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Intel Resumes Shipping of Faulty Sandy Bridge Chip

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-that'll-be-fine dept.

Intel 203

arcticstoat writes "After causing chaos among motherboard makers by revealing a flaw in its 6-series motherboard chipsets, Intel has announced plans to recommence shipments of the faulty silicon, before the fixed chips have even started shipping. Intel claims it decided to start reshipping the chipsets after lengthy discussions with computer manufacturers. "As a result of these discussions and specific requests from computer makers,' says the company, 'Intel is resuming shipments of the Intel 6-series chipset for use only in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue." The announcement follows Intel's recent exposure of a well publicised design fault that affects the 3Gbps SATA ports (typically ports 2 to 5) in Intel's P67 and H67 chipsets. As such, we assume that the new systems based on the faulty chipsets will either come with a separate SATA controller card, or that they will only use the two (unaffected) 6Gbps SATA ports provided by the chipset."

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Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137506)

"for use only in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue" So they check your build spec before allowing you to buy?

Re:Huh? (2)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137554)

Probably they're selling to OEMs based on the OEM's specs.

Still... if you're an OEM, or planning to scratch build a system, it looks emptor had better caveat pretty carefully...

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137652)

I strongly suspect that laptops will be the big one here.

Virtually all laptops, excluding on a few high end workstation/gamer beasts, are 1HDD and (still common; but getting rarer) 1 optical drive. And, in a laptop, there isn't exactly much room to monkey with the shipping configuration...

Given that Intel has held the crown for reasonably high performance at laptop-friendly TDPs, I'm assuming that laptop makers would really like to get their hands on the latest silicon so that their roadmaps stay mostly accurate.

Small form factor and very small form factor desktops may also want in, for the same reasons. If you can only physically fit 2 drives in the case, only having 2 ports isn't a huge issue(Joe Tweaker who wants to put one of those 4-2.5inch-trays-in-one-5.25inch-bay devices in place of the optical drive will have to suffer; but nobody else will care...

It will be more interesting; but less certain, to see if production of standard motherboards resumes. By all accounts, the built-in intel SATA ports are(when working) competitive or better than most outboard ones cheap enough to integrate on a mass-market motherboard, plus they don't eat PCIe lanes. From a design perspective, it'd be easy enough to not solder headers for the faulty ports, and leave people with just the 6GB/s chipset ports and 4-6 provided by a 3rd party controller; but it remains to be seen if that will be acceptable to enthusiasts...

Re:Huh? (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138182)

Correction: Joe Tweaker who wants to put one of those 4-2.5inch-trays-in-one-5.25inch-bay devices in a Dell will have to suffer.

FTFY, and while I would love to watch Joe Tweaker get electrocuted in a freak SATA port accident, chances are he won't even be affected by the bug until well after his Dell gives up the ghost.

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138832)

Unless Intel's controller woes are substantially worse than so far disclosed, and somebody read "LVDS" as "Large Voltage Differential Signalling", I'm guessing that Joe Tweaker is sad; but safe enough...

Re:Huh? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139402)

Virtually all laptops, excluding on a few high end workstation/gamer beasts, are 1HDD and (still common; but getting rarer) 1 optical drive.

A lot of current laptops have a hard drive, an optical drive and an eSATA port which takes things up to 3.

Re:Huh? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139226)

My guess would be that what they really mean is they will insist that motherboard vendors don't connect any ports to the bad controller.

If the ports don't exist you can't use them.

Fuck Intel (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137516)

Ditto

Re:Fuck Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137610)

Don't blame Intel. Blame the motherboard makers that demanded this. They are the ones who insist on shipping products that are crippled down to only having 2 onboard SATA ports.

Re:Fuck Intel (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137712)

As long as the systems are advertised as only having 2 SATA ports, I fail to see what the problem is. If someone is foolish enough to do the research and conclude that their are more ports without doing enough research to discover those ports don't actually work, that's their problem.

Re:Fuck Intel (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138998)

Sometimes this isn't well advertised. I was looking at Atom motherboards for a NAS recently, and there's one that looks perfect, with six SATA ports. Unless you actually check the manual, you don't learn that four of these are actually a single SATA channel and a port splitter, so they appear to be a single SATA drive to the OS.

Re:Fuck Intel (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137782)

Given that discrete SATA upgrade cards are in the 20$ish range, I'd assume that adding an SATA controller directly to the motherboard would run maybe half that. I assume that any motherboard makers shipping will just leave the faulty ports without the headers soldered on, and tack on a 3rd party SATA controller(something that many were already doing).

