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.