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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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RE: Nvidia...
By GeorgeH on 7/30/2009 3:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
I must be dense today. How do you fix a material design flaw with updated firmware?

RE: Nvidia...
By inighthawki on 7/30/2009 4:34:21 PM , Rating: 5
I think he means going through the process that intel used

-Spot problem
-Stop selling product
-Fix problem
-Resell fixed product

instead of

-Spot Problem
-Keep selling product
-Fix part of the problem
-Spot more problems
-Still keep selling products
...and so forth

RE: Nvidia...
By klutzInMotion on 7/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: Nvidia...
By someguy123 on 7/30/2009 6:07:20 PM , Rating: 5
problem is they offered parts that weren't ready, then when problems arose they just ignored it/blamed users and continued shipping until the numbers of failures started stacking up.

the scenario is pretty much the same. intel shipped parts, received a problem, but instead of ignoring a fatal problem they halted shipments and encouraged retailers to do the same. this problem isn't even nearly as big as nvidia's problem and they STILL stopped shipments.

RE: Nvidia...
By Targon on 7/31/2009 8:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
The firmware is how the rest of the system talks to the hardware. If the firmware has a bug, it will make the device appear to be flawed, even when the base electronics are not the problem.

Think of it like driver bugs, where bad drivers can cause perfectly good devices not to work properly. Fix the drivers, and suddenly the same device will work perfectly. Firmware is a bit lower level, but the concept remains the same. The system communicates with the device, and the firmware is what allows the device to function(hopefully as expected/designed). So, fix the firmware, and bingo, the problem goes away.

Intel jumped when the flaw was verified, and they are making sure a fix is available right away, even if an affected device gets into the hands of a consumer. NVIDIA on the other hand, will generally ignore problems, trying to blame the OEMs who make NVIDIA based cards. Remember, NVIDIA makes graphics and BIOS chips, but do not sell directly to the consumer. As a result, they will assume that problems come in from how graphics cards and motherboards are made by other companies, rather than the problems being with their drivers and/or chips.

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