Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

Summary: According to The Inquirer, the heat issues affecting “significant quantities” of older mobile GPUs affects all NVIDIA G84 and G86 GPUs which are used in GeForce 8400M and 8600M graphics cards.

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According to The Inquirer, the heat issues affecting “significant quantities” of older mobile GPUs affects all NVIDIA G84 and G86 GPUs which are used in GeForce 8400M and 8600M graphics cards.

NVIDIA logoThe short story is that all the G84 and G86 parts are bad. Period. No exceptions. All of them, mobile and desktop, use the exact same ASIC, so expect them to go south in inordinate numbers as well. There are caveats however, and we will detail those in a bit.

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Laptops get turned on and off many times in a day, and due to the power management, throttle down much more than desktops. This has them going through the heat cycle multiple times in a day, whereas desktops typically get turned on and off once a day, sometimes left on for weeks at a time. Failures like this are typically on a bell curve, so they start out slow, build up, then tail off.

Since laptops and desktops have a different "customer use patterns", they are at different points on the bell curve. Laptops have got to the, "we can't bury this anymore" point, desktops haven't, but they will - guaranteed. The biggest question is whether or not they will be under warranty at that point, not whether or not they are defective. They are.

Now you can take the Inquirer with a large pinch of salt if you wish, but last week when news broke of this issue I followed the trail of destruction that that led me to conclude that the GeForce 8400M was a likely suspect. More digging, along with news of an update from HP made me add the GeForce 8600M to the list of suspects. If some are affected, it's not a big leap to assume that all (or a large proportion) are affected, making this a very big problem indeed for NVIDIA. Want to dig the hole even deeper? Well, consider that these GPUs have also been used in countless notebooks, including Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. If this really turns out to be this big, then $200 million isn't going to go very far.

The way I see it this kind of problem was almost inevitable. Both NVIDIA and AMD/ATI are responsible for pushing higher and higher voltages through the silicon and relying increasingly on the coolers to move more and more heat away from the GPU. Any weakness in the thermal system (joints, thermal grease, epoxy, fan performance ...) is going to lead to problems, and even a small design flaw is capable of becoming a huge problem down the line.

Until NVIDIA come clean on this issue (and according to one expert I've spoken to, it could take months to fully get to the bottom of this problem) uncertainty will cloud the company.

Thoughts?

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Processors

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20 comments
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  • ADVANTAGE - ATI

    I sure glad AMD / ATI took the steps they did... they dont overclock the chips as bad... they use less power.. and just overalll better design chips...

    I Love how NVIDIA went out and said the future is in parrall pipes for processing... here is our 320... and ATI responds with a card with 800 pipes...
    daveaaa2
    • Huh?

      Everything AMD makes runs hotter than anything else even when it is not overclocked. In my opinion their stock speed is overclocked.
      I've owned products from all the big names AMD, Intel, ATI, Nvidia... I don't take sides, but over the years you see a pattern.
      hjagla
      • No not necessarily

        AMD mobile processors definitely, but not their discreet graphics cards, not sure about their integrated.
        marks055
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    I've experienced the overheating with my Toshiba G30 laptop. It's using the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 Graphics chipset. It's in for its third replacement of the motherboard. Maybe a known issue, however there's nothing noted on the Toshiba website as it being a known issue. According to the user opinions here: http://www.cnet.com.au/laptops/laptops/0,239035654,240060340-2,00.htm, it's pretty common with the NVIDIA graphics card on this system.
    1tl
    • Same issue on Toshiba Satellite P100 with Go 7600

      Same issue on Toshiba Satellite P100 with Go 7600. No failures yet, but the fan is going on and off and reving real high. VERY ANNOYING. And when it goes, I'm going to be very ticked!
      scoobydoozie
  • Probably not too, too bad

    Most laptops are out of warranty after 3 years if you buy a warranty extension.

    Also, by that time people are already looking at a replacement anyway.

    If you figure this is most likely to affect the power-users who push their laptops to the limit (and the thermal limit as a result) then 200 million will probably do it.

    This does not even account for some possible R&D fix like slightly faster cooling fans, etc. which would allow vendors to keep using their existing stock of "defective" boards.

