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Apple Knowledgebase says G92s are defective

Bumpgate You wanted proof...
Tue Oct 14 2008, 09:29

IT LOOKS LIKE Nvidia was being a little less than honest in screaming about desktop cards not being defective, at least according to Apple. The Apple knowledgebase, Radar, says that G92s are bad in desktop configs as well.

Our editors don't like us to use the phrase 'lying sacks' when referring to corporate entities, or their agents, so we will refrain this time. If you are not familiar with the story so far, the summary is that Nvidia announced a 'small' batch of bad chips. We said there was more. And more. And more. Nvidia dutifully denied it. We said it wasn't confined to laptops, Nvidia again denied it. We dug up why (Parts 1, 2, 3), and they downplayed it.

This sad state of denials was at it's most fevered pitch when we said that desktop parts were affected. Nvidia really doesn't want you to know that this is happening, especially if you are a stock analyst, it may cost the firm a lot of money.

The problem is that bridging the gap between defective chips and hardware failures is a tough thing to prove unless you have access to pools of reliability and warranty data. A single incident does not a trend make. We don't have all that data. Apple, however, does. Which is why its knowledgebase is so damning to Nvidia, take a look at these two entries.

(Note: numbers have been scrubbed to protect our sources)

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XX-Sep-2008 XX:XX PM xxxxxx :

Request to qualify Nvidia G92 GPU bump material change for M86 for known Nvidia bump crack issue in order to support MPS and enhance package robustness.

APN: XXXXXXXX

06-Sep-2008 03:27 PM xxxxx :

NVIDIA will transition from using high-lead solder (95%Pb/5%Sn) to eutectic solder (63%Sn/37%Pb) flip-chip bump material for the G92 product family. During the transition period NVIDIA will be supplying both high-lead and eutectic bump until inventory is depleted. No other materials are being changed.

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radar XXXXXXX Request to qualify Nvidia G92 GPU with bump material change for K3 CTO option

--

XX-Sep-2008 XX:XX PM xxxxx :

Request to qualify Nvidia G92 GPU bump material change for K3 CTO for known Nvidia bump crack issue in order to support MPS and enhance package robustness.

G92 MXM card part number: 631-0440 (Sam memory)/ 631-0556 (Hyn memory)

XX-Sep-2008 XX:XX PM xxxxxxx :

NVIDIA will transition from using high-lead solder (95%Pb/5%Sn) to eutectic solder (63%Sn/37%Pb) flip-chip bump material for the G92 product family. During the transition period NVIDIA will be supplying both high-lead and eutectic bump until inventory is depleted. No other materials are being changed.

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For those not fully up on Apple lingo, M86 is a tower machine, not a laptop, not even a slimline anything, and is in no way related to a portable box. K3 is the iMac which is sort of related to a laptop. The G92 is a desktop part, the G92 MXM is, but these are two different parts, and the MXM version may be a desktop part in a small form factor, that is unclear.

In any case, what you are seeing is Apple saying that desktop G92s, aka 8800GT/9800GTX/GT1xx, have a "known Nvidia bump crack issue". This one is going to be really tough to spin, especially after Nvidia's track record of honesty with Apple.

So there you have it, hard evidence that desktop parts are bad. Hard evidence that G92s are bad. Just like we told you. This also is strong corroborating evidence that the entire run of Nvidia 65 and 55nm parts with high-Pb solder and low-Tg underfill are defective.

As you can see from the second radar entry, changes of this magnitude mean a significant cost for the OEM in addition to being a royal pain in the ass. You simply do not change materials like this unless you absolutely have to, period. Nvidia has to. µ

Update:
After this was written, Nvidia's Mike Hara got back to us about the the G92. We asked him if there were any known problems with the G92. His response is as follows:


There are no known problems with G92s. They do use the same material set, but as I stated before, and will state again, they are not defective. They are NOT subject to the same thermal designs and usage patterns that our other parts have been subjected to (in notebook systems). Essentially, they do not operate anywhere near the critical temperature that causes the other parts to have abnormal failure rates.


There you have it, according to Nvidia, there are no problems with the G92. According to Apple, there are. Read this again carefully, I will leave it to the reader to decide on what to make of it. µ

 

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