Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bridge over Sandy(bridge) waters

Intel’s processors work perfectly. The company guarantees this.All H67 and P67 boards have two sets of SATA ports. Four of these support 3 Gbps operation and two support the faster 6Gbps speeds. Each of these sets requires its own PLL source. This problem in the chipset has been traced back to a transistor in the 3Gbps PLL clocking tree. This transistor has a very thin gate oxide which allows you to turn it on with a very low voltage. The mistake that Intel made was biasing the transistor with too high of a voltage which caused a higher than expected leakage current. Each transistor will operate slightly differently, so over

time the leakage current can cause a failure on the 3Gbps ports. Luckily the fact that the 3Gbps and 6Gbps circuits have their own independent clocking trees helps ensure that the problem will be only limited to ports 2-5 of the controller.

OK. Now we know where the problem is – we need to ask “How much of an issue is it ?”
For Intel, the answer is simple. The product is outside the specification which they set, which means it is not correct and must be cancelled/returned/buried in a pit and forgotten about.

But the real world does not work that way. IT is a business and companies need to sell. Checking around, no one in the UK channel seems to have missed much of a beat.

So the real question is, “Can you safely sell/buy/use a Sandy Bridge system?”.

The answer is, quite obviously ‘Yes – as long as you are aware of the issues and you’re sure they won’t affect you’. Especially if you choose a mainboard from one of the top vendors like Asus.

KitGuru has no specific brand preference when it comes to mainboards, but what looked like ‘Asus overkill’ a month ago, may well turn out to be a life jacket for the channel over the next few months as Intel scrambles to re-build its reputation.

Here’s a question: In an average system, how many SATA devices does the normal user have?

Here’s the KitGuru reply: Booting from an SSD and then loading programs onto a big system drive from a DVD/BluRay is about as many attachments as the majority of people will make. Add in a second hard drive (either internally – or through an eSATA port on the front of your system) and you have solution that probably works for >95% of the world’s users.

That means as long as you use the correct 4 headers, you should not only enjoy carefree data transfers for the life of your system – those transfers will also be as fast as (presently) mechanically possible.

This image is being passed around the industry right now and it helpfully shows you where up to 4 drives can be attached on an Asus board with no risk whatsoever.

Source: Kitguru

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