AMD’s Faraway Islands is an interesting story

Opinion: Industry ethics versus lies

SemiAccurate logoLying for money, is that called fiction? Not if you say you are writing news because the two are not the same thing. What are we talking about? AMD’s next next generation GPU line called “Faraway Islands”.

CHW was the first to write up this future AMD super-GPU here, and they said that SemiAccurate made lots of claims about it. These include that it is a 20nm part, made at both TSMC and Globalfoundries, was DX12 compatible, would be in future SoCs code named ‘Cheetah”, and would beat Pirate Islands (PI) in performance per Watt. Our story that they referenced is here but it is available to subscribers only.

Lets look at what happened, the first step is to look at what CHW wrote. If you read the link you will see that they say that Charlie/SemiAccurate said X, Y, Z. That is false, 100% false. What is it called again when someone puts words in your mouth? False attribution? What if that information is made up, wholesale, and published as if someone actually said or wrote that and the author knows for a fact that they did not actually say or write that? Is that called libel or slander? I forget these days, so much of it around.

This means CHW, specifically author David Sarmiento, did one of three things to get the story and post it. 1) He or another person subscribed to SemiAccurate and took the story from behind the paywall in direct violation of our terms of service 2) Discovered the news completely on his own with his own sources, did the hard work we did, and verified it all on his own or 3) He had absolutely no information at all and completely made it all up, that would be called lying in most places. Any guesses which one?

To quote Charlie in an informal email to friends about this, “It would be one thing if a site said that we put it in the tags and speculated that it could be X, Y, and Z. It is quite another thing when CHW says that we claimed FI is the successor to PI. Not just that, it seems we said it would have ‘unknown’ architectural changes but is definitely a 20nm product made at GF. Not just that, it will have full support for DX12 and crush PI in perf/watt. But wait, it gets better, this architecture, according to me according to CHW, will be incorporated in both future x86 and future ARM SoCs, high performance ones of course. This includes Cheetah again according to them according to me. Wow, I didn’t know I knew that! I really didn’t know I knew I said that it would be an Opteron too, wow some days I surprise even myself. In short CHW saw joke of a tag line and made up a snotload of info on it, see here: (Editors note: link above)”

It gets better as the tech news echo chamber kicks into full gear, the re-writes and embellishments begin. It looks like they actually have sources because they added information to what CHW claims we said, in other words Khalid Moammer also pulled some new facts out of thin air about a non-existent product line. According to sources at WCCF, it is probably the Faroes, not Faraway, plus it is seemingly key to AMD’s project Skybridge x86/ARM compatibility tech for SoCs. Not to be pedantic, but once again, this is false as it does not exist so how can it be key to anything.

And from Charlie in another emal to friends. “And so it goes, they have now figured out my typo, it is likely really Faeroe Islands, I didn’t know I was wrong, my bad I think.” Could this whole ‘news’ cycle get any more ethical? Sure, Softpedia got into the game, as did, Eteknix, and literally dozens of others. There is even a hilarious video in Spanish about it on Youtube, we don’t speak the language so we have no idea what is being said, but Faraway sounds cool with their accent.

It still isn’t true though. Worst of all the big sites like Tom’s Hardware French site wrote it up and didn’t properly credit. Worst of all, TechReport, a site we used to hold in high regard linked it in direct violation of their stated, to SemiAccurate, policies here. They seem to prefer linking sites that are unethical over those that do the hard work, but at least they didn’t even attempt to properly credit once again.

All of these sites and many many more have a similar thread, they all are not doing the barest minimum of work and are lying to you for money. Yes they make money by getting you to click. More from Charlie’s emails to friends, “Damn I am smrt! According to Softpedia… Faraway is now going to be made by BOTH TSMC and GF, massive project from the sound of it. It seems that Faraway is also key to Skybridge, it somehow enables x86 and ARM pin compatibility. Damn I am disclosing a lot, who knew I knew all this. Please don’t be mad at me oh AMD PR people for outing all your secrets like this!

So let me break down what is wrong with this picture. If you re-write a “story” online and pass it off as news, mind you the quicker with the write the more page views and therefore the more money, that is the incentive in this game. Write fast guys, money is on the line, accuracy matters not, some even view it as an impediment.

Sites however have a few options to follow in their quest for news. 1) The authors of the re-writes followed the links back to the original CHW and then to the original S|A article. If they took this option then they would have seen that either CHW is lying or they are breaking our TOS and hurting our business. So Softpedia, WCCFTech, Techreport, etc. either don’t care or didn’t bother to follow links. Draw your own conclusions here.

Option 2) They didn’t follow links back to the original story. OK fine, that means they checked with their sources, right? Draw your own conclusions here as well.

Option 3) They thought through the inconsistencies in the previous pieces from the echo chamber. Nope, we can guarantee they didn’t think it through, the massive glaring technical illogic of what is being stated didn’t seem to occur to any of the authors from any of the publications mentioned above. Well, maybe it occurred to them but it is more important to publish than to publish accurate information or at a bare minimum information from two independent sources. That means sources that aren’t likely to have gotten their information from the same place. (Editors note: We run into this issue a lot and by my measure those then are not independent sources and not acceptable for us to publish based upon their likely contaminated information. This is why we sometimes miss big stories, not enough confirmation.) If they thought through the inconsistencies, glaring though they may be, then why did they publish such? Remember, pageviews equals income, accuracy and truth don’t factor in there.

