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Sandy Bridge Chipset Shipments Halted Due To Bug

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-meant-to-do-that dept.

Intel 212

J. Dzhugashvili writes "Early adopters of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors, beware. Intel has discovered a flaw in the 6-series chipsets that accompany the new processors. The flaw causes Serial ATA performance to 'degrade over time' in 'some cases.' Although Intel claims 'relatively few' customers are affected, it has stopped shipments of these chipsets and started making a revised version of the silicon, which won't be ready until late February. Intel expects to lose $300 million in revenue because of the problem, and it's bracing for repair and replacement costs of $700 million."

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Sucks to be them! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057672)

Not that it matters to myself. I'm still running a dual-core athlon 64. Processor/memory upgrades became overrated a few years ago.

There has been nothing new worth spending money on, hardware wise, for the last 3 years at least.

Re:Sucks to be them! (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057856)

>>>I'm still running a dual-core athlon 64. Processor/memory upgrades became overrated a few years ago.

Agreed. I am still running a Pentium 4 at 3000 megahertz. When I experienced slowdown, I just doubled the memory and that eliminated the main problem (hard drive/virtual memory swapping). The only thing my P4 doesn't do is HD video, but I'm okay with that since my 700k connection doesn't do HD either.

Now my Pentium 3(?) 700 MHz laptop is long in the tooth, and often runs too slow for my taste, but it is just a laptop. I don't use it much except for travel.

As for Intel:
1 billion dollar loss is a major suck. I doubt it will end-up costing that much though. When the original Pentium developed a floating-point bug, most users did not upgrade because it was not something they needed. That helped Intel save $$$ and probably the same will happen with this chipset too.

Re:Sucks to be them! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057860)

Depends on your workload. I'm typing this on a still-just-as-adequate-as-when-I-bought-it A64, plays games and everything; but when I put on my work hat, the fact that we can get more VMs into the same physical volume and power consumption with every generation(and, for annoyingly expensive software that is licensed per-socket, get substantially improved performance for peanuts hardware money) is reason to cheer...

Re:Sucks to be them! (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058026)

I'm still running a dual-core athlon 64. Processor/memory upgrades became overrated a few years ago.

I'm running a four core Phenom II black edition at home. Basically dirt cheap. I don't call that overrated at all, far from it. Oh, and 4 Gig, all of which I happily use. Actually that amount of memory will look small in the future. Say 6 months from now.

How many heads will roll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057674)

How many heads will roll?

Dell (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057704)

I'm been anxiously waiting for Dell to release its Mobile Precision Workstation with a Sandy Bridge processor.

I had been cursing Dell for their slowness, but I guess it was a blessing.

First Stalin, now this. You Georgians, I swear. (0)

falzer (224563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057714)

Thank you for the "scare quotes." I wasn't sure what slant I should have "read into" this "summary."

Re:First Stalin, now this. You Georgians, I swear. (4, Informative)

Chemicles (771024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058020)

Or, they could be actual quotes from the company's actual press release [intel.com] .

Turns out they violated a Microsoft Patent (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057718)

They patented slowly degrading performance over time many years ago. It's a key feature built into Windows.

Re:Turns out they violated a Microsoft Patent (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058352)

Funny. Actually, hilarious. +1

However, most of the slowdown over time is due to Internet Explorer. The problem was made worse by integrating IE into Windows rather than making it an app like ever other app. Reduce the IE cache size to 10MB and set "empty temporary items on exit" and Windows performance doesn't degrade nearly as badly. It'll still degrade due to installing crapware and every program installing it's own notification/task bar utility that runs at startup, and it may degrade if you don't defragment the HD periodically, but the IE cache is the biggest culprit. Of course, if you only use IE for Windows Update, then IE's cache isn't as much of a factor.

Re:Turns out they violated a Microsoft Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058464)

They patented slowly degrading performance over time many years ago. It's a key feature built into Windows.

So Microsoft will sue them for this in addition the massive support costs generated as hundreds of thousands of end users call near-simultaneously to beg that they be allowed to re-activate Windows after motherboard replacements?

Re:Turns out they violated a Microsoft Patent (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058816)

It *IS* a key feature built into Windows to drive sales!

