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Intel Bug

Sandy Bridge Chipset Shipments Halted Due To Bug 212

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-meant-to-do-that dept.
J. Dzhugashvili writes "Early adopters of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors, beware. Intel has discovered a flaw in the 6-series chipsets that accompany the new processors. The flaw causes Serial ATA performance to 'degrade over time' in 'some cases.' Although Intel claims 'relatively few' customers are affected, it has stopped shipments of these chipsets and started making a revised version of the silicon, which won't be ready until late February. Intel expects to lose $300 million in revenue because of the problem, and it's bracing for repair and replacement costs of $700 million."
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Sandy Bridge Chipset Shipments Halted Due To Bug

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  • I'm been anxiously waiting for Dell to release its Mobile Precision Workstation with a Sandy Bridge processor.

    I had been cursing Dell for their slowness, but I guess it was a blessing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2011 @12:54PM (#35057718)

    They patented slowly degrading performance over time many years ago. It's a key feature built into Windows.

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Monday January 31, 2011 @12:55PM (#35057730) Journal

    I don't recall seeing any complaints online about degraded SATA performance, so it looks like Intel caught this internally and took the appropriate action before the issue became widespread in the wild. The bug sucks but it just goes to show how difficult it can be to test complex hardware under all situations. Kudos to Intel for being proactive... they have learned from the FDIV bug fiasco, and some other companies with fruity logos might learn from the example.

    • by alen (225700)

      there was a rumor that new MacBook Pro's were going to be released tomorrow. if true it could have been Apple QA catching this at the last minute

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If its released tomorrow then Apple QA (early adopters) haven't received the new MacBook Pro yet.

      • by alvinrod (889928)
        Yeah, but there's always a rumor about new MacBook Pro's being released tomorrow.

        If there wasn't, some rumor site is probably going to source our posts as possible evidence of a release tomorrow.
      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        Yes, and it was Steve Jobs who personally found and reported the bug to Intel while testing the new MacBook model.

        In fact, he's not even sick, he just needed time to concentrate on finding out why his beloved new mac model was behaving weirdly.

        Look for news of his holy return tomorrow.

        • by vivek7006 (585218)
          Mod Parent up. Steve Jobs just replied to my email from his iPad confirming exactly what the parent just said!
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Yep, which makes it sort of odd.... none of the reviewers caught it, none of the early adopters seem to have caught it... yet it's so critical it justifies halting production and starting over with fresh silicon. Granted they don't test the controller that much but at least some of the file tests would. I bet they're all scrambling to find out now though and we'll know in a day or two.

      • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:51PM (#35058378) Homepage

        Someone else linked to a post that claims it only supports ports 2-5 (the 3Gbps ports) not ports 0-1 (the 6Gbps ports). Most systems won't be stressing ports 2-5 that heavilly.

        Plus if this is indeed a gradual degredation issue it may be that most people simply haven't been using the systems long enough for it to become noticable yet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        integration can be evil.

        now, if they had separate chips on the mobo for sata then the damage would have been contained and you simply disable the onboard controller and install a pci-e card instead. intel would make new mobos but NOT chipsets. chipsets are a big undertaking.

        also, I wonder if there were engineers in intel who said 'hey, whats with this too-fast churn of new socket types and chipsets? didn't we JUST release, not long ago, sockets for i3/i5? what wrong with using them again?'

        then some inte

    • by Ecuador (740021) on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:04PM (#35058546) Homepage

      According to Anand's coverage, Intel said that they started getting customer complaints after they had shipped about 100k units, and their engineers managed to duplicate the problem early last week, the cause of which they figured out in a couple of days.

      Source : http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/intel-discovers-bug-in-6series-chipset-begins-recall [anandtech.com]

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Bravo to Intel for owning up to this an correcting it so quickly. It's a pleasant departure from so many manufacturers these days who either refuse to acknowledge a problem or else acknowledge it and refuse to correct it.

