Intel Pledges to Update Firmware to Correct Issue with SSDs

Intel: Firmware Update to Fix "8MB Bug" with SSDs

by Anton Shilov
07/25/2011 | 10:25 PM

Intel Corp. has promised to release a new firmware for its 320-series solid-state drives (SSDs) that will fix the issue with the devices. Intel stressed that only a small percentage of SSDs are affected by the problem when BIOS only recognizes 8MB of storage capacity of the drives.


In certain circumstances, after an unexpected power loss, a small percentage of SSDs may experience this error on the next attempt to boot the system. In this situation, the system’s BIOS reports an SSD as an 8MB capacity drive. After about a week of investigation, Intel admitted the "Bad Context 13x Error" as seen on select Intel SSD 320-series drives. 

In certain situations, mainly after the PC losses power or fails due to other reasons, capacity of SSDs lowers 8MB, 6MB or other inappropriate number. Some end-users manage to restore capacities of their solid-state drives, but the data naturally gets lost inevitably. The problem exists on systems running Microsoft Windows or Apple MacOS.

Intel has reproduced "Bad Context 13x Error" utilizing strenuous testing methods. This "Bad Context 13x Error" can be addressed via a firmware update and Intel is in the process of validating the firmware update.  A future update will define the schedule to deliver the firmware fix.

"The Intel SSD 320 Series continues to be shipped and is available for purchase.   If you experience this error with your Intel SSD, please contact your Intel representative or Intel customer support via web or phone," said Alan Frosty, a spokesman for Intel's NVM solutions group.

Intel recommends owners of 320-series solid-state drives to backup data regularly, follow system’s standard shutdown process and minimize unplugging the SSD while the system is powered.

Available in 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 300GB and 600GB versions, Intel SSD 320-series offers sequential write speeds up to 220MB/s, sequential read throughput at up to 270MB/s and produces up to 39 500 input/output operations per second (IOPS) random reads and 23 000 IOPS random writes on its highest-capacity drives. The SSDs are based on Intel's own proprietary firmware and controller. Intel uses spare area to deploy added redundancies that will help keep user data protected, even in the event of a power loss. The SSDs also include 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard capabilities on every drive, to help protect personal data in the event of theft or loss. The Intel 320-series SSDs use Serial ATA-300 interface and 25nm NAND flash memory.