Unfortunately, that will(in some ways) be worse and more confusing than the straight crippling. With the chipset ports, basically all motherboards of a given chipset will get the same performance out of those ports. With a 3rd party controller, performance will be substantially variable; based on how many PCIe lanes they give the controller, and who makes it(anybody who remembers the god-awful JMicron[seriously, what is it with JMicron? their IDE controllers sucked ass, and then so did their SSD controller chips...] IDE controllers that some motherboard makers started using when Intel's chipsets went SATA-only should be getting nervous right about now...)

For 1-2 drive only systems, like laptops and very small form factor systems, no problem. The two good chipset ports will do just fine. For motherboards purporting to offer more, though, you'll have to really do your reading before you buy....

Keep the Taint (5, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137568)

This will confuse people and make them wary of Sandy Bridge based machines for years. "Is this box tainted? I don't know, and the manufacturer won't tell me. I guess I'll buy something else." A nice clean break of recalling *all* defective machines and shipping only good silicon would have been better.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137698)

I'm sure there's a list of affected processors with the range of serial #s. Something easy to check.

Re:Keep the Taint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137752)

I'd like to see you do this when buying a machine. "Of course sir, you go right ahead and rummage through our whole stock of motherboards!"

Re:Keep the Taint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137836)

Again, CPUs aren't affected, just the chipsets on the motherboards.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138328)

Again, CPUs aren't affected, just the chipsets on the motherboards.

Which are, of course, significantly harder to replace.

Re:Keep the Taint (4, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138810)

And it's entirely Intel's own damn fault for forcing other chipset makers out of the game. There are plenty of companies that would make Intel chipsets, but Intel doesn't want them to and refuses to grant licenses necessary to make them.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139384)

But only a few ports on those chipsets. If those ports arn't needed, no problem. I don't imagine many customers are going to be cutting into the inner layers of the motherboard and soldering on new SATA connectors.

Re:Keep the Taint (4, Informative)

peterd11 (800684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137868)

I'm sure there's a list of affected processors with the range of serial #s. Something easy to check.

The defect is not in the processors, although people are going to be confused about that. The defect is in the Cougar Point P67 and H67 support chipsets.

Re:Keep the Taint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35139748)

Ignoring the fact that in a store, most places won't let you pull apart the computer before buying it.

Re:Keep the Taint (0)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138558)

i'm sure there isn't: it's not the CPUs, it's the chipsets, and it's all of them for now.

Re:Keep the Taint (4, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137776)

Assuming Intel fixes (or has already done so) their documentation for this run of chips, how is this any different than a chip not performing beyond its specs? It's like days past when they shipped an FPU-less CPU, when it was really the FPU model but with defects in the FPU. In this case, it's part of the I/O system. Again, assuming they spec these chips as just not having this part of the I/O system. Presumably the ones with this part working will have a clearly-different part number that can easily be determined by looking at the chip. I just don't see the problem.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139602)

the diff is that you query the chipset and unless it lies to you, it will say it has 6 ports.

if it does lie and show you only good ports, its not quite as bad; but then again, you don't always have to query the chip - by the make/model of the chip, you should know - at the driver level - how many X and Y ports to expect. the static mappings will need to be fixed, also.

I don't ever want a system to report these ports as even being there.

Re:Keep the Taint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35139672)

The problem is not with the chip; it's with the chipset (a separate chip on the motherboard which runs things like 3Gbps SATA - which is what is affected).

Re:Keep the Taint (4, Insightful)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137828)

Nah most consumers will be completely oblivious, and as stated, will not affect that many people. OEMs will just not use/block off the faulty ports and carry on as normal. The faulty boards for consumer space (system builders) will probably only count for a microscopic number of boards made at the start of production and will just get recalled and thrown at OEMs for closed-box systems. System builders really don't count for that many sales, and they're really the few that care. As long as the OEMs can cope with it, which they can, all will be fine.

Re:Keep the Taint (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137840)

Disable it in BIOS, remove the physical ports, update the specs. Sure it'll be an odd configuration to only ship with 2 SATA ports, but it won't be a "taint". I'd be very surprised if after all this, Intel will let OEMs ship machines with faulty ports. Personally I wouldn't mind a 4 port SATA card that I could bring along to my next machine.

In fact, I'm surprised that Intel hasn't made a cheap SATA controller of their own, the cheapest 4-port controller card I can find costs 313,- NOK while you can get a full H67 motherboard with 6 ports for 667,- NOK. Discrete controller cards are extremely overpriced.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138054)

The fact that a single PCI expansion card costs half as much as an entire motherboard does seem rather anomalous. I can only assume that economies of scale have something to do with it...

You also seem to be getting a bit stiffed in the SATA controller department, though. My Google overlord reports that you are looking at almost $55 for a 4 port. Prices stateside start at just under $40.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138330)

Both include 25% VAT so $55 is around $44 without taxes. That combined with good warranty in law (2 or 5 year, depends) I'd say the prices are very close to global market prices.

with the low pci-e lanes and pci-e based usb3 ther (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138102)

with the low pci-e lanes and pci-e based usb3 there not a lot of room to add pci-e sata cards and the pci-e x1 cards don't have a lot of bandwidth to work with.
Gigabit LAN also uses pci-e
also some boards also have a pci-e to pci chip on them as well.

