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NVIDIA: Let's spread the blame far and wide

Last week I blogged about a problem that had emerged relating to a "significant quantities" of older mobile GPUs suffering premature death due to heat exhaustion. Well, since then the company's stock has taken a serious battering, and the company doesn't seem to be willing to talk about the problems with its GPUs publicly. Instead NVIDIA has resorted to blaming the suppliers, blaming the OEMs and also blaming the customers for actually using the GPUs.

Last week I blogged about a problem that had emerged relating to a "significant quantities" of older mobile GPUs suffering premature death due to heat exhaustion. Well, since then the company's stock has taken a serious battering, and the company doesn't seem to be willing to talk about the problems with its GPUs publicly. Instead NVIDIA has resorted to blaming the suppliers, blaming the OEMs and also blaming the customers for actually using the GPUs.

NVIDIA logo
Here's the current official line from NVIDIA:

"While we have not been able to determine a root cause for these failures, testing suggests a weak material set of die/package combination, system thermal management designs, and customer use patterns are contributing factors."

OK, check it out:

  • "... testing suggests a weak material set of die/package combination ..." - Blame the suppliers
  • "... system thermal management designs ..." - Blame the OEMs
  • "... and customer use patterns ..." - Blame the customers

Oh, and NVIDIA is in the clear ... or is it? See, I find it hard to accept that this issue has anything to do with the suppliers. Why? Well, are you hearing other stories of defective components coming out of TSMC(Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company)? Any mass recalls? No, which is why I'm certain that this isn't a supplier issue. If it were a supplier issue, the problem would extend well beyond NVIDIA.

But what about the OEMs? Did they screw up? After all, the thermal management design of notebooks (that is the cooling) is down to the OEMs, right? Well, yes and no. OEMs build notebook cooling systems based on the specs that they get from the CPU and GPU makers. If this were a design issue then you'd expect a few models to be affected and the damage to be limited. What we are in fact seeing are OEMs such as HP releasing BIOS updates for a whole raft of models, such as this one which covers HP Pavilion dv2000/dv6000/dv9000 and Compaq Presario v3000/v6000 series notebook PCs. What's this BIOS update do?

The new BIOS release for your notebook PC is preventative in nature to reduce the likelihood of future system issues. The BIOS updates the fan control algorithm of the system, and turns the fan on at low volume while your notebook PC is operational. If you are currently experiencing any symptoms on your notebook PC, please contact HP for support.

So what about customers, are they to blame? No. In fact, this is purely preposterous and shows the lengths that NVIDIA are willing to go to to dodge the blame. Without some third party application the end user has little control over the running of the cooling fan in a notebook. Sure, someone might block off the air vents by running the notebook on a bed or put it away in a notebook case while still running, but these would be isolated issues and certainly wouldn't require NVIDIA to take a charge of up to $200 million to fix.

NVIDIA, it's time to come clean about this issue.

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