back to article Intel Atom chips have been dying for at least 18 months – only now is truth coming to light

The flaw in Intel's Atom C2000 family of chips has been vexing Intel's hardware customers for at least a year and a half, according to a source at one affected supplier, but it wasn't immediately obvious that Intel's silicon was to blame. The well-placed insider, who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity, said the …

  1. Nick Collingridge

    Synology seem to be winning the transparency race at the moment. Intel = BIG Fail. They must surely work out sooner or later that the game is up on this, and the longer they fail to engage properly with the issue the more their reputation will suffer.

    1. BillG
      Boffin

      Insider's View

      The clock "vendor" Intel uses has a solid history of reliability. The problem, in my opinion, is most probably Intel's implementation of the Atom's on-chip clock domains. Probably specs are loosening after the chip is heated over 18 months.

      I have a hard time believing that Intel didn't catch this during QC testing, as some tests subject the MCU to intense heat over a short period of time. It would have caught this. I suspect middle-level managers inside Intel knew about this and didn't tell upper-level managers.

      1. Brian Miller

        Re: Insider's View

        I have a hard time believing that Intel didn't catch this during QC testing, as some tests subject the MCU to intense heat over a short period of time.

        I can believe that they didn't catch this, as this sounds like long-term component degradation. A short heat test of, say, 72 hours, probably wouldn't catch this. Maybe there is something actually growing on the inside of the chip packaging, too. It could have been fine in the initial samples, and then when they went to production something happened.

        (A former boss of mine worked on the i386 design team, so I learned a few interesting things.)

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: Insider's View

          I used to work for a mosfet and igbt manufacturer and some of the "solutions" to chip faults were insane. One line of chips were consistenly testing at 7V instead of 5V. Turns out the wafer fab had loosened their spec to allow all the failures to pass, only to have them fail when put into final package. I recommended they start testing at 5.5V which would have removed about 90% of the failures while still worth next to nothing but the wafer fab didn't want the failures to reflect on their balance sheet. They'd rather the manufacturing plant took the hit and look bad than them. They took a conscious decision to cost the company millions of dollars a week in wasted production just so they'd look good. Partly this was down to the US Finance Director hating the UK, the wafer fab was in California, the manufacturing plant was in Britain.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insider's View

        I've worked in the past on RTOS embedded systems inside Cisco, with Intel CPU's (primarily during the P6, Netburst, and Core/Core2 era). Reliability/stability was an increasing problem starting with Netburst, although Nehalem amazingly seemed OK in spite of a new arch, while Westmere was not.

        Much of the critical flaws weren't widely disseminated and were resolved with microcode updates that went into fresh BIOS updates on the normal consumer gear (desktop/laptop/server). In the meantime is the end user really going to notice an extra BSOD? In the embedded space where things HAVE to be UP, we didn't have that luxury. We'd have a 3-4 year lockin and purchase agreements on what was supposed to be a stable LTS CPU, and Intel would have a critical flaw pop up 6 months in, then change the stepping mid-cycle, or occasionally change the chip entirely while they put out a stream of microcode updates to compensate on already released product. Then somehow we had to get customers to actually apply those updates before support tickets rolled in... (yeah right) With embedded systems unfortunately, it is very, very costly to resolve once product is shipping. Installs have to be modified, end to end testing re-performed (knocking other revenue generating new features off the QA schedule - $$$), and the factories have to get new images/processes/procedures, and someone has to fly out for a First Article Inspection to verify its all good before you can ship product again (more $$$). For normal desktop/laptops and servers, its not hat big an issue, but in the embedded space, Intel was killing us with the amount of time it took to workaround/support their screwups.

        At the time there was an Intel Board member also on the Cisco Board, so there wasn't any options to get out of it when spec'ing the next product hardware, and I tried hard when Netburst Xeon's were coming apart at the seams and causing stop-ships every few months. Very difficult to get down to brass tacks with a supplier when you have an incestuous Board of Directors relationship like that...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Insider's View

          "Very difficult to get down to brass tacks with a supplier when you have an incestuous Board of Directors relationship like that"

          it would depend. A board member in that position should be able to short circuit a lot of internal obstacles on the vendor side in the short term and persuade them that quality issues matter in the long term. The long term benefits would be mutual.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Insider's View

            "The long term benefits would be mutual."

