Intel today announced that it had found a flaw in its new Sandy Bridge chips, the second generation of Intel Core processors to go to market. The flaw isn't a minor one either, with Intel expecting that the costs of repair and replacement will be around $700 million.
According to CNET
, the flaw isn't caused by the Sandy Bridge chip itself, but by the Intel 6-series chipset called 'Cougar Point'. A chipset is a conduit which allows the CPU to communicate with other hardware in the PC setup, and this is exactly where the problem lies.
The flaw causes the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipset to degrade over time, causing a cut-off in communication between the processor and the hardware in question. Any SATA devices, from hard drives to optical drives can be affected.
The problem was luckily caught fairly early on, with not many Sandy Bridge computers having gone out to users as of yet. At present, some high-end notebooks
and PC's are available with Sandy Bridge, but these will presumably be quickly pulled.
Intel estimates the amount of faulty devices in consumers' hands numbers only in the thousands. According to the company, potentially affected systems have only been shipping since the 9th of January.
Intel has also stated that the issue seems to only affect SATA ports 2 through 5 and not ports 0 and 1. As most new notebooks and desktops ships with two SATA devices (a hard disk and optical drive), these will automatically be set to ports 0 and 1. This means that if you run only the above mentioned configuration for instance you'll potentially be absolutely fine, the problem comes when trying to add new devices.
To this date Intel has shipped approximately eight million Sandy Bridge processors, but the company claims relatively few of these are in customers' hands. After the recall has been completed, new versions of the chipset will be sent out, with Intel expecting to be back at full volume capacity by April.
We sure are glad we’re not the one’s responsible for the gargantuan recall process that’s taking place around the world right now.