I have a 5year-old installation of XP-home-Ed. (Compaq Presario ???? laptop)
-We use FF, not IE
-have little software on it
-HD is 80% free and de-fragmented, temp folder is MT
-Runs 99% of the time with User Account
-Takes 5 minutes to get to the internet from boot
XP Sucks

Thinking Linux but laptop needs drivers to make volume buttons work!

Given Intel's reaction... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057720)

...it looks like they learned from the Pentium FP fiasco and are handling this one correctly.

Re:Given Intel's reaction... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057916)

Or this one is much more serious... The Pentium FP one was a big issue because of how cagey Intel was about it(and was a genuine problem for users who had purchased it for certain FP heavy operations); but it was a deterministic logical bug: as long as you avoided a fairly specific set of trigger conditions, it would stay safely contained(for certain customers, doing so would likely be so onerous as to qualify as unacceptable; but for everybody else not so scary).

What makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up about this one is the "may gradually degrade" stuff. That makes it sound much less like the "100% of people who do X get bitten/0% of others do" logical bugs and more like the "component degradation in the field can be unpredictable, except at a population level" type of bug that, say, happened to Nvidia not too long back...

Re:Given Intel's reaction... (2)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058058)

Yeah, it does seem that way, which makes a change. Even though Intel has been here before, it still good to see a company just 'fessing up and dealing with a mistake like this for a change - unlike Dell's blatant denials about their faulty motherboards and Apple's "Antenna Gate".

It's such a shame that they didn't also learn from the much earlier lesson about building on a foundation of rock instead of sand. If only they'd gone with "Rocky Bridge"... :)

"Relatively Few" customers affected? (1)

ckblackm (1137057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057728)

Isn't that the same line they fed the public about the Pentium FP bug?

Re:"Relatively Few" customers affected? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057994)

Motherboards with this chipset have been shipping for something like 3 weeks. They got the bug busted early, before large volume shipments began.

This will obviously delay those large volume shipments and could leave a mark at Intel and various mobo/oem manufacturers.

Re:"Relatively Few" customers affected? (2)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058670)

Yes, if by "line" you mean "unarguably true statement".

Intel caught this one first? (4, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057730)

I don't recall seeing any complaints online about degraded SATA performance, so it looks like Intel caught this internally and took the appropriate action before the issue became widespread in the wild. The bug sucks but it just goes to show how difficult it can be to test complex hardware under all situations. Kudos to Intel for being proactive... they have learned from the FDIV bug fiasco, and some other companies with fruity logos might learn from the example.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (2)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057908)

there was a rumor that new MacBook Pro's were going to be released tomorrow. if true it could have been Apple QA catching this at the last minute

Re:Intel caught this one first? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058068)

If its released tomorrow then Apple QA (early adopters) haven't received the new MacBook Pro yet.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058246)

Will you apple fanboys ever get a clue. If apple had caught this bug, apple would not be releasing anything using this chipset. If they did, they might have *gasp* a defective apple product. That is not allowed. All the blame would be on intel (of course apple never does anything wrong), but the bad press would still hurt a little.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058788)

You make it sound like striving to have non-defective products is a *bad* thing...

Re:Intel caught this one first? (1)

MichaelKristopeit339 (1967532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058896)

no, YOU make it sound like the coward you responded to made it sound like it was a bad thing...

the coward simply made it sound like they were an ignorant marketeering hypocrite.

slashdot = stagnated.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (2)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058614)

Yeah, but there's always a rumor about new MacBook Pro's being released tomorrow.

If there wasn't, some rumor site is probably going to source our posts as possible evidence of a release tomorrow.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058048)

Yep, which makes it sort of odd.... none of the reviewers caught it, none of the early adopters seem to have caught it... yet it's so critical it justifies halting production and starting over with fresh silicon. Granted they don't test the controller that much but at least some of the file tests would. I bet they're all scrambling to find out now though and we'll know in a day or two.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (3, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058378)

Someone else linked to a post that claims it only supports ports 2-5 (the 3Gbps ports) not ports 0-1 (the 6Gbps ports). Most systems won't be stressing ports 2-5 that heavilly.

