If you were wondering why your broadband always stalls and stutters at a crucial moment, the problem might lie with the Intel hardware it contains.
It turns out the company’s Puma 6 chipset – which powers Virgin Media’s Superhub 3 among a number of other modems – could be the cause of the problem. Issues affecting the latency of the systems have been reported. This includes delays that can make even fast, high-bandwidth Internet connections appear slow.
Virgin is officially London’s second fastest Internet provider according to data from Speedtest, but this news means the speed you’re paying for might not necessarily be the speed you’re getting.
Affected modems are the Hitron CGNV4, the Arris Surfboard SB6190 and the Compal CH7465-LG. These are often re-launched by Internet Service providers under new names, most notably the Superhub 3 from Virgin and Comcast’s Xfinity boxes.
Now Intel are planning a big firmware update to fix the lag that’s affecting user’s home broadband in the UK, America, Canada and more. A spokesman for Intel told The Register: “We are aware of an issue with the Puma 6 system-on-chip software that impacts latency and are working to address it.”
While solving the lag issues appears to be a priority for the multinational tech corporation, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a solution in time for Christmas.
Intel purchased the Puma family of chips with the intention of powering gigabit broadband boxes. Throwing a high-end Atom x86 processor into the mix, the company claim this range of modems can deal with traffic at speeds as high as 1.6Gbps.
Here’s the interesting part. Problems appear to arise when the CPU tries to overload itself with work, causing high-priority tasks to overcome the processor. This leads to around six per cent of data packages to be dropped. Not a problem if you’re casually browsing the net, but a deal breaker if you’re at a crucial moment in an online game.
Tipster ‘xymox1’ pointed out the issues on an online forum last month. He wrote: “The problem is extreme and frankly, horrific. Gamers will lose gamers because of random 250ms spikes in latency every few seconds. During first person gaming, I was getting killed way more often for no reason.”
The user claims he has now swapped back to an older modem and the problems have subsided.