673480) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582204)
    xboxes are already illegal to export(from the US) to certain countries, and Dell also has an export statement when you order
  • by kalpol (714519) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582206) Homepage
    So are wars gonna be decided with Unreal Tournament now?
  • uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by ak3ldama (554026) <james_akeldama AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582207) Homepage Journal
    being in a large room full of developers sitting unhappily at cubicles is bad enough, but no we are all armed with weapons, ahhhh!!!
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582211) Homepage Journal
    my keyboard, in it's current condition, should be classified as a WMD.
  • by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:54AM (#9582220)
    I remember when the Playstation 2 was qualified as such (or so I remember) and it couldn't be exported to certain countries because it could be used in weapons or some BS like that.
  • by stang7423 (601640) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:55AM (#9582221)
    Can you imagine a beowulf cluster of congressman...

    It would be the only cluster in the world to slow down as you add nodes.
  • Get it right... (Score:5, Informative)

    by HardCase (14757) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:55AM (#9582225)
    It wasn't "the House of Representatives", it was Representative Duncan Hunter, a San Diego Republican who makes Rush Limbaugh look moderate...and that's coming from a registered Republican!

    The amendment will never leave the House.

    -h-
  • by theJerk242 (778433) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:55AM (#9582234) Homepage Journal
    Does A Pentium 4 Need A Weapons License?

    Sure, if you throw one hard enough.

  • by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#9582249) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean I need a CCW permit to stick a P4 in my pocket?
  • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#9582252) Homepage
    AMD would presumably love this - their Opterons are produced in Dresden and I can't see the Germans joining in on this.
    • I believe the export restriction would encompas anything the company made and sold within the US. This means that even though it is produced in a foreign country, the distrobution would still be limited if the company continues to operate withing the US.

      I also think that if they stoped selling in the US, they would have penatlies included to any other portion of the company that would still operate within the US. It is technicaly inclusive so a companiedoesn't just decide to operate outside the boundries o
    • > AMD would presumably love this - their Opterons are produced in Dresden and I can't see the Germans joining in on this.

      There's a firebombing joke in there somewhere.

  • by jeriqo (530691) * <jeriqo&unisson,org> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#9582256)
    Well, this already happened to the Powermac G4 back in 1999, since it was considered as a "super computer".

    More infos here [infoworld.com].
  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quixote (154172) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#9582257) Homepage Journal
    Given the fact that many P4s are made in Malaysia [octools.com] (among other countries), how exactly is the US going to enforce this?
    • Re:How? (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      The export restrictions would include the chips manufactured over seas. It would lay criminal penalties against the company and the executives if they knowingly sold to restricted countries even though they were manufactured in another country. The operations still conducting buisiness inside the US would encompass all it's foreign entities. If they pulled up and moved completly out of the ocuntry, then they wouldn't be allow to import again and there would still be a pending charge against them.

      This is
  • by machine of god (569301) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#9582264)
    Even if it did make sense, what's the point?

  • by Anonym1ty (534715) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:58AM (#9582292) Homepage Journal
    The use of a Pentium 4 or better as a weapon can easily be avoided by running any Windows variant on it.
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Funny)

    by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:58AM (#9582301)
    Everybody knows that all computers, and parts thereof are made here in the good old US of A, so if we don't export them, the moozlim ayrab terrorists can't get them. Our congressmen and senators are geniuses!
    /sarcasm
  • finally (Score:3, Funny)

    by scaaven (783465) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:59AM (#9582313)
    while they're at it, they need to punish the overclockers for making their weapons run faster
  • Plant location (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fruny (194844) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:00PM (#9582319)
    Obvious question: what fraction of Intel's chip manufactures is actually located in the USA?
  • Okay dude (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:00PM (#9582326)

    This is a stick-up. Give me all your money.

    No seriously, I'm packing a P4 3,4ghz. You do NOT want to fuck with me.

  • I knew it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sirgoran (221190) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:01PM (#9582342) Homepage Journal
    Right before the election Dubya will announce that he's found the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    They're sitting in boxes at the Bagdad CompUSA store marked "Intel inside"!

    Nice work!

    -Goran
  • by raider_red (156642) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:02PM (#9582353) Journal
    I'd hate to have to leave my laptop at home when I go to the coffee shop. Of course the part about concealing it could be difficult.
  • by at_kernel_99 (659988) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:04PM (#9582378) Homepage
    All they have to do is require that the faster chips ship with Longhorn. There won't be enough cycles left for advanced weapons design!
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:04PM (#9582379)
    Proven to disable a US Destroyer.

    Windows NT.

    I suggest that we make it export tariff free and make sure it gets distributed far and wide.

