New Nvidia

New Nvidia GPUs use old solder bumps, cause of GPU failures

By Wolfgang Gruener   

Chicago (IL) – It appears that Nvidia has changed itsmindonmaking a hard transition from high-lead to eutectic solderbumpsinits GPUs as a strategy to reduce the failure rates initsGPUs.Industry sources claim that Nvidia GPUs due in early 2009willusethe “old” underfill material.  While this movedoesnotnecessarily result in continued failures, thedecisioncertainlyraises questions whether Nvidia has hitunexpectedroadblocks inthe use of eutectic material.

Industry sources told TGDailythatfuture 45 nm Nvidia GPUs that recently enteredtheirqualificationphase are being manufactured with high-leadsolderbumps, raisingquestions about Nvidia’srecentswitch to eutectic underfill in G84, G86,G92andpossibly more GPUs. While we were not able toconfirm towhichfuture Nvidia GPUs this information applies, weknow thatNvidia iscurrently planning a GT206, a 55 nm replacementfor theGTX260 duefor launch late this year, as well as the 45 nmGT212, anew GPUthat will be positioned as a new flagship GPU inQ1of2009.

Nvidia did not reply to our request for comment andtheinformationwhy Nvidia may have decided to go again withhigh-leadsolder bumpsis largely left to speculation. The companymay havefigured outhow to stretch the old underfill just a bitfurther.Concernedvoices, however, believe that Nvidia may havehitunexpectedelectromigration problems in the high-led tosoldertransition anddecided to play it safe with theGT212.

GPU failures apparently did not affect desktop-focusedNvidiaGPUsbefore and it is likely that it won’t be the case withtheGT212either. However, Nvidia may face increasing pressure,ifthetransition to eutectic underfills isn’t going assmoothasindicated. Two lawsuits covering this issue havebeenfiled(here and here), alleging that Nvidia’s has keptinformationproblems under wraps for too long.

We will add more information as it becomes available.

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