Unbelievable but true: bad embedded SSD controller firmware can crash a PC. Next stop—Blue Screen of Death!

According to this article by Anand Lal Shimpi on the eponymous Anandtech.com, several SSD vendors including Intel have recently discovered that it’s possible for an SSD to crash a Microsoft Windows system and invoke the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). How? By the SSD spontaneously disconnecting from the system while it’s running. Microsoft Windows really doesn’t like to see itself unexpectedly (or even expectedly) disconnected from the main system drive, wherein resides the operating system’s virtuality. If this should occur, Windows shuts down, displaying a lovely blue screen with some unpleasant warnings on it.

New SSD controller firmware has substantially improved the situation but this episode serves once more to point out how critical to overall system behavior embedded code really is. Flawed embedded firmware can not only bring down a subsystem; it can also bring down an entire system, much to a user’s chagrin.

Incidents like this merely underscore the need to constantly strive to develop less brittle code that can accommodate a wide range of unexpected events. Our system designs are now so complex that we need to become far more aggressive in developing resilient software for a wide range of subsystems and systems.

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About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at http://eda360insider.wordpress.com/)
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