            I think I see the problem..."long term" anything are someone else's problem these days.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Insider's View

            "it would depend. A board member in that position should be able to short circuit a lot of internal obstacles on the vendor side in the short term and persuade them that quality issues matter in the long term. The long term benefits would be mutual."

            Hehe - *Should* is the operative word there. Unfortunately it in reality it meant that the Emperor had no Clothes, and nobody was going to disturb the illusion. Keep in mind it was in the same timeframe that Intel was trying to assure everyone that the Netburst arch (ala P4 for consumers) was awesome, so anything that indicated otherwise they tried to squash. It wasn't until Intel released the Core arch (itself a resurgent P6 arch), that Intel came clean with all the problems and performance issues it had with Netburst/P4 that just couldn't be resolved. Core/Core2 still had some issues, but at least Nehalem was stable, although the next cycles after that didn't appear to be as stable.

            My team's recommendations during the Netburst era didn't get past the Director level before getting squashed, but such is the nature of modern Corp life... If there had not been a mutual Board Member, my area of Cisco would have likely shifted off Intel for our embedded stuff in the mid naughts. We were getting pretty ticked at the drudgery of repeatedly having to re-spin both hardware and software releases for Intel's product issues versus working on our own product features and issues. I'm surprised other companies stayed with them in the embedded space in that timeframe. Surely they didn't have mutual Board Members with everyone. :)

        2. yuhong

          Re: Insider's View

          The other fun thing is there is the NDA spec updates for engineering sample steppings.

    2. darkknight

      I'm not so sure Synology are winning anything at the moment. This is the reply to a support ticket I opened with them:

      "Thank you for contacting Synology support.

      Regarding this issue, our related team are working on such issue and I will give you the reply ASAP if there is any update.

      However, thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

      Please feel free to contact us again if you have further questions or suggestions."

      1. darkknight

        To reply to my own post, the current case progress I have with Synology

        Boilerplate rubbish...!

        "Sorry to disturb.

        Intel has recently notified Synology regarding the issue of the processor’s increased degradation chance of a specific component after heavy, prolonged usage.

        Synology has not currently seen any indication that this issue has caused an increase in failure rates for DiskStation or RackStation models equipped with Intel Atom C2000 series processors compared to other models manufactured in the same time frame not equipped with the affected processors.

        It is safe to continue to use your device, however should you encounter any issues, our support teams will do everything they can to expedite your ticket. Technical Support can be reached via www.synology.com/ticket. Synology will post a follow-up on this topic once additional information is available.

        Please feel free to contact us again if you have further questions or suggestions."

        1. darkknight

          and to confirm that Synology are now on my personal "do-not-buy-from-again" list:

          "Thank you for your reply.

          Due to there is no issue on such model recently, please must let us know if you face any problem. We will always adjust our product and protect the interests of customers.

          However, thank you for bringing this issue to our attention again.

          Please feel free to contact us again if you have further questions or suggestions."

      2. bogd

        I got the same canned reply at first. To Synology's credit, though, they followed up a few hours later with a more detailed message:

        "Intel has recently notified Synology regarding the issue of the processor’s increased degradation chance of a specific component after heavy, prolonged usage.

        Synology has not currently seen any indication that this issue has caused an increase in failure rates for DiskStation or RackStation models equipped with Intel Atom C2000 series processors compared to other models manufactured in the same time frame not equipped with the affected processors.

        Intel has recently notified Synology regarding the issue of the processor’s increased degradation chance of a specific component after heavy, prolonged usage.

        Synology has not currently seen any indication that this issue has caused an increase in failure rates for DiskStation or RackStation models equipped with Intel Atom C2000 series processors compared to other models manufactured in the same time frame not equipped with the affected processors.

        It is safe to continue to use your device, however should you encounter any issues, our support teams will do everything they can to expedite your ticket. Technical Support can be reached via www.synology.com/ticket. Synology will post a follow-up on this topic once additional information is available.

        "

        While not very encouraging (it does sound like they're not going to replace anything until the unit has actually died), at least it's a bit more info on the topic :)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          > It does sound like they're not going to replace anything until the unit has actually died

          My worry is that even if makers have this policy, they won't have enough stock to handle increasing failure rates.

          Having a critical system go tits-up - then finding that even though there's a support contract, not being able to replace it for a week - is one of the nightmare scenarios.

