I just got off a conference call with Intel and it looks like they got a mess on their hands right now. Intel had a design oversight with one of the metal layers of their 6 series chipset, so they need a re-spin of the silicon to fix the issue. This issue is on all ‘Cougar Town’ 6 series chipsets and Intel said that slightly less than 8 million of these chipsets have already been made. All of those chipsets have Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets that may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives. Intel said that the issue is only one four of the chipsets six SATA ports. The SATA III 6Gbps ports are not impacted by this issue. Intel went on to say that not one consumer board has been returned with this issue, but it’s an issue that arises with time. Internal Intel use conditions right now project 5-6% failure rates for notebooks over a 3 year life for a machine. It appears that the more voltage and higher temperatures the PC is run at will only increase the chances of failure. What happens when it fails? It looks like you’ll get bit errors on the SATA link and have drives no longer showing up on the platform. It sounds like no data will be lost though and that the drive can be placed on another system for data recovery if your chipset should fail. Intel expects to have new silicon to be rolling off the fab lines in February and then have the issue resolved in April 2011. We have contact ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and ECS, but none of the companies responded. MSI replied that we were the first to bring the issue to their attention. We looked at Newegg and they are still selling Intel 6 series boards.
The company expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April. Intel stands behind its products and is committed to product quality. 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 systems with the affected support chips have only been shipping since January 9th and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue. The only systems sold to an end customer potentially impacted are Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based systems. Intel believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution. For further information consumers should contact Intel at www.intel.com on the support page or contact their OEM manufacturer.