Intel Partners Grapple With Uncertainty Over Cougar Point Chipset Recall

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Intel's system builder partners are facing a great deal of uncertainty following the recall of Intel's series 6 "Cougar Point" dual-core chipset, which affects Sandy Bridge-based mobile and desktop computers.

In a conference call Monday, Intel said it had identified a circuit design error in its Intel 6 series chipset, code-named Cougar Point, and that it had fixed the problem. While some Intel partners are dissatisfied with Intel's handling of the matter, others give the chipmaker credit for quickly identifying and fixing the problem, and offering a timeline for issuing replacements.

Glen E. Coffield, chief executive technologist at Lake Mary, Fla.-based system builder Smart Guys Computers, said systems running the Sandy Bridge platform accounted for the vast majority of his company's recent sales.

"Approximately 80 percent of the systems sold in the last several weeks have been of Sandy Bridge construction," he said. "Most of these have been higher-end systems. Most of them are utilizing the unaffected SATA III ports for the hard drives but the optical drive is definitely hooked up to the affected ports."

Steve Brown, vice president of sales and business development at Blue Hawk Networks in Campbell, Calif., said his company is beginning to offer Sandy Bridge processors after some initial hesitation. "We're sort of tentative to jump in," Brown said. "I've been burned in the past and I want to see how new technologies play out ahead of time."

Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, said the flaw in Cougar Point has brought all of Bold Data's Sandy Bridge shipments to a halt. Kretzer also questions whether Intel truly did find out about the error in the days before it quickly fixed and publicly acknowledged it.

"This has put a virtual halt to all of our Sandy Bridge shipments," Kretzer said. "If Intel just found out about this issue, then they definitely deserve credit for getting it out there. However, there were rumors going around CES that there was some sort of bug with Sandy Bridge, and if that’s true it would’ve been nice to warn their customers much sooner than February."

Next: The Implications Of The Cougar Point Error

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