So this is what tech “news” actually is, either straight up lies with a bit of libel or slander thrown in for good measure, and/or a willingness to throw their competitors under the bus. There is absolutely not a single shred of due diligence done anywhere. That lack of due diligence aka following links back to original writing, checking with industry sources, or even calling the company and simply asking about the news was never done.

How about a bit of active, working brain cells rubbed together to come up with the fact that someone publishing absolute BS illogical statements as coming from SemiAccurate might actually necessitate a call to S|A or even an email before they contribute to putting more lies in our mouth? Nope. Not required. By the way, not doing due diligence in the newspaper industry and publishing something that you knew or should have known was a false statement about someone is considered secondary libel and carries damages when taken to court.

If you would like to know more about S|A’s process we actually do have written requirements associated with this and I have had problems with previous writers about this standard. We have parted ways with some in part because of their lack of willingness to adhere to our policies surrounding due diligence, research, and citations of other’s work and images. One of these was even from a site listed above who contributed to this mess, we parted ways with those people, they haven’t.

And the readers, they still trust these publications as sources or as curated sets of information, they still read them and the advertisers well, they still pay money. And you, as the guy trying to figure out what is coming down the road and how long you should delay that upgrade for your business, department, or family is left with a pile of lies for information. Those sites, they do not seem to care one whit about providing you with the best possible information. Sucks to be you. How many cumulative readers of each of those sites actually believes this pile of lies? Sites that actively take advertising money to make suckers of their readers, great business model. I guess it is up to the readers to decide they want something better or maybe they just like being suckers, advertisers don’t seem to care in the least.

Let me be very clear here. SemiAccurate never said one bit of what was said to come from us in the CHW article. It is pure fabrication on their part. Worse yet there are three real victims, you, SemiAccurate, and the truth. The truth died at the first CHW story, they literally made it up, complete lies. WCCFTech added more lies to it and didn’t credit, the rest were just a mish-mash of bad behavior that would get anyone bounced out of journalism school or a real job faster than you can say, “bye”.

Unfortunately there is likely to be zero firings or disciplinary actions over this because lying, cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication seem to be the basic business model behind most of these outlets. That is where the truth dies, there are literally hundreds of stories about AMD’s new Faraway Islands GPU line floating around and 99% of them will still be up a month from now. Most people believe will believe it because they think these sites and the ‘journalists’ that work for them are actually journalists or care one bit about the truth. They are not, and they kill the truth for money. Those that do care, like SemiAccurate, are the next victim.

The last victim is you mainly because if you are not a SemiAccurate subscriber, there is a good chance you actually believed that FI is real and has the specs that CHW, WCCF and others made up. Forums are full of debates over it complete with tenuous explanations about how it could possibly be what is claimed. It couldn’t, anyone with the barest technical knowledge would understand why what CHW and WCCF made up is impossible, both sites are staffed by writers lacking basic tech knowledge as well as no legal or ethical oversight.

Why are you the victim? As the saying in poker goes, “If you look around the room and can’t figure out who the mark is, it is probably you”. You are the one who is being taken advantage of, you are the one funding these unethical outlets, and you are the one who comes away with a head full of lies. You were taken advantage of and they make money so they keep doing it, something that sadly is not just legal but the way the modern web works. Google doesn’t give a damn about veracity as long as they get paid, and there is nothing you can do about it either. Welcome to the modern spin on “Internet Journalism”, it is a true cesspool.S|A

Last word: For those who complain that you do not want to pay for your news well you get fiction for free. It takes time, effort and boots on the ground to bring you the closest thing we can get to real-time news and analysis. Those who support S|A, we thank you and will continue to do our best to bring you the best because our customers are our readers and we care about real information because we’re still supporting clients in the field with tech decisions.

Charlie’s note: At SemiAccurate we try very hard to get the news first and often succeed. We have very high standards for verification, checking, and news sources. We do the legwork, we go to conferences, we confirm with real sources, and we try to get everything as correct as possible. On occasion we do get things wrong but we feel that our track record is better than other competing site by a large margin. It is all there in black and white, feel free to look it over for yourself.

A note to subscribers: We have seen a lot of comments along the lines of, “Why should we subscribe, the stuff leaks in a few hours anyway so we get it for free.” For the record, the story that CHW, WCCF, and the rest made up ‘news’ about, found here, is not about Pokemon Emerald sites. The content has not leaked yet so I wanted to give out a heartfelt thanks to SemiAccurate subscribers who did the right thing. With their business model you get lies, with ours you get the news usually first and undoubtedly more accurately. We appreciate your business, we hope you appreciate what we do.

Addendum: Even AMD knew about this. You sneaky bastards! “In a world ravaged by nuclear war, you are mankind’s only hope. Retrieve a strange and deadly bioweapon from a faraway island as Sgt. Rex Power Colt, the Mark IV Cyber Commando with the ultimate weapon: AMD Radeon™ graphics. Seek, destroy, and never settle for less than the best.” Who knew you guys knew too!

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