      3. Chris King Silver badge

        That's why I was cynical of JP's responses in yesterday's article.

        "We're looking into it" would have been plenty good enough for me, but "take a ticket" sounds more like a delaying tactic, especially if they don't seem to have answers.

        I've made sure that everything on my DS1815+ is backed up elsewhere - I've gone from "happy camper" to "Can I even trust the tin ?" in the space of 24 hours, and I'm probably not alone on that score.

        1. darkknight

          No sir, you are not alone.

          I bought my DS1815+ *as* a backup data store.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Is it just this particular Intel line that has a problem? Are their others that haven't come to light yet? This one might have stayed under the radar if it hadn't been for the Cisco announcement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many knew something smelled.

      This has been on the radar for 2 years, that's why Intel is forced to admit it. It's the sole reason I waited for the D. I'm not sure if the exact problem was known but, while in pursuit to replace a home NAS with a mini-itx, I've read many discussions claiming there was no other possibility for failure rates other than a faulty CPU.

      Supermicro and undoubtedly AsrockRack C2000 boards both have atypical failure rates. In the case of Asrock, I believe the failure rate after 18 months is between 60% and 70% (I'm not exaggerating) due to the thermal conditions of all things considered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many knew something smelled.

        MyBackDoor: "It's the sole reason I waited for the D"

        I see what you did there!

      2. jmb06

        Re: Many knew something smelled.

        I have one of these CPUs on a ASRock board that just died. The CPU embeded board is 24 months old. I spent $299 on it because it was a "server motherboard". I should have stuck to using cheapo motherboards for $79.

        Let's see how Intel handles RMAs. A lot of people may go AMD if Intel goes cheap on replacements. They should look to Samsung for advice on how to handle replacing a bad product. Fess up and do the right thing.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel get a life

    Your buggy Atom's and your crappy LGA bend pins

  4. ma1010 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Corporate weasels just can't learn

    Corporations are like people: if you make a big mistake, you're generally much better off owning up to it, apologizing and undertaking to not do it again.

    But scumbag weasels duck, dodge, lie, deflect and do anything else they can to try to avoid owning up to their screw-ups. Most people have no respect for weasels. Or weasel corporations. Like Intel appears to be turning into (if it wasn't already).

    Even Steve Jobs finally admitted Apple screwed up on the "they're holding it wrong" iPhone. It's time for Intel to step up and take the blame, too.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Corporate weasels just can't learn

      "But scumbag weasels duck, dodge, lie, deflect and do anything else they can to try to avoid owning up to their screw-ups. Most people have no respect for weasels. Or weasel corporations. Like Intel appears to be turning into (if it wasn't already)."

      Just like frat boys... do I need to connect the dots?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple just as weaselish...

      "Even Steve Jobs finally admitted Apple screwed up on the "they're holding it wrong" iPhone. It's time for Intel to step up and take the blame, too."

      I'd hardly use Apple as a paragon of virtue. They flat out denied the existence of the infamous "touch disease" problem on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for several months.

      This was almost universally accepted by third parties to be down to the iPhone 6's infamous "bendy" design causing excessive stress on the board.

      When Apple themselves finally "admitted" it, they tried to pin it on a combination of two causes, the first being that the phone had been dropped and *then* subjected to "further stress".

      Oddly, the part that they were quite clear about- the phone (allegedly) having been dropped- was the one that entirely coincidentally would be indisputably the user's fault. The part about "further stress" on the other hand... well, that's pretty vague, isn't it?

      Possibly because the "further stress" is likely that caused by excessive bending of the case. Of course, it's also entirely coincidental that the part they're being vague about- the part that everyone else pins as the real cause- is the part that might point to Apple being to blame.

      And how plausible is it that "touch disease" is- as Apple claim- caused in every case by the exact combination of the phone being dropped and *then* subjected to "further stress"? It sounds like they want to have their cake and eat it... it's not plausible enough that touch disease is caused by the user dropping it (on its own), but the most likely cause would pin the blame on them, so fudge the issue by implying that the user is still partly to blame- however implausibly- which lets them focus on that and skirt around anything that might show them to be at fault.

      That's about as "weaselish" as it comes.

      1. SpitfireNoNotThePlane
        Meh

        Re: Apple just as weaselish...