Even if a board has light peak it will likely need 2-4+ pci-e lanes so 4+20? is not much with video at 16.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139626)

the intel ICH hub chips (if they still call them that) are unequal in off-hub pci-e ports. the ICH sata ports also support port multipliers (nicely) and they are so fast and stable, I often buy intel cpus JUST for their northbridge chip.

I would not want to go back to pci-e cards for sata ports. not really. they are always 2nd best to the main sata ports.

Re:Keep the Taint (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138332)

It's simple - The manufacturer needs to commit to a situation where there is NO way a user can connect anything to the affected ports. Which is what Intel is requiring them to do.

Most low to midrange laptops are in this category - They have only two SATA devices (one hard drive, one optical drive), and no physical provisions for adding another. These laptops could contain a defective chip and it would not make ANY difference because there is no way to connect to the affected SATA ports. (Higher-end laptops support dual hard drives or eSATA and we won't see this with SNB unless they fall into the next category...)

A manufacturer can also produce a motherboard that uses the chipset SATA for the first two ports and an offboard controller for any additional ones - Manufacturers were probably doing this already in order to offer six 6 Gbps SATA ports instead of 2 6 gig and 4 3 gig ports. Users with a configuration like this also will not ever be affected by the issue.

Re:Keep the Taint (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138984)

Thing is nVidia tried that and it didn't turn out so well for them. Slightly different circumstances but it should serve as a warning anyway.

Their chipsets were spec'ed to run at high temperature (80C+) continually. That suited laptop manufacturers as it means less cooling is required, making the laptop smaller, lighter and quieter. Problem is that after a few months the chipset would fail.

Their solution to this was to release BIOS updates that down-clocked the GPU in an attempt to keep temperatures down. This of course enraged consumers who got an inferior product to the one they bought. It also only prolonged the life of the machine until outside the warranty period.

Intel is taking a chance with this one.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139426)

Which nVidia chipsets are you talking about? The only NV chipset problem I remember was the defective packaging of the 8600M, which was eventually recalled.

Re:Keep the Taint (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139600)

The NVidia problem was an issue with packaging reliability, extremely similar to the Xbox 360 RRoD problem. It also is a case where NVidia thought there were no problems and didn't realize there were problems until after lots of failure reports started rolling in. In the days of RoHS, reliable packaging and soldering of BGA chips is a VERY tough problem.

This is a whole other situation - Intel caught this in advance, and has identified the problem down to the specific transistor level. They know exactly what is likely to fail and what isn't.

Really, this is more similar to NVidia or ATI selling "defective" chips with a few bad pixel pipelines as lower-end chips with those pixel pipelines disabled.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139510)

Which is what Intel is requiring them to do.
On what do you base this statement?

According to TFA (unfortunately the intel site linked from TFA seems to be down at the moment so I can't follow things back to the source) intel said "PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue". That is a bit of a vauge statement, does it mean systems that aren't impacted by the issue if kept as sold? or does it mean systems that can't become impacted by the issue through user upgrades?

I suspect and hope it means the latter but I can't seem to find any confirmation either way

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

thetartanavenger (1052920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138416)

This will confuse people and make them wary of Sandy Bridge based machines for years. "Is this box tainted? I don't know, and the manufacturer won't tell me. I guess I'll buy something else." A nice clean break of recalling *all* defective machines and shipping only good silicon would have been better.

If the manufacturer isn't actually making use of that part of the chip, is it really taint? The consumer doesn't need to care if one of these chips is in there because all they should really care about is the specs of the board they're buying. If the specs are good enough, then what's the problem?

Processor designers have been doing similar things for years in a slightly different fashion, i.e Pentium vs Celeron, Athlon vs Duron. Also, these are chipsets so it's not as if the consumer will be able to use the chip in another machine, or really ever get at the faulty silicon. Whats more, the general consumer won't even realise. Only us techies who will most likely be more concerned with the specs will care.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139122)

I will certainly avoid that chipset if I can.

AMD will probably be preferred for upcoming purchases.

Capactior Plague (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139162)

Does this remind anyone of Capacitor Plague? Look at the resale prices of potentially affected Dells to get an idea of the impact of these kinds of decisions. There will be all of these hardware rev numbers and manufacturers won't be forthcoming with information on which units have which. It's ridiculous.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139314)

Actually, this will confuse the home builders perhaps, and gaming system purchases. Most of the rest of the computer-purchasing public will be completely unaware of the issue, so I'd expect it to have minimum impact on sales.

