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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: Problem? serious one?
By FaaR on 7/30/2009 6:39:46 PM , Rating: -1
Any product can have defects, sure. It's the pretty obvious, yet *fatal* nature of this particular defect that confounds me. How on earth was THIS particular defect allowed to slip through, and how come it wrecks all data on the drive when it triggers? That's a pretty friggin gigantic screwup I'd say that has the potential to cause end users a lot of headache.

It's not as if bios passwords are unheard of, some obscure unknown feature. Why didn't they test this before product release?

RE: Problem? serious one?
By captainBOB on 7/30/2009 7:31:27 PM , Rating: 4
Because the BIOS drive password is a little used feature, its definitely not something at the top of the testing list.

If anything, the lesson to be learned is to anticipate anything, test absolutely everything.

RE: Problem? serious one?
By web2dot0 on 7/31/2009 7:29:43 AM , Rating: 3
Hindsight is always 20/20.

Have you ever developed any software with bugs in them? Should I blame you that you didn't test everyone possible test case?

It's easy to criticize. There's always only a limited set of testcases you can execute in finite amount of time. Remember, this is not a military grade product. If it were, it'll cost alot more because they'll be running 5X more testing on it before shipping.

Unless you have done it before, STFU and give Intel some slack. The key to these kinds of problem is how they handle the situation and how quickly the fix is available. That should be the standard they should be judged.

If you don't know what you're talking about, keep it to yourself.

RE: Problem? serious one?
By PitViper007 on 7/31/2009 9:56:01 AM , Rating: 2
Considering how quickly they jumped on this (as another in this thread said, a matter of hours) and the fact that it's only triggered if you have the bios password on then change the password or turn it off, I would say this is a pretty obscure glitch. And they handled it. Would it be better if it never reached store shelves with this bug? Sure, but you can't test for everything.

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