Sandy Bridge flaw likely to delay that new PC you want

Intel has halted shipments of its new Sandy Bridge processors, launched at the beginning of January, after finding faults found in way the chipsets are made, meaning the new PC you've been looking forward to getting in the next couple of weeks is likely to be delayed until April.

“As part of on going quality assurance, Intel Corporation has discovered a design issue in a recently released support chip, the Intel 6 Series, code-named Cougar Point, and has implemented a silicon fix,” Intel said in a statement after discovering the fault.

The fault is likely to cause problems for dozens of PC manufacturers that are using the processors in their latest models and push back launch schedules 'till April at the earliest.

While the company’s new Sandy Bridge processor isn’t at fault, Intel says that the Cougar Point is present in the latest batch of devices that are shipping with the new technology.

The problem is that in some cases the chipsets may struggle to communicate with hard disk drives and DVD drives over time.

“Intel has stopped shipment of the affected support chip from its factories. Intel has corrected the design issue, and has begun manufacturing a new version of the support chip, which will resolve the issue,” says the company, hoping to restore confidence and stop competitors like ARM getting in on the action.

Intel currently dominates the PC processor space with every major PC maker using the companies chips.

The company expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April, it says.

The systems with the affected support chips have only been shipping since 9 January and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue.

“The only systems sold to an end customer potentially impacted are Second Generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad core based systems.”

If that’s you, there is no need to panic. Intel believes that consumers can continue to use their systems with confidence, while working with their computer manufacturer for a permanent solution.

However, if you’re waiting for a new model to be released, the bad news is that release date is likely to be pushed back a couple of months while PC makers wait for the new chips, then test those chips, before releasing the new product.

It could also affect companies yet to announce their products as the chips just aren't going to be ready. Apple has previously launched new laptops and desktop models in the first quarter of the year, but such an announcement is likely to be put on hold due to this news.

The mistake, says Intel, is likely to cost the company around $300 million this quarter and a further $700 over the rest of the year, making it one expensive mistake to make. Ouch.

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