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Intel admits design error in chipset likely bound for Apple's next iMacs

post #1 of 48
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Intel said Monday that it has identified and corrected a design error in the chipset that supports its latest Sandy Bridge Core processors, potentially impacting the roll-out schedule of several mainstream desktop designs like Apple's next-generation iMacs.

"As part of ongoing quality assurance, 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," the company said in a statement. "In some cases, the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives."

The world's largest chipmaker said it has since halted shipments of the affected support chip from its factories and has begun manufacturing a corrected version of the support chip which will resolve the issue. It added that the Sandy Bridge microprocessors themselves are unaffected by the flaw, nor are any other products from its portfolio.

More specifically, Intel said systems potentially impacted by the error are second generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based desktop systems. The first generation of those chips can be found inside Apple's current high-end, 27-inch iMac. Therefore, unless Apple chooses to radically alter its approach to the iMac going forward, recent history would suggest the second generation chipset in question will play some role in future models.

Systems from Apple's competitors with the affected supporting chips have only been shipping since January 9th, according to intel, and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue.

"For computer makers and other Intel customers that have bought potentially affected chipsets or systems, Intel will work with its OEM partners to accept the return of the affected chipsets, and plans to support modifications or replacements needed on motherboards or systems," the company said in its statement.

Intel added that it anticipates delivering the correct version of the chipset to customers in late February, but does not expect "full volume recovery" until April, meaning it's unlikely that any iMacs featuring the chipset will hit the market for at least another two months. Coincidently, AppleInsider this week began receiving unverified reports that Apple plans to draw down inventory of existing iMacs over the next 60 days.

For the first quarter of 2011, Intel said it expects the chip design error to reduce revenue by approximately $300 million as the company discontinues production of the current version of the chipset and begins manufacturing the new version. While full-year revenue is not expected to be materially affected by the issue, Intel also said it will cost the company approximately another $700 million to repair and replace affected materials and systems in the market.

"Since this issue affected some of the chipset units shipped and produced in the fourth quarter of 2010, the company will take a charge against cost of goods sold, which is expected to reduce the fourth quarter gross margin percentage by approximately 4 percentage points from the previously reported 67.5 percent," Intel said. "The company will also take a charge in the first quarter of 2011 which will lower the previously communicated gross margin percentage by 2 percentage points and the full-year gross margin percentage by one percentage point."
post #2 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Intel said Monday that it has identified and corrected a design error in the chipset that supports its latest Sandy Bridge Core processors, potentially impacting the roll-out schedule of several mainstream desktop designs like Apple's next-generation iMacs.

What this article doesn't mention, for some reason, is that Intel stated that there no concern for data loss, just a slowing down of SATA based devices.
post #3 of 48
"Cougar Point"
"has implemented a silicon fix"

Uh huh huh huh huh... (I know, there's no E.)
post #4 of 48
in unrelated news, Apple's new MacBook line will be powered by the 2.6GHz quad core A6 chip.
post #5 of 48
IM just Wondering if updates to Appmes laptop line are only going to cone once a year...
post #6 of 48
Um, if them defective chips are "BOUND" for Apple's stuff then way the hell would Apple put the incoming defective sh** in their computers?
I'm just saying.
post #7 of 48
I'm sure some people around here will rather have their new MBPs as soon as possible, even with the defective chips.
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post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

IM just Wondering if updates to Appmes laptop line are only going to cone once a year...

You have a defective keyboard!
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

IM just Wondering if updates to Appmes laptop line are only going to cone once a year...

Historically, Apple as updated their computers once a year, so that is the expected schedule.

