Intel has admitted its well publicised troubles with its 320 Series solid-state drives (SSD) led to a delay in launching the firm's high-end 710 and 720 Series units.
Earlier this year, Intel started to receive reports that users of its mainstream 320 Series SSDs - the only drive in its current line-up to feature an Intel controller - were incurring a problem that resulted in the drive's capacity being reset to 8MB. To Intel's credit it publicly acknowledged the problem and eventually released new firmware that corrected the problem, though for those who ended up with an 8MB SSD the solution was still to get a new drive. But all of that took a toll on the release schedule of its 710 and 720 Series drives.
An chap at Intel working on the firm's SSD business told thinq_ that the firmware problems with the 320 Series did have an effect on the release date for the 710 and 720 Series. Not only did it make Intel go back over the firmware for the 320 Series of drives but thinq_ was told that the "firmware for the 710 and 720 Series was re-validated to ensure the same problem doesn't occur in those units".
Asked whether Intel's reputation for reliable SSDs took a hit with the 320 Series firmware, we were told that the company felt confident that its actions had mitigated any major damage to the firm. As for whether the 320 Series firmware foul-up would act as a catalyst for Intel leaving the SSD business, instead concentrating on flogging NAND flash chips, thinq_ was told that Intel would stick around for the foreseeable future but added: "never say never".
Intel's 710 and 720 Series drives are enterprise-level units that will command serious financial outlay. In the enterprise market, Intel will be hoping that its conservative brand image will help it secure deals with server and storage vendors, so it is no surprise that the firm has taken a bit longer to make sure its reputation stays intact.
Even with Intel's patch-up job on its 320 Series drives, our source confirmed that the firm will finally bring out its 710 and 720 Series SSDs within the third quarter of 2011.