Companies start to announce CougarGate returns

UPDATE 03/02/2011 1455: MSI's affected model list and returns procedure added.

UPDATE 02/02/2011 1615: Gigabyte's motherboard replacement plan added.

Following Intel's announcement of a major flaw in the Cougar Point chipset for its latest Sandy Bridge processors, manufacturers with products affected by the fault have started to announce how they're going to address recalls.

The design flaw in Intel's Cougar Point chipset, which the company announced yesterday, results in the SATA ports on the board gradually 'decaying' over time - until they're all-but unusable.

Although Intel has announced that it is to take steps to recover Cougar Point components it has sold to OEMs, replacing them with a fixed version due for launch later this month, it's leaving the decision of what to do about consumer-level restitution to the individual manufacturers themselves.

While many are keeping quiet to gauge the lie of the land, some companies have announced returns. Asus, one of the first to release a statement, has confirmed that all its affected products - based around the Intel P67, H67, Q67, and C206 platforms - are valid for swap-out or a full refund under the company's warranty. A list of affected models, which includes motherboards, bare-bones systems, desktop PCs, and workstation boards, is available on the Asus website.

Toshiba has also issued a statement regarding its laptops featuring the faulty Cougar Point chipsets, asking those with affected Satellite A-series, Satellite E-series, Satellite L-series, Satellite M-series, Portege, and Qosimo laptops to return them to their point of sale for a full refund. Again, a full list of affected models is available on Toshiba's site.

While no official statement has yet appeared, a report from Engadget suggests that Samsung will also be offering full refunds for its faulty units - although, as yet, there is no list of affected model numbers.

Gigabyte has issued a statement confirming that all its P67/H67/P65/PH67 chipset motherboards with B2 stepping 6 series chipsets are affected by the flaw, and asks customers to hang fire until replacement boards are available in April - at which point they are advised to take their faulty units back to their point of purchase and request a replacement.

Motherboard and laptop manufacturer MSI has announced that end-users have two options if they have bought a product affected by the recall. The first is to wait for the third revision of the chipset to be released later this month, at which point MSI will swap the faulty models for fixed versions. For those who would rather not wait, the second option is to return your goods to the retailer - although the company claims this will result in 'credit' rather than an outright refund.

MSI devices affected by the recall, based around Intel's P67, H67, and HM67 platforms, are given as models Intel P67: P67A-GD65, P67A-GD55, P67A-GD53, P67A-C45, P67A-C43, P67S-C43, H67MA-ED55, H67MA-E45, H67MS-E43, H67MS-E33 and the GT680R notebook.

The faulty chipset has caused something of a chain reaction in the industry, with numerous companies announcing delays to planned product launches while Intel attempts to produce enough of the repaired Cougar Point chipsets to meet demand - a process estimated to be costing the company over $1 billion in return costs and lost sales.

Confusingly, Tom's Hardware is reporting that US component retailer NewEgg has removed Sandy Bridge processors from its inventory - despite the processors themselves not suffering from any known design flaws. While it makes sense from the perspective of a CPU being no use without a motherboard, it's a move that won't do Intel's tattered image any good.

As more companies announce their returns procedures, we'll keep you up to date.