As for this issue, assuming that Apple is definitely using said chips it is unlikely that they were ever going to use them in the current lineup. Processor changes top line a revamp. So if they intended to release new iMacs or laptops in the next couple of months, they will simply push it back. No worries. They don't roadmap their products so no one knows in advance when things were supposed to be released to know there was a delay

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post #10 of 48
What most people don't know is, there are bugs found in ALL processors. This was first highlighted back in 1994 when Dr. Nicely discovered the famous Pentium FPU bug, affecting some types of mathmatical equations (mostly 'number theory' type of problems). This was great fodder for the Mac community at the time (this was back even before the PowerPC era), until the known bug list for the 68040 was leaked from Motorola.

But the point is, 99.9% of most people are never affected by these type of bugs because we'd never hit them in a million years.
post #11 of 48
It's not likely that Intel made this announcement before telling their OEM's. Apple probably knew about this weeks ago. Products with the defective chips have been on the market for a short while. It's very likely that Apple will never get one of them.

I wouldn't worry about it.
post #12 of 48
This only affects the desktop chips, correct?

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post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1984 View Post

This only affects the desktop chips, correct?

mobile as well. HP has been selling the new mobile i7's for a few weeks
post #14 of 48
the issue is with the motherboard chipset and not the Sandy Bridge processors. the P67, H67, HM67 (mobile) and HM65 (mobile) chipsets are affected.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The world's largest chipmaker said it has since halted shipments of the affected support chip from its factories and has begun manufacturing a corrected version of the support chip which will resolve the issue.

No need to ship corrected versions. Just tell customers "Don't use SATA that way".
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

No need to ship corrected versions. Just tell customers "Don't use SATA that way".

LOLOL! Oh, man! Did you just come up with that?! It's hilarious! It's like, you took something said pertaining to a different overblown issue, and applied it to another issue...sarcastically! Can I have permission to use that as a forum signature? I'll make sure to cite you as the source, since I want to make absolutely sure you get credit for starting what will no doubt be a hilarious trend. Well played, sir...well played.

post #17 of 48
The four SATA 2 ports on ALL Sandy Bridge chipsets are affected.

The two SATA 3 ports however are not affected.

This means that if you only use two SATA ports in your design, and the others are never available, you aren't affected. This should mean that once Intel has dual-core Sandy Bridge chips available, Apple can ship MacBooks and Mac Minis using them, with the current chipset design.

It does screw up the desktop Sandy Bridge market however, as those motherboards are expandable. I guess the ones in the channel will get recalled, existing consumers will get offered SATA PCI-e cards, and so on. It effectively delays Intel's otherwise excellent launch of this new processor by a couple of months. It's also quite embarrassing, to the tune of $1b - although not all of that will get spent probably.
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Rick_V_ View Post

What most people don't know is, there are bugs found in ALL processors. This was first highlighted back in 1994 when Dr. Nicely discovered the famous Pentium FPU bug, affecting some types of mathmatical equations (mostly 'number theory' type of problems). This was great fodder for the Mac community at the time (this was back even before the PowerPC era), until the known bug list for the 68040 was leaked from Motorola.

But the point is, 99.9% of most people are never affected by these type of bugs because we'd never hit them in a million years.

True enough, but most of the bugs in the devices do not effect lifetime. A bug that is the same every time the chip runs is manageable, since you can deal with it in software, whereas something like this which will degrade over time is more of a problem and needs a silicon fix.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by maccherry View Post

Um, if them defective chips are "BOUND" for Apple's stuff then way the hell would Apple put the incoming defective sh** in their computers?
I'm just saying.

Nah, your hard drive is just mounted wrong. (Of course Apple will send those components back to Intel. That or they would have another PR snafu on their hands.)
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post #20 of 48
This kind of stuff is more likely to happen the smaller the architecture gets.

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post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

The four SATA 2 ports on ALL Sandy Bridge chipsets are affected.

The two SATA 3 ports however are not affected.

This means that if you only use two SATA ports in your design, and the others are never available, you aren't affected. This should mean that once Intel has dual-core Sandy Bridge chips available, Apple can ship MacBooks and Mac Minis using them, with the current chipset design.

