Intel replicates 320 Series 8MB bug, promises firmware update

By on July 25, 2011, 2:00 PM

A couple weeks ago, Intel confirmed the existence of a flaw that could cause heavy data losses on its new 320 Series solid-state drives. Referred to as the "8MB bug" among users, the glitch reportedly reduces a drive's full capacity to only 8MB following a sudden loss of power. At the time, it was unclear whether the flaw could be fixed with a simple firmware update or if it was a permanent hardware defect.

Intel offered a progress update yesterday to say that it has isolated the "Bad Context 13x Error" and will resolve the issue with a firmware update. No release date was given, but it shouldn't be long from now. It's to be expected that a company will downplay product defects like this, but if it's any consolation, Intel says the bug only affects a "small percentage" of drives in "certain circumstances" after a power loss.

It's still unclear if data on the drive is recoverable after the bug rears its head, but many users have regained use of their SSD by reformatting it with a third-party utility. Assuming you practice habitual backups, that's just a minor inconvenience, but if your bugged 320 Series drive contains irreplaceable data, you might want to leave it on a shelf until more details emerge (and reassess your backup procedure).

If you own a 320 Series drive but haven't experienced the issue, Intel has offered a few tips to keep you safe(r) until the firmware update arrives. Again (in case this hasn't sunk in yet), make frequent backups of essential data. The company also suggests that you use your system's standard shutdown process -- i.e. don't instantly cut the electricity by unplugging the power cable or flipping the PSU switch.

In that same vein, the company says you shouldn't unplug the SSD while your computer is on. Although this isn't Intel's recommendation, you might want to attach your system to an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) if power outages are common in your area. It's also worth noting that the retail 320 Series drives ship with a five-year warranty, so you shouldn't have any problems getting a dud replaced.

User Comments: 5

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hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Respect to Intel for not dragging this out. Same with the Sata 3.0 chipset bug. I think stories like this would help convince customers (and myself) it is worth paying extra for a product from a company that doesn't ignore you. Even they themselves said only a small percentage of drives are affected, but they replicated it, and are fixing it as we speak. Kudos to Intel.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The one good thing about SSDs being relatively small, is that backing them up to a larger drive is usually not a big hassle.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have to admit, Intel are one of those rare large company's that actually attempts to clear up issues with its own products, they respond very quickly as well which is nice. Better than Apple which simply blame it on "User Error"...

mosu said:

No one wants AMD instead? Curious!

Guest said:

I stick to SanDisk SSDs, for memory they have always been reliable and bug free. I loved their cards, I am gonna get the ultra ssds.

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