        "I'd hardly use Apple as a paragon of virtue. They flat out denied the existence of the infamous "touch disease" problem on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for several months."

        Apple was okay back when Jobs were with them. Since he died, it's honestly gone down the shitter. Note how the iPhone 6 was released about three years after he died.

        I know Jobs was a PR and sales man, but that's literally what we're talking about here.

    3. Atilla_the_bun

      Re: Corporate weasels just can't learn

      Ahh, the lovely Apple Antenna fiasco. Remember it well. When they issued special cases for that model iPhone I commented to friends that I bet I knew what happened. They probably engaged one of the best radio engineers on the planet along with a great industrial design engineer for that phone and set them to design that part of the phone/radio and antenna. This they did and product eventually was manufactured. When these problems surfaced in the real world they go back to said brilliant engineers with the issue and explain problems people had holding the phones the response was "Nobody told us they'd be holding the phone in their bloody hands!"

      1. admiraljkb

        Re: Corporate weasels just can't learn

        @Atilla_the_bun - The antenna fiasco as I recall was that the proto case (a mod'd iPhone 3 case) they were testing in the field before release, was NOT the case that went into production. In the pursuit of external design secrecy ahead of the big reveal, they ended up using their customers for alpha testing of the antenna in the final case.

  5. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't the Atom c2000 been along from 2013? So I would guess Intel has EoS this?

    If this is the case, then I can fully understand why Intel is behaving like this. The logistics to find replacement chips (if the fabrication line is already close) and the financial cost to compensate the clients will be difficult.

    Intel doesn't want to get swamped with calls from angry manufacturers about end-users swamping their support with RMAs (because they will all put a strain on Intel). Intel wants to control the situation before everything gets to "chaos" mode.

    What I don't understand is why is Cisco the only one to publish a field notice? Why hasn't HP or other big names, like Dell, Netgear and Seagate, publish technical notices yet?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: sanmigueelbeer

      "If this is the case, then I can fully understand why Intel is behaving like this."

      Extremely strange that Intel won't explain this or say this. And some of the affected components started shipping in 2014. If you bought an Atom-powered NAS in 2015, would you want to start 2017 knowing it could die after the next reboot? It's crappy quality.

      "Intel wants to control the situation before everything gets to 'chaos' mode."

      No shit. Sorry, we don't do Intel's PR. Happy to set the cats among the pigeons and get some real answers out of vendors, rather than suppliers hiding behind NDAs while people's devices mysteriously fail.

      C.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: sanmigueelbeer

        Are the replacements going to fail, as they don't have a new stepping yet, or can the people making product change their design slightly?

      2. oldcoder

        Re: sanmigueelbeer

        It doesn't seem any different than the Pentium FPU fiasco.

        Same ducking of responsibility.

        Oh well - Intel lost the power war, ARM won.

        It might also explain why Intel quit making the Atom line.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: sanmigueelbeer

          I want my ARM shares back. Bet the buyers knew of this.

        2. Lennart Sorensen

          Re: sanmigueelbeer

          The pentium was socketed and easy to replace. This one is soldered on the board.

        3. admiraljkb

          Re: sanmigueelbeer

          "It might also explain why Intel quit making the Atom line."

          You might think that, but these were special purpose Atom based SoC versus regular garden variety Atom's. Trust me, the regular Atom line has plenty going against it, mainly the age of the architecture. There was only so far Intel could tweak on it before the engineering costs on an outdated arch (unrelated to their primary bread/butter x86 cpu lines) outweighed the rewards/profit margins.

    2. Lennart Sorensen

      These are chips for embedded systems with long term supply promises. This is very much not a chip that is end of life yet. It was supposed to be available for at least 5 years I suspect, maybe more.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        SuperMicro quoted 7 years availabilty for their C2000 boards.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > So I would guess Intel has EoS this?

      The Cisco story said anything shipped after Nov 2016 was OK.

