We have already begun fielding questions on twitter and in the forums about what to do with existing systems and plans that readers had to build a Sandy Bridge system in the near future.  In a sense, we were given our answer when a user pointed out that Newegg has pulled both the 2nd Gen Core i5/i7 processors and motherboards based on the P67/H67 chipsets.

Newegg pulls Sandy Bridge CPUs and P67 MBs while NVIDIA snickers quietly - Processors 5

Newegg pulls Sandy Bridge CPUs and P67 MBs while NVIDIA snickers quietly - Processors 6

Ouch.  Now I know that Newegg isn’t the only retailer and there will likely be Sandy Bridge-based processors for sale throughout this production hiccup, but the quick response of Newegg is one that I think will filter through the industry for at least the next 4-6 weeks. Don’t buy currently available products.  Even though Intel was determined to tell everyone that the Sandy Bridge processor itself is unaffected by the bug, there is literally no point in buying one today if you are going to have to buy a motherboard that will no doubt be recalled or at least have a return offered. 

Obviously this is bad news for Intel – not only are they losing about $300M in revenue for lost sales but they are spending $700M to cover the replacement of currently existing parts.  But Intel’s partners are going to have just as much of a headache and infrastructure issue dealing with this.  ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, ECS and others are going to have to go through the process of letting their customers know the problems, offer them the replacements and deal with the support calls of users as they are forced to swap out motherboards.  Activation calls to Microsoft will likely spike as well. 

While we are still waiting for official word from the motherboard teams, we are hearing from a couple of system vendors on the subject.  Both MAINGEAR and Puget Systems have release official responses that both state essentially the same thing: they will cover the replacement of the motherboard in your system or offer to send you a discrete SATA 3.0 Gb/s card for your system so you have full access to at least 6 working SATA channels.  Seems pretty reasonable and I am sure both companies are hoping most users choose that add-in card option. 

Newegg pulls Sandy Bridge CPUs and P67 MBs while NVIDIA snickers quietly - Processors 7

The lack of chipsets is only slightly ironic

In my title I mention that NVIDIA is likely laughing it up as their neighbors in Santa Clara struggle with this issue.  Not only was NVIDIA just recently guilty a recall-able offense with GeForce GPUs a couple of years back, but it would seem that Intel’s deliberate attempt to push out all the competition in the chipset market has come back to bite them. 

Newegg pulls Sandy Bridge CPUs and P67 MBs while NVIDIA snickers quietly - Processors 8
One of the better motherboards for the S775 platform

Before the previous generation of Intel processor was released, Lynnfield, remember that NVIDIA initially WANTED to have chipset options on the market as well.  Instead, Intel put legal pressure on NVIDIA to the point that the entire division was dropped.  The death of the nForce line was with a whimper, not a bang, but the fact that today you can’t make a Sandy Bridge processor purchase because of failures with Intel’s own chipset, the ONLY chipset that exists for SNB-base CPUs, should help NVIDIA’s top brass sleep better at night.

If Intel had decided to go with a more open and consumer-friendly stance on third-party chipsets, they would likely be in a better position today.  With the ability to continue selling Sandy Bridge processors during this 6-series chipset recall, Intel’s financial state might be slightly less grim.  (If making $3 billion a quarter can ever be grim.)  Even though Intel’s own chipsets have always been the dominant platform for its processors, having another option would only help them, and the customer looking for an SNB platform, today.

And finally, a boost for AMD?

Another question is how AMD will be affected by all of this?  Some in the motherboard space are hopefully that this will bring about a burst in AMD platform sales both because the competition would be helpful, and hey, selling an AMD motherboard is definitely better than selling NO motherboards for the next month or two. 

It is unfortunate that AMD doesn’t have a truly competitive processor available today to take advantage of this lapse in quality from the teams at Intel.  AMD 6-core processors are still great options for enthusiasts and gamers but nothing AMD has released recently has the excitement or advances seen in the Sandy Bridge architecture.