Plus if this is indeed a gradual degredation issue it may be that most people simply haven't been using the systems long enough for it to become noticable yet.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058448)

That should have said only affects ports 2-5.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (1, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058654)

integration can be evil.

now, if they had separate chips on the mobo for sata then the damage would have been contained and you simply disable the onboard controller and install a pci-e card instead. intel would make new mobos but NOT chipsets. chipsets are a big undertaking.

also, I wonder if there were engineers in intel who said 'hey, whats with this too-fast churn of new socket types and chipsets? didn't we JUST release, not long ago, sockets for i3/i5? what wrong with using them again?'

then some intel product mgr probably spoke up 'but we can get users to rebuy ALL new hardware instead of just a new cpu!'.

money won out over logic and reason.

well, intel LOST big-time on this cash grab move. now, since they did NOT leverage the older chipsets like a normal thinking company might, they can't even sell bare cpus right now. haha!

lesson: don't put all your eggs in one basket. sometimes ultra integration will bite you in the arse.

Re:Intel caught this one first? (5, Informative)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058546)

According to Anand's coverage, Intel said that they started getting customer complaints after they had shipped about 100k units, and their engineers managed to duplicate the problem early last week, the cause of which they figured out in a couple of days.

Source : http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/intel-discovers-bug-in-6series-chipset-begins-recall [anandtech.com]

Re:Intel caught this one first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058726)

proactive isn't supposed to be a word.

active or passive plz.

Bracing for costs? this is an improvement... (2)

maroonhat (845773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057778)

At least I don't have to prove I _need_ high speed SATA performance to get a replacement... clearly SATA is more important than _DIVISION_...

Over time? (3, Interesting)

Caviller (1420685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057788)

I RTFA and I for the life of me can't figure out if it's a "The longer the uptime the worse the degrading...and a reboot will start the process over?" or "You will use this and it will get worse and worse untill the chip burns out..."

I hope to god it's the first one...If not this might beat the floating point error by a mile!

Re:Over time? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057992)

My guess is that it is the second. That is why Intel is going to replace all the motherboards. This is going to be one big PITA for users.
This is why one should never pay for the latests and greatest if you don't need it.

Re:Over time? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058514)

Why replace when you can send a $10 SATA PCI card?

Re:Over time? (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058684)

The chipset is also used in laptops, according to the various articles out there. Make that an ExpressCard or something :P

Re:Over time? (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058134)

I can't imagine a hardware bug that would manifest only as degraded performance after extended uptime. Anything of that nature could probably be worked around with a software fix that periodically reset the controller. Therefore, I think it's safe to assume it's literally the SATA logic degrading with age, which would require a chip level change.

Re:Over time? (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058538)

Maybe it's a "flash cache thrash" that wears out and degrades performance? :p

Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057810)

Obviously, silicon bugs happen, barely anything makes it out of the fab without an 'errata' list as long as your leg; but the "may gradually degrade over time" part kind of freaks me out.

If it were a "due to a design error, setting register xyz to 0xDEADBEEF causes Serious Badness, chipset drivers are being patched to Never Do That on rev.1 chipsets and future chipsets will be amended" that would be unfortunate; but so it goes. Fully deterministic errors, like the classic division bug, may be problematic; in some cases bad enough to qualify the product as just plain defective; but once known they can be mitigated by not stepping on them. Something that "sometimes" "gradually decreases" performance, on a bus with error correction, though, sounds a lot like a physical problem where some sort of silicon/electrical issue causes error rates to increase and thus retries/corrections to increase in frequency, and user-visible performance to go down. That makes me nervous. It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem...

Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057850)

"Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?"

Failure to reset some internal timer properly under certain conditions? I'm guessing.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (5, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057882)

It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem...

Well, obviously. Could be a wire that was made too thin, or some component that overheats and slowly damages itself. I'm not sure why you think it's "ominous" though. It's a physical object that apparently has a design defect that causes it to wear out. I've seen ominous things before, but that usually involves a shadowy figure standing in a doorway with something that looks oddly like a machete, but dammit I can't really see clearly in this low light...