      That's probably your cutoff on bad silicon, but as a long term supported SoC for embedded systems and low end servers, the failures seen to date are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

      Regarding other comments: These are not your grandfather's anaemic Atoms that used to hobble consumer systems. The Avoton/Rangely parts were a new generation Atom System-on-chip with performance spec that outruns Xeons prior to the E55xx/56xx parts (ie, anything more than 7-8 years old) whilst using 1/10 of the power and in a lot of cases became the chip of choice even when replacing 3-5 year old systems that would have traditionally been DP

      They've been Intel's bread and butter server chip for non-compute-intensive operations and embedded work, which means the company is going to take a hammering unless it steps up and 'fesses up. The longer they leave it, the deeper the shitpile's going to be.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

    I'd have thought it was a durable lesson in transparency: try to hide/minimise a serious defect and end up with major PR damage and expensive recalls. But after 22 years perhaps too much institutional memory has been lost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

      The Pentium FDIV bug was one of my favourite times in IT...

      So much overtime, so little actual work....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

        Yes, I remember getting HR to work out my final contractor rate cut on an Intel Pentium PC, and I ended up buying the company.

    2. Humpty McNumpty

      Re: Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

      For something more recent, how about the Sandybridge chipset, in that instance an issue that according to them was fairly unlikely to manifest itself in the working life of the product was deemed sufficiently serious to recall and rework every motherboard that (barely launched) chipset was on. A stark contrast between their approach to a fault they became aware of while the product was in production and this.

    3. Jusme

      Re: Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

      > But after 22 years

      Feck, I'm old!

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Maybe everyone from Pentium FDIV bug days has retired?

        What about the 1980s '386 mult bug?

        About 30 years ago. Before there were web sites. I remember the company I was working for implementing a work-around on the compiler they were developing. Or talking about it.

        I bet not many people from those days are still working as Engineers.

        This seems informative on the 386 steppings. MS even decided to stop 80386 support with NT 4.0. I'd forgotten that!

        So the Atom C2000 issue isn't new, it's just that now these things can't easily be swapped.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "What I don't understand is why is Cisco the only one to publish a field notice? Why hasn't HP or other big names, like Dell, Netgear and Seagate, publish technical notices yet?"

    It's because Cisco has made the decision to go public, while everybody else is still hedging their bets.

    At the end it'll make Cisco look good.

    A few years ago both EMC and NetApp had a large badge of faulty Seagate Drives. The technicalities are irrelevant but the drives would die prematurely due to contamination on the platters.

    EMC made the conscious decision to replace the drives before failure and EMC made a big story out of it in front of the customer, shaming NetApp.

    NetApp thought they could address the issue with a combination of drive firmware and Software to gradually phase out the drives as they fail. NetApp customers experienced multi-disk failures and lost data. EMC customers did not.

    What Cisco is doing now is showing up the competition. Being an enterprise vendor does not just mean producing enterprise grade products. It's about the entire Customer experience and doing the right things.

    Cisco competitors that do not follow suit will get shamed in the media. The smaller vendors you read about in the article who try so hard to be "enterprisey" just cannot afford that sort of service.

    Apple will give you a new phone when its broken. Others will send it in for repair and 6 weeks later you get it back - while the technician has read all your emails.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      >The smaller vendors you read about in the article who try so hard to be "enterprisey" just cannot afford that sort of service.

      I reckon they probably can. Production costs are pretty low on most hardware and they'd get a lot kudos for doing this right. I'd imagine the main problem is finding a replacement - weren't Intel phasing out Atom? What is Intel going to do for you? Even if they do have a replacement, those embedded boards with the CPU soldered in... they just increased vendor costs.

      1. admiraljkb

        "...weren't Intel phasing out Atom? What is Intel going to do for you? Even if they do have a replacement, those embedded boards with the CPU soldered in... they just increased vendor costs."

        This is (mostly) the embedded space, so Intel has contract obligations to continue supply these for as long as the customer contract specifies. :) So Cisco/Dell/Synology/etc are probably taken care of. Smaller end users though, that could get interesting. For the second part - yeah, its OUCH time for Intel. Whatever profits they got off these incredibly low margin and custom chips will get wiped out and then some.

        re the phase out and this is somewhat unrelated to the current issue - unless I misunderstood, Intel is going to use their normal x86 Architecture du jour as the base of all the new low power x86 stuff rather than continue to have the expensive one-off that Atom was.

    2. Uffish

      Re: "Apple will give you a new phone when its broken."

      That should read "Apple will give you a new phone when its broken within a very short time period from the purchase date".

      My experience of Apple products is that they really don't suit my lifestyle.

  8. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Through the Looking Glass?

