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Data Storage Hardware

Intel Confirms Data Corruption Bug, Halts New SSDs 137

CWmike writes "Intel has confirmed that its new consumer-class X25-M and X18-M solid state-disk drives (SSDs) suffer from data corruption issues and said it has pulled back shipments to resellers. The X25-M (2.5-inch) and X18-M (1.8-inch) SSDs are based on a joint venture with Micron and used that company's 34-nanometer lithography technology. That process allows for a denser, higher capacity product that brings with it a lower price tag than Intel's previous offerings, which were based on 50-nanometer lithography technology. Intel says the data corruption problem occurs only if a user sets up a BIOS password on the 34-nanometer SSD, then disables or changes the password and reboots the computer. When that happens, the SSD becomes inoperable and the data on it is irretrievable. This is not the first time Intel's X25-M and X18-M SSDs have suffered from firmware bugs. The company's first generation of drives suffered from fragmentation issues resulting in performance degradation over time. Intel issued a firmware upgrade as a fix."
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Intel Confirms Data Corruption Bug, Halts New SSDs

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  • Test before you ship (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alain94040 ( 785132 ) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:00PM (#28933773) Homepage

    Maybe they should have used HW/SW co-verification (like Seagate in that study [] - an example of how a storage company tests their firmware).

    For you software developers out there who enjoy free debuggers, you should know that we, hardware designers, also have our own debuggers. Except they are a little bit more expensive (think $500,000+) and can be quite bulky. But they are the only way to really test firmware before taping-out a chip.

  • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:37PM (#28934113) Homepage Journal

    Is this a cost issue, or a thoroughness issue?

    No, we dont catch every possible scenerio here, either, but we do try very, very hard. Knowing one of the coders in Intel's RAID drivers groups, he goes crazy with stuff. And he just writes Linux drivers. I do not envy him - this past year, every bug he's had to fix has been caused by someone else's code. Someone not writing Intel drivers. And he gets slammed every time for bad testing, as if he can test all the rest of the kernel team's stiff, NTM every fly-by-night Chinese hardware outfit. They're killing him.

    I can't even say 'ext4', he just goes insane. Though he chuckles when I whisper 'ReiserFS', and opens another beer.

    I'm glad I'm not in that line of work.

  • by SBrach ( 1073190 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:26PM (#28934481)
    Dell has released updated firmware for my laptops BIOS 17 times.
  • Re:Typical redditor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by atmurray ( 983797 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:38PM (#28935475)
    So? It's just a set of different paradigms. It's just like using a different programming language. 99.9% of the time if your code works during functional verification testing (which doesn't simulate the physics of hardware) it will work fine in timing/hardware verification and then also in real hardware (so long as you don't violate any timing constraints, which your synthesis tool will tell you about). That's one of the reasons why RTL synthesis tools like Cadence are so insanely expensive, because they do allow you to go from function verification which verifies the syntax and semantics of your code to hardware verification which allows you to ensure your design will work as expected in actual hardware. If you're getting "kicked in the balls really hard" then it's probably because you need to brush up on your VHDL/Verilog, just like if you're getting segfaults when writing C you're doing something wrong. It doesn't mean that the process is any less deterministic.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:08PM (#28936099) Journal

    I remember updating the HARDWARE of my modem: Changing the swamping resistors to reduce the Q of the filters and broaden the passbands so the Rx side would work at 300 as well as the original 110 baud. B-)

  • by Allnighterking ( 74212 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:42AM (#28936949) Homepage
    I've seen this before, though I can't remember where. In that case what was happening was that when you changed or removed the password it would corrupt the password file and lock you out. The first time (no password exists set original) does the following
    • read the password
    • hash the password
    • write the hash to the data file

    Now the problem came in that case when you wanted to change/delete the password. It would use a second subroutine to do.

    • read the old password
    • get the old password hash and use it to check if the user knows the correct password
    • get new password (twice and compare)
    • hash the result of the diff of the first entry and the second entry for the new password

    That last step was the killer, seems that someone had declared a global variable and a local variable with the same name. End result one overwrote the others data, and one never knew exactly what the box hashed, nor you could figure out what to key in to the screen to unlock the door. (so to speak.)

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @07:11AM (#28938537)

    Ask anyone who bought a JMicron-based SSD about insufficient testing. How any company thought that controller was worthy for their SSDs is beyond me.

    Before I replaced mine with a Samsung SSD, my [censored] was regularly giving me studders and pauses that lasted for 20-40 seconds at a time. It just flat-out halted everything on the computer for half a minute for no apparent reason, even while reading, not just writing. Apparently, this was predominant behavior for the controller that dominated the SSD arena until the X-25 started blowing people away.

    I think I understand now why Seagate, WD, and the other HD manufacturers are taking so long to get SSDs on the market. Since their market depends almost exclusively on storage, they can't afford to screw up their first SSDs. At least, I hope that's the reason. Even they have to understand that the hard drive market isn't going to last forever.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken