Source points to Haswell Z87 USB bug

March 8, 2013 // 10:54 a.m.

Tags: #haswell #intel #intel-8-series #intel-z87 #s3 #sandy-bridge #standby #stepping #usb-30 #usb-controller #z87

Rumours point to a bug in Intel's upcoming Z87 chipset, designed for boards running the company's next-generation Haswell architecture processors, that cause some external hard drives to disappear during sleep mode.

According to an anonymous source with access to Z87 hardware speaking to Australian technology site PC & Tech Authority, the initial C1 stepping of the chipset has a bug in its USB 3.0 controller that causes some models of external hard drive or flash drive to enter a standby mode from which it can't be programmatically woken.

The flaw, the site's source claims, triggers when the computer enters the S3 sleep mode - a suspend-to-RAM state in which the computer draws very little power while retaining all running applications and data. As expected, all connected storage devices enter a sleep state when the computer is in S3 - but not all of them wake up again when the computer returns to a running state. Due to the bug, it is claimed, some drives will remain disconnected until they are physically removed from their USB port and plugged back in - a process which will dismount and then re-mount the drive, potentially losing any files which were open at the time the computer entered sleep mode.

It's not a serious flaw, to be sure, and a far cry from the design issue in Intel's Sandy Bridge SATA chipsets that led to multiple manufacturers halting shipments of affected motherboards until the issue could be resolved with a new stepping. It's also unlikely to halt Intel's scheduled roadmap for the Haswell launch: as such a minor issue, and affecting as it does only selected external storage devices, it's likely Intel will ship the parts to its customers anyway while working to resolve the problem with a C2 stepping as quickly as possible.

That is, if the flaw exists at all: Intel, as is usual, has refused to comment on the matter, rebuffing the site's request for clarification with a brusque statement that it 'won't comment on NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) technical work we are doing,' while stating that it is fully on-track for launching Haswell and its supporting motherboards.

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