Nvidia's second quarter business update, released Wednesday, was mostly bad news for the company. But there's potentially bad news for consumers, too. Nvidia revealed plans to take a $150 million to $200 million charge to cover anticipated repair and return costs arising from a "weak die/packaging material set in certain versions of its previous generation GPU and MCP products used in notebook systems."
The release goes on to explain that the cards aren't faulty on their own, but that the materials have demonstrated higher-than-normal failure rates in combination with other components in certain laptop configurations. (Clear as mud, no?) According to a follow-up from the IDG News Service, the problem is associated with the laptops' thermal design; Nvidia has reportedly provided laptop manufacturers with a driver that will cause system fans to start operating sooner in hopes of mitigating the problem.
Which manufacturers got the driver? Good question. The company seems determined to avoid listing the specific GPUs affected or the manufacturers whose laptops have shown problems. I've contacted Nvidia to see if we can get any more information, and I'll post an update when I hear back.
Meanwhile, let me know in the comments if you've had temperature-related issues with an Nvidia card in your laptop. Be sure to include your laptop model number--maybe we can find a pattern.
Update: I heard back from Nvidia representative Calisa Cole, who said that obligations to customers (i.e., manufacturers) prevent them from providing specifics about the models affected. But she did confirm the driver changes, saying, "We have switched production to a more robust die/package material set and are working proactively with our OEM partners to develop system management software to provide better thermal management to the GPU."