Behind the Tech: Sandy Bridge Recall, An Insider's Story

What was the exact timeline of Intel's Cougar Point recall? How early did the company know about its problem? How does this affect the competitive AMD and Intel landscape? Continue reading to discover our answers to these lingering questions.

On January 31, Intel identified a problem with its Cougar Point chipset family affecting SATA 3Gb/s ports. Although that issue was expected to affect between 5 and 15% of systems over three years, we told our readers to wait for a fixed Sandy Bridge platform before buying into the platform, or swapping out their existing boards if they had already upgraded. Now that revised motherboards are starting to ship, we thought it would be interesting to take a more in-depth look into what Intel called a stop-shipment and its motherboard partners deemed a recall.

We're generally not the tinfoil-hat type that always assumes the worst. But we couldn't shake the feeling that there was much more to the story than what the marketing departments spun into webs of pleasing silk. That much is clear, and it was something on which everyone could agree. Unfortunately, Intel probably won't go into any more depth that what it has already divulged. We might get an update on the company's Q1 earnings call, but every bit of news is going to be in the form of raw financial numbers.

We've seen the news reports. Beyond the $700 million (£428.5 million) it will cost Intel to cover the stop-shipment, some analysts estimate the lost sales revenue will amount to another $300 million (£183.7 million), adding up to about $1 billion (£612 million). However, Intel’s original “expected” cost is no doubt going to fall short of the real loss because the reimbursement to each motherboard manufacturer is expected to grow.

The following questions remain: How much is everything going to cost? What was the exact timeline of the recall? How early did Intel know about the problem? Why did it make the decision to pull back shipments of P67 and H67 chipsets?

Furthermore, how does this affect the competitive AMD and Intel landscape? Two weeks after the recall, AMD appeared to have a boost of self-confidence when it sent out Valentine's Day cards that poked fun at its competitor.