Sandy Bridge chipset flaw to cost Intel $1 billion

Faulty SATA of 6-series chipset delays roll-out
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Intel said that a design flaw in the Sandy Bridge chipset will cost $1 billion in missed sales and recall expenses.

The flaw resides in the Cougar Point 6-series chipset for the new Sandy Bridge platform and can result in malfunctioning SATA drive controller. The chipmaker expects to ship an updated chip in late February.

"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," Intel said in a statement.

The flaw is limited to the slower 3GB/s SATA ports while the 6GB/s ports are unaffected.

A raft of Sandy Bridge products have been removed from the channel pending an update while the company said it will "work with its OEM partners to accept the return of the affected chipsets, and plans to support modifications or replacements needed on motherboards or systems."

The lack of a functional Sandy Bridge chipset is a major blow to Intel's roll out the new Sandy Bridge architecture in computer systems and potentially represents an opporunity for rival chipmaker AMD's competing Fusion platform.

Tech website Anandtech shed some light on the flaw, saying that the problem relates to a single transistor in the SATA 3Gbps clock circuit. The design flaw means that the 3Gbps SATA ports may disconnect from the controller. 

"The source of the problem is actually not even a key part of the 6-series chipset design, it’s remnant of an earlier design that’s no longer needed," wrote Lal Shimpi on AnandTech.

Lal Shimpi said that the issues was less clear with notebook devices with two SATA ports. Since the flaw looks likely not to affect some configurations of notebooks using the Cougar Point chipset, Lal Shimpi speculated that these may not be delayed.

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