In followup conference call this morning, Intel further detailed the extent of the Cougar Point chipset issues, hoping to keep consumers informed, and at the same time, put to rest the fears of a major catastrophe.
While there is no denying that the issue surrounding the slow degradation of the 6 series chipset is concerning, Intel has stated that the actual scope of the problem is limited, despite shipping 8 million of the flawed chipsets.
First the company explained that the issues were a result of a circuit design oversight that has the potential to cause gradual degradation of the SATA support chip on specific channels which would manifest itself through increasing bit-error rates and eventually as a complete disconnect of the SATA-linked devices. They reassure users though, that data loss is not a possibility and storage devices will be intact and readable on other systems.
Furthermore, the issue is limited only to SATA 2 ports, while SATA 3 ports and hardware is unaffected, giving users at least two devices they won’t need to worry about.
In terms of the scope of potential failures, Intel claims that they would only expect 5-6% of units to ever experience an issue over a three year span, however due to the nature of the degradation, users with heavy data storage usage, and chips in environments with increased voltage or heat may have failure rates up to three times higher.
To date however, not a single consumer device has been returned experiencing this problem, and the company discovered it only through internal testing. Consumers are free to continue using Intel 6 Series based products until such time as manufacturers and retailers co-ordinate a return or replacement protocol and replacement products become available.
Intel will immediately begin rolling out the fix to fabs expects to return to ful production by April 2011.
The issue extends to all Sandy Bridge systems, including notebooks, OEM PC’s and DIY motherboards.