    Didn't the March Hare's watch turn backwards? Perhaps the masters were just placed upside during the xray process?

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Through the Looking Glass?

      Are you related to amanfrommars?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Customers don't need warranty

    The defect exists in the processor contained within the product at the time of manufacture, therefore it is not of "merchantable quality” and matters not when the failure occurs or if under warranty.

    Even if they play hardball, in the UK, the small claims court costs £25 to £60 for claims of £300 to £1000. You are almost guaranteed to win by default as the manufacturer will likely not turn up or settle first as it's cheaper.

    1. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      Re: "The defect exists"

      The problem is you'd have to prove it, and Intel refuses to admit it.

      Anything Cisco says only applies to Cisco products, as far as any judge is concerned, and as Cisco is voluntarily replacing their faulty products anyway, you wouldn't even be taking them to court in the first place, it'd be one of the other vendors who, like Intel, are saying nothing.

      Personally I think that obvious conspiracies like this should be investigated by the DoJ. In fact let's just make this sinister thing called "NDAs" illegal. Governments and corporations alike keep parroting that "nothing to hide" line, so personally I think its long past time that they started practising what they preach.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The defect exists"

        The problem is you'd have to prove it, and Intel refuses to admit it.

        Well they know it's them, and you know it's them, and the tech press know it's them... I would suggest a threat to their stock value in the shape of kicking up a big stink and getting more media coverage.

        That usually works.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The defect exists"

        "Personally I think that obvious conspiracies like this should be investigated by the DoJ. In fact let's just make this sinister thing called "NDAs" illegal. Governments and corporations alike keep parroting that "nothing to hide" line, so personally I think its long past time that they started practising what they preach."

        Except company DO have something to fear: the competition. That's why trade secrets and NDA's abound: to keep from Passing Information To The Enemy.

        1. Oh Homer
          Big Brother

          Re: "fear the competition"

          Unfortunately the "trade secret" gambit is invariably just a pretext for hiding criminal behaviour.

          Any company that has genuinely defensible "IP" already has a plethora of laws to protect it, including patents, which in America are dispensed as readily as candy bars from a vending machine, so no company has any legitimate need for something as obviously nefarious as "trade secrets".

          Add to that the fact that every company already knows the competition's dirty little secrets anyway, indeed they go to considerable effort to do so, and it seems clear that the whole "trade secret" debacle is just a massive farce.

          As ever, the only people who suffer the consequences of all this corruption are consumers. It doesn't serve the public good in any way whatsoever.

          Given the political and economic power wielded by today's corporations, they need to be as transparent and accountable as government, indeed more so because even governments are not nearly transparent and accountable enough. That means no secrets. If I'm paying my hard-earned money to someone, I expect to know exactly what they're doing with it. No excuses. Period.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "The defect exists"

        " In fact let's just make this sinister thing called "NDAs" illegal. "

        NDAs hold no water in a court, If a judge orders someone to talk and there's a NDA they don't mention holding them back, then they'd better talk because if that NDA comes up later, it's perjury charges time.

        If they do mention it and the judge tells them to talk anyway, any penalty clauses in the NDA are null and void. vs not talking and facing contempt of court.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EU Customers don't need warranty

      This really only applies to consumers. And then only to the supplier, not the manufacturer unless you bought directly from them.

      Unless somebody does the legwork in the US with a class action suit it might be hard to prove. And even then that would only be semi-persuasive in Europe.

      Look at the Nvidia embedded graphics fiasco of a few years ago. Lots of vendors like HP in US replacing without any issues once Nvidia admitted to the fault but in UK they had to be dragged kicking and screaming usually by way of small claims court with an experts report.

    3. MJB7 Bronze badge

      Re: EU Customers don't need warranty

      That is certainly true if you bought as a consumer. However, if you bought as a business (even a one-man-band consultancy). I don't think that applies. (IANAL and ICBW)

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: EU Customers don't need warranty

        UK Customers are covered under the Sale of goods act 1979 section 14 Part 2

        2)Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality.

        (2A)For the purposes of this Act, goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.

        (2B)For the purposes of this Act, the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—

        (a)fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied,

        (b)appearance and finish,

        (c)freedom from minor defects,

        (d)safety, and

        (e)durability.

