Gartner: Impact of Sandy Bridge recall minimal

Industry analyst firm Gartner has allayed fears that Intel’s recall of Sandy Bridge processors will have a long-term impact on the industry.

“PC makers have worked with Intel and developed workarounds that are enabling them to use the defective chips in ways such that the defect will never be exposed,” Gartner’s vice president, Steve Kleynhans, says.

“The impact of this problem will be minimal and likely mostly forgotten within six months.”

He says Intel’s decision to recall the Sandy Bridge chipset was made because the company is “very sensitive to serious problems with its products”.

PC and notebook vendors have halted shipments and delayed product launches affected by the recall, a global move that is expected to hit the financial results of those involved. Although Intel is working on a solution, reports suggest the chip maker is simultaneously and hurriedly negotiating with vendors to continue release of Sandy Bridge-based products with changes in motherboard design to circumvent the flaw.

Intel disclosed at the end of January that its 6 Series Chipset had the potential to impact certain PC system configurations and stopped shipments, according to a timeline supplied to Reseller News by the manufacturer. By February 7, Intel resumed shipments of the chipset for use only in PC system configurations that were not impacted by the design issue.

(Those configurations would use only SATA Ports 0 and 1 on the Series 6 Chipset, which were unaffected while the susceptible ports 2 to 5 would not be used. )

“As OEMs and local channel re-evaluate their respective systems,” the timeline states, “you may see unaffected systems, configured using only SATA Ports 0 and 1, available in the market again in New Zealand. In parallel, Intel has started manufacturing a new version of this support chips and [expected] to begin shipping the new parts by mid February.”

The chip issue affected eight million units worldwide, according to Anna Torres, public relations manager for Intel Australia.

Although Intel declined to disclose how many units were affected by the issue in New Zealand, Torres says that the “number of systems that ended up in ‘end customer’ hands were relatively low.”

“We have been working and communicating with our customers in New Zealand,” Torres says. “For computer makers and other Intel customers that have bought potentially affected chipsets or systems, Intel has provided reassurance that we will work with them to accept the return of the affected chipsets, and plans to support modifications or replacements needed on motherboards or systems.”

According to Kleynhans, the analyst, Intel’s response to the current issue stems from a problem with the Pentium FDIV in 1995, which served as a; “wakeup call for the company and the industry, and has raised the sensitivity of shipping potentially defective products”.

“Obviously there are some issues for the industry as machines that are sitting in the channel; in factories, in containers on ships, in warehouses and in trucks, all need to be located, identified and recalled.

“That shouldn’t impact customers too much,” he says, nor on others, such as CIOs, but it could affect “early adopters.”

— Additional reporting by Simon Eskow.

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