Hardware, Technology Security

Microsoft Confirms Investigation into Intel USB 3.0 Issues on Surface Pro Tablets


There is a lot of discussion going on over Intel’s admittance that the first batch of 8-series chipsets for the upcoming "Haswell" microarchitecture will have a problem with the specific USB 3.0 devices. First and foremost, we do not believe that this is a part of any Thunderbolt conspiracy (which really is utter non-sense). Intel is one of the creators of the Universal Serial Bus (USB), standard with whom the company worked with Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and numerous others.

As such, we were informed by Intel that the company is dedicated towards the future success of USB standard, as the company is a founding member of USB-IF (Implementers Forum). However, the issues that Intel is experiencing recently, and potentially damaging millions and millions of consumers worldwide is nothing to be sneezed at.

Just as we have come to terms that until Intel issues the B revision of the chipset in question, Bright Side of News* will not recommend *ANY* "Haswell"-based product that uses Intel’s USB 3.0 controller, we have learned of an issue with the USB 3.0 port on Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet. Intel made a big deal out of the Surface Pro design win, but learning of USB issues is really troublesome.

The issue is almost a dead ringer to the trouble on the upcoming 8-Series chipsets, and we have received the following statement from Microsoft:

"Our development team is already actively engaged with the hardware provider with regards to the current compatibility issues with the USB port and various USB devices. While for obvious reasons, I cannot provide any specific insight into what communications were made or provide a timeline for a fix, I assure you that this particular issue has our full attention and we are pushing for the necessary software updates to resolve the prevalent issues."

Intel might make the world’s fastest CPU’s, but the recent track record with the accompanying platform (chipsets) is beyond abysmal.

  • 2011: "Sandy Bridge" 6-Series Chipset Recall – SATA Ports
  • 2012: "Sandy Bridge-E," "Ivy Bridge-E," X79 Chipset Feature Disable – SAS
  • 2013: "Haswell", Intel 8-Series – USB 3.0 Issue
  • 2013: "Ivy Bridge", 7-Series – USB 3.0 issue on Microsoft Surface Pro

With a recent history of AMD not competing with Intel on performance, we can clearly see what happens then there isn’t real competition. We hope that these problems end, but we do not believe they will until AMD begins to put pressure on Intel in ways that makes them work harder and in a more focused manner.