Intel has started shipping replacement chipsets for PCs that use its latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors.

The new chipsets could reach PC makers as early as today, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

Late last month Intel said it had found a design flaw in the 6-series chipset, code-named Cougar Point, that's used in PCs with its new Sandy Bridge processors. It halted shipments to PC makers, some of whom had to delay product launches and issue refunds for systems they had sold.

The replacement chipsets have a "minor metal layer change" that fixes the issue, according to a notice for PC makers on Intel's website.

The issue could have caused Serial-ATA (SATA) controllers within the chipsets to degrade over time, affecting hard drive performance. Intel initially said it would ship the new chipsets by the end of February.

The error has been costly for Intel. The company said it could reduce its revenue by around $300m, and that the repair and replacement costs could reach a further $700m.

See also: Intel to ship dual-core Sandy Bridge chips