Sandy Bridge E should hit C2 stepping after launch

We knew that Intel's Sandy Bridge-E chips were big and complicated to make, but what we didn't expect was that Intel was going to continuously keep running into problems. The current C1 stepping is apparently having problems with VT-d, not a major issue for most consumers' maybe, but it's a huge problem when it comes to Xeon chips and as such Intel is working on the C2 stepping to fix this "errata".

We knew that Intel's Sandy Bridge-E chips were big and complicated to make, but what we didn't expect was that Intel was going to continuously keep running into problems. The current C1 stepping is apparently having problems with VT-d, not a major issue for most consumers' maybe, but it's a huge problem when it comes to Xeon chips and as such Intel is working on the C2 stepping to fix this "errata".

 The only good news here for Intel, if you look at that way, is that its current Extreme Edition CPU's don't support VT-d, neither does the Sandy Bridge K-SKU CPU's, so as far as the consumer platform is concerned it looks like there won't be any further delays, but the initial batch should be C1 stepping rather than C2. The C1 stepping should be in production by now, or by the latest by next week, although we don't know when Intel will kick off production of the C2 stepping, but it's very possible it won't be until next year as qualification samples of the C2 stepping isn't expected until the very end of the year.

As we've mentioned before, Intel will only certify the Waimea Bay platform for PCI Express 2.0 at launch, due to the fact that there aren't enough third party cards to test with. Some PCI Express 3.0 devices are still likely to work, but Intel doesn't guarantee compatibility. This makes us wonder if the current 6-series motherboard with Gen 3 switches will actually work properly once cards and more importantly, Ivy Bridge CPU's arrive.

We also have some good news for those wanting to continue to use Windows XP, the Waimea Bay platform will be compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, although Intel won't be providing Rapid Storage drivers for the 32-bit version of XP and as such the standard Windows drivers will be handling things. The platform will also be supporting Windows 8 once Microsoft launches it.

We can't but feel sorry for the motherboard manufacturers as well, as we're hearing that Intel has jacked the price of the X79 chipset up by 20 percent compared to the X58 chipset, which puts the X79 chipset somewhere in the US$70 region. This is of course the list price and with various discounts and what not, Intel might very well be selling it for far less. However, we're looking at a chipset that offers nothing new over the X58 chipset in terms of features and it's the size of any of the 6-series chipsets, i.e. it should be cheaper to manufacture than the X58 chipset which consists of the I/O Hub and the ICH10R. Now if there only was some competition…