updated 10:05 am EDT, Mon June 8, 2009
NVIDIA Says GPU Sales Fine
NVIDIA hasn't seen a drop in orders for its mobile graphics chips in the wake of the wide-scale failures that have prompted major repair costs, the company's marketing VP Ujesh Desai said at Computex. Despite the effect on the firm's reputation, computer builders are still choosing NVIDIA's graphics cores and are actually increasing their usage this year. Trying to fix the problem quickly has reportedly helped preserve much of that business.
"None of the OEMs held that against us or anything," Desai said, hoping to minimize the perceived impact. "I think we stepped up and we did a good job with how we handled that."
The failures were caused by a decision to use a non-eutectic contact material for at least its GeForce 8400M and 8600M notebook chipsets. Using the substance to connect the chips to their packages essentially set them up for failure as it gradually inflicted heat damage until the GPUs would either show corrupted video or no signal at all, forcing a replacement. Apple, Dell, HP and others extended their warranties to cover the impact and, as a result, required that NVIDIA take on a one-time $196 million expense.
Since then, NVIDIA has switched to a safer eutectic material on most, if not all, of its 9000-, 100- and 200- series mobile graphics processors and isn't expected to see the problem again. It has also helped Dell and others issue firmware updates that step up fan speeds and keep the parts cooler, though critics have charged that these only delay the failures until they're no longer covered under warranty.