The internet is chock-full of terrible memes, terrible rumors and terrible click-baiting articles designed to be as sensational as possible in order to attract advertising revenue. Out of those three, the rumors are the ones that spread the fastest. Hoaxes get propogated through e-mail and social networks, websites pick up on rumors with little fact-checking being done and some websites put up these rumors with headlines that not only convince you that it must be real, but that it’s also completely true. One Overclock.net forum poster set out to see how far he cold spread a rumor on his own and the results, although hilarious, do highlight a trend that’s being going on for years on the internet.
In a blog post on the Overclock.net forums, user CynicalUnicorn decided to make a fake GPU-Z screenshot of a rumored AMD APU belonging to the Carrizo family, due out in 2016 for socket FM2+. He dug up multiple CPU-Z screenshots for different processors to make his fake look more or less believable and doctored in only a few hints that it wasn’t real. The clues he left behind were designed to be seen when opening up the faked screenshot in something like MS Paint or GIMP and then painting on the image with the paint tool.
It seems that quite a few people fell for the same trick. Hours after putting out the first fake screenshot and re-editing it later to reflect the faked AMD Elite Hexa-core logo, another user ran with it on the Overclock.net forums and posted up a version that looked similar, but was faked up even more. The hidden messages still remained for anyone to stumble upon.
CynicalUnicorn then sat back and waited for websites to pick it up. The rumor got its start from a trolling post by TheLAWNOOB that included his faked version seen above as well as some poorly worded text.
“A CPUZ screenshot was leaked by a reputable source from the semi-conductor industry earlier today. The follow screenshot confirms a working, nearly finished sample of the next gen AMD Elite Hexa core APU, the 20nm Carrizo. It features a bumped boost clock of 4.4Ghz. The stock clock is unknown at this time.
It features a modest TDP of 95W, which is decent considering it’s an Hexa core APU with embedded AMD Radeon R7 Graphics on board. As usual, AMD refused to comment on this leak.”
This was the catalyst to make the story more believable. Although the forumites didn’t give the rumor any push, it did get picked up by Guru3D in an article that has since been taken down. Later on, WCCF Tech saw the same Guru3D article and came to the same conclusion – it’s a rumor, but the screenshot looks so real that there must be a grain of truth to it. So they took up the article, quoted Guru3D as the source and then put it up, with a little note at the bottom saying that the small amount of L2 cache threw them off a bit (I realised it was fake when I saw the socket FM3 reference).
Carrizo is pretty much an extension of the work done in Piledriver and Steamroller, so halving the L2 cache would be an absurd idea unless AMD was moving into stacking eSRAM onto the CPU die, which would make their chips much more expensive… which makes any of the rumors of stacked on-die DRAM even sillier because AMD’s CPU performance is already quite a bit behind Intel’s. Dedicating die space to memory that the GPU won’t use anyway isn’t the brightest of ideas.
The rumor didn’t get much further than WCCF Tech and Guru3D along with several smaller tech sites before the game was up. CynicalUnicorn initially set out to create the rumor to embarrass WCCF Tech and he largely succeeded, although their original, unedited article still remains up with a few notes to mention that the screenshot is faked.
It’s interesting to note that instead of admitting that the rumor was a complete hoax, Guru3D instead chose to delete their article rather than leave it online. Although they copy-pastad the article word-for-word from their source post on the Overclock forums, they at least had the frame of mind to delete a rumor that was clearly untrue and wouldn’t serve their readers better by having it up. WCCF Tech and other sites like Fudzilla regularly post up rumors and articles with sensational headlines for click-bait, but they were the original target anyway. Guru3D was an unintended victim of the same hoax.
I feel that this is particularly relevant here because I don’t post up rumors for any old thing – you can go to Fudzilla for that and you’ll get your browser window’s worth of crap from there. I wade through a few rumors a day and have to decide if they’re real or need truckloads of salt. Invariably, they’re not worth the pixels of screen space they take up. 4Chan /b/ does this on a semi-regular basis and it has caused thousands of dollars in damages in the past.
The lesson here kids?