Intel error also affects mobile, could delay Apple's next-gen MacBook Pros

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Intel's chipset troubles for its new Sandy Bridge processors affect both desktop and mobile machines, AppleInsider has learned, placing into question the timing of updates to both Apple's MacBook Pro line of notebooks and iMac desktops.



An Intel spokesman confirmed to AppleInsider on Tuesday that a design error with its Intel 6 Series chipsets, code-named Cougar Point, could affect both mobile and desktop Sandy Bridge systems. All Cougar Point chipsets are said to contain the error, including those that will be required in notebook systems.



So far, Intel has only shipped desktop-bound Cougar Point chipsets alongside quad-core desktop Sandy Bridge processors. In total, the Santa Clara-based company said it shipped less than 8 million of those desktop parts, adding that it believes fewer than that have actually landed in the hands of end consumers. But with Intel halting production of all Cougar Point chipsets until late February, other products that were planned for launch in the coming weeks could also be affected by the issue.



For example, Intel had planned to launch its next-generation, Sandy Bridge mobile processors around Feb. 20 before the issues with Cougar Point were discovered. But as of Tuesday, the chipmaker said it had yet to determine whether the issues with the Cougar Point will delay that launch. It's possible, a spokesman said, that the staggered worldwide rollout could go on as planned.



As announced on Monday, Intel has begun manufacturing a new version of Cougar Point which resolves the issue, but none of those corrected chipsets will begin shipping in any capacity until the end of February at the earliest, and Intel said it doesn't anticipate meeting volume commitments until sometime in April.



Therefore, it would seem unlikely that Apple -- or any other PC vendor -- could launch a line of Sandy Bridge-based notebooks in earnest any time before late February at the earliest, as the parts simply won't be available. As such, high profile launches of Sandy Bridge-based notebook systems would seem more likely in March or April.



When it comes to Apple specifically, Intel would only say that it's working closely with its partners to address concerns, but would not offer any indication on how the chipset problems could affect future Mac plans. It instead referred all questions on the matter to Apple, which does not comment on forward looking matters. The chipmaker also declined to reveal whether Mac maker was among the manufacturers who received some of the less than 8 million quad-core Sandy Bridge desktop chips and Cougar Point chipsets shipped earlier this month.



Those troubled Cougar Point chipsets support six Serial ATA ports, which are used to connect devices like hard disk drives or DVD drives. After it began shipping the parts, Intel discovered through stress testing that the SATA ports numbered 2 through 5 on the Cougar Point chipset can degrade in performance over time in extreme conditions. However, Intel noted that the problem does not affect SATA ports 0 or 1, so any system builders that received those parts would be clear ship those parts in desktop systems that utilize only ports 0 or 1.



Generally speaking, it appears that the setback with Cougar Point could delay notebook and desktop-based Sandy Bridge systems by anywhere from 6 weeks to two and a half months, based on AppleInsider's estimates and understanding of the matter. But any such delay would best be quantified on a manufacturer by manufacturer basis.



For example, if Apple did not plan to introduce new MacBook Pros before April, then the matter is unlikely to impact the company. However, if it was hoping to push out new models this month in high volumes, the issues with Cougar Point could delay that roll out by a few weeks or a couple of months, depending on how long it takes Intel to begin shipping ample volumes of the corrected Cougar Point chipsets to the Mac maker.



The one certainty appears to be that late February is the absolute earliest that a major PC manufacturer like Apple could hope to begin shipping Sandy Bridge-based notebooks.



Apple last updated its MacBook Pro lineup in April 2010, with Core i7 and Core i5 processors. The all-in-one iMac desktop was given Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7 processors in a refresh released in July 2010.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    Come on Apple, ask your buddy Intel to allocate a big portion of the fixed chips to you first!



    I'm wondering if these next-gen MBPs are going to start to take on traits from the MBA. Tim Cook certainly led us to believe this would be the case, but here's the hoping it'll be this upcoming generation! Looking for thinner, due to a lack of an optical drive, and SSD only!
  • Reply 2 of 42
    Ports 0-5 means six SATA ports
  • Reply 3 of 42
    Also, Anandtech reports that the problem only occurs on the last four, 3Gbps ports (ports 2-5), and not the first two, 6Gbps ports (0-1). This article has it backwards.