Re:Keep the Taint (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139582)

intel probably thought it would pull back all SB chips.

then, the hungry mobo makers said 'we have cpus sitting here and we can't sell them you morans!'. semi true, too; I've seen cpu 'sales' on the new chips and people are debating if they should buy a chip and wait for the mobo later. that seems insane to me, though.

so intel got pressure from partners say 'we'll just NOT connect those ports'.

still, I would never buy SB now. the 'gene pool' is going to be polluted. am I buying a good board or not? what if I want to connect to that 'bad' set of ports later? on a laptop its less of an issue so those can get a free pass but all the others that are proper mobo based should not get such a free pass.

What's next, unrecalling toys featuring lead paint (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137578)

"We have found that if the todlers do not eat the paint, they are in no danger."

Awesome! (1, Interesting)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137630)

This is highly relevant to my interests as I embarked upon an upgrade crusade about a week ago to replace my aging PC (circa 2008 tech). I had just got caught up on all the new architecture, and then I read about the recall. Massive bummer. I'm still going to hold off until the fixed boards actually still coming out since I have a bunch of SATA drives and I do not want the trade off of a discrete SATA card taking up one of the slots, but it was mighty tempting to go get an i5 2600K that our local PC store had labeled on it's website as a return... for $125.

Heck, I may still go check it out (if it's still there) as that's at least $100 off retail, and I'm guessing it was returned because of this whole fiasco. I'm just loathe to have it sit around as a paperweight until at least April!

Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138030)

"replace my aging PC (circa 2008 tech)"

Yeah , 2008 , thats like totally ancient dude. Not.

Christ , no wonder we have an electronics waste mountain and all its associated pollution issues when people like you bin perfectly servicable and upgradable machines.

Re:Awesome! (3, Insightful)

Arccot (1115809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138382)

"replace my aging PC (circa 2008 tech)"

Yeah , 2008 , thats like totally ancient dude. Not.

Christ , no wonder we have an electronics waste mountain and all its associated pollution issues when people like you bin perfectly servicable and upgradable machines.

Who said he's throwing it away? Or even that he's replacing every part of it?

Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or something?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139054)

"Who said he's throwing it away? Or even that he's replacing every part of it?"

Thats generally what "replacing my PC" implies assuming you have a reasonable understanding of the english language.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138588)

Assuming he actually bins it. My desktop tends to replace my dad's machine that'll replace my mom's machine and sometimes a generation is used as my server. So barring hardware failure it can easily last 12 years even if I replace it every three. Or just sell it on the second hand market or whatever. If you are one of those still pushing the limits - even if it's just for entertainment like gaming - then three years is still a long time.

Re:Awesome! (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138670)

Perhaps I should explain. My Phenom 9850 works just fine, it's my mobo that's actually dying, bit by bit. I've lost functionality of one of the PCI-E slots, two of the USBs, the Ethernet, and the audio. So it's going in the waste bin, yes. I'll probably freecycle the chip and ram though. So, I'm not upgrading just so I can have the latest-greatest-up-to-datest; it's an actual need, not that I need to justify it to internet tough guys like you.

Thanks for judging me, though. :)

Re:Awesome! (0)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138958)

You bought a crappy machine then. And you don't need to justify , but if you don't want comments that you might not like then don't post on a public forum. Perhaps there should be a "sycophants only reply" checkbox when someone creates a message?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139352)

Isnt it funny that this whole topic got started because Intel is now going to be shipping known-to-be-faulty motherboards to manufacturers, while you rail on this particular poster because the motherboard he has turned out to be... faulty too?

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138858)

Guess what, I replaced my 2007 PC because it couldn't play Starcraft II on the best settings. Who gives a shit? It's a server now. Do you just trash any machine you replace? If so, you're an idiot.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35139220)

For every enthusiast out there that willingly does this, there's a guy like me that runs a small business (say, 30 machines) on machines from 2005.

Also, for all we know he reused or donated his '08 working equipment.

People wreck working cars for fun. I'm not going to get too upset over one persons home computer being replaced 'too soon'.

Re:Awesome! (5, Informative)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138044)

This is highly relevant to my interests as I embarked upon an upgrade crusade about a week ago to replace my aging PC

I'm very happy with my four core Phenom II. Powerful, quiet, cheap - pick all three.

Re:Awesome! (1, Funny)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138466)

Phenom Quads: Core 1, Core 2, Core 3, Core 4. [Choose 3]

Re:Awesome! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138390)

What? 2008 is "aging tech"?

I've recently replaced a 2006 processor with 2009 processor (per date stamp on the chip casing itself) - AM2 Athlon64 X2 with AM3 Phenom II 820. It even fit in the same socket of my "aging" 2006 ASUS board.

