Intel recently issued a statement announcing its plans to resume shipments of the motherboards and notebooks utilizing faulty 6-series Cougar Point chipsets. However there's a catch: the chipsets can only be used in systems that won't be affected by the design flaw, namely "closed" notebook configurations and desktops with a SATA PCI-Express card pre-installed to provides additional SATA ports.
"Both Intel and its customers are focused on delivering the highest quality PC systems based on Intel 2nd Generation Core Processors," Intel said in the statement. "As a result of these discussions and specific requests from computer makers, Intel is resuming shipments of the Intel 6 Series Chipset for use only in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue."
Intel added that "'only computer makers who have committed to shipping the Intel 6-series chipset in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue will be receiving these shipments."
The news follows last week's full disclosure of the Cougar Point flaw. As stated by Intel, the 6 Series chipset (P67 and H67) has the potential to impact certain PC system configurations-- namely a problem related to the 3 Gbps SATA ports 2 to 5 (0 and 1 are unaffected) and the "Cougar Point" SATA controller. Intel said that the affected SATA ports within the chipsets may degrade over time. MSI indicated that it could well be over a period of three years.
Tuesday Intel spokesperson Dan Snyder said that OEMs will not be allowed to ship PCs with connectors interfacing the faulty Cougar Point part. This will prevent consumers from connecting hard drives or optical drives purposely or inadvertently.
Currently Intel is working on a new version of the chipset and will be received by manufacturers sometime around the end of February. Sandy Bridge motherboard shipments are expected to return to normal in April. In the meantime, Intel said that it will work with its OEM partners to accept the return of the current affected chipsets. It also plans to support modifications or replacements needed on motherboards or systems.
PC manufacturers who have already sold desktops and laptops sporting the faulty Cougar Point chipsets are currently offering replacements as soon as the revised chipsets arrive. The companies--spanning from Asus to HP-- are also offering full refunds for customers who aren't satisfied with the replacements.