    • by Misch (158807)

      According to Anandtech, it wasn't an internal catch, it was external [anandtech.com].

      Intel mentioned that after it had built over 100,000 chipsets it started to get some complaints from its customers about failures. Early last week Intel duplicated and confirmed the failure in house.

  • At least I don't have to prove I _need_ high speed SATA performance to get a replacement... clearly SATA is more important than _DIVISION_...
    • Funnily enough, the 6Gb/s ports are reported to be fine. it's the 3 Gb/s ports that degrade. If you only need as many ports as the highest speed the chipset supports you may be fine.

  • Over time? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Caviller (1420685) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:00PM (#35057788)
    I RTFA and I for the life of me can't figure out if it's a "The longer the uptime the worse the degrading...and a reboot will start the process over?" or "You will use this and it will get worse and worse untill the chip burns out..."

    I hope to god it's the first one...If not this might beat the floating point error by a mile!
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      My guess is that it is the second. That is why Intel is going to replace all the motherboards. This is going to be one big PITA for users.
      This is why one should never pay for the latests and greatest if you don't need it.

      • Why replace when you can send a $10 SATA PCI card?
        • by EvilIdler (21087)

          The chipset is also used in laptops, according to the various articles out there. Make that an ExpressCard or something :P

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Because you paid for X sata connectors and or you do not want to waste a slot and or you have put the motherboard in a 1u rack-mount case or a slim HTC case.
          And of course it could be in a laptop.

          It is broken so Intel is going to do the right thing and fix it. This is a good thing.

          • In those cases you cannot send a $10 SATA PCI card because it is unfit for purpose (and more importantly the customer is not happy with that). Most desktops go to customers who generally won't care, as long as it works.
            • by LWATCDR (28044)

              Or just send a motherboard that works like it should to everyone?
              Why offer a "good enough" fix when you can offer a real fix. Suppose the SATA card didn't work with Solaris? Intel is just going to fix it the right way from the start. It is just the right thing to do.

    • I can't imagine a hardware bug that would manifest only as degraded performance after extended uptime. Anything of that nature could probably be worked around with a software fix that periodically reset the controller. Therefore, I think it's safe to assume it's literally the SATA logic degrading with age, which would require a chip level change.
      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        Maybe it's a "flash cache thrash" that wears out and degrades performance? :p

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ShnowDoggie (858806)
        The problem in the chipset was traced back to a transistor in the 3Gbps PLL clocking tree. The aforementioned transistor has a very thin gate oxide, which allows you to turn it on with a very low voltage. Unfortunately in this case Intel biased the transistor with too high of a voltage, resulting in higher than expected leakage current. Depending on the physical characteristics of the transistor the leakage current here can increase over time which can ultimately result in this failure on the 3Gbps ports.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:02PM (#35057810) Journal
    Obviously, silicon bugs happen, barely anything makes it out of the fab without an 'errata' list as long as your leg; but the "may gradually degrade over time" part kind of freaks me out.

    If it were a "due to a design error, setting register xyz to 0xDEADBEEF causes Serious Badness, chipset drivers are being patched to Never Do That on rev.1 chipsets and future chipsets will be amended" that would be unfortunate; but so it goes. Fully deterministic errors, like the classic division bug, may be problematic; in some cases bad enough to qualify the product as just plain defective; but once known they can be mitigated by not stepping on them. Something that "sometimes" "gradually decreases" performance, on a bus with error correction, though, sounds a lot like a physical problem where some sort of silicon/electrical issue causes error rates to increase and thus retries/corrections to increase in frequency, and user-visible performance to go down. That makes me nervous. It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem...

    Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?
    • by Viol8 (599362)

      "Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?"

      Failure to reset some internal timer properly under certain conditions? I'm guessing.

      • by sxeraverx (962068)

        That would still be fixable by a reboot. More likely, it's that they made a wire too thin or a transistor (or a couple hundred) too big or too small, or some bad combination thereof. That in itself could make the logic not meet timing under certain conditions, but it wouldn't degrade over time.