So what is the point? This isn't 1995 anymore. You are not doubling performance every 2 years, heck, single threaded performance has been about the same for the last 5 years (more or less). 2008 is only 2 years old - today's chips are about the same performance as they used to be, you get more cores now. CPU is a commodity item thees days. For the last few years, it's at the "good enough" and the "wow factor" is gone.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138424)

Some manufacturers are likely to offer motherboards with a discrete controller on the motherboard to offer additional ports. Manufacturers have been doing this for ages. My file server from 2006 has two SATA ports from its NVidia chipset and 4 from an on-motherboard but off-chipset Silicon Image controller.

In fact even before the flaw was announced I believe a number were offering this simply so they could advertise more than two 6 Gbps SATA ports.

Ok, don't buy Sandy Bridge... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137680)

...got it. Could cost our IT jobs. No problem.

Remember the good 'ole days (5, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137682)

when companies did this stuff and didn't tell us? When XP hit those upgrade installs were blowing up because the big manufactures stuck bad RAM into Win98 boxes knowing it would never be used (Windows 98 won't used RAM past 256M unless you hack the registry, it'll use the page file instead). Well, the XP install copies the whole disk into RAM before copying it out to disk, so BOOM, there goes your XP install. Usually couldn't recover.

At any rate, this is just great. I'm sure the lower end manufactures will be just pleased as punch to make sure those broken ports don't get used. You know, if it made it into production it must work just well enough to blame the problems on the OS when you call for a warranty swap.

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (3, Informative)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137954)

Oh, but it's even better than that, from the manufacturer's point of view. The SATA flaw will take time to actually surface [anandtech.com] , and even then it'll only gradually make your machine unworkable, so by that time you'll be out of warranty, and the manufacturer won't care.

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138028)

Which just means that my next upgrade will be AMD.
 
Thanks for making the decision easy, Intel!

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138626)

Intel is actively preventing anyone from buying a computer that could malfunction -- the broken boards will only be sold to manufacturers who will make it impossible to even try to use other SATA ports than the two that work. There will be no possibility of "gradually making you machine unworkable" as the fault will not affect any parts that are actually used.

As far as I understand, this is absolutely the best solution -- manufacturers get awesome hardware for their middle-level laptops, and no-one is unpleasantly surprised.

What exactly would you want them to do?

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (2)

igxqrrl (749937) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139052)

Which just means that my next upgrade will be AMD. Thanks for making the decision easy, Intel!

Cause AMD would never knowingly ship defective parts to the market? Remember the Phenom triple-core? Why do you care if a chipset has a few bad ports, if that chipset is put in a system where those ports will not be used? How is that any different than the ports simply not being on the chipset? You can bet that OEMs are getting these chipsets at a discount. So Intel sells inventory that they would otherwise have to trash. OEMs get parts for less money than they would otherwise have to pay. Consumers pay less money for their computer, and get a kick-ass product earlier than they would otherwise. Less waste, lower prices, quicker TTM. Given the unfortunate recall, this is the best of all possibilities. Where's the problem, exactly?

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138034)

Windows 98 won't used RAM past 256M unless you hack the registry, it'll use the page file instead

Um, no.

Re:Remember the good 'ole days (4, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138252)

To clarify, Windows 98 couldn't use more than 512 MB because of a bug in the disk cache. All you had to do was lock the cache to 512 MB max and you could use 2 GB of RAM. If you didn't, the system would (ironically) throw up out-of-memory errors immediately. I won't rule out that some idiot at a mom'n'pop shop built Windows 98 boxes with faulty RAM figuring it would never be used by the average Joe, but they weren't taking advantage of any Windows quirk.

Makes sense. Laptops for example. (5, Insightful)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137714)

If a Laptop uses a faulty chipset, but is only configured to use the two 6GB SATA ports, it will be entirely unaffected by the bug, as it only effects the 3GB SATA ports. Since there is really no way for the consumer to actually use the 3GB ports, it will never have the bug problem.

So yes in cases like that, it makes sense to keep shipping. Those laptops are perfectly fine.

When I read the title I was a bit leery until I thought about it for a second. I know when I buy my new desktop one eventually, I don't want there to be a chance I get a faulty one!

Re:Makes sense. Laptops for example. (2)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137974)

May as well wait a few months for the C or D stepping then. By then, Llano and Bulldozer will have come out too, which'll hopefully put some downward pressure on the higher-end chips for both companies (at least I hope it does; AMD really needs a win to keep in business).

Re:Makes sense. Laptops for example. (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138132)

AMD is fine, remember they are also ATI, so a bit diversified. However they do need to get their CPU/Chipset ass in gear or get left behind in the dust. About the only thing I would buy AMD for in the CPU/Chipset market right now is the low end, where performance really doesn't matter much at all, only price. Even then I might think twice. I think their GPU is competitive right now however and is doing just fine. In the CPU they really need to come out with a game changer, something really significant. I mean Intel has blown them out of the water three times now in a row. This little business with the faulty chipset is their only saving grace, a cheer must have went up at AMD HQ the day that was announced. Still without anything new and significant of their own, they risk becoming irrelevant.