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/i...-begins-recall
  • Reply 4 of 42
    Yet another reason to want another supplier like an AMD, instead of just Intel!
  • Reply 5 of 42
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    First it was the nvidia issue, then the shortage of core is and now this. I wonder if Apple will be able to get its hands on initial shipments, or if intel cooked deals with dell, hp and others once again to push out processors to those with higher market shares.



    Perhaps its time to give AMD roadmap another look.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hypercommunist View Post


    Also, Anandtech reports that the problem only occurs on the last four, 3Gbps ports (ports 2-5), and not the first two, 6Gbps ports (0-1). This article has it backwards.



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/i...-begins-recall



    Im going to double check on this, as it was what I was specifically told this morning. Before you call sloppy reporting on our part, understand that spokespeople can make a mistake in conveying the information to us just as easily as we can make a mistake reporting it.



    Thanks,



    Kasper
  • Reply 7 of 42
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hypercommunist View Post


    Also, Anandtech reports that the problem only occurs on the last four, 3Gbps ports (ports 2-5), and not the first two, 6Gbps ports (0-1). This article has it backwards.



    Regardless of which way is correct, if the Intel chips have several good SATA ports on them, that is probably enough for a laptop. Usually laptops have only one SATA device. Thus I don't see why this would delay the release of new Apple laptops.
  • Reply 8 of 42
    Is that the problems was found before Apple started shipping any Sandy Bridge systems. Hopefully Apple didn't receive anything for production before the problem was found.



    That, at least, gives Apple the ability to focus on fresh production when the new chip set is available, and not worry about taking care of existing customers who got one of the fault systems.



    It's also interesting to see how much Intel's last FP FUBAR has improved their response time on this problem. I'll give them good grades for that.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OriginalG View Post


    Come on Apple, ask your buddy Intel to allocate a big portion of the fixed chips to you first!



    I'm wondering if these next-gen MBPs are going to start to take on traits from the MBA. Tim Cook certainly led us to believe this would be the case, but here's the hoping it'll be this upcoming generation! Looking for thinner, due to a lack of an optical drive, and SSD only!





    and then acer/dell/hp and others just mention to intel that they will just have to ship more AMD systems to make up the shortfall
  • Reply 10 of 42
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,655member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OriginalG View Post


    Come on Apple, ask your buddy Intel to allocate a big portion of the fixed chips to you first!



    I'm wondering if these next-gen MBPs are going to start to take on traits from the MBA. Tim Cook certainly led us to believe this would be the case, but here's the hoping it'll be this upcoming generation! Looking for thinner, due to a lack of an optical drive, and SSD only!



    Then what's the difference between the Air and MBP? You seem to want an Air and that's fine, but I don't. I still want and need an optical drive and SSD capacities are not enough. For people who mostly surf the web and listen to online music, an Air type machine certainly does the trick (although one can make the case that so does the iPad). But for people who use computers for productive work that generates files and documents (Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, databases, etc.) and need large amounts of local storage because they're frequently NOT online or don't want to store on the cloud even when they are, the traditional MBP functionality is still necessary. I have websites for which I have the entire site on my local machine, which then gets FTP'd to the host. Any one of those websites would completely fill a current model SSD.



    If Apple abandons that type of machine in favor of MBA, with no optical drive and low-capacity SSD, I would be forced to abandon Apple (although I think that would kill me to have to use a Windows laptop.)
  • Reply 11 of 42
    asciiascii Posts: 5,936member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OriginalG View Post


    Looking for thinner, due to a lack of an optical drive, and SSD only!



    In that case they won't need any SATA ports. The MBA SSD plugs directly in to the PCI bus and any optical drive would be external USB.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post


    Then what's the difference between the Air and MBP? You seem to want an Air and that's fine, but I don't. I still want and need an optical drive and SSD capacities are not enough. For people who mostly surf the web and listen to online music, an Air type machine certainly does the trick (although one can make the case that so does the iPad). But for people who use computers for productive work that generates files and documents (Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, databases, etc.) and need large amounts of local storage because they're frequently NOT online or don't want to store on the cloud even when they are, the traditional MBP functionality is still necessary. I have websites for which I have the entire site on my local machine, which then gets FTP'd to the host. Any one of those websites would completely fill a current model SSD.



