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Intel reacts quickly to minimize fallout

A lot of excitement and demand has been built up for Intel's second generation SSDs which use 34nm NAND flash chips produced through a joint venture with Micron. There is a slight reduction in latency, but the big news at launch was the massive price cuts that Intel was introducing.

However, Intel has confirmed that it is delaying shipments of its new SSDs due to a data corruption issue affecting all of the new drives.

The problem occurs when a user sets a BIOS drive password on the new SSDs and then disables or changes the password. If the user powers off the computer, the drive will become inoperable and the data stored on it will remain inaccessible.

However, the problem will not occur if the user has not set a BIOS drive password. This erratum does not apply to computer, network or operating system passwords. Intel claims that the root cause has been identified and a new fix is currently under validation. The company expects to post an end user firmware update to fix this erratum in the next two weeks. It is not yet clear whether the new fix will be able to restore access to data on those drives, or if the firmware update would overwrite that data.
Intel is advising their SSD customers to not disable or change their BIOS drive password if they have already created a BIOS drive password.

The issue is reminiscent of Seagate's firmware problems, although on a much smaller scale.
Meanwhile, Intel has suspended all shipments of the new SSDs until the firmware fix is validated and installed on the drives. Online retailers like Newegg and ZipZoomFly have also pulled the new drives from their ordering systems.

Update: Data that has been locked out will not be recoverable, according to a email from a representative of Intel.

"The data on a user's drive is only at risk if they have enabled the BIOS
password, then disabled or changed it, rendering the SSD inoperable. The
data on those drives data is not recoverable. The firmware fix will prevent
the drive from becoming inoperable when using and modifying the BIOS

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Misleading title
By amanojaku on 7/30/2009 9:34:13 AM , Rating: 5
This isn't a data corruption issue; this is an access problem. The data is still there in its original form, but the security policy is broken and won't let you get to it. This most likely can be circumvented by direct access to the memory chips, which would be a costly alternative if Intel's firmware fix doesn't work for drives with existing data.

RE: Misleading title
By rudolphna on 7/30/2009 10:17:34 AM , Rating: 2
For all intents and purposes, for 90% of people, the data might as well be corrupted because they won't be able to get it back.

RE: Misleading title
By SiN on 7/30/2009 10:35:20 AM , Rating: 2
I would imagine 90% of people wouldn't bother changing anything, and that the remaining 10% are the kind to go tinkering with settings like this.

RE: Misleading title
By steven975 on 7/30/2009 5:24:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, I'd be surprised if the number of people affected by this exceeded one digit.

And if they were, they probably had their data someplace else anyway.

RE: Misleading title
By Plazmid19 on 7/30/2009 5:37:26 PM , Rating: 3

In the HD industry, data corruption is very specific to conditions where the data is changed while being processed and shouldn't have been. In this case, the data wasn't changed, its inaccessible. In most true data corruption issues, the user is unaware until the damage is so extensive that the file system or files show up corrupted. Real Data corruption is really really bad.

RE: Misleading title
By SiliconDoc on 8/2/2009 8:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I thought, but the information provided is not extensive enough to draw your conclusion. It may be that the information is not only not accessible, but the changing of the drive password actually does corrupt the data on the drive - the drive light tunring bright as the data churns to a mess - perhaps only stopped by turning off the system.
I find it likely the story writer merely screwed up as well, and called it corruption instead of lack of access, but if so, the fix would be expected to achieve that said lost access, but is reported to NOT do so.
So, maybe it is both loss of access, and scrambling of the data.
It is a HUGE idiocy. Think of IBM thinkpads, strewn throughout the banking industry, loaded with drive passwords... bye-bye banking data.
I think it's amazing it got through, but then again, communicating in the modern day at a workplace environment is almost always considered a gigantic and dangerous sin.
Just shut up anmd pretend everything is wonderful is the call of the day, every day, no matter what.
That's how this kind of massive idiocy blows right through to market.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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