Defective motherboards used in Dell's PowerEdge 1650 servers can cause the systems to overheat, bellow smoke and then die, according to the company.
Dell said the problem occurs because certain motherboards have a faulty inductor -- a component designed to regulate the voltage -- that overheats, causing the component to emit smoke and then shut down.
The PowerEdge 1650 server, a 1U rack-mounted product, was launched in 2002 and replaced by the PowerEdge 1750 last year. Bruce Anderson, the head of Dell's product communications team in the US, told ZDNet UK that the affected servers were manufactured between January and May 2003, but he pointed out that only a small fraction of the servers are at risk. "A certain number of servers manufactured in that time frame may contain this issue, but not all of them," he said.
Despite the fact that affected servers emit "a very small amount" of smoke after heating up, Anderson was adamant that there is no risk involved: "Typically, all a customer would experience is the system shutting down. If you experience this, notify us immediately," he said.
The problem is global and could be present in any PowerEdge 1650 server that was manufactured between January and May last year. Dell said it would be replacing defective motherboards as part of its routine maintenance schedules.