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The four largest manufacturers of mainboards in the world said that they would take actions to ensure that the flaw discovered this week in Intel Corp.'s latest 6-series chipsets will not affect end-users. As a result, the companies will stop selling mainboards for Intel's new Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" microprocessors and will either refund the motherboards or will replace/repair them when the error-free chipsets become available.

Firstly, all mainboards makers claim that Serial ATA ports 0 and 1 are not affected by the flaw of the Cougar Point design and should work just fine in Serial ATA-600 mode. The ports which performance can degrade over time are SATA ports 2, 3, 4 and 5. Secondly, all Serial ATA ports that are powered by a third-party controller will also work absolutely fine. Thirdly, despite of the fact that the SATA-related issues are not going to occur shortly, makers of mainboards are planning to either exchange, repair or refund their mainboards for LGA 1155 processors with P67 and H67 chipsets.

"We are also offering you the option of returning any possibly affected motherboard for a swap or sales return. All warranties for affected motherboards will be reset to give you enough time to carry out any exchanges," a statement by Asustek Computer reads.

At present all the mainboards based on Intel P67, H67 or C200 carry B2 stepping of Cougar Point core-logic with errata that will decrease performance of certain Serial ATA ports in the future. The B3 stepping of the Intel I/O controller will arrive sometimes in April and mainboard manufacturers recommend their customers to exchange their current motherboards then.

"Gigabyte recommends that all customers who purchased Gigabyte 6-series motherboards contact their local dealer (retail store where you purchased the motherboard) at the end of April for a motherboard exchange. Gigabyte will provide an equivalent new motherboard replacement," a statement by Gigabyte claims.

It is logical for large makers of mainboards to offer the best possible service to customers, who purchased mainboards based on faulty core-logic. The clients, who acquired motherboards for Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" processors are mostly enthusiasts, early adopters and simply experienced PC users, whose opinion affects brand images.

"If you are confident and willing to wait we can swap your current Intel 6 series based product in a brand new MSI product which is based on the new B3 stepping of the Intel 6-series which solves the current SATA2 port issues. [...] This MSI product you get swapped will have similar or better specs. These new MSI products will become available in April and this way you will miss your product only for a very short period of time. [...] If you are not confident about your current MSI based 6-series product, MSI offers you the possibility to return the product to your point of purchase which will credit you," a note from MSI reads.

At present sales of all mainboards as well as complete systems powered by Intel Core i "Sandy Bridge" chips are halted and will only resume in April. Certain producers of high-end systems may decide to install third-party Serial ATA controllers into spare PCI Express slots and resume sales. But at first those companies will likely make sure that there are no other flaws with the new platforms.

"Asrock will continue working with Intel for the permanent solution to this quality issue and will update on our web-site once it is available. If Intel decides for modification or replacement solution on motherboard, Asrock, will cooperate with our channel partners for the service and ensure our user a quality assured product," mainboard maker Asrock said.

Tags: Intel, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Asrock, Cougar Point, Failures

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