Intel Halts SSD Sales Following Data Loss

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) has halted shipments of its new X25-M and X18-M solid state drives (SSDs) after discovering a problem that could cause data corruption. The new drives were the result of a joint venture with Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) and used a new 34 nanometer manufacturing process that was supposed to offer more storage density at a lower cost.

However, a problem has emerged with the drives. Intel found that if a user sets up a BIOS password on the SSD, then disables or changes the password, the contents of the drive become corrupted and irretrievably lost.

This problem only occurs when a password is used, so for customers who already have a drive, Intel says don’t set up a password until it can issue a firmware update in the next few weeks. The update will come from Intel’s support page.

Intel said it has found the cause and a fix is under way, but it felt it best to remove unsold drives from the marketplace. “It made sense to pause shipments and implement the changes ourselves and via customers versus asking consumers to do so. Keep in mind the fix has been identified and validation is undergoing completion over the next week,” an Intel spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

The new X25-M and X18-M SSDs are the first under a joint venture with Micron to use Micron’s 34nm lithography. Previous generations of Intel SSDs were based on 50-nanometer lithography technology. This new design makes for a big reduction in latency, Intel claims, plus the ability to perform up to 35,000 read IOPS.

The new drives have been on the market for less than a month. The 80GB X25-M sells for $225 and the 160GB X18-M sells for $440.

This is not the first time Intel’s X25-M and X18-M SSDs have had problems. The first generation of drives released last year suffered from fragmentation issues, which resulted in performance degradation over time. Intel issued a firmware upgrade to fix that problem.

In other SSD news, STEC (NASDAQ: STEC) shares fell 10 percent in after-hours trading tonight after the enterprise SSD market leader’s quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates, but the company announced that top officials will sell 7.5 million shares.

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