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Intel's dying Atom chips strike again: Netgear recalls four ReadyNAS, Wi-Fi management lines

Hardware maker offers to replace or repair at-risk kit

By Thomas Claburn, 3 Mar 2017

Netgear on Thursday said that four of its product lines may experience "higher-than-normal failure rates" and that it is contacting affected customers to assess whether replacement or repair is appropriate.

"While this situation is not an immediate cause for concern about the operation of any of these models, we understand that customers might have questions," the company said in a statement. "We will be reaching out to all registered customers of the affected models over the next several months to determine the appropriate actions for their situations."

The four product lines – ReadyNAS devices RN3130 and RN3138, and Wi-Fi managers WC7500 and WC7600v2 – happen to have a common component, Intel's Atom C2000 line of chips, which Intel has acknowledged had problems until recently. As many as 16 specific models in this group of four lines may be affected.

Intel's chip errata, published in January, identified the B0 stepping of Atoms in the C2000 range as having faulty clock outputs that fail far sooner than they should. When that happens, affected devices will no longer boot. The shoddy chips started shipping in 2013 and continued to be sold until late last year. Intel has refused to disclose how much subpar silicon it has sold.

Asked whether Intel's flawed chip was to blame, a Netgear spokesperson told The Register, "We're not naming the vendor but it sounds as if you've done your research."

An industry source who spoke to The Register about this issue last month said Intel's customers may be bound by nondisclosure agreements for issues related to Intel technology.

Netgear's spokesperson declined to provide the number of affected units, but allowed that the outreach effort to contact customers "is pretty big."

Intel's CFO earlier this year indicated that the company had set aside funds to deal with the financial fallout, which presumably involves subsidizing replacement or repair costs incurred by its customers.

In a statement emailed to The Register, Richard Jonker, VP of SMB product line management for Netgear, said: "Netgear is taking full responsibility for this component supplier concern and we can state at this time that we are issuing a full-scale recall for the affected products. We will be contacting all registered owners of these products and providing a swap where they will receive a new product and the affected product will be returned to Netgear."

Jonker said Netgear takes pride in its supplier relationships and is working with them to provide the best experience for customers. He said the company intends to stand by its warranties and will endeavor to minimize the impact on customers.

Other vendors and service providers that have used Intel's Atom C2000 chips and appear to have been affected include: Aaeon, ASRock Rack, Checkpoint, Cisco, Dell, Fortinet, HP, Infortrend, iXsystems, Online/Scaleway, Lanner, NEC, Newisys, Netgate, Quanta, Seagate, Sophos, Supermicro, Synology, and ZNYX Networks. ®

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