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058372)

this is slashdot. a intel bug to them is pretty scary.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058024)

Obviously, silicon bugs happen, barely anything makes it out of the fab without an 'errata' list as long as your leg; but the "may gradually degrade over time" part kind of freaks me out. If it were a "due to a design error, setting register xyz to 0xDEADBEEF causes Serious Badness, chipset drivers are being patched to Never Do That on rev.1 chipsets and future chipsets will be amended" that would be unfortunate; but so it goes. Fully deterministic errors, like the classic division bug, may be problematic; in some cases bad enough to qualify the product as just plain defective; but once known they can be mitigated by not stepping on them. Something that "sometimes" "gradually decreases" performance, on a bus with error correction, though, sounds a lot like a physical problem where some sort of silicon/electrical issue causes error rates to increase and thus retries/corrections to increase in frequency, and user-visible performance to go down. That makes me nervous. It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem... Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?

Well, the flaw is with the Sandy Bridge chipset that accompanies the CPU, so it's not with the CPU itself. The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge#Architecture [slashdot.org] includes, among other things, the IO and memory controller hub components, which control (between them) DMA and the actual SATA controller hardware and some of the relevant busses. I assume the problem is somewhere in there, and is hardware-related (i.e., not firmware-upgradeable).

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058256)

that's not necessarily a lesser problem.

chipsets are typically soldered onto motherboards, while CPUs are clipped into sockets.

in order to install a free-replacement CPU, you flip a clip and put in the new part. 5-10 minutes for an inexperienced tech (60 seconds for a l33t h4xx0r whose system is never truly buttoned-up), and one new part to check out.

in order to install a free-replacement chipset, you replace your motherboard. a couple of hours of unplugging, unscrewing, unpacking, re-screwing, chasing screws that fell off the desk, plugging back in, double-checking the plugging-in, going online to find a representative picture to be sure you put the memory in the optimal slots, and closing up the case. and then you have a hundred new parts to shake out.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058626)

that's not necessarily a lesser problem.

chipsets are typically soldered onto motherboards, while CPUs are clipped into sockets.

in order to install a free-replacement CPU, you flip a clip and put in the new part. 5-10 minutes for an inexperienced tech (60 seconds for a l33t h4xx0r whose system is never truly buttoned-up), and one new part to check out.

in order to install a free-replacement chipset, you replace your motherboard. a couple of hours of unplugging, unscrewing, unpacking, re-screwing, chasing screws that fell off the desk, plugging back in, double-checking the plugging-in, going online to find a representative picture to be sure you put the memory in the optimal slots, and closing up the case. and then you have a hundred new parts to shake out.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a lesser problem. I got the tone from the OP that he was confused how a CPU issue could cause such a specific and isolated problem with SATA, so I was pointing out how the problem wasn't with the Sandy Bridge CPU, but rather with the supporting chipset.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

clevelandguru (612010) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058076)

The question is if this problem is fixed with a power recycle? If not, The only way I can think of that this problem is in the digital logic is if the processor can save its states across power recycle. This sounds like a thermal hotspot in the processor that can cause physical damage over time.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058084)

I posted over at the Tech Report my theory that it's a timing error in the output driver logic. This could cause--under rare circumstances--the logic to enable the high side and low side drivers at the same time. If it's just for a very small length of time, it can cause a current spike through the output transistors which will cause them to fail over time. It's just a theory.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058104)

Something dependent on the thermal throttling feature built-in to Intel chips? Maybe there was a hotspot near a specific part of the chip that can be mitigated by shifting circuits around?

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

The Salamander (56587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058146)

Guess: Some sort of queue/FIFO with a bug in the read/write pointer logic that causes it to effectively decrease in depth over time.

The bug is not severe enough to drop/corrupt data, which would have made finding the issue easier, but eventually performance suffers.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058156)

I read it could be a timing issue, if triggered sending too much juice too often to the SATA.

From my own experience and common sense, anything to do with "degrading performance" sounds like a heat issue to me. Heat issues happen because of 3 causes: 1) Poor design of heat dissipation/mitigation in that they don't have a heat sink or enough of one to do the job, 2) Overvoltage in that a part is getting too much current, too often, resulting in heat, that is slowly breaking down the performance of the part, 3) Regulation failure, which basically controls the amount of current which results in overvoltage. All three are sort of the same thing really, bits getting too hot when they aren't designed to handle it.

