Update: Unedited desktop vendor responses added to the bottom of the post. We'll add more as they come in.
Following the news this morning about the serial-ATA chip flaw in Intel's new Sandy Bridge-supporting chipsets, we immediately thought of the two (soon to be three) Sandy Bridge-powered PC's we've reviewed since the January 9 launch.
In addition to the PCs we've gotten our hands on from Falcon Northwest and Origin (and soon Maingear), virtually every other large and small desktop vendor has been shipping Sandy Bridge-equipped PCs for the past few weeks.
In light of this chipset flaw, whether you've spent $5,000 on a gaming system or $1,000 on a more modest desktop or all-on-one, you'd be right to want to know whether you need to send your system back, as well as who is going to pay for and parts, labor, or shipping costs.
First, the problem. According to Intel: "In some cases, the Serial-ATA (SATA) ports within the chipsets may degrade over time, potentially impacting the performance or functionality of SATA-linked devices such as hard disk drives and DVD-drives."
A vendor who requested anonymity (Update: Intel is now on the record with the details of the flaw) told us the problem actually affects serial ATA ports two through five on a six-port motherboard. The affected ports are all Serial ATA II, so if you ordered a higher-end Serial ATA III/6.0 hard drive (and the vendor connected it to the right port), you should be safe (upgrade path anxieties not withstanding). If you do have components connected to the afflicted ports, we're told you may not ever see the issue. Intel told Anandtech regarding the frequency of the flaw: "over 3 years of use it would see a failure rate of approximately 5 - 15% depending on usage model." If the issue does manifest itself, you will experience slower read and write performance, but data integrity, according to Intel, won't be an issue.… Read more