NVIDIA's Major Hardware Headache Could Devastate Company's Reputation

Dennis Faas's picture

The Inquirer has reported that there are heat issues affecting significant quantities of older NVIDIA G84 and G86 GPUs used in GeForce 8400M and 8600M graphics cards. The report from the Inquirer comes on the heels of earlier reports that NVIDIA had discovered a problem relating to "significant quantities" of older mobile GPUs.

There is currently no word from NVIDIA as to what product lines are affected.

In short, all the G84 and G86 GPUs are bad. All the mobile and desktop GPUs use the same exact ASIC, so expect them to go bad in mass quantities. According to the Inquirer, these ASICs have a rather terminal problem with unnamed substrate or bumping material and general issue is heat related. Officially, NVIDIA gives no reason why this happened and no list of parts affected. Unofficially, they blame everyone under the sun.

The magnitude of the problem is huge. Failures occur due to heat cycling. Laptops seem to be affected more quickly because they tend to be turned off and on more times per day, and due to the power management, throttle down much more than desktops. Desktops typically get turned off and on once a day. Consequentially, laptops and desktops have different 'customer use patterns.'

As noted by ZDNet, if some of the GPUs are affected, it's not a big leap to assume that all (or a large portion) are affected, meaning it could be quite a big problem for NVIDIA. It gets even bigger when you consider that these NVIDIA GPUs have been used in countless notebooks, including Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro lines.

So far, Hewlett-Packard (HP) is the only vendor who has publicly identified a hardware issue with certain HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario series notebooks. More information can be found from HP to see if your computer may be eligible for a free repair.

In the past, the Inquirer has intoned that this was a cover-up of engineering failures by NVIDIA and that they probably knew what was happening. If they are correct, and NVIDIA has been covering the problems up, it could lead to a major class-action lawsuit against NVIDIA. Until NVIDIA comes clean, it could take months to get to the bottom of this problem.

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