I think it is a good thing that Intel is doing the recall and has notified everyone. My fear would be unscrupulous hardware resellers trying to ditch these components on unsuspecting users. I wouldn't want to be buying a sandybridge pre-assembled in the next year or so. For users who buy their components individual, it is less serious, return your MB for a new one. You might be out a computer a few weeks, but at the same time your getting a new MB and you never know Manufacturers may even throw in a few extra features on the new one. Also the issue is about degrading performance, hopefully it isn't so fast that by the time you get your new one, you were never really effected by the issue in the first place. If your buying a new one, you just have to make sure of the version number of the MB you want to buy. Wait for the problem to get fixed and buy the fixed version 2.0 MB. Just be leary of sales of MB without clarifying version number. Some will likely be taken if they don't know about the issue, which is another reason I think it is good Intel came clean about it.

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058458)

Apparently the 0xDEADBEEF will just become rotten

Re:Does anybody else think this sounds ominous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058672)

Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?

Cases of components failing/glitching prematurely over time are ususally due to overcharging / electron migration.

Hmm... (1)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057846)

Seems to me they had issues the last time they rushed a product to beat AMD, as well. Ghosts of the i820 MTH fiasco.

Some additional information (3, Informative)

dc29A (636871) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057852)

Apparently the problem [notebookreview.com] is with SATA ports 2-5, at least for mobile motherboards. Every desktop board is affected.

Sandy Bridge Closed Due to Erosion (5, Funny)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057890)

Should have been article title.

Re:Sandy Bridge Closed Due to Erosion (1)

MichaelKristopeit404 (1978298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057962)

such wit is appreciated at fark.com [fark.com]

slashdot = stagnated

SATA early adoptors (4, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057898)

Well, I guess this vindicates my decision to stick with MFM hard disks.

Re:SATA early adoptors (1)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057924)

or ST-506 interface drives if you are just about to tell me that MFM is an encoding method rather than an interface. But they were called that back then. I remember!

Re:SATA early adoptors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057988)

I wouldn't really call getting a SATA enabled motherboard in 2011 "early adoption", since the SATA standard was created in 2001.

Re:SATA early adoptors (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058890)

I actually was a SATA "early adopter" back in early 2004 when I bought a computer. Had taken a "computer sabbatical" for several years in hawaii and was just purchasing a new one finally. Configured it without a floppy disk, which I was glad to never have to use again. Then a few months later when good ole' Windows XP takes a crap on me, I goto reinstall it, and XP requires a floppy drive to install the drivers for my sata drive... No thumb drive, burnt CD, nothing else, just a fucking floppy which I purposely left off my system build. f micorosft. fml

Not all chipset affected (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057912)

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.

Important details about shipment date lost in transcription.

Re:Not all chipset affected (1, Interesting)

lowlymarine (1172723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058356)

I'm pretty sure that's because Sandy Bridge chipsets have only been shipping since then. I'd assume that the "relatively few" customers affected by this are "everyone who has already purchased a SB board," kind of like how the "relatively few" customers affected by Bumpgate turned out to be "everyone with a G80 derivative" (which was "relatively few" of the set of "all nVidia customers ever," I suppose).

Re:Not all chipset affected (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058440)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that chipset released around January 9th. So...that would make it all chipsets.

Excellent! While they're at it... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35057960)

Could they pretty please make a change that allows me to use the new H.264 encoding instructions without being forced to rely upon their nice but not nice enough video display capabilities? I'd LOVE to use the encoder speedups but if I'm forced to use their CPU as my GPU I may be forced to skip it. Everything I've read says that this is what I'll be forced to do - YUCK!

Re:Excellent! While they're at it... (1)

Kalroth (696782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058306)

I believe this won't be possible before Intel releases their Z68 chipset, so you're out of luck if your motherboard got a P67 chipset.

It is possible to do it with software on motherboards with the H67 chipset: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4113/lucid-enables-quick-sync-with-discrete-graphics-on-sandy-bridge [anandtech.com]

Re:Excellent! While they're at it... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058722)

Thank you, very helpful!

