Hot on the heels of Intel's recall stop-shipment of its series-6 chipset, we spoke to several motherboard and system manufacturers about what's going to happen for them, and their customers.
First, the 6-series chipset is Cougar Point, and not "Sandy Bridge" as referred to by most reports -- strangely, even most motherboard vendors call it "Sandy Bridge." We reckon this is something Intel needs to clarify with motherboard makers in order to make things a little more clear.
Second, the error lies in Cougar Point's SATA 2 controller, which at this time, is identified to degrade performance over time. But, what does this mean for motherboard and system manufacturers:
According to several major manufacturers that we spoke to, customers are calling asking to return stock. Since mass quantities of boards and systems have already been sold into the channel, systems builders are still waiting for official word from Intel on what to do. Surprisingly, top management at companies like Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, etc., did not even hear about this issue until this morning -- when everyone else found out.
This is definitely a major roadblock for Intel, and it means several things for you as a customer:
- If you've bought a Sandy Bridge system, you may be entitled to a free replacement.
Manufacturers told us that revised motherboards and notebooks based are unlikely to appear until at least April of this year, and Intel probably won't be supplying new chipset revisions until early to mid-March. However, replacements are unclear as manufacturers are informing us that details need to be worked out with Intel on how customers will be handled.
Intel claims that only 5 to 15-percent of owners will experience the flaw over time. But speaking with manufacturers, we were told that numbers appear to be far greater than that. Some companies told us that this is definitely a "panic-mode" situation for them.
Motherboards that you already have today will still work, but you may see performance drop over time on the SATA 2 ports. If you are only utilizing SATA 3 (6gbps), then you will not encounter the issue.
- If you're thinking about a Sandy Bridge system, you will have to wait until at least April.
Clearly, buying a Sandy Bridge system isn't what anyone should be doing at this moment. Newegg has delisted both Cougar Point motherboards and Sandy Bridge CPUs.
- Desktops, notebooks, servers utilising 6-series chipsets are affected.
This is a widespread problem affecting all products that are based on Cougar Point. Notebooks and up-coming Xeon-based servers may take longer than motherboards to see replacements become widely available.
- Expect delays in new availability.
Some companies told us that there is some shortage of copper and other materials from the manufacturing side. This could further introduce delays beyond an April time frame.
- Sandy Bridge and Cougar Point updates.
Intel is expected to hold several conference calls with major manufacturers today and let them know how the situation will be handled. We'll have more details for you later this afternoon.