Nvidia's woes in the mobile graphics arena have been well documented, but here's a quick refresher for anyone who hasn't been following along. After several users complained of graphics glitches and outright failures in their 8M-based notebooks, Nvidia announced it would set aside a one-time hit of $200 million to cover warranty and repair costs associated with the "abnormal failure rate." According to the graphics chip maker, the failures only affect a limited number of notebook GPUs produced from a bad batch, but just how limited the problem remains a point of contention. Charlie Demerjian from news and rumor site The Inquirer has been particularly outspoken on the issue, claiming the failures resonate into the G92 and G94 lineup, and according to rumblings, he might not be too far off.
According to TomsHardware, "the general consensus across industry sources talked to is that a material problem may be the reason for the trouble," saying anywhere between 15 and 75 million GPUs could be affected. Citing un-named sources, the site says the failures stem from a solder bump that connects the I/O termination of the silicon chip to the pad on the substrate. Nvidia uses what's called high-lead to create these solder bumps, but it's being speculated that a thermal mismatch between the chip and the substrate has substantially grown in recent chip generations, leading to fatigue cracking. The problems arise at what Nvidia claims to be "extreme temperatures."
But is it all just baseless speculation? Leading some to think otherwise, THW reports Nvidia recently ordered an immediate switch to use eutectic solders instead of high-lead versions, which are believed to solve the problem of fatigue cracking. If that is the reason Nvidia made the switch, than it's feasible that both notebook and desktop GPUs built using high-lead solders could be at risk.
What are your thoughts - is this a bigger problem than Nvidia is admitting?
Image Credit: David Baker - BakerDavid@gmail.com