I haven't YET purchased one of these - and a good thing it seems - as I've been waiting to figure this out. If I must wait for the Z67 then so be it. My requirements are that I be able to overclock (so I'll buy the unlocked CPU) and I want access to the encoder instructions. As it stands now nothing but commercial encoders are accessing this I believe as Intel came to the table VERY late for the x.264 guys. My fingers are crossed that this is solved by the time I'm ready to upgrade else I'll simply be stuck with a way faster CPU that clocks nearly 5ghz on air - and I run water :-) This bug will be a set back it seems but fingers crossed they get it solved quickly as this sounds like a very nice upgrade from my i7 clocked a bit over 4ghz. My I/O might actually become a bottleneck! :-O

Anyway, I appreciate the links as this wasn't something I'd yet been able to find myself.

Find a bug... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35057976)

...as you write the spec: $1.00
...after you ship a few: $1,000,000,000.00

That's a Bug? (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058000)

I would have thought Intel would consider that to be a feature. Certainly it seems to describe every system I've worked on for the past two decades...

Just my luck for switching back to Intel (1)

Kindgott (165758) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058018)

I'd been exclusively building and using AMD systems for my past 2-3 machine builds, but I just built a new computer over the weekend. Just my luck it was a Sandy Bridge CPU with a P67 chipset motherboard. I suppose I'll go fill out my registration for the motherboard tonight and wait for Gigabyte to contact me regarding a recall.

Will I Am (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058060)

Damn that Will I Am!

Ouch (1)

GeekHang (1926104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058098)

$700 million? Talk about taking a hit! Someone's getting fired.

Re:Ouch (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058302)

Recall that when they did the replacement program for the Pentium FDIV bug, they wrote-down $400 million in expected costs for returns and repairs.

A few quarters later, they got to book about $360 million of that as income, as most of the requests for the fixed chips never materialized.

I'd expect a chargeback of half a $billion or so sometime in the fall or early next year.

Big losses for Intel?! (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058102)

Alright, competitors, time to shine! Let's go get... uh... guys? ... you there?

Re:Big losses for Intel?! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058318)

Intel fumbles a chipset and AMD fires its CEO.

Ironically, this makes perfect sense.

AMD's take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058118)

I wonder how AMD will be taking Intel's total loss of a billion dollars?

Chip bugs (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058190)

VIA had a chipset bug on their old KT-series motherboard bridge chips that would lock up the machine if a certain sequence of bytes and a couple of signals on the ATA bus interface hit simultaneously. That condition was legal (if rare) as far as the ATA bus spec was concerned and shouldn't have caused the lockup, but it did. It was one of the conditions we had to insert escape code for when building optical (CD/DVD) drives otherwise people who bought our drives would bitch at us when the inevitable lockups happened. All the other manufacturers of IDE-bus devices did the same sort of workarounds and VIA did eventually fix the bug but it still left millions of motherboards out there with the problem chips on them.

OTOH we caught the VHDL bug that occasionally switched off the DRAM refresh controller in the testing lab before the design got sent to production, a relief for everyone concerned.

Why Sandy Bridge ? (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058192)

What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ? I still haven't figured out where it fits in the market... mind you, I type this on my dual nehalem, which is still king of the mountain after a year, so I really don't get what the fuss is about. Is Sandy Bridge significantly faster than the original i3/i5 cop-outs ? Or is this a mythical "bang for the buck" platform where everything costs twice as much as AMD ?

I've been building a lot of systems, and Intel dominates the high end, but in my view they haven't sold a decent value processor since the E2xx0 Core 2's. In the desktop market there's really just 3 segments that matter: sub-$500, 500 to 1000, and balls-to-the-wall nutjobs like myself, and AMD has the bottom two tiers in a fierce headlock.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058288)

Posting as a lazy AC, but it seems to be a solid step - I'm no engineer so I don't know for sure if it's this gen or the next one that's the game changer, but sandy bridge is first/almost first to eliminating a lot of bottleneck connectors that were way slower than the actual central cpu itself. It's a type of "Answer C - Other" improvement different from speed or quantity boosts.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Showered (1443719) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058292)

Sandy Bridge is the successor to Nehalem. It uses less power and is more efficient.