        If things were really bad, this could create localized heat pockets which could damage transistors, altering their device parameters over time, causing them to miss timing margins more and more drastically.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:08PM (#35057882)

      It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem...

      Well, obviously. Could be a wire that was made too thin, or some component that overheats and slowly damages itself. I'm not sure why you think it's "ominous" though. It's a physical object that apparently has a design defect that causes it to wear out. I've seen ominous things before, but that usually involves a shadowy figure standing in a doorway with something that looks oddly like a machete, but dammit I can't really see clearly in this low light...

    • by Jahava (946858)

      Obviously, silicon bugs happen, barely anything makes it out of the fab without an 'errata' list as long as your leg; but the "may gradually degrade over time" part kind of freaks me out. If it were a "due to a design error, setting register xyz to 0xDEADBEEF causes Serious Badness, chipset drivers are being patched to Never Do That on rev.1 chipsets and future chipsets will be amended" that would be unfortunate; but so it goes. Fully deterministic errors, like the classic division bug, may be problematic; in some cases bad enough to qualify the product as just plain defective; but once known they can be mitigated by not stepping on them. Something that "sometimes" "gradually decreases" performance, on a bus with error correction, though, sounds a lot like a physical problem where some sort of silicon/electrical issue causes error rates to increase and thus retries/corrections to increase in frequency, and user-visible performance to go down. That makes me nervous. It sounds less like a deterministic error problem and more like a certain physical components are actually degrading much faster than expected problem... Can anybody think of an explanation for how a hardware bug would cause behavior that gradually changes over time(in a manner that couldn't be dealt with with a driver update) that doesn't involve the alarming possibility of gradually increasing error rates and/or early death of onboard SATA ports?

      Well, the flaw is with the Sandy Bridge chipset that accompanies the CPU, so it's not with the CPU itself. The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge#Architecture [slashdot.org] includes, among other things, the IO and memory controller hub components, which control (between them) DMA and the actual SATA controller hardware and some of the relevant busses. I assume the problem is somewhere in there, and is hardware-related (i.e., not firmware-upgradeable).

      • by blair1q (305137)

        that's not necessarily a lesser problem.

        chipsets are typically soldered onto motherboards, while CPUs are clipped into sockets.

        in order to install a free-replacement CPU, you flip a clip and put in the new part. 5-10 minutes for an inexperienced tech (60 seconds for a l33t h4xx0r whose system is never truly buttoned-up), and one new part to check out.

        in order to install a free-replacement chipset, you replace your motherboard. a couple of hours of unplugging, unscrewing, unpacking, re-screwing, chasing sc

        • by Jahava (946858)

          that's not necessarily a lesser problem.

          chipsets are typically soldered onto motherboards, while CPUs are clipped into sockets.

          in order to install a free-replacement CPU, you flip a clip and put in the new part. 5-10 minutes for an inexperienced tech (60 seconds for a l33t h4xx0r whose system is never truly buttoned-up), and one new part to check out.

          in order to install a free-replacement chipset, you replace your motherboard. a couple of hours of unplugging, unscrewing, unpacking, re-screwing, chasing screws that fell off the desk, plugging back in, double-checking the plugging-in, going online to find a representative picture to be sure you put the memory in the optimal slots, and closing up the case. and then you have a hundred new parts to shake out.

          Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a lesser problem. I got the tone from the OP that he was confused how a CPU issue could cause such a specific and isolated problem with SATA, so I was pointing out how the problem wasn't with the Sandy Bridge CPU, but rather with the supporting chipset.

    • Guess: Some sort of queue/FIFO with a bug in the read/write pointer logic that causes it to effectively decrease in depth over time.

      The bug is not severe enough to drop/corrupt data, which would have made finding the issue easier, but eventually performance suffers.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      I read it could be a timing issue, if triggered sending too much juice too often to the SATA.