    Because that makes about as much logical sense as this legislation.
  • by knisa (209732) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:07PM (#9582438)
    I feel for California. If this goes through, they'll have legislators pushing for registration, fingerprinting, five day waiting periods, closing the "computer show loophole" and the like. I recommend burying half of your high end computer hardware now so that you can have it available when the government starts confiscating.
  • by marnargulus (776948) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:09PM (#9582482)
    "That level is currently set to the equivalent of a computer using a Pentium 3 processor running at 650MHz, state of the art in 1999 but considered feeble today. " That will also mean any of the current generation of gaming devices as well wouldn't it? If I recall the xbox has 800 or 850 mHz, and the gamecube and ps2 aren't far behind. I imagine PDA's would also fall in this area, and some of the newer generation of cell phones?
  • by Leomania (137289) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:09PM (#9582486) Homepage
    Laws like this are silly; they don't stop other parties from getting their hands on the export-controlled product. Period.

    Kind of reminds me of the laws on bottles of inseciticide which state "It is unlawful to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labelling." or something to that effect. What does my "professional" landscaper tell me? "Oh, I mix these two together in double the concentration to really zap the weeds!" (And no, I didn't let him do that). The law is basically unenforceable. And let's not even talk about posted speed limits! (Guilty as hell on this one). Yes, much more enforceable, and still not all that effective at preventing the behavior (talking percentages here).

    To think the law would do anything useful just goes to show how out of touch some of our elected officials are. Is there really nothing else they can think of doing with their time and position of authority?

    Sheesh.

    - Leo
  • Ill concieved (Score:5, Interesting)

    The idea of restricting CPU's, or ANY form of computer software for that matter, is completly without justification. States do not require Pentium IVs to launch nuclear missiles or detonate nuclear bombs. These systems were deployed in the seventies with primitive CPUs and little memory or storage space.

    Anyone determined to launch a missile, develop a weapons program, or design a new figher jet, is going to get their hands on computing power and software very easily. All that will end up happening is exports will be stifled as Joe bloggs in RougeStateistan won't fork over cash to US companies to pay for that PC he wanted so he could send email, browse the web and type up documents. Instead he'll give it to a european or russian company.

    You can see the reason for this. The Pentagon is annoyed that foreign governments are using clusters to build supercomputers. Which means that they could start snooping on Pentagon comms instead of the other way around.

    Obviously someone dropped a line like, "Terrorists use Computers to build a-bombs", in the House of Representatives caffeteria. Cue the assembled polititions nodding in agreement and shuffling off to draft a law to "protect the free world".

    Just before lunch was the best time to drop this as their next meal was only seconds away. They still can't think past it!
  • WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Raven42rac (448205) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:12PM (#9582534)
    This has to be the goofiest shit I have ever heard coming out of Washington. I take it all our other problems are solved? A computer by itself is not a weapon. It could, however, be used as one, as could a pencil or a brick.
  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:19PM (#9582623)
    "Colonel Look, A whole stack of Pentium 4s!"
    "Good work private. We've finally found those WMDS."
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:20PM (#9582645)
    I am assuming this is to prevent terrorists and rogue nations from developing super computers that would...do something bad? Alright, maybe some nuclear weapons simulations? Here's the problem, any country or group of people can get their hands on pentiums if they tried hard enough. I think that the past few years has shown us that a country or terrorist group can accomplish a lot of they are dedicated. This is one of those typical laws that just makes it difficult for the ligitimate people who follow the rules.

    I'll bring up an example every slashdotter can relate to. Microsoft's activation didn't prevent piracy one bit. The corporate version or crack patches that would disable activation got around it easily. All it did was inconvienence people who went to the stores and bought the software legally and honestly.
  • No (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sloppy (14984) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:23PM (#9582678) Homepage Journal
    I don't think you should need a license, provided that you carry your Pentium 4 openly where everyone can see it. A society with everone walking around displaying their Pentium 4, would be a polite society, and sane people would think twice before starting any shit.

    I would be more worried about people with concealed Athlons. You're minding you're own business, and then some nut with an overclocked Athlon without so much as a fan or heatsink, suddenly produces it in his asbestos mitten, brandishing it at you. You feel the heat coming off it, looking down at death itself. You think of reaching for the P4 holstered at your side, but he's got the drop on you. That would suck.

  • Hacked computers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:42PM (#9582922) Homepage
    Great, so they can't get them locally... what'll they do, hack a ton of Windows machines that have fast processors that are almost totally unused by the thumbless muppets that own them (done) and then upload some programs to do the processing remotely? Welcome to the WWW and the Internet, senator.
  • by qtp (461286) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:03PM (#9583161) Journal
    It seems odd that the excuse being used is that these machines will help countries to develop nuclear weapons.

    The computing power available to the US when we developed the hydrogen bomb was considerably less than what was available on a desktop even twenty years ago, so to consider fast or advanced processors to be nuclear weapons development technology seems a trifle absurd.

    This article [gwu.edu] may demonstrate that these congressmen's fears may be justified, but it also demonstrates just how absurd the notion of controlling proliferation through limiting technology is. There's no need for a Pentium-IV (or even a computer) to develop nuclear weapons, and attempting to control the spread of computer technology through this kind of lawmaking is misguided and likely doomed to failure.

Make headway at work. Continue to let things deteriorate at home.

Working...