Finally, some good news for motherboard makers. DigiTimes’ sources say that Intel has agreed to pay all expenses related to the production and shipping of replacement motherboards for those affected by the 6-series SATA bug. When it revealed chipset flaw a couple of weeks ago, Intel expected repair and replacement costs to total $700 million.
The more pressing question for folks looking to put together Sandy Bridge systems is when updated motherboards will be available. According to DigiTimes, Intel has already begun mass production of a new B3 chipset stepping that resolves the issue. A good number of those chips are likely reserved for big system vendors like Dell and HP, but a “small volume” is slated to start shipping to Asus and Gigabyte next week. Intel has quite a lot of catching up to do, and it looks like we’ll see updated boards come out in a trickle rather than a torrent.
Since motherboard makers will presumably cover replacements before they begin shipping product destined for store shelves, it may be quite some time before new boards are available for purchase. When combined with limited quantities, the pent-up demand for Sandy Bridge could drive up prices, at least until mobos with the B3 chipset are available in significant volume. That could be a while; Intel doesn’t expect to be ramped up to full speed on chipset production until the end of March or early April.