      From my own experience and common sense, anything to do with "degrading performance" sounds like a heat issue to me. Heat issues happen because of 3 causes: 1) Poor design of heat dissipation/mitigation in that they don't have a heat sink or enough of one to do the job, 2) Overvoltage in that a part is getting too much current, too often, resulting in heat, that is slowly breaking down the performance of the part, 3

      • By "over time" they mean that every time a set of circumstances crop up for the bug to manifest, roll some dice. Eventually you'll get snake eyes and the bug will bite you. From this article: [anandtech.com]

        "On its conference call to discuss the issue, Intel told me that it hasn’t been made aware of a single failure seen by end users. Intel expects that over 3 years of use it would see a failure rate of approximately 5 - 15% depending on usage model. Remember this problem isn’t a functional issue but rather

        • by DarthVain (724186)

          Another cheap easy fix is I know they used to make RAID ATA PCI cards, which you didn't even really have to use the raid, you could just use the extra ports. I have no idea if they make them for SATA or how much they cost, but if they were anything like the ATA ones it wasn't much.

          So if you end up being one of the unlucky 5-15% AND the manufacturer refuses to replace (likely past warranty), perhaps you can go out and just buy a 50$ SATA PCI card that doesn't have that problem, and boom, problem solved. Of c

          • Yup. That'd do it.

            I just looked up the specs on the motherboard I bought last night and it appears I'm in luck. It's a Sabertooth P67. [asus.com]

            Intel® P67 Express Chipset 2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (brown) 4 xSATA 3Gb/s ports (black) Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10 Marvell® PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller 2 xSATA 6Gb/s ports (gray) JMicron® JMB362 SATA controller 1 xPower eSATA 3Gb/s port (green) 1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port (red)

            So use the Brown ports for boot drive and CD

          • The problem is a 133 MHz 64-bit PCI slot will max out at 8 Gb/s and you're looking at replacing the 3 Gb/s ports. You can only get two full-speed 3 Gb/s ports out of an 8 Gb/s slot.

            Your PCI on your motherboard is not 64 bit, either, unless you have a server. It's 32 bit. It's also not going to be 133 MHz, or even 66 MHz on a stock desktop motherboard. It's going to be 33 MHz.

            So you're running four 3 Gb/s ports from your 1 Gb/s slot. That is not without problems.

            You're going to need to step up to PCI Express [wikipedia.org]

    • by slew (2918) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:33PM (#35059476)

      My educated guess is that the SATA Input/Output Pads have a digital timing compensation circuit that tries to center the data sampling window (e.g., the clock edge where data is sampled). Since the appropriate data sampling window that won't cause a setup/hold violation changes with process variation and temperature it needs to have lots of potential settings in a large window and may need automatic tracking.

      Probably someone didn't design that window large enough to center the data sampling timing offset (or the step size isn't small enough or the auto adjustment circuit that tracks temperature and adjusts the window appropriatly has an algorithmic flaw in some cases, etc). It might be okay now (in early production tests), but as the part ages, the required data sampling window can shift significantly, and if the chip can't adjust the data sampling window appropriatly, then data errors are inevitable.

      As a silly example, let's say a hw engineer put in a clock trim circuit that could adjust +-100ps in steps of 10ps. No driver update can make that adjustment -110ps.

      Conversely, if the hw control algorithm that tracks temperature and adjusts the window has a postive temperature coefficient over time (say gets slower), but the actual I/O circuit has a negative coefficient over time (say gets faster), after a while, that feedback algorithm may become unstable, that might not be fixable with a driver update either (if the control algorithm is in hw).

      Of course, I have no real infomation, but it's my guess having designed high speed I/Os in the past...

      • Sounds like intel fessed up yesterday and stated it was a problem with a bias circuit in the PLL clocking tree. A bias circuit apparently caused a transistor to remain in a high leakage state (which over time will induce a failure mode). What makes it silly is apparently intel is saying this circuit wasn't in initial designs, added, but not needed in the design and will be disabled in the future... Back to the future!

