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NVIDIA asking PC makers to buy bug-free GPUs?

updated 12:15 pm EST, Fri December 26, 2008

NVIDIA Urging New Material

NVIDIA is urging notebook manufacturers to buy into a new generation of graphics hardware to avoid a chronic failure problem with the earlier hardware's material, a memo obtained by VR-Zone reveals. The graphics company reportedly "strongly recommends" that partners making certain GeForce 8700M, 8800M and 9650M video chipsets switch to a revision with a Hitachi underfill, or contact bump material, as soon as possible. The new substance provides "improved thermal cycling," according to NVIDIA, and should improve reliability as well as prevent a glut of orders for replacement chips.

The statement appears to refer to a switch to material that is better balanced and has a higher melting point, which increases a given chip's ability to withstand the regular heat-up and cool-down processes that come with turning the part on or off and running it at full speed. Many current chips from NVIDIA, including the GeForce 9600M of the current MacBook Pro as well as virtually all GeForce 8M parts, use material with a lower melting point and so are prone to long-term failures that blank out video and have prompted warranty extensions by Apple, Dell and HP.

Certain newer chips, including the 9400M integrated chip at the heart of some Apple and Toshiba notebooks, already use the newer, safer material. It's not presently known whether a later revision of the 9600M has been introduced.

NVIDIA has not commented on the latest leak but has historically tried to minimize the scope of the graphics failures, at first claiming they only affected certain HP notebooks but later acknowledging more as the universal nature of the problem became apparent.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999


    how long...

    ...are nVidia going to keep up this charade of minimisation and denial? I'm not sure that I would like an iMac or MacBook (or new Mac Mini) built around GPU's from these guys. Let's face it, from a manufacturer point of view, unless you've bought AppleCare these things only have to last 12 months!!!! Will it become a case of liar, liar your chip's on fire?

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    how long ....

    I totally agree with you. I think nVidia today is the Intel of 5 years ago. Making really poorly engineered products and pointing the finger at other people.

    They're quality has come down a lot. I think at this point, ATI is a much better bet. Apple should always use an ATI option for their machines to keep nVidia on their toes.

    This is completely unacceptable. They should be forced to replace the WHOLE laptop for all the affected users, so that they learn their lesson.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004


    Not ATI for a few reasons

    While manufacturing quality is something that is due to the chip fabber and whatever NVidia's specs for said chips are, there are a few reasons why they are the preferred vendor right now.

    First, OpenGL and OpenCL. NVidia's support for both of those systems is far better than ATI's. As a user of very high-end CAD/CAM/CAE software, I can attest that NVidia's support of OpenGL is far better than ATI's. Likewise, their extant OpenCL wrapper for CUDA is more feature complete than ATI's wrapper for it's Stream architecture. Snow Leopard points the way for Apple with OpenGL and OpenCL.

    The second big reason has to do with Intel and Pepsi. Back in the 1990's, Pepsi bought Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. With those acquisitions, Pepsi-branded soft drinks became the de-facto standard in those chains, where previously, the individual restaurants were free to choose. Well, this became a huge blunder in the cola war, as many competitor restaurant chains dumped Pepsi products and adopted Coke brands across the board. The logic here was that they did not want to support a competitor (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), so they jumped to the more independent Coke, who did not own any chains.

    Bringing this back to the topic at hand, ATI is owned by AMD. Intel supplies chips for Apple. Apple's discount on Intel chips may be affected by how much it supports Intel's competitor AMD/ATI. Just speculation, but business can be fickle.

    -- Len

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