Re:Makes sense. Laptops for example. (1)

flex941 (521675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138350)

Hmm, AMD's high-end (think servers) still looks pretty nice, at least for some workloads.

Third-party SATA controllers. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138022)

Well, if newer boards ship with a third-party controller to bypass the 3GB issue, we're set there too.

Re:Third-party SATA controllers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138074)

Not really, that would use up some of the PCIe lines.

Re:Third-party SATA controllers. (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138442)

But a number of boards already do this so they can offer more than two 6 Gbps SATA ports.

Re:Makes sense. Laptops for example. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138268)

Since there is really no way for the consumer to actually use the 3GB ports

The laptops my school issues (sells) have 4 SATA ports. I know some people have added in an eSATA cable, and one guy crammed an extra SSD inside somehow.

Hopefully these laptops will only have 2 SATA ports, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137730)

For high-end systems with a hardware raid controller (battery-backed write caches are nice for databases) this shouldn't be a problem; or am I missing something.

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137898)

If you aren't using the onboard SATA ports(other than the two good ones), you shouldn't even notice...

Even low-end systems with nasty little softraid setups(either cards or embedded into the motherboard) shouldn't notice.

The only people who it really bites, potentially hard, are the midrange/enthusiast types(who, unfortunately, are just the sort who might be early-adopting the second-gen i5s...). Getting 6 SATA ports, all from the chipset, with zero PCIe lanes sacrificed, is much better for your stack-o-drives enthusiast than getting only two and then having further drives eat 1 or more PCIe lanes(especially if said enthusiast is doing SLI/Crossfire)...

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138180)

Pretty much the only people is bites for are people who are in the high end enthusiast market and don't research their board, and want to run Crossfire/SLI. IF they're not running Crossfire/SLI, there's going to be quite a few PCIe lanes open anyways, even with 4 (a rather large number) going to a SATA chipset.

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137924)

There's quite number of configurations where this won't be a problem; laptops, which almost universally only use one HDD, are mentioned above also. That's why the request to keep shipping makes a lot of sense. The only questionable part is whether manufacturers will only ship those configurations. I mean, surely no motherboard manufacturer has ever produced something that violated the chipset maker's recommendation. No computer manufacturer has ever produced something that violated the motherboard maker's recommendation.

Still and all, it makes sense to keep producing. Most configurations won't have a problem here, and it seems silly to stop production for a bug that only affects a minority of systems. Just be careful when buying new hardware for the next little while if you think you might want one of the problematic configurations.

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138494)

This isn't just a recommendation, it's a requirement.

As in: Promise to only ship unaffected configurations, or we're not going to ship you any parts.

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138762)

Is that like a pinky swear?

Re:Fine for people with hardware RAID cards. (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138396)

High end systems are not based on SB technology, because SB technology is aimed at the consumer market.

The enterprise versions of SB are not due for release until much later.

separate SATA controller card (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137774)

So long as it is priced accordingly (i.e. discount) and the specifications are transparent (i.e. they don't try to trick people), then that is fine, I can base my decision to buy on features, which will include one less PCI slot than others due to extra card etc...

If I was Intel, I would be hesitant to do this however (outside of laptops that are unaffected), as it is ripe for possible abuse by less reputable manufactures, and in the end it will be Intel's reputation at stake.

Re:separate SATA controller card (1)

expatriot (903070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138490)

I agree. It will be OK if it is completely transparent. For example a different part number.

The Pentium bug was different. It affected all processors and there was no trivial work around. It probably did not actually affect many people, but there was no way to know if you might be affected by a real-world computation error or not.

AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE AND HERE IS WHY! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137892)

1. These chipsets have at least one known major flaw.
2. Based upon an EOMs configuration the 'problems' should not be encountered.

Question: Do you ever plan on changing your PCs configuration? Add a harddrive? Expand it?

Don't risk it. I'm putting a one year hold on buying Dirty Bridge products.

Re:AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE AND HERE IS WHY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138624)

1. These chipsets have at least one known major flaw.
2. Based upon an EOMs configuration the 'problems' should not be encountered.

Question: Do you ever plan on changing your PCs configuration? Add a harddrive? Expand it?

Don't risk it. I'm putting a one year hold on buying Dirty Bridge products.

No kidding - I mean, I solder additional SATA ports to my chipset ALL THE TIME! Next time, try taking AMD's dick out of your mouth long enough to read the fucking article.

