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Protest over failing notebook GPUs

By Darien Graham-Smith in San Jose

Posted on 26 Aug 2008 at 03:39

As Jen-Hsun Huang delivered his NVISION keynote speech at the San Jose Centre for Performing Arts, protestors gathered outside to draw attention to Nvidia's response to problems with its mobile GPUs.

It was reported in July that some laptops with Nvidia discrete graphics chips were failing due to overheating, but the company has refused to reveal precise details of which models are affected.

This lack of communication has infuriated consumers, and some have formed protest groups - such as the My Nvidia Fail bloggers, who were handing out flyers (pictured) at today's event - to press Nvidia to be more open with the public.

Nvidia unable to respond

A spokesman for Nvidia's mobile graphics division, speaking to reporters at the weekend, admitted the company's response had been unsatisfactory, but explained that his group's hands were tied.

"The truth is," he explained, "our obligations to our partners limit what we can say. We need to leave announcements to our partners like Dell and HP."

"I know there's frustration, and it would make my job easier if I could give out the facts that I know, but we have obligations to our partners. We discuss it constantly, and the company would like to be more upfront about this - but we can't be."

Huang accepts partial responsibility

Nvidia President and Chairman Jen-Hsun Huang was also tackled on the subject after his keynote speech at NVISION, but insisted that the company's behaviour had been honorable.

"When I found we had this problem, I went to the OEMs and said 'let's fix this'," he protested. "In fact, I put a reserve of $200M in place, and I said to the OEMs: 'If you fix it, I'll pay you back'."

"Nobody in the industry has ever done that before," he continued. "Not Marvell, not Broadcom, not AMD... but if the consumer has a failure we'll get it replaced right away."

He rejected the suggestion that Nvidia's public silence was an attempt to evade responsibility. "The first person in the world that talked about this problem was me," he reminded reporters. "I put out the first press release. And I'll stand up and be partly responsible."

"But the OEMs are partly responsible too," he went on. "And if anybody else wants to volunteer to be responsible, I'm happy for them to be a part of it as well."

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