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 degrade over time, impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives. The Intel 6 Series has six ports and interestingly enough the problem doesn’t affect ports 0 and 1. Only the four 3 Gbps ports are impacted by this problem while the two 6 Gbps ports remain unaffected.
The chipset is utilized in PCs with Intel's latest Second Generation Intel Core processors, code-named Sandy Bridge. Unfortunately, the defect cannot be fixed by a driver update or a firmware patch. Intel has stopped shipment of the affected support chip from its factories and has corrected the design issue. Manufacture of the new version of the support chip has begun which will resolve the problem. The Sandy Bridge microprocessor is unaffected and no other products are affected by this issue.
The only systems sold to customers which may be possibly impacted are the Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based systems while the affected support chips have been shipping since 9th January. Intel expects to start delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and will execute a full recall in April. The company expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April.
For the first quarter of 2011, Intel expects this issue to reduce revenue by approximately US$300 million as the company discontinues production of the current version of the chipset and begins manufacturing the new version. Total cost to repair and replace affected materials and systems in the market is estimated to be US$700 million.
The full statement from Intel can be found at http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2011/01/31/intel-identifies-chipset-design-error-implementing-solution.