updated 11:00 am EST, Mon January 31, 2011
Intel Cougar Point desktop chipset has SATA bug
Intel this morning warned of a serious bug with the Cougar Point chipset that would force it to delay desktop PCs using its Sandy Bridge processors. Those using the 6 series have a flaw that gradually degrades the performance of the SATA ports over time, eventually affecting the speed of hard drives and optical drives. The issue was in hardware and needed a reworking at the factory for a fix.
Not all desktops were affected, Intel said, as the flaw was limited to quad Core i5 and i7 chips. Notebooks use a different platform, Huron River, and shouldn't face the setback.
The problem has already been resolved but will delay many desktop computers by a month. Shipments of the patched chipset will arrive in late February and won't be back to full speed until April.
Intel's discovery will cost it at least $700 million in lost production and replacing parts for the computer builders affected by the swap. It nonetheless didn't expect the financial hit to slow it down, as the completed acquisitions of Infineon and McAfee would increase its revenue by $200 million, to $11.7 billion, even after the Cougar Point fix.
The timing could have a significant impact on companies that still use full-power desktop chips, including Apple, Dell and HP. Few if any companies can develop their own custom chipsets or use alternatives to handle modern Intel processors and are usually tied to its schedule for iMacs, Inspirons, Pavilions and other systems.