back to article Intel Pumageddon: Broadband chip bug haunts Chipzilla's past, present and future

Intel says the performance issues that have dogged its Puma 6 gigabit broadband modem chipset also affect the Puma 5 and Puma 7 family. A Chipzilla spokesperson confirmed to The Register on Tuesday that a TCP/UDP latency issue that makes home and business gateways powered by Puma 6 processors trivial to knock offline is also …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Intel and the service providers test these devices you might wonder that they hadn't noticed this issue before the devices arrived for customer use.

    1. TheVogon

      "That it also is present in Puma 7 means those who had wanted to escape the flaw by upgrading to a newer box will be stuck waiting for a firmware update from Intel either way to correct the issue"

      Not if the newer box is say a Broadcom chipset...

  2. David Roberts
    Paris Hilton

    Virgin Media Tivo

    Not fully relevant because I'm pretty sure there isn't a Puma chip in there, but how does the Tivo provide streaming of Internet resources like Nextflix?

    I think that the usual TV channels will be broadcast by the head end, but I am assuming that Netflix will be streamed over the Internet, as with FreeSat boxes.

    So does the VM Tivo have some kind of DOCSIS modem inside or is there a gateway somewhere at the head end?

    I have been wondering for a while because we have an original SuperHub in modem mode giving us about 160 Mb/sec throughout the day but iPlayer and Netflix seem to buffer a lot, especially in the evenings.

    Oh, and I am entitled to an upgrade to 200 Mb/sec which entails an SH3. So far I have resisted the temptation.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Virgin Media Tivo

      Our SH3 needs a reboot about once a week (which takes a good five minutes before you get connectivity again).

      Oh, and it won't work correctly in modem mode (the connection would drop every fifteen minutes), so buying a decent router turned out to be a waste of money.

      Apart from that it works ok.

      1. Badvok

        Re: Virgin Media Tivo

        @phuzz they've fixed the modem mode issue so you can now use your own router to mitigate the issue somewhat (as I do).

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Virgin Media Tivo

          Thanks Badvok and TheVogon, looks like I'll be going back to using the SH as a modem and have a real router again :)

          No more "your wifi password must contain two letters. One is two few. Three is too many. Four is right out.".

      2. TheVogon

        Re: Virgin Media Tivo

        "Oh, and it won't work correctly in modem mode (the connection would drop every fifteen minutes)"

        That one was fixed in a firmware update a while back.

      3. PiltdownMan

        Re: Virgin Media Tivo

        I run a SH3 in modem mode pushing a Netgear R6400 router running DD-WRT latest firmware build.

        Seams very reliable (more so than a SH3 in router mode, which locks up very regularly!).

        Must admit, I don't game, so can't comment on latency.

    2. StripeyMiata

      Re: Virgin Media Tivo

      I have a Virgin V6 box if that's what you are referring to? It doesn't have a modem in it, you connect to the Superhub via Ethernet or Wireless. Or a 3rd party router if you put the Superhub into modem mode.

      It's a slow buggy piece of crap by the way, while no fan of Murdock's Sky, having spend the weekend with my wife's family and using their Sky Q box, the Sky Q is far, far, far superior.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Virgin Media Tivo

      "but how does the Tivo provide streaming of Internet resources like Nextflix?"

      Badly, going by my parents box.

    4. analyzer

      Re: Virgin Media Tivo

      Virgin are being a little economical with the truth. There are 3 different hubs in use SH 2, SH 2ac and SH 3. I had an SH2 that was knackered and the visiting engineer didn't have any replacements so gave me an SH 2ac instead. It was already capable of DOCSIS3 when installed and ramped up to full speed as soon as my tiny bit of the country was enabled.

      SH2 was no longer being used in new installs at that time and VM were giving new customers either an SH 2ac or SH3 as the SH 3 was still brand new and in short supply. You may still be able to get the SH 2ac, this is a NetGear based router and uses the Broadcom chipset so has been very reliable for me.

      1. James_H

        Re: Virgin Media Tivo

        I'd read months ago that any stock left of the SH 2ac devices had long since been depleted. VM was giving them out to dissatisfied SH3 gamers etc because of the latency problems.

