Well, all those user reports weren't flukes. Intel has posted a note on the Support Community forum saying it managed to reproduce a bricking problem induced by its latest solid-state-drive firmware update, and that the company is working on a fix.
Here's the meaty part from the message by Alan Frost of Intel's NAND Solutions Group:
We have been contacted by users with SSD issues after using the firmware upgrade tool (version 1.3) in a Windows 7* 64bit environment. Intel has replicated the issue on 34nm SSDs (X25-M) and is working on a fix. If users have downloaded 02HA firmware and not upgraded, Intel recommends they don't upgrade until further notice. Intel is pursuing the resolution of this as a high priority. No related issues have been reported by users who have successfully upgraded to 02HA firmware via the firmware upgrade tool (version 1.3)."
As we reported last month, Intel pulled the new TRIM firmware for its 34-nm solid-state drives after some users started complaining that the update rendered their drives inoperable. The update normally adds support for Windows 7's TRIM function, which circumvents the block-rewrite performance penalty by clearing flash pages instead of marking them as available. (Thanks to The Register for the tip.)