Re:AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE AND HERE IS WHY! (1)

imikem (767509) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138656)

Feel free to avoid, but as others have noted, there are quite a few system configurations possible which would be completely unaffected by the SATA fault. Laptops in particular, but also various small form factor systems, and larger server class systems with separate SATA RAID, etc. Don't assume that everyone else's use case is the same as yours.

All that said, do your homework before buying an enthusiast board based on this chipset. Do your homework before buying $WHATEVER that you mean to rely upon.

Re:AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE AND HERE IS WHY! (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138800)

Do you ever plan on changing your laptop's configuration? Add a harddrive? Where would you connect it?

This un-recall isn't for desktop motherboards with all SATA ports brought out to connectors. This is specifically and only for laptops and other situations where the four bad SATA ports never had a connector in the first place.

Re:AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE AND HERE IS WHY! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139370)

Like the plague, eh? Yeah, this stuff will kill you.

Alternatively you could plan for it and leave a PCI slot open for an add in card.

Most folks don't know what is in a computer anyway (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35137910)

Although us geekier types read, "recommence shipments of the faulty silicon," and scream, "Well that's a fine idea of how to get rid of a warehouse of faulty chips!"

Didn't we have this with Intel already, with floating point division? Oh, yeah, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug [wikipedia.org] .

And Devo did a song about it, years before it happened:

"When chip bug comes along . . . you must ship it! Ship it! Ship it good!"

I wonder if the sales kid at your local super-computer store will inform you, "Oh, by the way, this model has a faulty chip." Or, maybe a sticker on the computer: "Faulty Intel Chip Inside!" That should do wonders for sales.

I remember that once the floating point division problem got mainstream press coverage, folks got all ornery, despite statements from Intel that most users would never see this problem. Most folks don't even know what floating point is. Intel eventually bought off the math prof who discovered the bug, by giving him testing contract. He deserved it, because he did a damn good job tracking down the bug. He is really, "a geek's geek."

Re:Most folks don't know what is in a computer any (2)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138846)

0/10 lame troll is lame... the division bug was a part of the chip that could be used in every computer that shipped with the chip. This bug only happens when you wire something up to specific pins. I don't see too many people doing the kind of SMT rework necessary to use these pins on motherboards that never had them hooked up in the first place.

This is acceptable if and only if... (1, Informative)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138358)

1) They physically remove the SATA connectors for the affected ports from the board, AND;
2) They spin a version of the BIOS that permanently disables these ports in the logic and track it separately from the main line, AND;
3) They make it impossible to load the main line BIOS into the board, allowing the ports to be enabled, AND;
4) They seriously discount the price of the boards for the loss of functionality. Even if they include a PCI-e SATA card, it will not come close to the performance of the native controller, and it will consume one of the PCI-e slots.

Re:This is acceptable if and only if... (2)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138982)

So if they've already physically removed the connectors, what's the point in all that DRM BIOS bullshit? To keep some moron with a soldering iron from using the port? (which violates the warranty anyhow) And it's a problem with the chipset, not the CPU, so the chip is always soldered down and can't be re-used in another computer.

It's not like it affects any other part of the chip when it does go bad; it just kills the output that never had a connector until dickless over there decided to rig one up to it.

More garbage titles...thanks! (5, Informative)

sitkill (893183) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138378)

Do we really have to keep calling this a Sandy Bridge issue? This isn't a sandy bridge issue, the name Sandy bridge is for the CPU. The issue is NOT with the CPU, it's with the chipset Cougar point. The Sandy Bridge is (so far) perfectly fine, and has no issues at all. Of course, I guess "Intel Resumes Shipping of Faulty Cougar Point chip" doesn't seem as catastrophic.

Re:More garbage titles...thanks! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139552)

Do we really have to keep calling this a Sandy Bridge issue? This isn't a sandy bridge issue, the name Sandy bridge is for the CPU. The issue is NOT with the CPU, it's with the chipset Cougar point.

In summary, the problem is with the Cougar Point Bridge to Sandy Bridge?

Intel may have overreacted (2)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138608)

The more I read about this the more it seems like Intel really went overboard halting production on everything. For starters this flaw doesn't impact all the SATA ports. For the ports it does impact it only happens in a small % of devices and even in those devices it is a progressive problem (meaning they won't be DOA).

I'm sure this was a tough decision because who the hell wants to hear their their new PC has a problem that they can work around by being sure not to use SATA 5. Most people don't even know what a SATA is. Also, if Intel tried to handle it quietly by working with PC makers to disable those ports then /. et al would have gone batshit insane when we found out.

It could be a case of puking everything out there and taking the worst hit right up front and then saying "well if you PC makers insist we can give you crippled MBs that don't use those ports. Personally for a steep enough discount I'd be happy to take one of these mobos.