  • Seems to me they had issues the last time they rushed a product to beat AMD, as well. Ghosts of the i820 MTH fiasco.
  • by dc29A (636871) * on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:04PM (#35057852)

    Apparently the problem [notebookreview.com] is with SATA ports 2-5, at least for mobile motherboards. Every desktop board is affected.

  • by BondGamer (724662) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:09PM (#35057890) Journal
    Should have been article title.
  • by jolyonr (560227) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:10PM (#35057898) Homepage

    Well, I guess this vindicates my decision to stick with MFM hard disks.

    • by jolyonr (560227)

      or ST-506 interface drives if you are just about to tell me that MFM is an encoding method rather than an interface. But they were called that back then. I remember!

    • I actually was a SATA "early adopter" back in early 2004 when I bought a computer. Had taken a "computer sabbatical" for several years in hawaii and was just purchasing a new one finally. Configured it without a floppy disk, which I was glad to never have to use again. Then a few months later when good ole' Windows XP takes a crap on me, I goto reinstall it, and XP requires a floppy drive to install the drivers for my sata drive... No thumb drive, burnt CD, nothing else, just a fucking floppy which I purpos
      • by Skater (41976)

        I actually was a SATA "early adopter" back in early 2004 when I bought a computer. Had taken a "computer sabbatical" for several years in hawaii and was just purchasing a new one finally. Configured it without a floppy disk, which I was glad to never have to use again. Then a few months later when good ole' Windows XP takes a crap on me, I goto reinstall it, and XP requires a floppy drive to install the drivers for my sata drive... No thumb drive, burnt CD, nothing else, just a fucking floppy which I purposely left off my system build. f micorosft. fml

        I had a similar problem recently. First, I'm surprised you haven't gotten flamed yet like I did when I mentioned it. I said that I was having trouble getting it to work, but Linux was working fine on the machine, and I wasn't missing Windows XP - apparently that's worthy of flames about how I was stupid for trying to use an 8 year old OS on a new machine and I'd have as much trouble with Linux, etc.

        Anyway, it required slipstreaming XP on to a new DVD then reinstalling using that. It's not so bad as lon

    • by MarkRose (820682)
      Hard disk? Boy, what if it crashes? Have you thought of that? I keep everything on three separate floppies! Those new 5.25" disks are super compact!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The systems with the affected support chips have only been shipping since January 9th and the company believes that relatively few consumers are impacted by this issue.

    Important details about shipment date lost in transcription.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lowlymarine (1172723)
      I'm pretty sure that's because Sandy Bridge chipsets have only been shipping since then. I'd assume that the "relatively few" customers affected by this are "everyone who has already purchased a SB board," kind of like how the "relatively few" customers affected by Bumpgate turned out to be "everyone with a G80 derivative" (which was "relatively few" of the set of "all nVidia customers ever," I suppose).
  • Could they pretty please make a change that allows me to use the new H.264 encoding instructions without being forced to rely upon their nice but not nice enough video display capabilities? I'd LOVE to use the encoder speedups but if I'm forced to use their CPU as my GPU I may be forced to skip it. Everything I've read says that this is what I'll be forced to do - YUCK!

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:19PM (#35058000) Homepage Journal
    I would have thought Intel would consider that to be a feature. Certainly it seems to describe every system I've worked on for the past two decades...
  • I'd been exclusively building and using AMD systems for my past 2-3 machine builds, but I just built a new computer over the weekend. Just my luck it was a Sandy Bridge CPU with a P67 chipset motherboard. I suppose I'll go fill out my registration for the motherboard tonight and wait for Gigabyte to contact me regarding a recall.

