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3/8/2011
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Dell Preps Sandy Bridge PC Shipments

The computer maker will start shipping laptops with the latest Intel Core processors next week, launching a complete refresh of its consumer PCs.

Dell next week will start selling laptops with Intel's second-generation Core processors, which had been delayed while Intel fixed the flawed chipset that ships with the processors.

The first laptops to include the new Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge, with the corrected 6 Series chipset, called Cougar Point, will be Inspiron models, Dell said Monday. Inspiron is Dell's mainstream line of consumer laptops.

New ultra-slim laptops will follow the Inspiron release, which will begin an across-the-board refresh of Dell consumer PCs over the next six weeks. "We'll also have a slew of Sandy Bridge options for business customers in the coming weeks as well, including several Latitude laptops, Optiplex desktops, and Precision workstation, desktop, and laptop options," Lionel Menchaca, chief blogger for Dell, said on the company's blog.

Dell suspended shipments of PCs with Sandy Bridge and Cougar Point, after Intel announced in late January that a defect had been found in the Cougar Point chipset. The design flaw in the chipset's serial-ATA ports could cause the performance of a PC hard disk drive or DVD drive to degrade over time. Intel shipped 8 million of the chipsets before discovering the flaw.

The snafu is expected to cost Intel $1 billion in lost revenue and higher expenditures in fixing the problem. The last time Intel suffered a serious setback from a faulty product was in 1994, when a flaw discovered in its Pentium processor led to a pre-tax charge of $475 million against earnings.

Dell was not the only computer maker to suspend PC shipments -- Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and others did the same. Dell gave customers the option of returning affected PCs, keeping them until a replacement was available, or keeping a PC order open until a reworked system was available.

Intel started shipping new versions of Cougar Point to computer makers in the middle of February, which was roughly two weeks faster than originally estimated when the flaw was announced Jan. 31.

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