Intel has announced that it has started manufacturing of its updated Cougar Point chipsets and on February 14th it will ship the first fault-free chipsets with the B3 stepping to partners and customers. The new B3 stepping does not have the SATA defect that earlier chipsets had, while new retail motherboards will take months.
Intel is in a stage where it is starting to ship new chipsets to motherboard makers and system builders, and from there on it will take several weeks before the final products reaches the end consumers. Motherboard makers are not expecing any significant volumes of B3-stepped motherboards until the end of April, which means they are still on schedule.
Worst case it can take even longer before the new B3-stepped motherboards are found in stores in larger quantities. In a document INtel has detailed to partners what makes the B3 stepping new from the the B2 stepping.
Description of Change to the Customer:
Intel is initiating an B2 to B3 stepping conversion for the Intel ® 6 Express Chipsets and Intel ® C200 Series Chipsets where products will undergo the following changes:
- New S-specs and MM numbers for the converting products
- Revision ID will change from 04h to 05h
- BIOS Update (Revision 1.1.4 of the BIOS Specification Update and Reference Code)
- B3 stepping package is pin compatible with B2 stepping package
- Minor metal layer change from B2 to B3 improving lifetime wear out with no changes to functionality or design specifications
At the same time we have been reached by reports about what will happen with the millions of Sandy Bridge motherboards that have already shipped and been sold. According to these sources it hasn’t been entirely decided what will happen to the motherboards that are exchanged ot sent in from consumers, but most likely the boards will be destroyed while the cards that are stuck in the channel will be returned for repairs and chipset upgrade.
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