    I don't think this is anything to get excited over.
    croberts
    • It's a lot worse than you think

      >> Most laptops are out of warranty after 3 years if you buy a warranty extension.

      Oh great, just what I've always wanted, a computer that bites the big one in only three years.

      >> Also, by that time people are already looking at a replacement anyway.

      People ? How many people ? Got any facts to go with that assertion ?

      >> If you figure this is most likely to affect the power-users who push their laptops to the limit (and the thermal limit as a result) then 200 million will probably do it.

      No, actually this is caused by lots of thermal cycling not prolonged high temperatures so it affects "regular" users more than power users.

      >> This does not even account for some possible R&D fix like slightly faster cooling fans, etc..

      Actually the fan has to be on full blast as long as the notebook is powered. This GREATLY reduces the battery run time and life.

      >> which would allow vendors to keep using their existing stock of "defective" boards

      Exactly the kind of service I want when my computer dies. Replace a defective motherboard with another defective motherboard.

      >> I don't think this is anything to get excited over.

      Think again.
      Hemlock Stones
      • Don't take it personally

        I was speaking on the company side of things. As a consumer, or course I want to see a proper repair, etc.

        As for some of your points:

        A) After 3 years a lot of machines go out of service because lease terms expire; 24, 36, 48 months are common lease terms.

        B) A faster fan with a larger capacity battery = less than $200 repair at OEM cost vs. declaring the motherboard a loss and scrapping the whole computer. This is one possible "thinking outside the box" fix.

        C) If the board is expected to last 2-3 years, and fails after 3, it is perfectly reasonable to replace it with a "like" board because the machine will be 6 years old when the next projected failure will occur. Would you put premium car parts into an old car? Probably not.

        Sure I'd like HP or whoever to re-engineer my 3 year old laptop, but be serious. There has to be a balance because those costs will get passed on to us anyway.

        Do you really think NVIDIA won't just tag on an extra $20 markup on their next high end video card to cover this nonsense? In the end, it's probably some Chinese subcontractor that substituted an inferior material and not even NVIDIA's direct fault.
        croberts
        • Not personal, just facts

          I didn't take it personally at all. I just countered your assumptions with few facts.

          As to your "counter" points

          A) Quoting lease terms obviously ignores everybody that buys their computers. Just taking the business view is not the whole story, especially when talking about how much of a problem this is and how much it is going to cost nVidia (you specifically mentioned this .

          B) Completely irrelevant.Why should anyone have to pay extra to fix a computer that is broken because of poor design? In effect you just paid $200 more for your computer for no good reason (actually for a very bad reason). And you also assume a larger capacity battery is available.

          C) Again, I DON'T want a defective board replaced with another defective board. There is NO guarantee that is will last another year, much less 2 or 3, and I don't want it breaking at a critical time when I really need it. This is especially true when it is being used for business.

          >> Sure I'd like HP or whoever to re-engineer my 3 year old
          laptop, but be serious. There has to be a balance because those costs will get passed on to us anyway.

          Re-engineering the laptop has nothing to do with it either. It clearly does not make sense. Other than as a straw man argument of course.

          >>Do you really think NVIDIA won't just tag on an extra $20 markup on their next high end video card to cover this nonsense? In the end, it's probably some Chinese subcontractor that substituted an inferior material and not even NVIDIA's direct fault.

          Pure BS, all the available evidence (nVidia is keeping very quiet about the real problem, other than to blame everybody else they can think of behind their backs) points to it being nVidia's fault. No other manufacturer that uses the "Chinese contractor" (TMC, one of the largest silicon foundries in the world) has had this problem. If you want to pay $20 more for their next high end video card to pay for their mistakes please be my guest.
          Hemlock Stones
          • As you point out nVidia is blaming everyone else.

            Our friend croberts has all the signs of being an nVidia PR employee!

            I'm not putting much faith in his argument.
            I am Gorby
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    I really think that GPUs should we on every motherboard...
  • When you see double wide trailers what do you think?

    (stick with me here)

    When you see "double wide" tailer homes ... what do you think?

    "MMMMMmmm that must be some quality built home"

    "Hey they gots two halves Brandeen, why we only gots one?"

