As if to keep the splash damage to a minimum, Intel has shifted into high gear by announcing its intent to ship the B3 stepping of Cougar Point chipsets (Q67, P67, H67, and so on) to OEMs on February 14. The news arrives in a product change notification (pdf) dated on February 9, 2011 (#110456-00) and follows the company's previous promise to expedite the fix as quickly as possible.
According to the document, the changes and features are as follows:
- 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
"Minimal re-qualification and/or validation is expected for features already supported on B2 stepping," Intel said. "B3 stepping has only a minor metal layer change that has no functional or SATA interface electrical changes. Customers should be ready to receive the new material by the “Date Customer Must be Ready to Receive Post-Conversion Material” above. Please contact your local Intel representative for further technical questions."
Originally the Cougar Point revision was slated to hit OEMs by the end of the month. However pressures from manufacturers and AMD may have driven the company to bring a solution sooner than expected. Earlier this week Leslie Sobon, AMD vice president of product and platform marketing, said that Intel's Sandy Bridge platform problem was sending additional business their way.
"We have some customers and retailers who have come to us specifically as a result of Intel's chip problem," Sobon said. "Some retailers have had to take things off their shelves, so they call us to ask what they could get from our OEMs that's similar. And OEMs are asking us for product, as well."
Also earlier this week, Intel said that it would continue to ship the defective Cougar Point chipsets for limited uses. The chipsets can only be applied in systems that won't be affected by the design flaw, namely "closed" notebook configurations and desktops with a SATA PCI-Express card pre-installed that provides additional SATA ports.