updated 05:45 pm EDT, Wed July 9, 2008
NVIDIA G84, G86 faulty
Despite NVIDIA's claims, the Inquirer reports all, not just a select batch, of the company's G84 and G86 chipsets used in GeForce 8400M and 8600M graphics cards are suffering from heat-related failures due to an unidentified substrate or bumping material used to help make the video hardware. They all share the same application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), which is the source of the problems, in both notebook and desktop PCs. The chips have been failing since last year, and earlier this month, NVIDIA said the problems will drop the value of its shares to the tune of 25 percent, and is budgeting $200 million for repairs.
According to the report, NVIDIA itself is officially keeping quiet about the specifics related to the problems, sticking to a story about a batch of now-discontinued parts that used a different and faulty bonding process. Engineers The Inquirer talked to maintain NVIDIA would not change the assembly process or material set for a batch.
The report goes on to say the problem causes failures sooner when the number of heat cycles increases, which is why laptops equipped with the affected parts are seemingly failing at higher rates. The company's claims that only HP products are affected also doesn't hold much water, the source says, as Dell and ASUS PCs with the affected chipsets are likewise failing.
Finally, NVIDIA is accused of knowing about the problem for well over a year and not taking any effective actions to address it. The fix NVIDIA is providing to users is a driver that will keep the fans of PCs on to help manage the thermal issue, although critics say such a solution will prolong the inevitable failure and shorten the battery life of notebook models.