NVIDIA announced today that they will be taking a $150 million hit in order to repair faulty graphical processing units (GPU) and media communications processors (MCP). The problem is apparently only an issue in notebooks where the unusually large amounts of concentrated heat causes the chips to fail. Even though NVIDIA has come forward they have yet to say exactly what systems are affected by this issue. The only thing they said in their investor-focused announcement was that it’s their “previous generation” that has the abnormal failure rates:
NVIDIA plans to take a one-time charge from $150 million to $200 million against cost of revenue for the second quarter to cover anticipated warranty, repair, return, replacement and other costs and expenses, arising from a weak die/packaging material set in certain versions of its previous generation GPU and MCP products used in notebook systems. Certain notebook configurations with GPUs and MCPs manufactured with a certain die/packaging material set are failing in the field at higher than normal rates. To date, abnormal failure rates with systems other than certain notebook systems have not been seen.
A quick fix that they are apparently trying to employ on computers with the “defective” chips is to force the fans to turn on earlier by pushing out a driver update. Adrian Kingsley over at ZDNet has thrown out his guess that the Dell m1330’s and m1530’s are among those affected. They are powered by the GeForce 8400M GS, and some have had to get their motherboards replaced due to overheating issues. I actually know someone that purchased a Dell m1530 about two months ago, and after a week of owning the system they had to get their motherboard replaced because the laptop wouldn’t even turn on. Dell didn’t say what the issue was, but they were quick to replace the motherboard without running any diagnostics.
It would be nice if NVIDIA came forward with what chips are affected by the problem, but I don’t think they want to take any more of a loss than they already have. Their stock has already fallen 30% since this morning (now at $12.49), and so they are probably going to do anything they can to keep it from going any lower.