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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AMD fanboy
By Da W on 2/2/2011 3:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
Go AMD go! Now is the time. Show us what you've got!
Unleash the bulldozer!

RE: AMD fanboy
By jarman on 2/2/2011 4:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
While I would like to see AMD actually deliver something competitive... I'm not quite so optimistic. But who knows, maybe I'll be surprised?

On the other hand the SNB processors are still a very compelling offering, despite the SB chip SATA issues.

RE: AMD fanboy
By ElderTech on 2/3/2011 4:53:13 PM , Rating: 4
Once again, these blogs are rife with errors, including the financial figures quoted as follows:

"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."

The estimated cost by Intel was always $1B USD prox. split as $300M for manufacturing and hardware costs, and $700M for warranty replacements, lost sales, etc. The confusion came with some initial reports that only mentioned the $300M. If these so called reporters would read more than one source they might get it right much more often. It seems the old addage of "if it's in print it must be right" still has an ignorant following.

As for AMD overtaking Intel, with AMD's market cap of 6B prox vs Intel's of 120B prox, there's little hope of it happening. The way AMD has survived so far has been by providing low cost alternatives to Intel, at least from the processor perspective.

RE: AMD fanboy
By bfdd on 2/2/2011 4:29:25 PM , Rating: 4
We've heard about Bulldozer for how many years now? Fusion for how long? While I'm rooting for AMD this year and think they have some awesome products out, I'm not holding my breath for them to come out with anything that will trounce Intel in the consumer pc market.

RE: AMD fanboy
By cmdrdredd on 2/2/11, Rating: -1
RE: AMD fanboy
By aegisofrime on 2/3/2011 3:08:27 AM , Rating: 3
I won't call it over until Bulldozer's out. AMD clearly knows what's at stake here. If Bulldozer isn't competitive they could really go down for sure.

So yeah, let's not jump to conclusions shall we?

RE: AMD fanboy
By bug77 on 2/3/2011 4:01:33 AM , Rating: 2
I bet you said the same about Phenom. I know I did.

RE: AMD fanboy
By aegisofrime on 2/3/2011 4:18:14 AM , Rating: 2
But that's the rational thing to do right? If you desperately need an upgrade now, by all means go get SB now. Hook up your HDDs to the first two SATA ports, and refund/exchange come April. If not, wait until BD comes out, if it sucks, go for SB.

RE: AMD fanboy
By tastyratz on 2/3/2011 1:27:01 PM , Rating: 2
I love AMD, I really do. Its just a shame that they haven't really stayed competitive imho. Sure they can offer some cheap decent machines, but nothing worth buying for the general crowd reading dailytech. I could kiss them if they released something that drive prices to the gutter on awesome speed... but I will believe it when I see it

RE: AMD fanboy
By Samus on 2/3/2011 2:45:54 PM , Rating: 2
There is no arguing this is as big of an opportunity for AMD as Netburst was to the Athlon 64.

RE: AMD fanboy
By ertomas on 2/3/2011 4:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is a very different situation.

All Intel has to do is fix the SATA issue and it's done. With Netburst they had to redesign their CPU architecture.

RE: AMD fanboy
By Calin on 2/3/2011 4:00:01 AM , Rating: 1
AND is no competition for Intel in neither top performance, nor energy efficiency. However, everyone should be glad that they are competing very well in performance/price metrics, and they compete somewhat well in performance/(price and energy efficiency) metrics
As long as you can have low prices, high performance and combinations of both, everything is great

RE: AMD fanboy
By Da W on 2/3/2011 7:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
Gpu is gettkng more important than cpu where god enough is sufficient. So even if they get somewhere between Nahalem and Sandy bridge, at the right price they will survive.

BUT, from the pieces of information i gathered here and there, AMD seems pretty confident this time. Reading anandtech preview, the architechture seems to be nahalem + dual integer cores. Should lag in single tread, dominate in multitread. They will be 32nm pieces too, have turbo clock and power gating. I heard they will even bring back the FX tag, which was to design theie most powerful athlon cpu back in the days they trounced Intel.

And they did prove they can do it withbobcat this month. True atom isn't hard to beat, but still.

RE: AMD fanboy
By silverblue on 2/8/2011 12:04:03 PM , Rating: 1
I would rather have a top-end Phenom II X4 or X6 than a Core 2 product nowadays, however you are right in that, core for core, Core 2 is slightly stronger. Part of that could be down to the software being used to benchmark both architectures (there's a lot that is Intel-optimised, and I expect very little is designed to take advantage of the Stars core).

If there's one thing you can't take away from AMD, it's the basic CPU design of the first Phenom which can be found not only in all modern Intel CPUs but Bulldozer as well. The approach is obviously sound; with a few architectural differences, Phenom could've been a stronger product. At least, the lack of SMT plus supported instruction sets are two areas being tackled head-on with Bulldozer and should result in a far more compelling product.

April can't come soon enough for anyone looking to upgrade.

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.

Apple Business as Usual
By Mitch101 on 2/2/2011 4:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone hedging bets that Apple will continue with selling them inside and then denying it but then later releasing a USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter once the chips fail?

I made that joke because a large number of news sites arent sure if this will delay future Apple computers being released which amazes me.

RE: Apple Business as Usual
By Mitch101 on 2/2/11, Rating: 0
RE: Apple Business as Usual
By fcx56 on 2/2/2011 6:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
If Apple can sell products like iMac or MacBook with one hard drive and one optical drive on the SATA 6Gbps ports what would the problem be? Not like you'll have room to add another hard drive inside a case that isn't designed for one.

Recall figure and laptops
By CZroe on 2/2/2011 4:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
Firstly, I thought the $1B estimate was when it was assumed that there would be a recall (there isn't). Secondly, it should not affect most notebooks because most only have two SATA devices (only the chipset's 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th ports are affected). I can see the high-end Alienware notebooks using the two good 6Gbps ports for RAID and a 3Gbps for the optical drive, but most will not. This is why I highly doubt it will affect the Macbook Pro refresh.

By Shadowmaster625 on 2/3/2011 9:11:52 AM , Rating: 2
You're assuming the notebook manufacturers will use the SATA 6gbps ports first. If they can save 30 cents by using the SATA 3gbps port, they will do it. And I bet that's exactly what they did for at least one drive if not both.

good thing this is a "blog"
By Morphine06 on 2/3/2011 10:25:35 AM , Rating: 2
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).

This article tries to make it sound like the entire sandy bridge product line is failing which is just false. There is no recall on the CPUs.
top motherboard makers, announced [report] that they were terminating sales of Sandy Bridge boards until Intel delivers sufficient quantities of untainted stock.

ALL the makers are stopping sales on their current stock. They will ALL continue to sell Sandy Bridge based motherboards once the new chips arrive.

Do you really need to give the impression there is some severed relationship between the board makers and Intel? Are times that tough? Maybe you should recall this article. Put aside $0.50 for lost ad revenue.

By RedemptionAD on 2/5/2011 11:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
What good is a cpu if you are unable to plug it into a motherboard, Mr. Anderson? Intel customer jumps out of a chair reels against the wall. Intel plants a tracking bug through their bellybutton.

Intel's Costs
By kr1s69 on 2/2/2011 4:38:36 PM , Rating: 3
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.

I don't think the above is correct. The original statement says it will cost them $700m to fix what they sold and they will sell $300m less products over the quarter as a result. $700m + $300m therefore they have always said this would cost $1bn.

I am confused
By KeithP on 2/2/2011 6:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
How does companies announcing that they won't be shipping/building any computers based on Sandy Bridge chipsets until Intel can fix the bug and ship them correct product equal "bailing" on the chipset?

Every time I have scene the word "bail" used in this manor it meant giving up. They certainly aren't doing that.

By bleekii on 2/4/2011 8:01:04 AM , Rating: 2
I seem to remember that there use to be other chipset providers for Intel CUPs. What happen to them? Oh yeah, INTEL SUED THEM! I bet they wouldn't mind having Nvidia around now.

Couldn't happen to a nicer company
By Beenthere on 2/2/11, Rating: -1
By xthetenth on 2/2/2011 9:28:32 PM , Rating: 5
Are you in any way even passingly acquainted with the processor market? Oh, a $250 chip that can compete with a $1000 chip is in no way a performance advantage. In other news, the USAF is going back to the P-51 as it offers "no performance advantage per se" over the F-22, and car companies are now offering Chinese models because their one star safety rating (if that) is no performance advantage per se over comparable western models.

At least you aren't lamenting "Amerikkka"'s foreign policy or something where you wouldn't be demonstrably wrong and some poor impressionable fool might actually believe you like all the other misguided fools who need to miswrite names to make some lame joke rather than getting the facts right.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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