Sandy Bridge chipset flaw to cost Intel $1 billion

Intel has discovered a flaw in its 6-series chipset that goes with the new Sandy Bridge processors which has caused the chip giant to halt chipset production until the flaw can be fixed.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Intel has discovered a flaw in its 6-series chipset that goes with the new Sandy Bridge processors which has caused the chip giant to halt chipset production until the flaw can be fixed.

Here's the word from Intel:

As part of ongoing quality assurance, Intel Corporation has discovered a design issue in a recently released support chip, the Intel® 6 Series, code-named Cougar Point, and has implemented a silicon fix. In some cases, the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives. The chipset is utilized in PCs with Intel's latest Second Generation Intel Core processors, code-named Sandy Bridge. Intel has stopped shipment of the affected support chip from its factories. Intel has corrected the design issue, and has begun manufacturing a new version of the support chip which will resolve the issue. The Sandy Bridge microprocessor is unaffected and no other products are affected by this issue.

All 6-series "Cougar Point" chipsets, including H67 and P67, are affected. The issue is a hardware design problem that causes high number of bit errors eventually device disconnection. The problem only affects the four 3Gbps SATA ports with the two 6Gbps ports unaffected. According to Intel, data on connected devices will be safe.

There is no software fix for this issue. All affected systems will need a motherboard replacement. No word from OEMs of motherboard manufacturers as to how his replacement program will play out yet.

What's interesting bout this issue is that it seems to have been caught by Intel - reviews and early adopters didn't seem to catch on. I've reached out to a number of early adopters and no one seems to be seeing this issue.

[UPDATE: Intel claims that this problem was first reported to the company by users, and then replicated internally.]

This flaw is going to cost Intel ... a lot. Putting aside the PR hassles and delays that this will cause, Intel estimates that it'll hit bottom line by around $300 million, and $700 million is being put aside for repair and replacement.

An interesting rumor that I've heard is that this problem was caught by Apple during the testing of upcoming "Sandy Bridge" MacBook Pro systems. Is this true? Probably not. But I do believe that this will delay a lot of new releases by OEMs across the board.

Anyone here a "Sandy Bridge" early adopter?

Editorial standards