Print 33 comment(s) - last by silverblue.. on Feb 8 at 12:04 PM

Cougar Point has ruined Intel's Sandy Bridge party. A flaw in the chips SATA handling has caused Dell, HP, and others to pull Sandy Bridge computers off the market. MSI and Gigabyte have also pulled their Sandy Bridge motherboards. Intel is expected to lose at least $1B USD from the mistake.  (Source: VR-Zone)

The Alienware M17x R3 from Dell is among the models pulled.  (Source: Hardware Heaven)
Quad-core second gen i-Series boards get the boot, due to chipset flaw

Intel seemed to be swinging for the fences with the release of Sandy Bridge.  It delivered a healthy supply of its next generation i-Series quad-core processors to market.  Packing awesome performance and greater power efficiency, these chips looked ready to help Intel further the gap between it and distant second-place CPU maker AMD.  Now a costly flaw in the Cougar Point chipset has sent Intel -- and its OEM partners -- into panic mode.

Intel confirmed [press release] this week that Cougar Point was suffering on-chip issues that caused the Serial-ATA ports to slow or stop working altogether.  The issue effects all quad-core Sandy Bridge boards shipped thus far (basically, all Sandy Bridge-based products sold, as octacore varieties aren't currently available).

Now the first wave of OEM cancellations has begun.  HP and NEC both announced that they would be pushing back [report] the launch of new Sandy Bridge models.  And Gigabyte and MSI, two of the desktop computing industry's top motherboard makers, announced [report] that they were terminating sales of Sandy Bridge boards until Intel delivers sufficient quantities of untainted stock.

Dell and HP are also halting online sales of existing Sandy Bridge laptops.  Dell writes, "This affects four currently-available Dell products, the XPS 8300, the Vostro 460, the Alienware M17x R.3 and the Alienware Aurora R.3, as well as several other planned products including XPS 17 with 3D. We're committed to addressing this with customers who have already purchased one of the four products and will provide further details on this as it becomes available."

Most companies are moving to try to work with customers who have bought the hot new laptop-turned-lemon.

Intel initially estimated the damages from the flaw to be around $300M USD, then it upped it to $700M USD, and its latest estimate says it may lose as much as $1B USD from warranty fulfillment and lost sales.  It would be unsurprising, given the inflating nature of the figure, to see the true losses rise even higher.

Meanwhile, AMD is waiting in the shadows, with Bulldozer, its next-generation high-performance desktop architecture that's supposed to drop sometime around April.  And AMD's battery-friendly Fusion processors may manage to steal a bit of business away from non-gamer laptop buyers, as well, particularly from customers who are disenchanted with Intel.

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Why cancel laptops?
By MrTeal on 2/2/2011 4:24:43 PM , Rating: 4
Unless the laptop in question has an eSATA port or two drive bays, it really shouldn't be necessary to cancel laptop shipments. One 6Gbps port goes to the hard drive, one goes to the optical drive. I'm surprised that OEMs aren't offering to buy up Intel's existing stock at a big discount for just this sort of setup.

Hell, if I can get it 50-75% off, I'd buy one of the affected desktop motherboards that Gigabyte and Asus are going to be getting back. Two SATA ports is is enough for 3 of the 4 desktops in my house.

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By seamusmc on 2/2/2011 5:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure where you'd get this. The Alienware and Dell's XPS models were 17" variants which support 2 hard drives as well as an optical drive.

Just because 2 drives is enough for you or even the majority of folks doesn't help the folks with more then 2 and there are a lot of those.

I have a home server with 6 myself on a raid for our home videos, music and pictures.

In any case regardless of how serious this issue is, no manufacturer or reseller is gonna set themselves up for class action lawsuits or bad press for selling devices with a known defect. It is all their best interests to stop selling these and take released product back as quickly as possible.

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By Jeremy87 on 2/2/2011 6:22:05 PM , Rating: 3
Not sure what you're arguing about. You even added the "or even the majority".
Why can't the majority just get the 2-port chips so that us "power users" don't have to fight for the few new chips that are slowly coming...

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By drycrust3 on 2/2/2011 6:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised that OEMs aren't offering to buy up Intel's existing stock at a big discount for just this sort of setup.

I don't know what American law is like, but on the basis that a product has a warranty when it is sold, then those boards aren't worth much at all. Sure, they COULD be used, but they would have to be sold at a lower price and they would have to have special warranties, which not only makes the profit margin too small for a mainline manufacturer, but could end up affecting their brand name (as well as potential law suits in America even with the special warranty).
About the only people who would sell these are people who don't care about warranties and brand names.

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By gvaley on 2/3/2011 3:14:35 AM , Rating: 1
Manufacturers have no reason whatsoever to cancel like 75% of their SNB laptop models. My latest-generation Core 2 Duo Dell uses an internal USB optical drive and has a single hard drive bay. So exactly 1 (one) SATA port used. With a second one they could make a high-end model (jokingly).

And I'm pretty sure the terms of use for laptops pretty much forbid DIY techniques such as soldering extra SATA headers so you can attach an additional HDD and have it hanging from the side.

IMHO, Intel played too nice with their partners in this case and are now gonna get it. To the last cent.

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By twhittet on 2/3/2011 10:49:10 AM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for Dell to release their new E6520. I assume 1 hard drive, one optical drive (not sure if it will be USB or Sata). If the optical drive is SATA, that makes 2 ports. What about laptops with external eSata ports? Many new laptops may have eSata, putting them over the 2 port limit.

RE: Why cancel laptops?
By Lazarus Dark on 2/4/2011 2:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking I'd love a heavily discounted Sandy Bridge mobo. I've been meaning to move to a dedicated raid card anyway, just disable the busted chip and I'll spend the money saved on a raid card. Really, except for the ones already used, they could still sell off the bad stock with firmware updated to disable the ports and sell them at cost. At least they wouldn't lose much money.

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