Apparently, the chip can brick a device as soon as look at it and Chipzilla is so embarrassed about it is not really saying much.
Intel indicated in a January 2017 revision of its networking Atom C2000 family documentation that the chip line contains a clock flaw. Errata note AVR.54, titled "System May Experience Inability to Boot or May Cease Operation," explains that the Atom C2000 Low Pin Count bus clock outputs (LPC_CLKOUT0 and LPC_CLKOUT1) may stop functioning.vBasically if it runs for longer than a couple of years the chip thinks it is time to retire and go somewhere nice.
In its Q4 2016 earnings call earlier this month, chief financial officer Robert Swan said a product issue limited profitability during the quarter.
"We were observing a product quality issue in the fourth quarter with slightly higher expected failure rates under certain use and time constraints, and we established a reserve to deal with that,. We think we have it relatively well-bounded with a minor design fix that we're working with our clients to resolve," Swan sung.
There will be rather a lot of clients to chat to. The Atom family are in a lot of gear from Dell, Cisco, Asrock, Aaeon, HP, Infortrend, Lanner, NEC, Newisys, Netgate, Netgear, Quanta, Supermicro, and ZNYX Networks.
Cisco last week issued an advisory warning that several of its routing, optical networking, security and switch products sold prior to November 16, 2016 contain a faulty clock component that is likely to fail at an accelerated rate after 18 months of operation. Cisco has not said who made the product, but fingers are starting to point at the Intel Atom.
Intel is also not saying whether its chip bug is the one affecting Cisco gear, but the affected Cisco ASA 55xx products did ship with Intel's Atom C2000 system-on-chips.
Synology DS1815+ storage boxes have also been reporting complete hardware failures and this gear is powered by the Intel Atom C2538. Synology is not sure if the Intel chip is responsible for the failures yet and is still working on the problem.