Fri, Feb 04, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Asustek, Gigabyte act on flawed chipsets

SUPPLY CHAIN IMPACT:The two Taiwanese electronics firms are offering refunds or replacements for users of their products affected by Intel’s flawed Sandy Bridge chipset

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) and Gigabyte Technology Co (技嘉科技) said they would offer refund or replacement services to customers who have bought their computer products built with flawed Intel Corp chipsets.

The two companies’ remarks came after Intel announced on Monday that it discovered a flaw in its 6-Series chipset (codenamed Cougar Point).

The design flaw in the chipset, which connects its second-generation Core processors (codenamed Sandy Bridge) to the other parts of the PC system, could lead to some connections to disk drives and DVD drives degrading over a period of three years, Intel said.

Asustek, the world’s largest motherboard maker and No. 5 PC brand, said in a statement on Tuesday that it had immediately stopped shipments and sales of all of its motherboards and laptop and desktop computers based on the Sandy Bridge chipset.

“Asustek will provide customers with refunds or replacements for the affected notebooks and desktops,” the statement said.

As for motherboards, Asustek said that while it had confirmed with Intel that the flawed chipset design only affected SATA 2.0 ports — not SATA 0, SATA 1, SATA 3Gb/s or SATA 6Gb/s ports — the company would allow all customers to refund or replace affected products, with a renewed warranty, the statement said.

Gigabyte, which produces motherboards and graphics cards, said in a separate statement on Tuesday that customers could contact the place where they had bought affected products to have the problem resolved.

The company is expected to provide new motherboards that support Intel’s 6-Series chipset as soon as the US chip giant starts a full-volume recovery of the updated chipset in April, Gigabyte said.

The company’s Australian unit announced on Wednesday that it stopped selling motherboards built around the problematic chipset and would unconditionally recall those motherboards from its distributors and resellers as well as refund consumers the full amount.

Micro-Star International Co (MSI, 微星科技), which makes motherboards and laptops, also on Tuesday halted all shipments of the affected products to its distributors and resellers.

REPERCUSSIONS

The incident’s impact on Taiwan’s PC supply chain includes delayed product launches and missed sales in the near term.

Major computer and component suppliers are expected to issue their damage assessments after the Lunar New Year holidays, with Asustek expected to be first in line on Feb. 11, when it reports its financial results for last year and sales guidance for the first quarter.

Asustek’s revenue is expected to see a loss of more than NT$1 billion (US$34.2 million) this month as a result of the refunds and replacements, the Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper reported yesterday, citing chief financial officer David Chang (張偉明).

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