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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    "Cougar Point"

    "has implemented a silicon fix"



    Uh huh huh huh huh... (I know, there's no E.)
  • Reply 3 of 47
    in unrelated news, Apple's new MacBook line will be powered by the 2.6GHz quad core A6 chip.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    IM just Wondering if updates to Appmes laptop line are only going to cone once a year...
  • Reply 5 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    I'm sure some people around here will rather have their new MBPs as soon as possible, even with the defective chips.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    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!
  • Reply 8 of 47
    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
  • Reply 9 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    19841984 Posts: 955member
    This only affects the desktop chips, correct?
  • Reply 12 of 47
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    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
  • Reply 13 of 47
    emacs72emacs72 Posts: 356member
    the issue is with the motherboard chipset and not the Sandy Bridge processors. the P67, H67, HM67 (mobile) and HM65 (mobile) chipsets are affected.
  • Reply 14 of 47
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    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".
  • Reply 15 of 47
    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.



  • Reply 16 of 47
    hattighattig Posts: 860member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    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.)
  • Reply 19 of 47
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    This kind of stuff is more likely to happen the smaller the architecture gets.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    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.
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