        A shame as the workaround is to keep rebooting it every week is annoying.

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Not fully relevant because I'm pretty sure there isn't a Puma chip in there, but how does the Tivo provide streaming of Internet resources like Nextflix?"

    Badly, in my experience. It is far more crap than the old catch-up service.

  4. Gordon Pryra

    Virgin users are screwed

    Supplying your own router wont make a difference

    The issue is the modem in the superhub

    So before the interwebs gets to your router it gets slowed down by the system performing the various tasks using software rather than the hardware controls

    Virgin don't give a shit because you can either take it or go to the competition. users who realise they are being shafted are a tiny % of their user-base.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Virgin users are screwed

      So, technically, they're no longer virgin users...

  5. analyzer

    Hmmm Tivo?

    Had the old Tivo and that wasn't connected to the SuperHub it was only connected to the TV part of the cable. This is partly why the old Tivos performance was utterly carp.

    The new Tivo, on the other hand is connected to both the SH and the TV cable so Netflix and iPlayer etc are fetched over the internet and is an immeasurably better experience than the old Tivo.

    Having an SH 2ac I get none of the issues with the SH 3 and also full 200 down, except for really busy times when it sometimes drops to 150 so the new Tivo has always been pretty sharp in performance.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    "Puma series is positioned as a crucial component in Intel's Connected Home dream, "

    Then perhaps they should have made sure their hardware was not s**t before they rolled it out?

    "it appears from network throughput graphs that the chipset is running a routine task every couple of seconds that stalls packet processing, inserting bursts of lag into connections."

    WTF's that about? What is so f**king vital that everything else has to stop while this gets done?

    Interesting comment that this affects chipsets built around both ARM and Atom processors.

    Intel could not have been so stupid as to do another "Management engine" drop of untested processor hardware running un reviewed code, could they?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The information above about the V6 not requiring a connection to the actual cable network is incorrect as it still uses DVB-C.

    https://my.virginmedia.com/content/dam/virgoBrowse/docs/Virgin-TV-V6-QuickStart-Guide-for-New-Customers.pdf

    The V6 uses both DVB-C as well as the ethernet to connect to internet based resources.

  8. jason 7

    No one...

    ...bothers to do proper testing any more.

    Always bites you in the end.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waiting for the cable operator

    Cable operators let you buy your own cable modem, at least in the US, so once Intel releases the fix you could buy a new one from the first OEM that integrates that fix into their product, instead of waiting an unknown amount of time (possibly forever) for the one you rent from your cable company to get the fix.

    Unless your cable company doesn't charge a monthly fee for using one they provide, it is cheaper to own it yourself anyway.

    1. drewley

      Re: Waiting for the cable operator

      Here in the UK, Virgin don't allow any third party modems on their network.

    2. DryBones

      Re: Waiting for the cable operator

      *checks list, pats SB6121*

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Be fair!

    Looking at all the data and sending the interesting stuff to GCHQ on a side-channel comes at a cost!

    1. GrapeBunch
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Be fair!

      I was thinking something similar: that the reason the process of fixing the firmware is slated to take so long is that the NSA will have to vet it before it gets released. Like my hat? Designed by Bryantitti. Go green, girls.

  11. psychonaut

    "The Puma series is positioned as a crucial component in Intel's Connected Home dream, providing the hardware for connecting up people's personal devices, gadgets and computers to the internet."

    what, like, err, a fucking router? that works properly? oh do fuck off

  12. NoOnions

    SH3

    Just been on to Virgin Media (AGAIN) about the latency issue and none of their support staff have any idea about the latency issue with the SH3. Just brush it under the carpet VM Management...online gaming is just impossible.

    1. Meester65

      Re: SH3

      I had an engineer visit for another reson but he's not heard of it and the support on the phone pleaded ignorance, more likely they were instructed not to comment. They charge so much for a gamer package which isn't so much gamer as it is streamer, a gamer doesn't want lag spikes.

      People should be more vocal about this as they are more likely to deny knowledge and sweep it under the carpet if it's just a few fed up gamers they can afford to loose.

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