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Intel recall affects all Sandy Bridge PCs

Intel Sandy Bridge

By Barry Collins

Posted on 31 Jan 2011 at 17:04

Intel has issued a chipset recall that will affect every PC and laptop incorporating its new Sandy Bridge processors.

The problem is with the Series 6 chipsets, which are used in all Sandy Bridge systems, both laptops and desktops. The company claims the SATA ports within the chipset - codenamed Cougar Point - "may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives". There are no known issues with the processors themselves.

Intel will be working with OEMs on the recall of PCs based on the second generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors, which have only just started appearing on the market in the UK.

Consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution

However, Intel claims affected customers need not panic, adding that the company "believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution".

An Intel spokesperson told PC Pro that the company first noticed the issue last week. Intense stress testing of the chipset led Intel to conclude that around 5% of parts were likely to fail over the course of three years, based on normal usage patterns. That failure rate rises to 15% for heavy users.

"It's a fairly small percentage, but that's irrelevant," the Intel spokesperson told us. "There's a problem there and we're working hard to make good on those parts."

The spokesman claimed the company had shipped eight million Sandy Bridge processors, "but a much smaller number are in the hands of customers".

Fixing the chipset

Intel has halted manufacture of the chipsets and corrected the problem with a silicon fix. However, that means the new motherboards won't start arriving with PC builders until the end of February, with full volume production delayed until April.

It's a huge blow for Intel and PC buyers alike, with the new Sandy Bridge processors delivering a significant performance boost over previous generation processors.

The news appears to have caught British PC manufacturers cold, with all three companies PC Pro spoke to this afternoon being unaware of the recall.

Intel claims the lost revenue from processor sales and the cost of replacement scheme will cost around $1 billion.

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User comments

Not embarrassing at all...

By jamesyld on 31 Jan 2011

credit where credit's due

At least Intel seem to be upfront about the issue unlike a certain major PC manufacturer who recently kept quiet and continued shipping products even though they knew they had a problem with the capacitors on thier motherboards.

By Hamster on 31 Jan 2011

How will this affect non OEM sales?

If I have bought one of from a reseller, what do I do?

By Nick_Houghton on 31 Jan 2011

Quite glad I've not already gone for the new chipset. Only thing that has delayed my decision was waiting for the Bulldozer CPU's from AMD to compare performance, price and efficiency before I choose the route to upgrade. Might be slightly wary of Sandybridge for a bit longer until more in use fault testing has shown it is ok after this.

By skarlock on 31 Jan 2011

This is a coincidence ...

I just spent most of last week wrestling with the ICH10R SATA ports on my year-old X58 chipset board.

It worked fine for months since first built, but then developed a fault whereby it would not boot if there were more than two of the six ICH10R port used AND the ICH10R was in RAID or AHCI mode. It seems to work in IDE mode, but I am getting occasional unexplained blue-screens, so it may just be a less rigorous test at boot in this mode.

Has there been any word of problems with previous-generation chip-sets? After all, these are all still less than 3 years old.

By JohnAHind on 1 Feb 2011

A quick search on Google does pull up one hell of a lot of X58 chipset SATA (and USB which seems linked) threads where people have had similar problems to those you're describing, so perhaps it is a legacy issue and not just a Sandybridge issue?

By skarlock on 1 Feb 2011

Will revised boards be marked

So one buys a P67 or H67 board in April. How will one know that it contains a fixed chipset? Ideally there'll be markings on the board and the board's name will reflect the fix. If not then there's a huge confidence issue lurking as the board may not be fixed and will likely fail outside warranty!

By Andersson on 1 Feb 2011

Customers information

I Suspect that you will never know!! ;)

By hpatrick1 on 3 Feb 2011

how do we know if were affected?

how can people check if there affected ? is there a list of pc's affected ? i bought a packard bell ( made by acer)Packard Bell Easynote TX86-GO-035uk laptop with core i5 chip so how do i check if its sandybridge version ? would belarc advisor tell me this ? i bought it through pcworld business so they have my address..will pc world contact customers affected ?

By chainsore on 3 Feb 2011

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