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  (Source: Funny Crave)
The chips in question are a half decade old, but this one could get ugly as both companies play the blame game

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) celebrated a relatively good 2011.  It kept competitive in the graphics market and saw good sustained sales.  It built up graphics hype going into 2012, with December's soft launch of its Tahiti mega-GPU.  And on the CPU side of the coin it managed to finally get Bulldozer out the door and saw its budget-priced Fusion GPU+CPU earning strong sales, becoming one of 2011's biggest CPU success stories.  Overall AMD earned over $6B USD in 2011, a solid (and profitable showing), even when its mprimary competitor, Intel Corp.'s (INTC), $50B USD annual haul is brought into the picture.

I. AMD's Older Integrated Graphics are Dying in NEC's Notebooks

But trouble is on AMD's doorstep and she's come a-knocking.  The chipmaker has been hit by a lawsuit by Taoyuan, Taiwan-based Quanta Computer Inc. (TPE:2382), a juggernaut of the laptop/tablet industry.

Quanta is a company most people haven't heard of but there's a good chance you own a product built and co-designed by them.  It serves as the original design manufacturer for much of the laptop lineup of Hewlett Packard Comp. (HPQ), Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Dell, Inc. (DELL), Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), and Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502), to name just a few.  It takes these companies designs and tweaks them to bring the laptops to life in production form.

Returning to the suit, Quanta alleges that AMD sold it defective chips for a series of laptops it made for Japanese computermaker NEC Corp. (TYO:6701).  AMD won the integrated graphics contract on the laptops and sold Quanta integrated versions of its older Radeon Xpress X1250 GPUs -- under the codename ATI RS600ME.

RS600ME
The RS600ME, in the wild [Image Source: Essence Technology]

(Check out this blast from the past as we discuss an AMD/Quanta Dell design win half a decade ago, around when the IGP in question came out.)

In its court filing Quanta accuses AMD of engineering negligence, saying it didn't pay attention to heat issues, resulting in the chips dying.  The lawsuit throws a laundry list of civil code at AMD, accusing it of breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, civil fraud, and interference with a contract.  

Quanta gripes, "Quanta has suffered significant injury to prospective revenue and profit."

II. AMD Blames Heat Deaths on Quanta

Heat is a common problem when it comes to laptop computer designs, as highlighted by the roasting one Intel Corp. engineer gave Apple over its laptop overheating woes following his presentation at Intel's 2011 Intel Developer Forum (IDF).

AMD refutes the accusations vigorously.  AMD's California-based spokesman released a brief statement commenting, "AMD disputes the allegations in Quanta’s complaint and believes they are without merit.  AMD is aware of no other customer reports of the alleged issues with the AMD chip that Quanta used, which AMD no longer sells.  In fact, Quanta has itself acknowledged to AMD that it used the identical chip in large volumes in a different computer platform that it manufactured for NEC without such issues."

The latter remark hints at what AMD's angle in the case may be.  It will likely argue -- and correctly so -- that other lineups that used this particular embedded chip did not suffer the vast overheating issues that the NEC lineup did.  It could use this to argue that the failures were attributable to a packaging issue (Quanta and/or NEC's fault), rather than a chip design one.  Of course, it all comes down to exactly what kind of engineering specifications AMD agreed to when it signed on the dotted line and what kind of temperatures were actually experienced in the NEC notebooks.

NEC Ultrabook chick
Like Apple, NEC is fond of tight form factors (i.e. the "ultrabook"), that tend to make it run hot. [Image Source: TechTicker]
 
The case is an unfortunate turn of events for AMD as it offers the company a load of negative publicity, over what is a very old product.  The merits (or lack thereof) of AMD's more recent designs obviously have little to do with a five year old product that first launched in Aug. 2006 (for Intel chipsets).

For that reason, if AMD manages to prevail, don't be surprised if it smacks Quanta with a counter-suit for some sort of corporate equivalent of libel/slander.

That said, while the case may not reflect much on the AMD of present, aside from the negative publicity, angering Quanta could be a damaging move for AMD.  Quanta controls a large share of the world's laptop supply.  While money has a way of mending broken fences (i.e. if AMD outprices Intel, Quanta may still pick AMD, even if the pair isn't getting along well), the deteriorating relationship between the top chipmaker and top ODM could spell trouble for AMD, particularly when it comes to the awarding of contracts where it comes close in price performance to its chief CPU rival Intel or chief graphics rival NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA).

