Intel revealed information regarding a $700 million design flaw in the Intel 6 Series Cougar Point chipset implemented in PCs with Second Generation Sandy Bridge Core processors this week; while a repair is in the works, it requires a “silicon fix”, which means a physical change to the product.
A failing transistor within the chipsets can degrade over time, impacting the performance of SATA devices such as hard drives and SSDs. Intel did not state exactly how long it may take for the chipset to worsen. They did note, however, that peripherals running on the SATA 6 Gbps bus were unaffected – consumers who only use one or two ports would not need to worry.
Intel has stopped the shipment of all affected chipsets and is currently working on an updated version. Intel stated that the Sandy Bridge CPUs themselves are unaffected. The revised edition will begin shipping to manufacturers by end of February.
Affected desktop PCs include those with Intel Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad-core processors shipped after January 9, and individual chipsets produced and shipped since October of last year. Intel has assured consumers that they can still use their PCs without worrying about any kind of disk or drive problem until a permanent solution is found.
Intel is working with manufacturers to ensure that the individual OEMs are accepting the return and replacement of affected chipsets.
The chipmaker is expecting the total cost of this mishap to hit somewhere around $700 million, including replacement and repair of the affected chipsets from both Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. This amounts to a projected $300 million cost for the first quarter of this year.