        (2C)The term implied by subsection (2) above does not extend to any matter making the quality of goods unsatisfactory—

        (a)which is specifically drawn to the buyer’s attention before the contract is made,

        (b)where the buyer examines the goods before the contract is made, which that examination ought to reveal, or

        (c)in the case of a contract for sale by sample, which would have been apparent on a reasonable examination of the sample.]

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: EU Customers don't need warranty

          "2)Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business"

          The problem here is that the seller is the retail outlet. Not the vendor of the kit it was in. Not even the vendor of the motherboard that went into the kit. And certainly not a component vendor. That's a whole chain of businesses that can get screwed when a component maker supplies a duff batch of components. And a whole chain of businesses who might then wonder whether to buy from the competition in future if the component maker doesn't see them right.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: EU Customers don't need warranty

            But doesn't (2) also apply to B-to-B transactions as well, given there's a buyer and seller at each stage (this is how VAT works, after all)?

  10. thexfile

    Intel's problem goes beyond just a chip.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel Atom = Qualcomm Snapdragon wannabe

    Better stick to the desktop and server processors, Intel. You do not belong to mobile devices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intel Atom = Qualcomm Snapdragon wannabe

      "You do not belong to mobile devices."

      Nor in low wattage high performance embedded devices, especially where Windows isn't the required OS. Presumably the boxes in question are not running Windows?????

  12. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    If they're using an Atom..

    ... they deserve what they're getting. This is what the ARM chips are for.

    1. Humpty McNumpty

      Re: If they're using an Atom..

      Pretty much every NAS shipping with an Atom is sold as the faster more powerful version of a cheaper ARM powered version, so one assumes that ARM processors with comparable grunt are either hard to get or overpriced.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Doc Ock

      Re: linker3000@Googlemail.com

      >'Seagate does not maintain any information on device failure rates or failure rates that may exist due to the above related bulletin."

      I knew Seagate's QC/QA was shite but I didn't realise how shite. Standard GMP and ISO procedures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: linker3000@Googlemail.com

        "an HDD’s reliability is one of the most influential variables in the TCO equation and the metrics used in defining reliability are persuasive. Customers compare them between storage vendors and among product families to guide purchasing decisions, while the manufacturers themselves depend on reliability metrics to shape warranty terms.

        We are familiar with acronyms like mean time between failure (MTBF), annualized failure rate (AFR) and workload rate limit (WRL) used to predict how long a device might be expected to last, but their meanings are not the same. So which metrics matter the most, what do they mean, and how do they apply to your HDD’s useful life?"

        from

        http://www.seagate.com/files/www-content/product-content/ironwolf/files/reliability-tp683.1-1508us.pdf

        Seagate man speak with forked tong.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: linker3000@Googlemail.com

          It's quite clear: 'Seagate does not maintain any information on device failure rates or failure rates that may exist due to the above related bulletin."

          They track the failure rates (as a matter of course, as above) but they have no metrics relating to the Atom Failure, probably because Intel is using an NDA clause to make them feed the metrics to the shredder.

          As has been said, this will hurt Intel; but it will severely impact the vendors' relationships with their clients/customers. Intel is more than willing for the vendors to take the brunt of the wrath.

  14. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    We need the fecking Facts

    We all need so facts soon - I have a bunch of gear using Atoms around the office - NAS, Netgate and other miscellaneous stuff that I don't want falling over suddenly with no replacement plan. I can handle various bit's a kit dying from time to time - that's life (not) - but at this point I'll be damned if I replace it with anything using Intel products.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We need the fecking Facts

      I find the lack of transparency really concerning

  15. Spud
    Coat

    This is going to cost someone an ARM and an ATOM ....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stop comparing ATOMs to Oranges...

      .... they're more like lemons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ... the system died ATO'Moments notice ....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          AToMost the chip will last 18 months....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What a shame. The ATOMic Clock was meant to be super precise....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              A TOMato is fruit that turns into a vegetable as soon as you reboot it ....

  16. cantanko

    First gen 22nm FinFET / 3D transistor / whatever?

    Can't help but wonder if it's a "version one syndrome" type thing - not sure of the chronology, but the process node and the tech used seems to fit...

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      Re: First gen 22nm FinFET / 3D transistor / whatever?

      I don't think so. From what I have seen it is simply something got left out of the design that had to be there, and is why there is a workaround involving resistors possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First gen 22nm FinFET / 3D transistor / whatever?