The current P67 boards (LGA 1155) are for the mainstream market, e.g. Best Buy, Futureshop, Fry's, Staples, etc. They're basically "high-end' for the middle-class.

Wait until LGA 2011 comes out (successor to 1366). You'll be thinking of switching then. :)

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058336)

I don't get it either.

I have a two year old Thinkpad T400 with a Core 2 Duo T9400, and Intel's new stuff isn't fast enough to justify an upgrade. It looks to me that Sandy Bridge is just a name, and not as impressive as people have hyped it to be.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058704)

Sandybridge is 30%+ faster clock for clock than c2duo. It uses less power, and encodes video close to 8 times faster... It has more advanced power saving features that allow for unprecedented performance in small-scale laptops...

Sandybridge is ridiculous.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (4, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058600)

Yes. Sandy Bridge i7-2600K CPUs are approaching the speeds of the i7-980X, while costing 1/3rd as much. You can build an insanely fast machine for under $1000 with Sandy Bridge, including graphics card.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058622)

Nehalem to Sandy Bridge? Not necessary, particularly since you need another new mobo. Is Sandy Bridge better than Nehlem? Overall yes, but not radically so. It's more a replacement for the 1156 than the 1366 platform, that refresh is coming later this year with a different socket and different processors. You can tell by the pricing, I don't remember the 2100 but the 2500 and 2600 are at $200 and $300 respectively. The "balls to the walls" segment is coming later probably with CPU prices up to $999 for the extreme editions.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (3, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058760)

What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ?

For some of us (including me), the big deal is that Sandy Bridge adds a new set of instructions called "AVX" intstructions, which let us do more floating-point operations at the same time. For some scientific apps this can nearly double the performance of the overall app.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (3, Informative)

Theovon (109752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058786)

There are a number of really good articles on the advances in Sandy Bridge. For instance:

http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT091810191937
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/intels-sandy-bridge-architecture-exposed

To summarize some of the things I remember off the top of my head:

The design is basically area-equivalent to the Nehalem designs, but they've made certain structures more space efficient to make room to enlarge others. For instance, they've made the branch predictor use fewer bits for the same prediction accuracy. This and other improvements have allowed them to increase critical structures that affect things like the instruction window size. The instruction window pertains to the number of decoded but not executed instructions out-standing. A larger instruction window allows you to (a) find more instruction-level parallelism because you're more likely to find independent instructions that can be executed simultaneously, and (b) absorb the effect of some high latency operations, like L2 cache misses -- you can effectively hide much of the latency by continuing to look for and perform unrelated work during the stall. In Nehalem and before, they had a structure that unified the reservation station, register file, and reorder buffer. Logically, this makes sense, but it also makes that area very power hungry, and you can never turn it off. In Sandy Bridge, they've split those structures, so they can be clock-gated separately. Also, instead of accumulating dependency results in the reservation station, they're stored in a single centralized physical register file, and pointers are held in the RS. This saves a lot of space, since now instructions traveling around the processor just need to carry the pointer. (This does add some latency and writing required to fetch those results from the RF when they're finally needed.)

It's explicitly stated that Sandy Bridge is not a major revolution in processor design. Compared to Nehalem, you might think of it representing a large collection of efficiency improvements that work together to make a processor that is faster (clock for clock efficiency) and more power efficient.

Many of these improvements lead to the larger instruction window. IMHO, this is a critical improvement. A Sun engineer once described modern processing as being a race between last-level cache misses. You have an L2 miss, and you quickly run out of work to do, and the processor stalls until that out-standing read arrives. Meanwhile, you've accumulated a hundred cycles or so of pending work, which gets blasted through, and execution continues perhaps a little while until you have another L2 miss. Processors like Nehalem can execute four or more instructions per cycle (peak), but the effective AVERAGE instructions per clock is less than 1. These high-latency L2 misses are primarily responsible for that. Besides adding on-die memory controllers, which reduces the latency, Sandy Bridge lengthens the instruction window so as to absorb more of that latency, so that stall time is less.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058868)

Tom's Hardware recently made an article saying similar notebook performance can be had at half the power consumption in typical use situations.

I'd say that's a big appeal.

