The Tech Report talked with Neil McLellan, AMD's director of packaging and interconnect technologies, about the packaging technology the GPUs from ATI use and what's up with some of NVIDIAs GPUs.
What about Nvidia? McLellan was a little vague in his criticism of AMD's rival, talking down the company for not paying closer attention to packaging and (allegedly) not caring a whole lot. However, he believes Nvidia's mobile graphics parts are failing because they use high-lead bumps and are running into the soda-can problem. This problem has shown up in notebooks because those systems get turned on and off a lot, but McLellan said plainly that folks who power-cycle Nvidia-powered desktops regularly should start seeing the same issues eventually.
To complicate things further, AMD says the RoHS directive will start requiring chipmakers to remove lead from both solder balls and solder bumps in 2010—and some of AMD's customers are requesting the change sooner than that. McLellan said that switch will introduce "an entirely new problem, which turns out to be quite challenging," although he didn't get into specifics. He did, however, mention that AMD has been working on the issue for the past 18 months, has some "great ideas" and has "done a lot of work." In his view, Nvidia has likely been spending the same time trying to fix problems in current package designs.