Editor's Note:
We've reached out to AMD for more details on what major notebook lines this IGP has appeared in and engineering-specific questions, such as whether the suggested heatsink and thermal diode (see datasheet; PDF) were applied to the design in question, as well as what the exact thermal specifications are (which are contained in a thermal datasheet that does not appear to be publicly available).

Source: Bloomberg



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history...
By dgingerich on 1/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: history...
By Mitch101 on 1/5/2012 2:02:38 PM , Rating: 4
Might as well line up NVIDIA for bumpgate while were at it.


RE: history...
By inighthawki on 1/5/2012 2:06:11 PM , Rating: 5
You'll have to excuse me when I say I don't believe you. And if your somewhat unbelievable story is in fact true, it sounds to me like it's a combination of a series of really bad power supplies with 10 years of accumulating dust.

(Hint, computer chips usually don't catch on fire and produce flames, especially when the computer is off and they aren't drawing any power)


RE: history...
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/5/2012 2:26:29 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
You'll have to excuse me when I say I don't believe you. And if your somewhat unbelievable story is in fact true, it sounds to me like it's a combination of a series of really bad power supplies with 10 years of accumulating dust.

(Hint, computer chips usually don't catch on fire and produce flames, especially when the computer is off and they aren't drawing any power)

It's because he didn't say it was producing flame, he said...
quote:
n one case, I also had a 3 inch flam

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flam
quote:

flam [flam]
...
2. a falsehood; lie."


Those lies can really burn you. :)


RE: history...
By inighthawki on 1/5/2012 2:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, my mistake, I should really do a better job reading next time... Thanks for clearing that up :)


RE: history...
By dgingerich on 1/5/12, Rating: -1
RE: history...
By SandmanWN on 1/6/2012 1:32:43 PM , Rating: 4
Whatever... $5 says you plugged some really old servers into a 240v plug and the power supplies blew. Only time I've ever seen a server burst into flames.


RE: history...
By dgingerich on 1/5/2012 3:10:38 PM , Rating: 1
RE: history...
By dgingerich on 1/5/2012 3:41:59 PM , Rating: 1
ok, so it wasn't the ATI chip that caused it. It was an inductor, but I know what I saw, and the ATI chip burned, shattered, pulled off the board, sent flames flying, etc. The inductor probably sent an overvoltage to the video chip and killed it.


RE: history...
By ClownPuncher on 1/5/2012 3:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
I know what I saw, it was Ancient Aliens, bro!


RE: history...
By inighthawki on 1/5/2012 4:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
I still don't follow how this has anything to do with them being ATi chips or of a specific model. It would have just as easily fried any integrated video chip in there, including ones from intel or nvidia. It's like sticking your computer in the oven while it's on and blaming nVidia because your GTX580 overheated and caused damage.


RE: history...
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/5/2012 5:39:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
ok, so it wasn't the ATI chip that caused it. It was an inductor, but I know what I saw, and the ATI chip burned, shattered, pulled off the board, sent flames flying, etc. The inductor probably sent an overvoltage to the video chip and killed it.

So you meant to say you proved yourself wrong, right? :)

I don't think any of us were disputing that your story about the fire/smoke could be true, just that it was unlikely to due to the ATI chip based on your recollection of events... especially the power being off.

You were sort of right... SOMEBODY does have a history of problems... that somebody is Dell and whoever their long-time motherboard/ODM partners are...

Read about the exploding/leaking South Bridge chips...
http://208.65.201.106/showthread.php?t=1413337

And I didn't mean to be mean about the flam, just was having a bit of fun with your typo. You guys school me about silly typos all too often, so I deserve a shot now and then too right? :)

FYI
Your ATI chip was likely packaged with ceramic or a brittle resin and desoldered itself in the blaze and popped off and shattered from the impact. It wouldn't have melted/exploded as that would require chemical fire like temps...
See here for melting points of ceramics...
http://matse1.matse.illinois.edu/ceramics/prin.htm...


RE: history...
By dgingerich on 1/5/2012 6:17:38 PM , Rating: 2
The chips were packaged as in this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3dragexl.jpg

note the ceramic package and a PCB with a BGA connection. I had originally thought the cause of the ATI chips exploding, which were the only things on the boards visibly burned, would be something going wrong in the PCB portion of the packaging. Perhaps moisture condensing between the motherboard and the chip solder points, shorting the power supply connections. The one that fully exploded fully separated the ceramic from the PCB portion of the packaging, shattering the ceramic and peeling the entire chip off the board. there were several pieces of ceramic spread throughout the server. The flames were likely some chemical excreted from a long unused PCB, either from the chip packaging or from the motherboard. I can't be certain of what exactly produced the flames. I'm just telling you what I saw and felt.

