Sandy Bridge PCs Take A Hit With Intel Cougar Point Design Flaw3:47 PM EST Fri. Feb. 04, 2011
After months of anticipation, Intel's Sandy Bridge processors launched at CES 2011 and were featured in a number of devices unveiled at the event. Everything seemed to be moving along for the integrated CPU-GPU chip platform, which Intel CEO Paul Otellini called the "best product" Intel has ever brought to market.
Then, in a conference call on Monday, Intel said it had identified a circuit design error in its Intel 6 series chipset, code-named Cougar Point. Fixing the entirety of the problem will likely take more than the few days Intel says it took to figure out the design error.
As a result, several OEMs partnering with Intel have suspended production of systems running Intel 's Sandy Bridge platform and offered to compensate customers affected by the Cougar Point design flaw.
Here are ten of those systems, and the strategy each manufacturer intends to use to handle the fallout.
While other OEMs have had to offer returns under warranty and other forms of compensation, leading worldwide PC manufacturer HP says it will delay a press event for an enterprise-oriented HP notebook next week in San Francisco ahead of the official public unveiling on Feb. 23.
HP stopped manufacturing PCs with the Cougar Point chips on Monday and put a hold on shipments. HP has told its customers that they may return affected products and either choose a comparable product or receive a refund.
HP in January unveiled a high-end notebook equipped with Sandy Bridge intended for both consumers and businesses. The HP Pavilion dv6-4006tx, which starts at $1,375, includes an Intel Core i7-2630QM Sandy Bridge processor that clocks at 2.2GHz, as well as an AMD Radeon HD 6570M discrete graphics card.
Acer brought a slew of Aspire consumer PCs to CES 2011, including systems based on both AMD's Fusion APU platform and Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. Although Acer has said it will give customers the option of either free repairs once Intel fixes the chipsets or a complete replacement of comparable performance, in retrospect providing both appears to have been a good idea. Regardless, Acer at CES 2011 launched its Aspire Acer Aspire AS5750, AS7750, and AS8950 models equipped with the second-generation Intel core Sandy Bridge chips, while the Acer Aspire AS5253 runs on AMD Fusion.
The Aspire 7750G offers a choice between AMD's Radeon HD 6550 or Radeon HD 6650 graphics cards, and includes an optional Blu-ray drive. It supports up to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, and up to 750 GB of hard drive space. The Aspire 5750 come with up to 6 GB of RAM, and up to 640 GB of hard drive space.
Dell says its Alienware M17xR.3 notebook and the Alienware Aurora R.3 desktop are the only Dell PCs that have been affected.
In a blog post, Dell said affected customers will receive support under the terms of their warranty and that they will provide motherboard replacements with the fixed chipsets once it's available. Intel says the fixed chipsets will have shipped by April, if not March. Dell's Alienware M17x R3 notebook is the third model within Dell's family of 17.3-inch gaming laptops. The Alienware M17x R3 features Sandy Bridge processors -- Core i7 2820QM, i7 2720QM, and i7 2630QM -- along with a discrete graphics card -- either a 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M or a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6870M.
The Alienware Aurora R.3 desktop offers 6 GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB SATA 3Gb/s (7, 200RPM) 32MB Cache, and a single 24X CD/DVD burner with double-layer write capability. The Aurora R.3 pairs Sandy Bridge with a 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 discrete graphics card.
Along with the Alienware PCs, Dell's XPS 8300 desktop has also been affected. Fortunately for XPS customers, the company's return policy and other assurances to its customers apply equally for all systems.
Dell says replacements will be offered to the customer at their location and convenience through its service providers, but until then customers may return their devices depending on a return policy that varies by region. Dell says it will provide further details as they become available.
The Dell XPS 8300 runs on a Core 15-2300 Sandy Bridge processor running at 2.8GHz and an ATI HD 5450 discrete graphics card with 1GB RAM, a 460-watt power supply, and support for up to 4 TB of hard drive capacity as well as up to 16GB DDR3 of 1333 MHz RAM.
