A month ago Intel launched its new Sandy Bridge processors to near universal praise. This was the biggest shift in processor design for the company in a decade, with 1.16 billion transistors crammed into a tiny piece of Silicon. For both mobile and desktop the new CPUs, officially called Second Generation Core I processors, deliver great performance (read our Sandy Bridge first look here).It seems that the same can’t be said for the all-important chipset that accompanies the CPUs. Overnight Intel announced that it had discovered a flaw in the design of its Cougar Point chipsets for Sandy Bridge. These chipsets currently ship under the P67 and H67 brand. While the specifics of the issue are not yet clear, the flaw lies in the SATA 3Gbps controllers in Cougar Point. The worry is that the SATA controllers could degrade over time, leading to failures or poor performance. This is a problem with the silicon itself, and as such there is no fix for the chipsets already made and shipped. Intel has had to go back to the drawing board, make the fix and then begin production of new chipsets. This means that the chipsets already out there will likely need to be recalled and replaced with the updated chipset.Problem affects chipset, not CPUIt is important to note that the problem doesn’t affect the CPU itself, just the chipset. That means that fixes will involve replacing motherboards (chipsets are soldered onto the boards so it is unlikely that swapping chipsets is an option). Unfortunately most of the worlds motherboard’s are made in China by Taiwanese companies, and Chinese New Year is currently in full swing. Because of this it doesn’t seem likely that we will know what the recall procedure for a bunch of manufacturers will be for a week or two.Intel will be taking an estimated $US 700 million hit over the recall, as well as the lost sales while new chipsets are delayed. While Intel promises it will begin shipping fixed chipsets later this month, it won’t be until April that it will be back to full volume.
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