Asia Express - East Asian ICT
Computing – Defect in Intel 915/925 Chipsets Leads to Motherboard Recall
June 29, 2004
Outgoing shipments of motherboards adopting Intel's PCI Express 915 and 925 series chipsets were brought to a temporary halt and all recently released motherboards were recalled due to a production error found in the ICH6 Southbridge chipset. According to Intel, the defect, which inhibits the computer from booting properly, is limited to a small segment of the chipset and does not indicate a problem in the overall design. Nevertheless, Intel sent an urgent message to its customers to recall all motherboards produced between June 7-14 for immediate inspection.


Intel's partners involved in motherboard production, such as ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI, announced that they had temporarily stopped all out-going shipments. The timing of the recall coincided with the opening of a large-scale sales drive. Intel's customers expressed concern that the recall would not only result in material losses, but also significantly influence product promotion costs and dampen customers' goodwill.


Of the total ICH6 Southbridge chipsets shipped between June 7-14, on average, about 10,000 of the chipsets shipped to each company are estimated to be affected by the defect. After the inspection is complete, it is unlikely that all of the motherboard chips in question will be found defective. Those found to be without defect will be returned to the market. Therefore, the actual number of motherboards affected should be lower than original estimates.


Given that the 915 and 925X series motherboards are high-end offerings (US$120 or above), the limited distribution of these motherboards is believed to mitigate losses. However, OEM suppliers that produce motherboards adopting 915 series chipsets have been particularly aggressive in pushing their production volume, so the actual damage they will sustain is likely to be greater than the impact on branded makers. 


Poor sales in the opening week of the newly released P4 chipset have been attributed to the coinciding recall of the chipsets. The episode is reminiscent of the 2000 recall in which all motherboards containing the 820 series chipset were pulled from the market due to a defect in the MCH (Memory Controller Hub). The current recall's impact on the industry is widely believed to be much less severe than in 2000.