The Dell Vostro 460 features hard-disk capacity expandable up to 3 TB, up to 150W of GPU performance, a tool-less chassis allowing expanded memory, and built-in Trend Micro security features. It comes with a Blu-ray Disc drive, 7.1 HD sound, and 8 USB 2.0 ports -- although it does not offer native support for USB 3.0. For additional processing power, the Vostro 460 also includes Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which accelerates the clock speed on the quad-core Sandy Bridge chips.
In total that makes four currently-available Dell products that have been affected by the Sandy Bridge recall: the XPS 8300, the Vostro 460, the Alienware M17x R.3, and the Alienware Aurora R.3. Several other upcoming devices -- including Dell's XPS 17 3D-capable notebook -- that are designed to run on Sandy Bridge processors may be affected as well.
Dell says it is communicating with Intel regarding the Cougar Point design issue while it accepts returns under a policy that varies by region.
Lenovo brought a great number of consumer PC models to CES 2011. The problem is that a sizable number of Lenovo systems include Sandy Bridge processors and, therefore have been affected. Lenovo PCs with Sandy Bridge under the IdeaPad line alone include: the Y460P, Y560P, Z570, G470, G570, V370, V470, V570, B470, B570.
Lenovo said in a statement that its customers ought to feel safe using Lenovo PCs with the Cougar Point chipset, as they do not threaten the customers data (a point in their systems' favor that other manufacturers neglected to mention.) Lenovo also pointed out that while the chipset could affect any of the 10 new IdeaPad systems listed in the statement, Intel has said that less than 5 percent of systems running Sandy Bridge with Cougar Point will be affected.
The Lenovo Y Series notebooks feature Intel Core i7 processors with up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and up to 1TB HDD, as well as Blu-ray drives, JBL-designed speakers, and a mini-PCl express bus.
Lenovo last month also introduced three new IdeaCentre desktops -- the K330, K330A, B520 -- which may be affected by the series 6 chipset flaw.
The IdeaCentre B520 supports Sandy Bridge processors -- up to an Intel Core i7. It includes a 23-inch full HD 16:9 display, up to 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and a up to 2TB HDD. Each IdeaCentre PC comes with a 3-in-1 mouse, integrated Dolby Surround Sound 5.0 speakers, and a Blu-ray drive.
The IdeaCentre B320 supports Sandy Bridge processors -- up to an Intel Core i5 processor. It features a 21.5-inch HD display, up to 8GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and an up to 4TB of hard drive capacity. It has an integrated DVD writer and two 2-watt built-in stereo speakers, as well as optional Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Acer's upcoming MSI HM67 isn't out yet, but Acer has said the launch may be delayed while the company asks its retailer, distributor and channel partners to halt all shipments. Asus says end users are eligible to receive an upgrade to MSI’s next generation gaming notebook upon its availability.
MSI is also offering end users replacements for affected motherboards and notebooks respectively on its online Intel' 6 Series Motherboards and Notebook Support page.
MSI said it is working with Intel in order to get Intel to accept the return of Intel P67 and H67 motherboards, as well as the HM67 gaming laptops. MSI said its Sandy-Bridge based All-in-One systems are not affected by the flaw and will launch in March.
Samsung said it is "being proactive" in response to the Cougar Point flaw, and will replace affected systems and cover the cost of the replacements, once Intel makes them available (in April at the latest, according to Intel). Customers may also return their product to the original place of purchase and receive a full refund, according to Samsung.
Samsung's RC 512 notebook features an Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor offering graphics capability displayed on a 15-in screen. It comes with an Nvidia GeForce 430 discrete graphics card that runs at 1GB, a hard drive of 750GB and a DDR3 memory of 6GB.
The RC 512 notebook comes with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as a Blu-Ray drive and a removable Li-ion battery.
Another Samsung PC that customers may return for a refund or a replacement is the Samsung RF711 notebook.
The 17.3-in Samsung RF711 supports a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7-2630QM processor running at 2.00 GHz. It includes 750 GB hard drive capacity, and 4 GB of DDR3 memory. It comes with 2 USB ports, a VGA, HDMI and a 4-in-1 card reader. End users may leverage the Sandy Bridge integrated chip alongside an Nvidia GeForce GT540M discrete graphics card. The Samsung RF 771 includes Bluetooth connectivity, but not Wi-Fi, as well as a 1GB external optical disk drive, Bluetooth and a 6-cell battery.