by Anton Shilov
01/31/2011 | 12:17 PM
Intel Corp. on Monday said that it had discovered an errata of Serial ATA controller within its 6-series core-logic set that supports latest Core i “Sandy Bridge” microprocessors. The company will recall and replace about eight million chipsets with new ones. The company claims that the vast majority of end-users will hardly experience actual problems as the probability of failure is about 1%. Quite naturally, until the issue is resolved, consumers should not get Sandy Bridge-based systems.
As part of ongoing quality assurance, Intel 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 ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and optical disc drives. 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. Still, with no chipsets for Sandy Bridge, it is highly likely that a lot of manufacturers will halt shipments of systems featuring the latest microprocessors.
The company expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April. For computer makers and other Intel customers that have bought potentially affected chipsets or systems, Intel 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 systems with the affected support chips have only been shipping since January 9th and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue. The only systems sold to an end customer potentially impacted are the latest Core i5 and Core i7 quad-core-based systems. Intel believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution.
For the first quarter of 2011, Intel expects this issue to reduce revenue by approximately $300 million as the company discontinues production of the current version of the chipset and begins manufacturing the new version. Full-year revenue is not expected to be materially affected by the issue. Total cost to repair and replace affected materials and systems in the market is estimated to be $700 million. Since this issue affected some of the chipset units shipped and produced in the fourth quarter of 2010, the company will take a charge against cost of goods sold, which is expected to reduce the fourth quarter gross margin percentage by approximately 4% from the previously reported 67.5%. The company will also take a charge in the first quarter of 2011, which will lower the previously communicated gross margin percentage by 2% points and the full-year gross margin percentage by one percentage point.