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An Intel spokesperson declined to comment as to whether Intel was aware of a problem with Sandy Bridge, citing Intel's policy not to respond to speculation and rumor.
The implications of the error, beyond potential financial setbacks to Intel, its partners, and its customers, could include growing discontent among system builders looking for more options.
"This just reinforces those of us who believe that we’d be far better off if there were more than just a single vendor making chipsets for Intel processors," Kretzer said. "Perhaps their rekindled relationship with Nvidia will bring some much needed change to this area."
Coffield said there were a number of issues related to the recall and subsequent delay of Sandy Bridge products affecting Intel's supply line. "The timing is horrible as we have quotes out for business desktops and workstations out that we cannot fulfill," Coffield said. "Budgets are re-opened for the New Year and we cannot take advantage of this. Tax returns are starting to come in so our consumer segment is also hit. It's very difficult to quantify numerically until we know exactly when replacement product will start flowing in."
More importantly, Coffield said, system builders are not able to meet customer demand once the product has been recalled, undercutting the momentum and enthusiasm surrounding the launch of Sandy Bridge. "The biggest issue right now is not having product to sell. We made a commitment to the new platform and we were actively phasing out all other sockets but 1155," Coffield said. "The other bad part is that for the first time in several years we were starting to witness a small uptick in sales primarily based on this new platform. This now put a knife in the heart of this uptick."
Nevertheless, some partners noted that Intel seemed to deal with the problem quickly and transparently. "Intel has been quite honest and open about the recall," said a system builder who requested anonymity. "They gave all of us some time to prepare for this."
Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, agreed that Intel should be commended for its response time and pointed out that the Cougar Point flaw is far from unique.
"This certainly isn’t the desired outcome of what you hope for when launching a product, so it does require realigning your strategy and product plans," Tibbils said. "Unfortunately this type of extended use failure isn’t unique in the channel as we’ve seen similar problems in the past from other manufactures who didn’t necessarily manage the issue correctly. So even though all the return details have not been finalized, Intel is doing the right thing by addressing the issue now rather than later."