Intel is to resume shipment of flawed Sandy Bridge chipset motherboards - but only to OEMs that promise to use them responsibly.
Here's the statement from Intel:
On January 31, 2011, Intel disclosed a design issue with a support chip, the Intel® 6 Series Chipset that has the potential to impact certain PC system configurations. Intel subsequently initiated extensive discussions with computer makers about this topic. Both Intel and its customers are focused on delivering the highest quality PC systems based on Intel® 2nd Generation Core® Processors. As a result of these discussions and specific requests from computer makers, Intel is resuming shipments of the Intel® 6 Series Chipset for use only in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue.
Only computer makers who have committed to shipping the Intel® 6 Series Chipset in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue will be receiving these shipments.
So how does this work? Well, if you recall, only the SATA 2 port is affected by the chipset bug, and drives connected to the SATA 3 ports are unaffected. So it seems that the agreement that Intel has come to with the OEMs is to not hook up any drives to the affected SATA 2 ports and only use the SATA 3 ports (which are backward compatible with SATA 2).
But unless those flawed are physically removed, they'll remain on the board and possibly cause problems down the line when the owner carries out an upgrade if the motherboard isn't replaced.
Also no clarification is offered as to whether these affected motherboards will be swapped out when replacements are available. If I were buying one (and to be honest, at this stage I wouldn't, I'd wait for the updated B3 stepping chiipsets to appear) I'd want clarification from the OEM about a future motherboard replacement.
Intel has started manufacturing on a new version of this chipset, without the flaw, and expects to begin shipping the new parts in mid February.
Would you buy a system with a faulty chipset?