Intel Cougar Point chipset problems — more details

The reason of Intel Cougar Point chipset recall and consequences

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On the 31st of January Intel has stated to recall 6-series chipsets, codename Cougar Point.

Official press-release has not reveled details of chipset design error making the issue unclearer. Some daylight upon this flaw was thrown by Internet source anandtech.com referring to a phone call with Steve Smith, Intel’s vice-president.
Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 quad core
Cougar Point design error concerns Intel P67, H67 and C200 chipsets supporting Intel’s 2nd generation of Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 processors a.k.a Sandy Bridge. Other Intel based systems were not affected by this issue.

The essence of the problem reduces itself to the errors in Integrated Circuit (IC) engineering, which can lead to damaging of a transistor inside the root SATA 3 GB/s port splitter, and as a results incorrect operation of the ports. SATA 6 GB/s ports have a separate IC, therefore, the fault transistor won’t effect SATA 6 GB/s port functioning, this also includes ports provided by different SATA controller. The design error can not be fixed by a BIOS update or any other way but to replace that particular IC. The issue concerns chipsets of B revision which was supplied to all Intel partners. Therefore, currently all Sandy Bridge systems have a potential problem.

The consequences of this problem can seen as loss of data on hard drives connected to faulty ports. It is possible that HDDs and SSDs can even fail to operate well. Preliminary analysis show that 5% of P67 and H67 based system owners can actually see the affect of SATA port degrade over the following three years. If you already switched to Sandy Bridge processors, then it is recommended to reconnect your devices from faulty SATA ones to SATA 6 GB/s or to ports provided by different controllers, for example Realtek or Marwell. If you happened to already face the described problem, the you should return motherboard to the seller for a replacement or a refund. Motherboard manufacturers haven’t recalled products with faulty ICs yet.

Intel have already recalled defective IC and said that new revision of chipset will be provided to its clients by the end of February, while warehouses will be restocked by March. Assuming that motherboard producers will need some time to release new products, it is logical that we will have deficit or lack of Sandy Bridge based system offerings till April.

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