I awoke this morning to see a number of stories breaking about the Intel Sandy Bridge H67/P67 Chipset Recall. I also had a number of Tweets directed at me (@GlennAlanBerry) and several e-mails from people asking me what I thought about this.
First, I hate to see something like this happen to any company. It not only affects Intel, but their OEMs, retailers, and end-user customers. Many people will probably over-react and decide to skip Sandy Bridge, which I think would be a big mistake. It will also delay the widespread introduction of Sandy Bridge notebooks and the initial introduction of Sandy Bridge servers.
AnandTech does their usual good job of explaining the the issue here. It turns out that the issue (which is in the chipset on the motherboard, not the actual processor) only affects the four older 3Gbps SATA II ports on the motherboard (shown in light blue on the ASUS motherboard below). What may happen on a certain percentage of motherboards over time is that the connectivity of these ports might degrade and eventually stop working entirely. The two 6Gbps SATA III ports that are natively supported by the chipset are unaffected (they are light grey on the motherboard below). Many higher end motherboards have an additional Marvell controller that gives you two more 6Gbps SATA III ports (shown in dark blue below).
I have already built two Sandy Bridge Desktop systems, and I don’t plan on doing anything. I might swap out the motherboards when replacements are available, but I might not (since I am only using the 6Gbps SATA III ports).
This means that you can just use the 6Gbps SATA III ports (even for older 3Gbps SATA II devices) and you will be completely unaffected. Replacement motherboards should be available in perhaps four to six weeks, so you should be able to swap it out then, which will be a hassle. I have to give Intel some credit for how fast they have reacted to this problem.
The Sandy Bridge processor is a huge improvement over the older Lynnfield/Clarksfield/Clarkdale/Arrandale processors, with much better performance and lower power usage, which means better battery life for notebooks.
If you are in the market for a new notebook computer, I would still wait for a Sandy Bridge system with a Core i7 2820QM processor from your favorite vendor to be available. It will give you more than twice the performance of a Core i5 480M and roughly twice the performance of a Core i7 840QM system, with far better battery life.
It will also have native 6Gbps SATA III support, so you will be able to use one of the upcoming 2nd generation 6Gbps SSD drives that have sequential read and write speeds of over 400MB/sec. This will absolutely humiliate the most fire-breathing, expensive, previous generation Core i7 system for both performance and battery life.