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058884)

AMD has the bottom two tiers in a fierce headlock.
Really? care to cite some sources to back up that claim? most times i've done a comparison of similarlly performing chips (note that AMD don't get as high performance per clock as intel) the intel option has been more expensive but not hugely so.

Where intel does lose out is platform flexibility, you can put AMDs cheapest chips on a top end board or their most expensive on a low end board. With intel you have different platforms for different levels of price and performance so you can't mix and match.

As for sandy bridge VS AMD afaict the fastest quad core AMD offers is the Phenom II X4 970 BE which costs just under $200. The i5 2500 costs just over $200 and beats it in every test anandtech include in their charts and in most of them it does so by a wide margin.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/288?vs=186 [anandtech.com] (note the 2500K is just a 2500 with an unlocked multiplier and some esoteric features disabled). IMO for the $500-$1000 desktop segment prior to this announcement there was* little reason to choose anything other than a 2500 or 2600 (add K suffix if you plan to overclock)

As for the AMD hex cores they may be marginally better than a 2500 in some (but not all) highly multithreaded tasks but I would definately have taken the 2500 over them for normal desktop use.

* until todays announcement

Re:Why Sandy Bridge ? (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058946)

What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ?

5GHz on Air cooling

amd HAS sata 6 on all ports intel does not and now (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058206)

amd HAS sata 6 on all ports intel does not and now they can't even get sata right?

Re:amd HAS sata 6 on all ports intel does not and (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058624)

What is interesting is that those 2 SATA 6Gbps ports that the Intel boards have, are the ones unaffected by this! The problem is only with the other 4 ports. I bet they were thinking going with mostly the ol' 3Gbit ports will be safe and save some money... Woops!

How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058220)

'relatively few' people are affected, yet it's gonna cost Intel $700 million in replacements ?

Either these are very expensive replacements, or Intel has a different idea on how many 'few' are compared to the rest of us.

At least they are prompt to deal with it (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058234)

So many companies would still be denying having an issue. I say Kudos to them for owning up and acting fast. Everybody makes mistakes, but few take responsibility.

so the mini, macbook, mac bookpros under $1800 (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058240)

so the mini, macbook, mac bookpros under $1800 will be stuck on core 2 for most of 2011?

Re:so the mini, macbook, mac bookpros under $1800 (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058536)

It doesn't affect SATA ports 0 and 1 on the chipset (the new SATA3 ports), only the four SATA2 ports 2,3,4,5. It is likely that a laptop from Apple will only use the first two ports, so there shouldn't be an issue with new MacBooks or the Mac Mini.

DRM? (1, Interesting)

ivoras (455934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058314)

"Slow performance degradation over time" on SATA controllers? Who wants to bet this is due to some "misapplied security" scheme such as DRM or something related to the TPM?

Re:DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058680)

Your tinfoil hat is lose.

AMD's Bulldozer getting a little bit closer :) (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058532)

Any delay to Intel brings AMD's release of their new Bulldozer architecture a little bit closer to Sandy Bridge. Things will be interesting for the CPU market in 2011 to say the least.

At least they admitted it. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058618)

If this was Apple, they'd just say you're using it wrong.

MTH deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35058652)

If anyone remembers the i820 MTH (DRAM to RAMBUS translator Hub) fiasco, this is it again. Basicly what happened back then is that as soon as the drivers (INF files) are installed the chipset experiences a high error rate over time. With the i820MTH "over time" was roughly one hour once affected. Initial builds of such systems seem to have no problems, it's not until the customer keeps calling in for the same problem that it's discovered to be a chipset issue.

I'm glad that Intel caught this early, but it's very likely that affected parts from 3rd party motherboard vendors already went out, so I'd avoid buying anything with Sandy Bridge until late 2011.

Quote from Intel's Director of Creative Media (2)

A Guy From Ottawa (599281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35058688)

Will.I.Am, at his first public Intel press event since being hired, was quoted saying "The problem with the Sandy Bridge Chipset seems to be the dirty bit. BZZZZT BOOM BOOM.... BZZZZT BZZZT BZZZT BOOM BOOOM...." The rest of his comments weren't heard by anyone at the event due to the sudden loud and obnoxious music blaring from all corners...
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