Intel finds bug in Sandy Bridge chipset

Intel has identified a defect in some of its chipsets and is implementing a fix for it, which will cost the company millions, lowering its financial outlook for the year.

The problem lies in the Serial-ATA ports of some of its Cougar Points, the Intel 6 Series of support chips, where the ports “may degrade over time”, resulting in lower performance of SATA connected devices. This chipset is employed with Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, marking the first major setback for the Second Generation Intel Core processors.

Intel said it will work with its partners to ensure that returns of the defective models are accepted and that repairs and replacements will be offered.

The updated chipset, which contains a silicon fix for the design error, will ship in February and the replacements should be completed by April.

The stalled shipments, returns and replacements will have a significant negative impact on revenue for the company over the coming months. For the first quarter Intel expects its revenue to drop by $300 million, while total costs for discontinuing the current production line and issuing replacements will be in the region of $700 million.

Despite this, the acquistions of the wireless solutions business of Infineon Technologies AG and security software firm McAfee will help boost its revenue for the first quarter of 2011. Intel revised its forecast upwards slightly from between $11.5 billion to $11.7 billion, plus or minus $400 million.

Intel said that no other products are affected by the bug.