Information about the Intel Sandy Bridge Flaw

You may have heard about the flaw announced today with Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform. Here is a quote from Intel’s press release:

“As part of ongoing quality assurance, Intel Corporation has discovered a design issue in a recently released support chip, the Intel 6 Series, code-named Cougar Point, and has implemented a silicon fix. In some cases, the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives. The chipset is utilized in PCs with Intel’s latest Second Generation Intel Core processors, code-named Sandy Bridge. Intel has stopped shipment of the affected support chip from its factories. 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 company expects to begin delivering the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expects full volume recovery in April. Intel stands behind its products and is committed to product quality. For computer makers and other Intel customers that have bought potentially affected chipsets or systems, 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. …”

What does this mean for Puget Systems customers?

First, let’s clarify the issue. Puget Systems has extensively qualified the Sandy Bridge platform, and in our testing, we have not encountered this issue. We have also had no reports of this issue from any of our customers, and were not informed of this issue until today. The issue is a long term performance degradation, and it does not damage your storage device. The problem is on ONLY the 3Gb/s SATA ports on the Intel chipset controller. If a motherboard has SATA ports on a 3rd party chipset (such as Marvell), or on a PCI-E SATA or RAID controller, they are not affected. For our motherboards here at Puget Systems, here is the net result:

Motherboard Unaffected Ports Affected Ports
Asus P8P67-M Pro 0 (dark blue), 1-2 (grey), eSATA 3-6 (light blue)
Asus P8P67 Pro 0-1 (dark blue), 2-3 (grey), eSATA 4-7 (light blue)
Asus P8H67-M EVO 0-1 (grey), eSATA 2-5 (light blue)

For customers who already own a Puget Systems PC based on Sandy Bridge, you can continue to use your PC with confidence. When the replacement hardware arrives in March, we can either get your system back here for motherboard replacement, or we can ship you a PCI-E SATA controller to drop in to your system to use instead of the problem ports on the motherboard. We will be contacting you if you are affected with your current SATA port usage.

For orders still in progress and orders not yet placed, Puget Systems will continue to ship our PCs only with your permission, with the affected ports disabled. A majority of our customers are not using the affected ports, so our mission turns to one of making sure our customers are informed. We want to continue to provide cutting edge product as best we can, and leave the decision to you! If you would prefer to wait, you can have your order held until the new hardware revision arrives in March. If you have already placed your order, we will be contacting you shortly.

We will post updates to this page as time goes on, so check back here for more information! Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.

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Update on 3/1/11: Puget Systems now has updated revisions of the Sandy Bridge motherboards, which fix the SATA flaw. For details, please see our news post, or configure your own Sandy Bridge PC now!