It does screw up the desktop Sandy Bridge market however, as those motherboards are expandable. I guess the ones in the channel will get recalled, existing consumers will get offered SATA PCI-e cards, and so on. It effectively delays Intel's otherwise excellent launch of this new processor by a couple of months. It's also quite embarrassing, to the tune of $1b - although not all of that will get spent probably.

This isn't even new news. It was reported some time ago.
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

The four SATA 2 ports on ALL Sandy Bridge chipsets are affected.

The two SATA 3 ports however are not affected.

I thought Intel was not including SATA3 support standard on the boards with Sandy Bridge. They were waiting for Ivy Bridge. Did I miss that change or are we just speaking of the way OEMs have been adding SATA3 after the fact for a whole year+ already and continue to do it?
post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post

I thought Intel was not including SATA3 support standard on the boards with Sandy Bridge. They were waiting for Ivy Bridge. Did I miss that change or are we just speaking of the way OEMs have been adding SATA3 after the fact for a whole year+ already and continue to do it?

They're not supporting USB 3 until then.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

What this article doesn't mention, for some reason, is that Intel stated that there no concern for data loss, just a slowing down of SATA based devices.

Like all I/O devices, ala hard drives, DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post

in unrelated news, Apple's new MacBook line will be powered by the 2.6GHz quad core A6 chip.

Frankly, this is not as silly as it may sound.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Like all I/O devices, ala hard drives, DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.

Rather it slow down than lose data.
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

IM just Wondering if updates to Appmes laptop line are only going to cone once a year...

I get the feeling that EVERYTHING from Apple is only going to get annual updates from now on. The Macs will be out 30-60 days after Intel hits full volume on their new chips and they'll move the release dates for iPhones, iPads, iPods and software around to make it look like there's always something new.

Except for the MacBook Air and usual iPod event September 1 there hasn't been a hardware update since July 27. Given that the MacBook, MBPro and iMac are now delayed until at least April, the month predicted to see the iPad 2, I think we can safely say we're in the middle of the longest hardware drought since SJ returned to Apple.

Personally I'm going to wait another year for an Ivy Bridge iMac and a handheld of some sort. By 2012 the iPod touch might have a 5-6" big brother with 3G capability.
post #28 of 48
Come on Its not an issue, its a new feature!

SATA has become just toooo fast.
This new feature slowly nurses you to more reasonable speeds.
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel- View Post

LOLOL! Oh, man! Did you just come up with that?! It's hilarious! It's like, you took something said pertaining to a different overblown issue, and applied it to another issue...sarcastically! Can I have permission to use that as a forum signature? I'll make sure to cite you as the source, since I want to make absolutely sure you get credit for starting what will no doubt be a hilarious trend. Well played, sir...well played.

Oh geez.

It was a joke, I laughed, so lighten up
post #30 of 48
Got some loose sand in that Sandy Bridge evidently.

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post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This isn't even new news. It was reported some time ago.

Um, it's new, today.
post #32 of 48
Interesting that nobody is talking about the 24p video out bug that means this is useless for any home theater use... Useless? Yes, because while this wonderful new design does awesome transcoding, truly awesome ... It only works if you don't install a video card however if you don't install a proper video card you'll get these nasty hitches on your screen when you attempt to play a 24p movie.

The numbers escape me ATM however what it comes down to is 24p video isn't exactly 24 frames per second on NTSC based systems... It's more like 23.976 when intel does it's rounding up to 24 it's quite noticeable.

So in short, you can either have 'fixed' 24p output via a 3rd party video card thus disabling the quick transcoding.... OR ... You can have quick transcoding with wonky movie playback.

Oh and intel has indicated this issue will not be fixed until a followup chip comes out in late 2012 or 2013.

One bit of hope has popped up that seems to allow the fast transcoding WHILE a 3rd party video card is installed... I'm thinking this will only be made available to Windows users... This 'fix' was not created by intel but some 3rd party software developer.
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post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Rather it slow down than lose data.

Tell that to Data Centers.
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Interesting that nobody is talking about the 24p video out bug that means this is useless for any home theater use... Useless? Yes, because while this wonderful new design does awesome transcoding, truly awesome ... It only works if you don't install a video card however if you don't install a proper video card you'll get these nasty hitches on your screen when you attempt to play a 24p movie.

The numbers escape me ATM however what it comes down to is 24p video isn't exactly 24 frames per second on NTSC based systems... It's more like 23.976 when intel does it's rounding up to 24 it's quite noticeable.

So in short, you can either have 'fixed' 24p output via a 3rd party video card thus disabling the quick transcoding.... OR ... You can have quick transcoding with wonky movie playback.

Oh and intel has indicated this issue will not be fixed until a followup chip comes out in late 2012 or 2013.

One bit of hope has popped up that seems to allow the fast transcoding WHILE a 3rd party video card is installed... I'm thinking this will only be made available to Windows users... This 'fix' was not created by intel but some 3rd party software developer.

Go AMD.

AMD stock is up 4.54% after the news was released regarding Intel.
post #35 of 48
Perhaps Intel should changes its logo tagline to
Intel Almost Inside
The Universe is Intelligent and Friendly
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The Universe is Intelligent and Friendly
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post #36 of 48
Will this have any impact on the i7 15" MBP I'm going to buy next week?
post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post

in unrelated news, Apple's new MacBook line will be powered by the 2.6GHz quad core A6 chip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Frankly, this is not as silly as it may sound.

If he means the Toshiba Tecra A6, it is silly.

If he means the next ARM Cortex A8, it is also silly. MacOS would need to be program for ANOTHER transition. If MB use iOS and A8, that will get more battery life. But Apple said touch is not good for laptops and desktops.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel- View Post

LOLOL! Oh, man! Did you just come up with that?! It's hilarious! It's like, you took something said pertaining to a different overblown issue, and applied it to another issue...sarcastically! Can I have permission to use that as a forum signature? I'll make sure to cite you as the source, since I want to make absolutely sure you get credit for starting what will no doubt be a hilarious trend. Well played, sir...well played.


post #39 of 48
Quite frankly, I doubt that this will affect the MacBook Pro launches at all. Why? SATA 3.

The problem with these chipsets resides in the SATA 2 (3GB/s) ports. Intel has specifically stated that there are no problems with the SATA 3 ports, of which there are 2 on the chipset. How many SATA devices are there on a MacBook Pro? 2, the HDD and the ODD. Do the math.

Heck, Apple may be able to get a deal on slightly defective PCH chips.
post #40 of 48
This saddens meas I was thinking A Sandy Bridge Mini would be a fantastic HTPC.

Hopefully the Apple blogs will pick up on this. I still can see another Core 2 Mini coming or Apple switching to AMD. I would think that Apple would realize this is a common use for the Mini.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Interesting that nobody is talking about the 24p video out bug that means this is useless for any home theater use... Useless? Yes, because while this wonderful new design does awesome transcoding, truly awesome ... It only works if you don't install a video card however if you don't install a proper video card you'll get these nasty hitches on your screen when you attempt to play a 24p movie.

The numbers escape me ATM however what it comes down to is 24p video isn't exactly 24 frames per second on NTSC based systems... It's more like 23.976 when intel does it's rounding up to 24 it's quite noticeable.

So in short, you can either have 'fixed' 24p output via a 3rd party video card thus disabling the quick transcoding.... OR ... You can have quick transcoding with wonky movie playback.

Oh and intel has indicated this issue will not be fixed until a followup chip comes out in late 2012 or 2013.

One bit of hope has popped up that seems to allow the fast transcoding WHILE a 3rd party video card is installed... I'm thinking this will only be made available to Windows users... This 'fix' was not created by intel but some 3rd party software developer.
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