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Intel has decided to fix its flawed Atom C2000 processors

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April 27, 2017

We just learned this morning that Intel has finally decided to fix its flawed Atom C-2000 processors, which have been increasingly failing and at a faster rate for the past eighteen months or so.

Yesterday, through an update to its chip errata, Intel revealed that its Atom C2000 family of CPUs has a new C0 stepping feature, which means that the chip has been completely redesigned from the ground up.

The decision impacts Intel's Atom processors more than might initially be expected, since the company's announcement was fairly brief.

To be sure, version C0 repairs the chip's low pin count (LPC) bus clock outputs and introduces a new specification for the LPC interface.

A little over four months ago, Intel asserted that the Atom's LPC clock bus outputs (LPC_CLKOUT0 and LPC_CLKOUT1) could stop functioning, rendering all affected devices inoperable.

Without a reliable clock signal governing all the CPU's circuitry, Atom-equipped systems can't even boot at all, so that was a major problem for Intel engineers.

In January, Intel's CFO warned of a product quality issue, noting that the chip maker had set aside some funding to cover the cost of dealing with an unspecified design flaw. Now we know he was referring to the Atom C2000 processor.

The nature of the design flaw became clearer a few weeks later when on February 7, Cisco issued an advisory warning. A variety of its own products sold prior to November 16, 2016, the networking equipment maker said, contained a faulty clock component that was failing at a rate greater than anticipated after 1 1/2 year of utilization.

The common component in the affected Cisco hardware was an Atom C-2000 line CPU.

As we reported in March, the failing Atom chip affected IT products from at least 21 vendors: Aaeon, ASRock Rack, Checkpoint, Cisco, Dell, Fortinet, HP, Infortrend, iXsystems, Online/Scaleway, Lanner, NEC, Newisys, Netgear, Netgate, Quanta, Seagate, Sophos, Supermicro, Synology, and ZNYX Networks.

We've reached out to some of the affected organizations to see whether they've received C0 inventory yet but have not heard back at the time of this writing.

In February, an Intel spokesperson asserted that the company had a board-level workaround for the then-current B0 production stepping of its Atom chips and said the company planned to implement and validate a minor silicon fix in a new product stepping that resolves the problem.

Source: Intel.


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