Sony admits to 14 defective Nvidia notebooks

Bumpgate: The show goes on, claims OEM #4

SONY HAS FINALLY done the right thing, somewhat, years late, and admitted their overpriced but fragile laptops are affected by defective Nvidia chips. How much do you think it cost Nvidia, $119M or so?

Can you say, “I told you so?”, the Nvidia defective chip train marches onward under a cloak of aggravated customer abuse. The short story can be found on Sony’s Club Vaio site. The spokeswhatever who goes by Thalamus says, “for those that are not aware, Sony have recently released a statement confirming that some Vaio models can have distorted video, random characters or blank screen issues due to failure of the NVIDIA graphics chip.”

Vaio Sucks, laser etched

Real carbon fiber burns when laser etched

Whoops, due to the “failure of the NVIDIA graphics chip”, eh? Who would have thought? The models affected, or at least the ones Sony is admitting to for now, are VGN-FZ11x, VGN-FZ18x, VGN-FZ21x, VGN-FZ31x, VGN-FZ38x, VGN-AR11x, VGN-AR21x, VGN-AR31x, VGN-C1Zx, VGN-C2Zx VGC-LM1xx, VGC-LM2xx, VGC-LT1xx, VGC-LT2xx. That would be 14 models if you don’t want to count for yourself.

There are two links at the bottom. Sadly however, the interesting one, titled, “Distorted video, random characters or blank screen issues due to failure of the NVIDIA graphics chip” does not seem to work. If someone can hunt down the page and post it in the forums, I would be grateful. Sony is extending the warranty to four years, but the people who already had a laptop fail, were quoted huge sums to fix and gave up, did pay to get them fixed, or worse yet, did something to void the warranty, well, they get the shaft. Typical Sony, screw your customers, if you treat them right, it gets (more) expensive.

What Sony may have said

Unconfirmed but likely Sony statement

How many Sony customers threw out dead laptops before Sony came clean, or at least a little bit closer to clean? Think of the people like Jimmy James near the bottom of the comments here. Sony looks to have sleazed most of the way out of this one.

Anyone wonder how much this will cost Nvidia? How about the $119 million charge that they took for additional defective chips in their Q2 financial conference call? Do things line up? Think it was any coincidence that Sony announced this shortly AFTER the numbers were admitted to, and after investors took their eyes off Nvidia stock?

Looks like a gag to me too. It also looks like Nvidia’s Dear Leader was a bit off when he confidently said that the $200M charge was a worst case. It also looks like the bold prognostications that it would never reach the $200M mark were off too. It was probably coincidence that these confident but totally contrary to the evidence at hand statements were made to stock analysts. I wonder if there is anyone left at the SEC to look into such things, the pattern of everyone other than Nvidia financial types knowing what was going on seems to stretch credibility well past the breaking point.

In any case, we repeat what we have been saying all along, all Nvidia 65nm and 55nm chips are defective, there isn’t a good one out there. Sony publicly names the G84 and G86. Nvidia’s insurance company names ten parts Nvidia has tried to make claims on, G86, G86A2, G84, C51, G72, G72M, G73, G72A3, MCP67 and NV42. To top it off, we are hearing that the G9xs are starting steep climb of their failure ramp, and some big OEMs are getting very nervous. If anyone has access to the aggregate numbers, send them this way.

Sony has yet to mention the 7-series chips though, and some models of laptops sporting those have had 50+% field failure rates, many after the short consumer warranties were expired. Sony doesn’t seem to want to do the right thing there, nor does any other vendor, Nvidia included.

So, the cover up, gag orders, and underground money train rolls on. So far, we have partial payments to Apple, Dell, HP, and now Sony. Six more to go. I wonder how much it will cost Nvidia in the end, some of their most popular chips and chipsets are just starting to fail in the field according to SemiAccurate moles. This is far from over, but progress is happening.S|A

Note 1: For those not following this story, a good place to start is the links on the fourth post here.

Note 2: Thanks a ton to reader Jonas for following this and tipping me off.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate