You would imagine that a single transistor that's prone to a slightly higher current leakage than tolerable would not cost too much to fix. That is of course as long as the transistor in question is not on a support chipset for Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processor and then the estimated cost rises significantly - to around $700 million.
Yes, on Monday Intel confirmed it was stopping all shipments of its 6 Series or Cougar Point chipsets having identified “a design issue” which affects SATA-linked devices such as HDDs and DVD drives. The 6 Series chipsets are used in PCs sporting Intel's much-vaunted Sandy Bridge processors. Intel in a statement said it had stopped shipments of the broken chip and corrected the flawed design: “Intel has corrected the design issue, and has begun manufacturing a new version of the support chip which will resolve the issue. The Sandy Bridge microprocessor is unaffected and no other products are affected by this issue.”
The problem is down to a single transistor which can not only diminish performance over the 3Gbps SATA ports, it can actually make them fail altogether. However the problem does not affect the 6Gbps SATA ports so if you are only using these then there will be no need to send your machine back to get it fixed. A repair and replacement service is now taking place for everyone affected by the flaw and Intel said: “Intel will work with its OEM partners to accept the return of the affected chipsets, and plans to support modifications or replacements needed on motherboards or systems.” Systems affected have been shipping since 9 January but Intel believes “relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue.” Second generation i5 or i7 quad-core based systems are the only ones affected.
Intel said it expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April. It estimates the cost of the recall and replacement at $700 million and has revised it Q1 revenue downwards by $300 million as a result, though it expects full-year revenue to remain unaffected.