Intel Resumes Shipping Sandy Bridge Chipsets Without Implementing Repair

Last week, Intel announced it was temporarily halting shipments of its Sandy Bridge-compatible 6 Series Chipset due to a long-term reliability problem with the conventional SATA II ports on all P67 motherboards. Today, the company announced a partial reversal of that decision. The company's PR statement states:
Intel subsequently initiated extensive discussions with computer makers about this topic...As a result of these discussions and specific requests from computer makers, Intel is resuming shipments of the Intel® 6 Series Chipset for use only in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue.

Only computer makers who have committed to shipping the Intel® 6 Series Chipset in PC system configurations that are not impacted by the design issue will be receiving these shipments.
Intel may have extracted ironclad promises from OEMs when it comes to their product designs but this doesn't make automatically make Santa Clara's renege any sort of good idea. Despite the company's best intentions, this sort of restricted permissiveness could create problems in the consumer market.

If you plan on buying from a name-brand OEM, you should be perfectly fine when it comes to a Sandy Bridge system. Everything else, caveat emptor

There's nothing inherently wrong with Intel's decision to sell product to qualified vendors, but the company has no control over what happens to the finished motherboards once they've been delivered to the OEM in question. That leaves the door wide open for "approved" components to end up on the gray market. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a "gray" market is one where legal products are being bought and sold through channels or in ways that the manufacturer did not intend or has not approved. Many companies (EVGA is an example) won't warranty products purchased on eBay unless the seller has applied for and received EVGA Authorized Reseller status.

Even Intel's original decision to cease producing P67 chipsets and the subsequent recalls couldn't guarantee that flawed Sandy Bridge motherboards wouldn't be dumped on the gray market. In that situation, however, with virtually all motherboards recalled and products on hold, companies knew that their competitors weren't selling Sandy Bridge systems and thumbing their noses at Intel's directive.

In a situation where some partners and OEMs are permitted to ship boards, the unapproved have a much more significant reason to flout Intel's original order.Given the current situation, we recommend readers only purchase hardware from OEMs and vendors that have a substantial history of backing warranty issues. We're not worried about the likes of Dell or Origin, but we'd be particularly wary of any hole-in-the-wall or eBay deals, no matter how good they sound.