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.

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  • david__t
    I think it slightly childish of AMD to rib Intel about a bug when they themselves have had some pretty amazing defects in the past. I mean a chipset bug is one thing, but at one stage, AMD had to disable a whole core in one of its CPUs! Carry on lagging behind, AMD, and be thankful that you have the amazing ATi products to fall back on.
  • damian86
    According to customer protection laws, any motherboard that a customer returns to have its chipset replaced must be sold as “recertified” or “refurbished.” Customer protection laws? lol, I agree,then you see them on ebay.

    wever, if a B2 motherboard was in the factory waiting to be shipped prior to the stop-shipment, replacing a chipset and labelling the motherboard as “new” is still perfectly legal.- As long as they're tested,ok. Wait a few months, you will hear- 'I bought a Rev B3 motherboard and it has the same problem' -This would be a funny situation, I hope they don't do it...if you know what I mean.. there are many brands out there selling their products for a big price with faulty parts on,easy way of making money and mean. B3 should have total brand new components.I hope they respect this.
  • may1
    Is t just me? I don't think this article needs figures to be described in GBP, since we are talking about an american firm and currency rates ca be volatile.
  • Anonymous
    What is the annoying jerky text with Tom's lately? The whole page moves aup and downa few mil every few seconds. ARG!
  • JMcEntegart
    may1Is t just me? I don't think this article needs figures to be described in GBP, since we are talking about an american firm and currency rates ca be volatile.

    I just though it might be nice to provide some perspective for those not used to thinking in dollars. However, since yes, these are American firms, I left the U.S. figures in and simply added GBP in brackets.