PC makers are mapping out plans for dealing with the issues raised by Intel's decision to stop shipping a flawed chipset connected to its "Sandy Bridge" platform.
PC makers are
starting to plan how they're going to deal with the ramifications from Intel's
executives announced Jan. 31 that a design flaw
in a supporting chipset tied to the
company's "Sandy Bridge" Core-i processors
is forcing a recall
of the chipset. The recall could cost Intel $1 billion in lost revenue and
related expenses and delay the release of a fixed chipset until late February,
with full production coming in April at the latest.
million of the flawed chipsets have been shipped, according to Intel, though
executives say they expect few have reached consumers. They said they made the
decision to stop shipping the chipsets in question Jan. 30 and began talks with
OEMs the next day.
makers are mapping out strategies to deal with issues, ranging from product
roadmaps to costumer concerns. Samsung Electronics reportedly is offering full
refunds to customers who bought PCs with the flawed chipset, company spokesman
James Chung told The Wall Street Journal
. He said six PC
models-including one in the United States-carried Intel's 6-Series chipset,
also known as "Cougar Point," and upwards of 3,000 of these PCs were sold to customers.
Chung said Intel would likely foot the bill for the replacement costs.
including Dell, Acer and NEC, also are weighing their options. An Acer
spokesperson said the company had recently begun shipping models with the
Cougar Point chipset to retailers and that the company is working with the
retailers to see if customers bought any of those PCs.
"We will be
collaborating with Intel to rework any systems with the affected parts, and we
expect to have an update by end of day [Feb. 2] about any potential impact to
consumers and the associated recall plan, should one be required," the
spokesperson said in an e-mail to eWEEK. "Because we are still early in the
launch cycle for our Sandy Bridge product line, we expect the impact to Acer's
business and our customers to be minimal."
spokesperson said the company had four current products that were affected: the
XPS 8300, Vostro 460, Alienware M17x R.3 and Alienware Aurora R.3. In addition,
three other planned products, including XPS 17 with 3D, also were affected.
Intel are in communication regarding the design issue," the Dell spokesperson
said in an e-mail to eWEEK. "Dell is working to address concerns of customers
who have purchased affected systems."
Hewlett-Packard spokesperson said the company expects to release a statement
later in the day Feb. 1.
reportedly also may delay the release of the next Apple Macbook Pro
, which analysts said could
be powered by Intel's Sandy Bridge chips.
an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said that for Intel, the chipset problem is
"a relatively minor blip." The problem, which the chip maker caught early in
the cycle, only affects mid- and high-end Core i5 and i7 consumer systems that
have been sold in January.
cost of the fix isn't insignificant ... it's all relative to a highly profitable
company like Intel," King said in an e-mail to eWEEK. "Any joy [rival Advanced
Micro Devices] or other Intel competitors enjoy will be relatively short-lived,
and I expect the PC industry will get back to business as usual in a few
said, it is the OEMs who will "bear the brunt of this, both in facilitating
consumer exchanges and repairs and in pulling/fixing stock that has been
manufactured but not shipped." King said he expects Intel to pay back the PC
makers for their time and expenses.
out its 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge platform-which the company calls its
second-generation Core-i chips-at the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in early
January. The chips offer discrete-level graphics technology integrated onto the
same piece of silicon as the CPU, rivaling AMD's Fusion platform
, which also launched at
executives on a Jan. 31 conference call with analysts and journalists said
there was no problem with the chips themselves, only with the 6-Series chipset.
According to the company, a design flaw in the SATA (Serial ATA) ports in the
chipset could over time cause problems in the performance of such PC components
as the SATA hard disk drive or optical drive.
executives said the chipset passed its quality tests, as well as those of OEMs.
However, after the company started to ship the chipsets, there were complaints
about some of them. Intel conducted tests again last week, and a team of
engineers found the problem and developed a fix. Intel officials said that the
issue could affect anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of the chipsets made.
Roger Kay, an
analyst with Endpoint Technology Associates, told eWEEK Jan. 31 that the
situation was "a very technical thing that has a very direct financial effect."
The real beneficiary, at least in the short-term, was AMD, which saw its stock
price climb after Intel's announcement and gained a little leverage in the
system-on-a-chip competition with Intel. AMD's Fusion APUs (accelerated
processing units) also feature graphics and CPUs integrated on the same die.