Cisco stung by switch memory glitch

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Cisco stung by switch memory glitch

Power-cycling can cause failure.

Cisco has set aside US$655 million ($730 million) to replace faulty memory components in a swathe of out-of-warranty enterprise switches and routers.

Vice president of technical services, Curtis Hill, said in a blog post yesterday that the components — sourced from a single supplier and allegedly "widely used across the industry" — had shown a propensity to degrade and eventually fail, particularly as equipment is power-cycled.

In technical notes published yesterday, Cisco asked that it be alerted by customers any time that "planned activities requiring power cycling (e.g. disaster recovery tests, scheduled maintenance windows)" are to occur.

The issue affects boxes built between 2005 and 2012, including Catalyst switches, Service Provider routers, data centre-oriented equipment and some security appliances.

"Despite many of these products being out of warranty, Cisco has decided to take a charge of US$655m related to the expected cost of managing these issues," Hill said.

"We are taking this action to support our customers and partners."

Hill said that the "majority" of impacted Cisco products were experiencing "field failure rates below expected levels".

"Recently, however, a handful of our customers have experienced a higher number of failures, leading us to change our approach to managing this issue."

Cisco said in first became aware of the issue in December 2010, but said that "only in late 2012 did field failures and supplier review data point to a potential customer impact".

"Based on the information available at the time, Cisco created and managed an active inventory management of replacement line cards, and implemented a 'fix-on-fail' escalation process to support customers," the firm said of its previous approach to addressing the issue.

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