Intel confirms data corruption bug in new SSDs, halts shipments

The company is now testing a firmware upgrade for X-25M and X18M drives

Intel has confirmed that its new consumer-class X25-M and X18-M SSDs (solid state-disk drives) suffer from data corruption issues and said it has pulled back shipments to resellers.

The new line of X25-M (2.5 inches) and X18-M (1.8 inches) 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.

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According to Intel, 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 erratum does not apply to a computer, network, or operating system password," Intel said in an e-mail response to Computerworld

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.

Intel said the problem does not occur if a user has not set a BIOS drive password. After testing a fix for the issue, Intel said it expects to issue a firmware upgrade in the next couple of weeks.

"If they have not enabled their BIOS drive password, we are advising them not enable a BIOS drive password...," Intel said. Instead, users should visit Intel's support Web site for the firmware update when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, Intel has suspended all shipments of the new SSDs until the firmware fix is validated and its drives have been updated. Online retailers like Newegg and ZipZoomFly have also pulled the new drives from their ordering systems.

"It made sense to pause shipments and implement the changes ourselves and via our customers versus asking consumers to do so," Intel said.

Computerworld has been reviewing the 160GB version of the X25-M and found its read/write rates subpar compared to the previous version of the drive. The SSD's average sequential read rate was 190.5MBps and its burst rate was 231.5MBps, well below the first-generation X25-M, which had a maximum read rate of 256.7MBps.

This story, "Intel confirms data corruption bug in new SSDs, halts shipments" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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