Apple and Nvidia may be sitting on a potential landmine of defective chipsets in new 15″ MacBook Pros, according to a report Tuesday at the Inquirer.
Citing questions stemming from problems affecting Dell, HP and Apple computers earlier in the year with failing chips due to bad materials and thermal stress, as well as a $200 million charge Nvidia took over the problem in July, the Inquirer commissioned researchers to take apart a new MacBook Pro and investigate Nvidia’s assurances that none of the bad chipsets made it into Apple’s new computers that began selling in the fall.
“A small lab of mad scientists who do not wish to be named, fearing repercussions from Nvidia and Apple” took an off-the-shelf 15″ MacBook Pro apart, desoldered the parts, and “cut the defenseless notebook into many pieces,” according to the report, examining what they found through a scanning electron microscope equipped with an X-ray microanalysis system.
The findings indicate the Nvidia GeForce 9400 GPUs in some unknown number of MacBook Pros are in fact afflicted with material, called “bad bumps”, the tiny balls of solder that hold a chip to the green printed circuit board it sits on, that will crack, causing the computer it is in to die.
The Inquirer article suggests that “barring a total failure of their lot-tracking system, [Nvidia] had to have known the Macbooks shipped with ‘bad bumps’.
Did Apple know? Calls to Apple PR were not returned prior to the story’s publication, and while that might look pretty damning, it isn’t. “Apple will not talk to journalists unless they are assured the response will be fawning,” according to the Inquirer report.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this story to see if the news affects sales of MacBook Pros and whether – or when – Apple support forums might begin to erupt with tales of dying notebooks.