Thunderstorms in the distance are signaling the end of the Sandy Bridge drought. Gigabyte has announced that shipments of its B3-stepping Sandy Bridge motherboards have officially begun, with boards expected to become available this week as "shipments start to clear customs offices in markets around the world."
Gigabyte adds that it has "totally redesigned and renamed" the boards to dispel any confusion about the chipset stepping. Look for the "B3" suffix at the end of the new model names. For example, Gigabyte says its GA-P67A-UD7 motherboard will be replaced by the GA-P67A-UD7-B3, and the GA-H67A-UD3H-B3 will stand in for the old GA-H67A-UD3H. The B3 suffix will be displayed on the box, on the board itself, and in the BIOS start-up screen—Gigabyte even updated its 6 Series SATA Check utility to report the chipset stepping.
We'll keep an eye on e-tail listings and let you folks know when boards start becoming available. The question, of course, is whether those will stay in stock. Intel stated last month that it doesn't expect "full volume recovery" until April, which means we might end up with a trickle, rather than a steady flow, of B3 boards for a little while.