The next step in trying to get a Linux 2.6.38 Git kernel build to work and hopefully fix the Sandy Bridge issues was reverting back to the original Linux 2.6.35 kernel that ships with Ubuntu 10.10. But it turns out there too this problem can take place if you force the CPU load too high there with multiple threads, the system can also go down, but the problem just seems to be a lot easier to hit with the Linux 2.6.37 kernel.
Once switching to the newer Linux 2.6.38 kernel, however, things had not improved.
This is an angry screenshot of what a Linux kernel build process looks like off Intel's newest Sandy Bridge CPUs when their processing power cannot be exploited due to bugs so you have to build with a single thread... And then only hit a Debian packaging error an hour later. Under the Core i7 970 "Gulftown", the kernel build process goes in about five minutes, as should the Core i5 2500K sans bugs.
In talking over this situation with Keith Packard, who heads the Intel OSTC developers working on the Linux graphics code, the culprit for most of these issues may be within the Intel's Linux power management code for Sandy Bridge, but he shared they seem to be facing a number of platform-specific issues this generation so it could be a more isolated problem as well. There's also likely at least a second separate issue coming into play too and that's with the Mesa driver where some OpenGL games (such as Padman and OpenArena) are crashing gracefully but independent problems from the rest.
Regardless, the Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs are very fast, but even if you jump through the steps to get the graphics drivers working under Linux, at the moment they are not exactly working well in all cases. The investigation is continuing so you can expect more on the matter in the coming days and weeks at Phoronix.