Cisco issues alert for faulty USB drives in its servers

Cisco is urging customers to replace faulty USB drives in some of its Unified Computing System (UCS) servers before they fail.

The issue is caused by a manufacturing error in 24 Dual Inline Memory Modules (DIMMs) that have persistent correctable memory errors that, if left in place, could take the servers offline. The problem is in the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB DIMMs.

Cisco describes defects as manufacturing deviations that affect the memory modules used to make up the DIMMs. All of the problem parts were manufactured in mid to late 2020, according to a Cisco alert.

A symptom of the problem is that the DIMMs have persistent correctable memory errors. “If left unaddressed, DIMMs may potentially experience an uncorrectable memory event. If encountered during execution, uncorrectable errors will cause the server to suddenly and unexpectedly reset. If there is a problem during the power-on self-test (POST), the DIMM will be mapped and the total available memory reduced. In some cases, a boot error may be observed,” the alert reads.

The company noted that operating system features and memory Reliability, Availability, and Servicing (RAS) features can mask the extent of correctable errors. Clients are therefore advised not to judge their exposure based on a lack of error reporting. Instead, they should check to see if the serial number of the suspicious part has been reported.

The process is described in the Cisco alert, which lists potentially defective products. Replacement parts are available from Cisco.

Cisco did not identify the manufacturer of the faulty memory modules and also declined to answer my question. The only thing it would say is that the memory was made in mid to late 2020.

However, SK Hynix, the South Korean memory maker that manufactures the memory modules used in Cisco UCS servers, admitted to experiencing manufacturing issues during its last earnings call.

During that call, an unidentified company representative said it changed its manufacturing process from mid-2020 with unforeseen side effects. “Some of the products that were produced at this particular time would have suffered quality degradation for about a year. So we received reports about them in the middle of last year,” the unidentified representatives said.

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