Intel Atom C2000 chips fingered for hardware failures

February 8, 2017 // 11:13 a.m.

Tags: #atom #atom-c2000 #cpu #errata #erratum #failure #intel-atom

Companies: #cisco #dell #intel #netgear #seagate #synology

Evidence has emerged of a manufacturing defect in Intel's Atom C2000 family of low-power processors, and it appears to be killing products ranging from Cisco networking hardware to Synology network attached storage (NAS) devices.

Designed for use in embedded systems where a balance must be struck between compute performance and power draw, Intel's C2000 family of processors has proven reasonably popular since its launch. Unfortunately, that popularity appears to be coming back to bite Intel in the backside: The company has published a spec update (PDF warning) admitting that there's a flaw in the chip that causes it to die entirely and irrecoverably after a period of time.

The Register has been digging into the flaw and has insider information claiming Intel has known of the issue for at least a year and a half despite having only published the errata document back in January following a spike in customer returns. The site has also linked the design flaw, which causes the chip's clock outputs to fail and thus renders the entire system unable to boot or run, to a product advisory notice on networking gear based around the Atom chips from Cisco, along with failures in products from a range of other companies including Netgear, Synology, Seagate, and Dell.

Aside from the erratum publication, Intel has been quiet on the precise failure rate with The Register's source suggesting it is leaning on its customers to do the same regarding their own C2000-based products. A revised design is now available which should resolve the problem, but faulty devices - some of which will be out of warranty as a result of the length of time between the failure being noticed and Intel's public disclosure - will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for replacement, owing to the Atom C2000 family chips being soldered directly to the motherboard.
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