Re:Intel may have overreacted (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139736)

The issue, I think, it that Intel has no plans to replace Sandy Bridge with a new architecture any time soon.. so public impression is of long-term importance here. If Sandy Bridge was just a small step towards a major revision then that would be one thing, but instead Sandy Bridge *is* a major revision and they will be stuck with it for a very long time.

Now add in that AMD is putting out its own major revision in two months (the first in many many years), and all the signs currently indicate that they will have offerings on par with i7 performance. Intel is afraid of AMD because when left unchallenged AMD proved that in the desktop marketplace, it is very easy to lose market share very quickly (AMD roared to 50% market share when Intel was bumbling around wih P4's, and there is some question as to how much of the remaining 50% Intel actually deserved vs how much was due to its anti-competitive backroom deals which it was convicted of)

AMD hasnt been much of a threat in the desktop space because they have been a generation behind on process technology, and additionally opted not to do any major revisions while it was folding the ATI acquisition into its business. But here it is.. process size parity and a major revision just a few months away.. Intel cannot tolerate a long term hit to the brand, with customers for years wondering if they are getting a "good" or "bad" chipset with their purchase.

If the user can't touch the bad silicon, fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35138778)

Anyone complaining about this would do well to consider that many of us have purchased dual and triple-core processors with 1-2 cores disabled. Is the chip defective? Technically. Did you get what you paid for? Yes.

NVIDIA Chipsets are Looking good to intel now (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138936)

This makes me laugh. I'm sure the INTEL shareholders sure wish NVIDIA and VIA were making chipsets now, but since INTEL is the ONLY chipset maker for their CPUs they can't sell any CPUs right now. Intel is a CPU company that can't sell CPUs.

Hey INTEL, I went to a business school.... you now know about the risks of vertical integration. If you control all of your requirements and channels you better do a damn good job or you can hang yourself. This is a wonderful cautionary tale for all businesses.

OEMs usually don't ship SSDs very often (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35138988)

Let's take a step back and look at what SATA 6 Gbps actually offers: 6 Gbps signal rate. Do the usual Shitachi or Fushitsu hard drives favored by OEMs even come close to 6 Gbps ? No. They can't even hit 1 Gbps, but they're inexpensive and most of the time the PC around them is limited in countless other ways.

Even a high-end, performance-oriented hard drive will barely scratch the ceiling of first-gen SATA's 1.5Gbps, so your little gamer friend is also not seeing any tangible benefit from SATA 6Gbps.

So this leaves two very small niches: SSDs which already hit the 3Gbps mark, and port multipliers. I pity the fool who drops a small fortune on a port multiplier enclosure, only to plug it into a low-cost Sandy Bridge PC. As for the SSDs, well you still need to buy a special one whose controller also runs at 6Gbps, and surprise: none of the OEMs ship these yet. Heck, they rarely offer anything better than an Intel X25M or old-stock Corsair/Kingston, which top out at 2Gbps on a good day.

So really, Intel continuing to ship these B-grade boards to select OEMs is simply common sense. The people who might be affected by the tainted SATA ports 3 years down the road, do not even figure in the target demographic. It's not like these boards will wind up in mission-critical systems, and there's still the OEM's warranty to handle any lemons down the road.

Re:OEMs usually don't ship SSDs very often (2)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139258)

I disagree strongly sir, the boards could end up in mission-critical systems thru repurposing. It happens all the time and this is why I think Intel should be shot for such a poor move because it may indirectly affect some poor chap.

Also, "mission-critical" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone;
To a NASA say mission-critical means a flight computer etc...
To a gamer mission-critical means to be able to play WoW flawlessly.
To a leecher mission-critical means to be able to download and store data safely ...
and so on...
None are more important than the other, people just have different ideas about what is important to them.
So implying that B grade boards will be good enough for what you consider unimportant is shortsighted, dimwited and intolerant.
I can also wish that you once end up with a B grade board as well and realize that it fails utterly at some "menial" task you deemed important. Then you'll know how it feels.

Bigger is beautiful? Not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35139172)

Well, most average users have a 97 gazillion TB drive that came with the machine anyway so won't need the other drives. On the other hand... they probably don't need the power of the sandy bridge in the first place.

But an experienced user will have multiple drives. Simply because it's safer. Losing one drive means you only lose data on that one drive. As far as the C drive... I'd love to have a 500g drive for that since it's all anyone would need. (Try to find one!) The only thing that should be on the C drive is the OS. Especially if/when you run into problems and have to format and reinstall. Bigger ain't always better.

"Aging tech"... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35139388)

Sandy bridge is not that much faster then a Core 2 machine, in fact the i7 was roughly on 40% faster at most, in the majority of applications. The Sandybridge as of this time is just i7 redux with slightly higher clockspeeds.

No one should need to upgrade until you see at least double the performance of a core 2 machine unless one is doing specialized work where every gain is important to the task/business.

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