HPE joins Cisco, Juniper with faulty clock technology problem

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the latest vendor to identify a faulty clocking component of its products that can cause them to crash and not recover.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the latest vendor to identify a faulty clocking component of its products that can cause them to crash and not recover.

HPE joined Cisco and Juniper in identifying the problem, even going so far as to tap the widely-suspected Intel-based clock element as the cause.

In a statement the company said:

“To the best of our knowledge, our customers are not experiencing failures due to the Intel C2000 chip, which is deployed on a limited number of our products. We remain committed to assuring the highest quality experience from our solutions and are proactively working with Intel to mitigate any future risk and impact on our customers.”

Unlike Cisco and Juniper however, HPE did not identify its affected products nor offer any details as to what customers can do with them should the problem occur.

Cisco said when it first identified the clock problem earlier this month it would “support our customers and partners, Cisco will proactively provide replacement products under warranty or covered by any valid services contract dated as of November 16, 2016, which have this component.”

Cisco also said it had set aside US$125 million to help cover the cost of replacing networking gear impacted by a fatal clock component. Cisco CFO Kelly Kramer told analysts at this week’s second quarter earnings announcement: “We have had an issue from a supplier come out, and we did book a reserve for $125 million, you can see in our [generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)] results and in the press release, to cover that.

"We always, and continue to stand by our customers through any situations like this. This is very proactive. This is a failure rate that will happen over time, but we're working with our customers to work through that.

"So we're not anticipating any impact from that from a top line perspective…Again, we're working very proactively with our customers and in terms of how quickly and where they want to do their replacement.

"So we're working very, very closely, but as of right now we have not seen and don't anticipate any massive revenue impact from this.”

Juniper meanwhile said this week that it “is aware of an issue related to a component manufactured by a supplier which impacts a limited set of our product line. We are currently working directly with any impacted customers on a swift solution.”

Neither Cisco nor Juniper have been willing to pinpoint the killer clock signaling component-maker but the problems coincide with difficulties described by Intel on its Atom C2000 chip that is used by a number of hardware makers.

Other vendors such as Synology a network attached storage vendor in Taiwan have been identified as using the clock technology as well. Dell has not commented on the issue so far.

The IDG News Service recently wrote of the Atom’s troubles, reporting in January that Intel added an erratum to the Atom C2000 documentation stating systems with the chip "may experience [an] inability to boot or may cease operation."

The chip is the last among Intel's line of short-lived low-power Atom chips for servers. It was used in microservers but also networking equipment from companies like Cisco, which has issued an advisory about a product defect related to a component degrading clock signals over time.

A clock signal degrade hurts the ability of the chip to carry out tasks. Intel is trying to fix the issue but declined to comment on when it'll deliver an update, the IDG story stated.

"There's a board level workaround that we are sharing with customers now," an Intel spokesman said in an email to the IDG News Service "Additionally, we are implementing and validating a minor silicon fix in a new product [update]."

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