Breaking news: A flaw in a SATA support chip leads Intel to announce a $700 million recall of Sandy Bridge parts. This is not an oops... it's an ARRRGGHHHHHHH!!!
As many of the more observant around here may know, we make the odd mistake. The rush to deliver content can sometimes deliver spelling errors, grammar issues, and more. So we kind of get how Intel must be feeling now that it's announced what appears to be a major flaw in its current crop of Sandy Bridge platforms.
What kind of flaw? Here's the word straight from today's bombshell release:
As part of ongoing quality assurance, Intel Corporation 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 (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives.
So, you know, only something minor - after all, it only impacts THE ENTIRE PERFORMANCE OF A SYSTEM!
But Intel's on the case. It's already manufacturing replacement Cougar Point chipsets. New parts will start flowing to manufacturers in February ramping up into April, but replacement parts aren't the issue. The real bite will be felt by all those who have already invested heavily in the platform - motherboard manufacturers, system builders and consumers alike. Intel states that the flawed parts have only been shipping since January 9, and that it impacts relatively few consumers. However, that means that it's early adopters and enthusiasts that will be hurt most - exactly the consumer demographic Intel does not want to upset.
Intel stands behind its products and is committed to product quality. 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.
As to the vendor situation, it's even worse. With Chinese New Year celebrations in full swing, much of the most affected vendors aren't even in the office - it'll be a rude shock. And since full volume production wont be possible until April, that's effectively two month's of future sales drastically compromised.
The costs to Intel are impressive, but really only a blip on its annual earnings. First quarter revenue is expected to drop by about $300 million, while the recall's total cost is likely to be $700 million. Racked up against an expected total revenue of $11 BILLION, it's small beer.
All we can say is that we're glad we've not already invested in our planned Sandy Bridge build just yet. For the full release, point your browser here.