Intel's Sandy Bridge E chips due imminently

Intel's much-delayed Sandy Bridge-E processor series, aimed at the high-performance user with money to burn, looks set to finally arrive within the next two weeks.

While the motherboards for Intel's new top-end consumer product - built around the X79 chipset and the new LGA-2011 socket - were all over the place at Computex back in May, processors were nowhere to be seen.

In July, sources claimed that production issues had led to Intel delaying the Sandy Bridge-E launch until January 2012 - a delay which was never confirmed by Intel directly, but that seemed increasingly likely as the days rolled by.

Recently, X79 boards have been sent to several reviewers from the likes of MSI and Asus - suggesting that review samples of chips are already out. Sadly, the usual Intel non-disclosure agreement - under which reviewers agree to stay silent on the matter until a set date in exchange for early access to hardware - means that information on the Sandy Bridge-E chips is as scarce as ever.

Well, almost: Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate claims to have seen the Sandy Bridge-E NDA paperwork, and says that the agreement expires on the 14th of November.

As a result, it seems likely that we'll see early reviews within the next two weeks - and could be on-track for retail availability before the end of the year.

The Sandy Bridge-E series - for 'Enthusiast' - is expected to include the Core i7-3960X and 3930K chips, with a i7-3820 due to join them in February 2012.

Early supplies could be limited, however, with VR-Zone claiming that design problems mean that the first release - the C2 stepping - will be made available in quantities as small as tens of thousands, pending the release of the new C3 stepping which corrects a few errata.