  • Alright, competitors, time to shine! Let's go get... uh... guys? ... you there?
  • VIA had a chipset bug on their old KT-series motherboard bridge chips that would lock up the machine if a certain sequence of bytes and a couple of signals on the ATA bus interface hit simultaneously. That condition was legal (if rare) as far as the ATA bus spec was concerned and shouldn't have caused the lockup, but it did. It was one of the conditions we had to insert escape code for when building optical (CD/DVD) drives otherwise people who bought our drives would bitch at us when the inevitable lockups

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      It didn't go unnoticed though. I avoided VIA chipsets like the plague, and so did a lot of people.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:37PM (#35058192) Homepage

    What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ? I still haven't figured out where it fits in the market... mind you, I type this on my dual nehalem, which is still king of the mountain after a year, so I really don't get what the fuss is about. Is Sandy Bridge significantly faster than the original i3/i5 cop-outs ? Or is this a mythical "bang for the buck" platform where everything costs twice as much as AMD ?

    I've been building a lot of systems, and Intel dominates the high end, but in my view they haven't sold a decent value processor since the E2xx0 Core 2's. In the desktop market there's really just 3 segments that matter: sub-$500, 500 to 1000, and balls-to-the-wall nutjobs like myself, and AMD has the bottom two tiers in a fierce headlock.

    • by Anonymous Showered (1443719) on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:45PM (#35058292)

      Sandy Bridge is the successor to Nehalem. It uses less power and is more efficient.

      The current P67 boards (LGA 1155) are for the mainstream market, e.g. Best Buy, Futureshop, Fry's, Staples, etc. They're basically "high-end' for the middle-class.

      Wait until LGA 2011 comes out (successor to 1366). You'll be thinking of switching then. :)

    • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... rg minus painter> on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:09PM (#35058600) Homepage

      Yes. Sandy Bridge i7-2600K CPUs are approaching the speeds of the i7-980X, while costing 1/3rd as much. You can build an insanely fast machine for under $1000 with Sandy Bridge, including graphics card.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Nehalem to Sandy Bridge? Not necessary, particularly since you need another new mobo. Is Sandy Bridge better than Nehlem? Overall yes, but not radically so. It's more a replacement for the 1156 than the 1366 platform, that refresh is coming later this year with a different socket and different processors. You can tell by the pricing, I don't remember the 2100 but the 2500 and 2600 are at $200 and $300 respectively. The "balls to the walls" segment is coming later probably with CPU prices up to $999 for the

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:23PM (#35058760)

      What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ?

      For some of us (including me), the big deal is that Sandy Bridge adds a new set of instructions called "AVX" intstructions, which let us do more floating-point operations at the same time. For some scientific apps this can nearly double the performance of the overall app.

    • by Theovon (109752) on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:26PM (#35058786)

      There are a number of really good articles on the advances in Sandy Bridge. For instance:

      http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT091810191937
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/intels-sandy-bridge-architecture-exposed

      To summarize some of the things I remember off the top of my head:

      The design is basically area-equivalent to the Nehalem designs, but they've made certain structures more space efficient to make room to enlarge others. For instance, they've made the branch predictor use fewer bits for the same prediction accuracy. This and other improvements have allowed them to increase critical structures that affect things like the instruction window size. The instruction window pertains to the number of decoded but not executed instructions out-standing. A larger instruction window allows you to (a) find more instruction-level parallelism because you're more likely to find independent instructions that can be executed simultaneously, and (b) absorb the effect of some high latency operations, like L2 cache misses -- you can effectively hide much of the latency by continuing to look for and perform unrelated work during the stall. In Nehalem and before, they had a structure that unified the reservation station, register file, and reorder buffer. Logically, this makes sense, but it also makes that area very power hungry, and you can never turn it off. In Sandy Bridge, they've split those structures, so they can be clock-gated separately. Also, instead of accumulating dependency results in the reservation station, they're stored in a single centralized physical register file, and pointers are held in the RS. This saves a lot of space, since now instructions traveling around the processor just need to carry the pointer. (This does add some latency and writing required to fetch those results from the RF when they're finally needed.)

      It's explicitly stated that Sandy Bridge is not a major revolution in processor design. Compared to Nehalem, you might think of it representing a large collection of efficiency improvements that work together to make a processor that is faster (clock for clock efficiency) and more power efficient.

