Intel channel partners have varying expectations on what effect the vendor's chipset flaw debacle would have on their business but said the full impact will not be known until later in the week.
Intel launched its new processors using the Sandy Bridge architecture, in early January. Labelled Intel’s second generation core processors, the chips integrate graphics silicon onto the main processor and are produced through the vendor’s 32 nanometer manufacturing process.
In a press statement, Intel said it found a design flaw in the Intel 6 chipset series used in PCs with Sandy Bridge CPUs that could impact SATA-linked devices. It has ceased shipment of the chipsets, fixed the issue and has begun production on new batches to be shipped by late February.
The Sandy Bridge processors themselves are unaffected.
Intel said it will work with IT partners to recall affected chipsets although the vendor claims “relatively few customers are impacted by this issue”.
IT distributor, Altech was expecting the chipset flaw problem to have “quite a bit off effect” on the business. It has already sold several hundred of the chipset, according to the company.
“We keep quite a few thousand motherboards all the time and if we have to recall them, send them back and wait for replacements it’s going to cost time and money,” Altech managing director, Anthony Sheen said.
Fellow distributor, Synnex, said it was aware of the issue and is working with Intel to find a solution. It has refused to comment further at this stage.
Resellers such as Melbourne-based MBM Office Systems & Supplies was unperturbed by the chipset dilemma. It has only rolled out the first batch of the chipset and has yet to experience any problems.
“We’re well prepared and have a good workshop,” MBM managing director, Wayne Spark, said. “It wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience and it doesn’t happen very often.”
At this stage financial loss looks minimal but Spark said this might change if all the chipsets have to be recalled.
Octek, another Intel reseller partner, was preparing to launch the Sandy Bridge processors and had yet to start selling PCs fitted with the new systems.
It has now held back the launch date and reverted to using older Intel platforms for the time being.
“We just have to stop [the new systems] from going out so impact for us is minor,” Octek vice-president of sales and operations, Alex Chen, said.
ASI Solutions considered the chipset issue as an "inconvenience" which has disrupted its marketing plans for the Sandy Bridge processors.
“We had promotions planned and were about to launch catalogues with the new platforms in it,” ASI product manager, Craig Quinn, said.
The reseller had shipped less than a hundred systems with the Sandy Bridge processor and chipset but said most of the systems that were sold would not be affected by the design flaw.
“Majority of the simple systems out there have single hard drives and single optical drives so they would not be impacted because the first two SATA ports are not affected,” Quinn said.
ASI will stop shipping the Intel 6 series chipset and continue to extend its current systems range with the previous version of chipset and processor until the problem is resolved.
Leader Computers have discontinued promotion of Sandy Bridge and will promote its current Intel H55 platform until the revised chipsets are ready to be shipped again. The distributor is expecting this to happen in mid-April.
The chipset issue also affects PC and notebook vendors partnered with Intel.
ARN will follow the progress of Intel channel partners as the situation develops.