        "there is a workaround involving resistors possible."

        Citation welcome.

        If it's fixable with resistors, it's probably related to letting digital-only people design stuff in an analogue world.

  17. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    *cough*

    Does this not mean that Intel is now suffering from an atomic meltdown?

    A variation on a "China Syndrome"?

    /ducks and *runs*

  18. ntevanza

    You ain't seen me

    If this is how Intel corporate customers get treated, spare a thought for us retail suckers who bought a 530 series SSD from Intel. The drive has a controller bug that Intel took three years to admit to. During that time, the replacement 535 came out with the same bug. Intel finally posted a patch. But its SSD toolbox does not apply the patch, it is not listed under 535 firmware updates, and is devilishly hard to google. The disclaimer on the patch states that it is applied at your own risk, so it's not clear what it does to your warranty.

    Man who sleep with snake sleep long. I guess I have only myself to blame.

    https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/26452/Write-Amp-Firmware-for-Intel-SSD-530-535-Series

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where are HP, SuperMicro, and others?

    Cisco took a beating for coming out. Now it turns out they are the responsible and classy ones.

    What about all the other enterprise vendors? Are they trying to screw us over by ignoring and denying, hoping this wouldn't be noticed? And really Intel? You sat on this info for years and went ahead and kept shipping faulty product?

  20. CommodorePet

    Supermicro servers too?

    Supermicro has a range of servers that use C2000 class processors.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/02/supermicro_spins_down_for_cold_storage/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Supermicro servers too?

      Be interesting to know what kind of backroom deals went on to ensure that companies like Cisco and Supermicro relieved Intel of their overstock of these dodgy SoC devices.

  21. Whaleshome2

    Fortinet Impacted too

    Fortinet CSB-170207-1

    The below products are subject to a recall:

    - FortiGate 90E & 91E

    - FortiHypervisor 90E

  22. Frank Rysanek

    BayTrail vs. Linux

    Personally I don't care much about the C2000 as I don't come in contact with those. What I do come in contact with, is the BayTrail family - so far my favourite ATOM of those available on the market today. And I recently got bitten by this: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=109051 Even the BayTrail isn't flawless, at least in Linux - but fortunately a remedy is a software patch and the problem does not consist in permanent HW damage. Curiously, many BayTrail-based HW models work just fine. And some just don't, under Linux, for many months now, unless you use a particular SW-side workaround...

  23. Keith Smith 1

    Just now catching up. . . Double Bit

    My personal 1815+ croaked about a month ago. . . Just bought another, and sent this one back. Then I get an advisory notice, about the 25 Cisco 4331's we bought last year. Gotta replace them all for a bug that will brick them in an eerily similar manner to my Syno, can't get it to turn on. Turned to my cohort at work, and said 'Wow that is the exact issue my Syno had, wonder if was related'. I wonder no more. . .

  24. custardshark

    Synology offering extra year of warranty

    Synology are offering an extra year's warranty for the NAS systems.

    https://www.synology.com/en-global/company/news/article/Synology_Product_Status_Update/Synology%C2%AE%20Product%20Status%20Updatet

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My data point

    The C2000 is also used in a lot of other devices, notably some cheap netbooks.

    Interestingly several problems other than complete failure seem to be showing up, I once documented a memory issue on a brand new Acer laptop which caused certain DDR not to work but others would.

    Yet an identical MB worked fine with the "bad!" memory so this shows up even on new machines.

    Ended up selling it on with a note "Do NOT change RAM!!" taped to the inside of the case.

    Incidentally this is why some machines ship with tamper seals and glued in memory as well as BIOS

    hard-wired to only accept one type (cough S*ms*n* /cough) and size.

    The really strange thing is that radiation damage might be responsible.

    I've read somewhere that the smaller feature sizes are slightly less vulnerable to one type of damage but more vulnerable to another so on balance they are indeed more sensitive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My data point

      Failed HP 3000 series netbook, refused to work in the morning so swapped out RAM.

      Worked for a couple of days then stopped powering up completely.

      In the meantime put 2GB module in EEE 701 and it works fine.

      Have taken out BIOS chip for analysis to see if cloning the chip will work but its not looking good.

      This was a Winbond 25x16 (2MB) and it also had been showing anomalies such as not coming out of standby on occasion.

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