      Many of these improvements lead to the larger instruction window. IMHO, this is a critical improvement. A Sun engineer once described modern processing as being a race between last-level cache misses. You have an L2 miss, and you quickly run out of work to do, and the processor stalls until that out-standing read arrives. Meanwhile, you've accumulated a hundred cycles or so of pending work, which gets blasted through, and execution continues perhaps a little while until you have another L2 miss. Processors like Nehalem can execute four or more instructions per cycle (peak), but the effective AVERAGE instructions per clock is less than 1. These high-latency L2 misses are primarily responsible for that. Besides adding on-die memory controllers, which reduces the latency, Sandy Bridge lengthens the instruction window so as to absorb more of that latency, so that stall time is less.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      Tom's Hardware recently made an article saying similar notebook performance can be had at half the power consumption in typical use situations.

      I'd say that's a big appeal.

    • AMD has the bottom two tiers in a fierce headlock.
      Really? care to cite some sources to back up that claim? most times i've done a comparison of similarlly performing chips (note that AMD don't get as high performance per clock as intel) the intel option has been more expensive but not hugely so.

      Where intel does lose out is platform flexibility, you can put AMDs cheapest chips on a top end board or their most expensive on a low end board. With intel you have different platforms for different levels of price

    • by citizenr (871508)

      What's the big appeal of Sandy Bridge anyway ?

      5GHz on Air cooling

    • by MikeURL (890801)
      The Sandy Bridge chips are faster. A lot faster. But maybe more importantly they are efficient and improve onboard graphics quite a bit.

      If I may use a car analogy, the Sandy Bridge processors are like GM's Active Fuel Management where the engine can use 4, 6, or 8 cylinders. With Sandy Bridge Intel has taken down the energy consumption overhead of "cruising" because it is only using 4 of its 8 cylinders. However, when needed, the processor can unleash 8 cylinders worth of power (there are also indica
  • amd HAS sata 6 on all ports intel does not and now they can't even get sata right?

    • by Ecuador (740021)

      What is interesting is that those 2 SATA 6Gbps ports that the Intel boards have, are the ones unaffected by this! The problem is only with the other 4 ports. I bet they were thinking going with mostly the ol' 3Gbit ports will be safe and save some money... Woops!

  • so the mini, macbook, mac bookpros under $1800 will be stuck on core 2 for most of 2011?

  • DRM? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ivoras (455934)

    "Slow performance degradation over time" on SATA controllers? Who wants to bet this is due to some "misapplied security" scheme such as DRM or something related to the TPM?

    • I just commented on something else, so I can't use my mod points, someone else mod parent up, and slap the shit outta whoever labeled it a troll.
    • by alvinrod (889928)
      Plenty of reasons to hate DRM/TPM for their own sake. No need to attribute a chipset defect to either of these without any actual proof. Seems that it only affects the 3 Gbps ports and not the 6 Gbps ports so that claim seems somewhat unlikely.
  • Will.I.Am, at his first public Intel press event since being hired, was quoted saying "The problem with the Sandy Bridge Chipset seems to be the dirty bit. BZZZZT BOOM BOOM.... BZZZZT BZZZT BZZZT BOOM BOOOM...." The rest of his comments weren't heard by anyone at the event due to the sudden loud and obnoxious music blaring from all corners...
  • First of all, this should be in the summary, the first two 6g controllers on the board are unaffected, its only the 3g controllers that are affected. Most users aren't even going to be using more than 2 ports. Secondly, most motherboards use third party controllers for additional ports (mine use 2 other controllers and 6 non-Intel ports), if you have any of these then unless you are using 10 drives in your computer it isn't going to be a problem and a simple cable switch to other ports and you are done.

    La

  • I hope some of these recalled MB's become available at bargain basement prices. I'd happily buy one and use a PCIe SATA card if it could save me ~75% compared to the present MSRP.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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