In each case, I had just plugged in the power cord. the servers may have been set to power up when the power was restored, powered up on its own, blew up, and shut back down.

At the time, since it was the ATI chip that exploded in all three cases, I assumed it was the chip. Yes, I was wrong about that. It turned out to be something else supplying too high voltage to the chip.

(I had a similar thing happen with a Cyrix 5x86 chip I plugged into an incompatible board, or possibly plugged in turned wrong, and had the chip explode out the bottom brass plate of the packaging. Back then, boards weren't necessarily marked well, 486 chips could be plugged in 90 or 180 degrees wrong, and I was quite inexperienced at the time.)

I don't apologize for the comment. I went on what info I had and cited a similar example to what the article was talking about. I found out shortly later the true cause of the exploding chips.


RE: history...
By Gondor on 1/6/2012 3:26:42 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of typos:

quote:
... even when its mprimary competitor ...


RE: history...
By Camikazi on 1/5/2012 3:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
That link says the problem is an inductor on the motherboard and not the video chip at all.


RE: history...
By Starzty on 1/5/2012 3:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
Dust or water/humidity damage. I have dozens of machines with rage chipsets including the XL and have never had a problem like that, or with heat in general


RE: history...
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/5/2012 5:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Dust or water/humidity damage. I have dozens of machines with rage chipsets including the XL and have never had a problem like that, or with heat in general

Classic case of mistaking correlation for causation.

I.e. false clause ("cum hoc ergo propter hoc")

1. I had 3 servers
2. The servers all had ATI chips
3. The servers caught fire and smoked
4. I saw an ATI chip popped off and shattered
Thus: The ATI chips caused the fire

(Incorrect, no causal explanation provided and observation could not isolate the starting point of the fire...)


RE: history...
By Alexvrb on 1/5/2012 8:43:08 PM , Rating: 3
WAIT! You forgot to drag politics in it. ATI chips exploded in Dell servers? Who was in the White House at the time? AHA! It wasn't Dell OR ATI! Bush did it!


RE: history...
By Namey on 1/6/2012 9:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
Bush was just a puppet. It was the corporations, man...


RE: history...
By kattanna on 1/5/2012 2:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These machines had been sitting around unused for over 2 years, but they were operational before they were taken down


quote:
On all three systems, as soon as I plugged them in, hadn't even powered them on, I had smoke come out the back instantly


sounds to me like you had something shorting out the motherboard.. probably a loose screw or something


RE: history...
By Namey on 1/6/2012 9:31:37 AM , Rating: 1
Power circuit issue? In the mains? Would explain why all three blew in succession.


RE: history...
By GaMEChld on 1/8/2012 2:08:48 AM , Rating: 1
Probably had some spider webs / nests or even eggs inside after 2 years of sitting around. Were those computers all sitting in the same area?

The complaint from the company in the article was talking about heat death of components. You use this as validation for equipment failure due to lack of maintenance? Sitting around in a state of non-use does not wear down components. Something clearly shorted out; be it from dust contamination, insect contamination, or some kind of water contamination.

Unless you were storing them in an active oven for two years, it is a completely unrelated failure.


AMD will win this one
By jfelano on 1/5/2012 7:47:28 PM , Rating: 2
Given the facts, it's blatently obvious that AMD is not at fault that it was laptop cooling design. AMd will prevail and likely counter sue for damages.




RE: AMD will win this one
By wordsworm on 1/10/2012 7:16:34 AM , Rating: 2
I regrettably purchased an AMD powered laptop awhile back. The thing burns at 80 degrees when it's doing nothing but idling. I can't do anything with it really. It was total trash. Took it in for repairs 3 times, but the issue was never resolved. End result: won't buy from AMD or MSI again. Hunk of junk for a laptop that sits doing nothing. So, good luck to them for getting AMD to pay for their overheating issues.


Some sort of?
By jahinoz on 1/5/2012 8:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
some sort of corporate equivalent of libel/slander.


I think the law you're looking for is defamation..




By ProZach on 1/6/2012 6:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...but there's a good chance you own a product built and co-designed by them. It serves as the original design manufacturer for much of the laptop lineup of Hewlett Packard Comp. (HPQ), Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Dell, Inc. (DELL), Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), and Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502), to name just a few. It takes these companies designs and tweaks them to bring the laptops to life in production form.

So, is it possible to blame this company for all the shiny bezel decisions? lol
I guess anyone else can be the panacea of a problem if the you got some legal rep(s) on your side.




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