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Despite its quick response, Intel may not be able to avoid a lag in the supply line considering the sudden halt in the manufacturing process. "The bigger concern will be supply because even though the current Corei3, i5 and i7 processors are exceptional products and still make up the wide majority of shipments compared to Sandy Bridge, it’s difficult to see how the factories can recover to completely meet demand," Tibbils said.
Another system builder who requested anonymity said others in the supply line were more likely to incur losses from the recall than the reseller channel. "This may have more impact for Tier 1s than it does on the system builder channel," the system builder said. "Many members of the channel have launched products in conjunction with Sandy Bridge, but there may not be that many systems shipped due to product availability. Therefore the impact on the reseller channel may not be as severe as previously anticipated."
Asked if Intel has said it will reimburse its channel partners for the labor required in replacing the chipset on their customers' motherboards, Coffield said partners will have to go through distributors in order to be compensated.
"It is our understanding that all motherboards can be returned to distribution for full credit," Coffield said. "We are inspecting our inventory today and getting exact counts, it's our position that distribution will need to issue call tags for the product as we will not absorb any costs in returning defective and unsalable product. They in turn can seek compensation from Intel. At the end of the day we paid distribution for the products, not Intel."
However, Intel said it will contact the system builders and customers who purchased potentially flawed chipsets or systems in order to replace or modify them.
"I think they will reimburse their partners for the time spent trying to remedy their problem, and try to bring people back that may have walked away," Brown said. "They'll say 'Look, we don't make mistakes very often but when we do, we correct them.' They'll throw a bigger rebate back for higher volume to make up for it. I don't think it will trickle down to end customers. People aren't going to care, frankly."
Some of these problems are trickling down to end users as they deal with similar uncertainty and frustration as a result of the recall, especially those who were enthusiastic enough about Sandy Bridge to purchase it within the first month of the launch.