    Or do you think.. build quality is probably sh*t, gaps around doors (especially below them) and that in the next 10 years the floor will rot enough that bubba can no longer walk in the kitchen if anyone else in the family is there..

    So.. then why would you look at a double wide video card and say.. "man... that must be the sh*t" ... that card must rock... that card is the best XYZ out there...


    I generally wait for 2 generations to come out before I decide its time to upgrade my video. And when I do, I look for those cards that have been redesigned without the need for fans, but for which you can easily add a fan if you want.

    why? I don't need 5 extra frames per second in an online game, those 5 frames are nothing compared to the level of skill you aquire by playing the handicap .. and of course its supposed to be about the fun, not the FPS ... and then.. oh yeah.. there is that heat disipation issue..

    after the current generation of cards is old by 1 or 2 generations.. the die has usually shrunk some, bugs/kinks worked out, and they've found ways to make the card work without putting industrial strength high velocity fans on the thing..

    add your own fan, use plastic zip/wire ties to hold it onto the card's heatsink (I have a heat pipe heatsink on my video card now, with a case fan strapped to it) and you will lower the amount of heat that stays in the GPU even further.. down to the point.. that 3 years from now, your card is still operating, because you kept it cooler than spec...

    if you want to blow your 500 dollars on the latest greatest... be my guest.. but in reality... you could spend 150 or less in 12 months.. and find alternative cooling options to make the card really last..
    TG2
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    For once I am glad to have an older GPU. I have only had one video card problem and it was on an ATI card on my desktop system. I have never had a problem with Nvidia but this has obviously changed. I still respect Nvidia as a GPU producer more than ATI for some reason. Hopefully no more issues like this will occur but with the constant pushing of the graphical envelope something like this was bound to happen. I am just sorry it happened to Nvidia and not ATI.
    reddog0
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    I have a 3 month old XPS. I am getting video card errors where the screen freezes, goes black and it gives error codes. I have spoken with Dell who refered me to this article. Both Dell and Nvidia refuse to address the problem saying it is the other's responsibility. I had another XPS for 11 days which I returned,...doing the same thing. This one didn't do it to start with. I'm disappointed with BOTH companies.
    Danaeka
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    I don't understand your arguments.

    For a board with onboard video, isn't the solution to override with a separate plug in card?

    For a board with detatchable video, isn't the solution to replace the card with a different one?

    Both solutions will cost ~$200 / laptop, and will be a far superior solution to any fan based solution.
    jhskim
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    If I order a notebook now with nvidia 8600gs, will it be faulty too, or has this been fixed already?
    archee303
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    I wasn't aware of this problem. Was just living with the occassional refresh issue in Word. Yesterday my Dell D630 died with plaid colors flashing on the screen....arrrgg....now Dell says parts are on backorder indefinelty!
    m98cox
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    listen, I'm korean and I have a labtop with Geforce 8400M GS...
    this is new model in korea.
    but, this has same problem and LG doesn't like to talk with consumer.
    they say 'we thought that problem cause only 'nvidia'. but nvidia says 'no problem in big package.'
    so..... yes. this is real problem in korea.
    L.G. we(LG consumer's group) will talk with LG elecronic through off line.
    sorry about bad english.
    send me e-mail if u have any questions.
    koreaJason
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    GeForce 8400M GT in my Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E just did a spectacular BSD on a 30 foot widescreen at a high-profile fundraiser last Saturday. It is now exhibiting all the signs of the NVidia heat failure, only booting into Safe Mode, with green vertical lines over the BIOS boot screen and a dot pattern over the Windows loading screens.

    Sony is denying all knowledge and responsibility for the issue as the machine is 8 months out of warranty. They tell me to contact NVidia who says to contact Sony.

    So much for choosing the best product money can buy.

    Goodbye to Sony products forever. The next time we meet will be in court.
    zdStevezd
  • RE: Report: NVIDIA issues cover all G84 and G86 GPUs

    My Nvidia 8400M GS failed when I downloaded new Nvidia drivers for it...I have an Hp Pavilion dv6700...thanks Nvidia for the faulty chip...guess I will by ATI from now on.
    JoeyD4