The Tech Report received a written response from NVIDIA regarding the problems with some of their notebook GPUs:
NVIDIA has a world class chip operations team, and has delivered over 1 Billion devices (and over 1 trillion bumps) over 14 years, in the most advanced processes, to the most demanding customers. NVIDIA is the leader in the graphics industry in innovation and has delivered technology over the years that companies like ATI and Intel have benefited from.
In his recent commentary on chip packaging, Mr. McLellan makes a number of speculative assertions about NVIDIA's people, products and philosophy. In his interview McLellan asserts that High lead bumps are more prone to fatigue. What he fails to note is that AMD currently uses High lead bumps on their CPU line -- a device well known to undergo high thermal stress, and also go through lots of power cycling.
The choice between High Lead and Eutectic is complex. There are trade-offs in using one vs. the other, as even Mr. McLellan points out. The electromigration issues associated with printed eutectic bumps can affect long term reliability of a high current device. Electromigration is when a high current causes metal to separate over time, and creates an open circuit. This is one of the main reasons why so many devices are still manufactured with High lead bumps today.
In fact, 10s of billions of semiconductor devices have been shipped with High Lead bumps by world class companies including AMD, Intel, IBM, Motorola and TI.
While McLellan implies that AMD is unique in its use of a "power redistribution layer," this isn't true. In fact use of a power redistribution layer is industry practice, and has been used in every flip chip GPU NVIDIA has shipped.
NVIDIA is committed to delivering lead free devices by the 2010 requirement. Our engineering team has been working on this important initiative for the past 18 months, and is fully engaged in this effort with our manufacturing partners.
NVIDIA uses industry standard packaging material and we have passed all industry standard (JEDEC) component package qualifications. We stand behind our products and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure the best visual experience.
The site also did some follow-up questions, you can read it over here. NVIDIA GeForce General Manager Ujesh Desai and GeForce Senior VP Jeff Fisher told them there's no evidence that this issue exists in desktops and that they're working with HP to determine if or how the NVIDIA chips in their slim-line PCs are involved in the failures.