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2/8/2011
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Intel Speeds Fix For Chipset Snafu

Shipments of flawed Sandy Bridge processor chipsets have resumed for use in PC configurations that do not use the defective ports.

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Intel is moving faster than originally planned to replace defective chipsets for its second-generation Core processors.

The chipmaker said Monday that it would start shipping corrected versions of the 6 Series chipsets, codenamed Cougar Point, in the middle of the month. Intel had said earlier the replacement components would ship at the end of the month.

Intel has listed on the product page for its latest Core processors, codenamed Sandy Bridge, a release date of Feb. 20 for dual-core i3, i5, and i7 chips, which falls within the timeframe for shipping the supporting chipsets. What still isn't clear is when PC makers will start shipping Sandy Bridge-based products.

Intel's faster timetable could shorten the time it takes to get Sandy Bridge-based PCs on store shelves. With the original late February release for corrected chipsets, analysts had predicted that some computer makers could have product out as soon as early March.

Intel announced Jan. 31 that it had halted shipments of the defective chipsets, after discovering that a design flaw in the component's serial-ATA ports could cause the performance of a PC's hard disk drive or DVD drive to degrade over time. Not all the ports were affected, so Intel on Monday said it would resume shipments for use in PC configurations that did not use the flawed ports.

Computer makers, such as Dell, HP, and Samsung, pulled PCs from retail channels after the flaw was discovered and offered customers the option of returning the systems. Intel originally released the chipset Jan. 9 and shipped 8 million units before discovering the problem. Only high-end PCs running quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 processors were affected, which meant the number of systems sold was "relatively few," Intel said.

Intel has said that the chipset snafu would cost the company $1 billion in lost revenue and higher expenditures in fixing the problems. 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.

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