    If Apple abandons that type of machine in favor of MBA, with no optical drive and low-capacity SSD, I would be forced to abandon Apple (although I think that would kill me to have to use a Windows laptop.)





    wouldn't surprise me it's the next refresh. i'm 99% sure that the MBP will have a standard SSD just to justify the cost since even the cheapo laptops now come with LED screens just as good as the MBP.



    and with the mac app store apple will just feed the BS like with the floppy drive that it's obsolete. except they are kind of right, i use mine maybe once a year. you can buy a 32GB USB stick for $40 these days
  • Reply 13 of 42
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post


    Then what's the difference between the Air and MBP? You seem to want an Air and that's fine, but I don't.

    If Apple abandons that type of machine in favor of MBA, with no optical drive and low-capacity SSD, I would be forced to abandon Apple (although I think that would kill me to have to use a Windows laptop.)



    I don't think that Apple will abandon the MBP. The MBA was first to adopt the unibody construction. MBP followed. I see the next generation MBP being slimmer and lighter. Hope that the 17" keeps the optical drive and the ExpressCard slot. IMO Apple won't reduce the amount of SSD storage, as prices drop the SSD option should go to 500GB.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Might be interesting to consider a 15" MBA. How many people using a mobile computer in their work would love one, especially with a Sandy Bridge processor?



    With the larger 15" body size it would even be possible to add a second drive - CTO option of SSD or spinner.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    I'm incredulous about buying these new Sandy Bridge processors with the hardware kill switch anyway, so I'm just as happy to see a delay in their introduction to the Mac line.



    Consider the fun that governments and hackers will have when they can disable your computational equipment at a whim, potentially even over a 3g connection as per Intel's advertisements for this "feature".



    Of course, you might think this gives you an avenue for protection in the case of theft, but all it does is petty revenge... no apprehension of the thieves, guaranteed destruction of your property if it is recovered, and perhaps more importantly, your personal data will still be available on the hard drive, ready for extraction by the thieves on another machine. Sandy Bridge's kill switch is a horrible, horrible idea. Make some noise about it!
  • Reply 16 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    Im going to double check on this, as it was what I was specifically told this morning. Before you call sloppy reporting on our part, understand that spokespeople can make a mistake in conveying the information to us just as easily as we can make a mistake reporting it.



    Thanks,



    Kasper



    Just thought you might like to know that I have already bought 3 HP laptops that use this new chip and have started using them. They are called HPPaviliondv7QuadEdition. I got the Intel Core i7-2630QM chip. Now I get to see how they recall them for replacement. HP claims to not know about this yet.



    Please don't worry I am a died-in-the-wool Apple guy. I simply need to use PCs for some of my business clients
  • Reply 17 of 42
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 18 of 42
    kalikali Posts: 634member
    Haaaahahahahaha !



    This update to come is turning ridiculous !



    I'm soooo glad now that I bought my 13" MBP two months ago.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    Didn't someone here recently suggest that Apple gets only the very best batches of chips from Intel?



    So...?
  • Reply 20 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NormM View Post


    Regardless of which way is correct, if the Intel chips have several good SATA ports on them, that is probably enough for a laptop. Usually laptops have only one SATA device. Thus I don't see why this would delay the release of new Apple laptops.



    Ok so the chipsets have a defect that manifests itself on ports neither Apple laptops nor iMacs use. perhaps this might impact the rollout of next-gen Mac Pros but otherwise Apple might as well place a huge order for the defective chips at a nice discount while all the other manufacturers cool their heals on irrelevant fears.



    It's a risky move if the chips have other defects but otherwise the problem is beyond relevant. I admit I don't have the facts on this issue at this point. I'm just pointing out there are problems and there are problems that actually have an impact. Hoping this is simply the former.
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