Intel recall affects all Sandy Bridge PCs

Chipset flaw prompts Intel to recall all PCs and laptops containing new Sandy Bridge processor

Barry Collins
31 Jan 2011

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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