Oxford Semiconductor has issued a statement with regard to the emerging Panther and FireWire data-loss debacle.

The company says: "Oxford Semiconductor has been investigating reports that some FireWire 800 drives have lost data after an upgrade to the Mac OS X 10.3 Panther operating system is installed (released late October).

"Currently we believe this issue relates to a change in the way Panther uses FireWire that affected version 1.02 of the OXUF922 driver software. A new version, 1.05 was issued by Oxford Semiconductor to the manufacturers of external drive products in early September."

As Macworld UK first reported yesterday, users installing Panther while having an external FireWire drive connected to their Mac have seen data loss; similarly, users with FireWire drives connected to their systems have seen data loss once they reboot Panther. At this stage, it appears that the problem is confined to FireWire 800 drives.

Oxford Semiconductor advises end users to contact the manufacturer of their particular FireWire drives to get an upgrade to bring their driver software up to the latest version.

The company is also warning users of external hard drives that do not employ the Oxford 922 FireWire bridge to be vigilant: "As there is currently no evidence that this issue is purely related to Oxford's 922-based drives, Oxford is advising all FireWire drive users to take advantage of further Panther revisions as they arise."

Apple's statement

Apple last night issued its own statement on the affair – and chose to point the finger of blame at Oxford Semiconductor. It said: "Apple has identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive. Apple is working with Oxford Semiconductor and affected drive manufacturers to resolve this issue which resides in the Oxford 922 chip-set."

A source told Macworld that FireWire support in the previous beta of Panther had worked fine, lending industry insiders to speculate that changes or omissions have been made in the release version of the OS.

It seems the problem manifested itself in earlier versions of Apple's operating system, but was fixed in builds circulated in early September.

A spokesman for Oxford Semiconductor told Macworld: "This problem was fixed; now it's come back again."

"We are not in the business of blame. As a business, we aim to make the best, fastest and most cross-platform compatible product. We'll take a deep breath and get on with the business of delivering the best product we can. What is important is that we work together in order to resolve the problem for our end users."

Meanwhile third party hard drive suppliers are issuing warnings and software updates for their end users at present. LaCie, WiebeTech and Other World Computing have all released software patches in the last 24-hours.

Macworld advises readers with external FireWire 800 hard drives to check their manufacturers Web site for updates. A selection of links are published below.

What's going on – if anyone has experienced the problem, feels like they want to talk about the problem, or have further facts they'd like to share pertaining to the problem, have your say on the Macworld Forum.