NVidia GPU/T61 Rambles and Mini-rant
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This kind of situation baffles me as to why it ever even happened.
To know what happened, you have to have a knowledge as to how an NVidia FX 570m (or practically any other graphics chipset these days) is mounted.

Pin Grid ArrayLand Grid Array Socket

On the CPU side, there are things such as the Pin Grid Array (PGA) and Land Grid Array (LGA). Both of those are sockets. For a GPU which the manufacturer does not want you to change, a soldered-on chip mount is required.

Quad Flat Package

For the longest time, manufacturers were using a thing called the Quad Flat Package (QFP), which places the pins around the edge of the chip.

It worked, but the problem comes when you have something like a GPU, which can have hundreds of thousands of pins. You can only make those pins so small.

Ball Grid Array

Enter the Ball Grid Array. It works similar to a Land Grid Array chip, except instead of contact pads on the bottom, it has little solder "balls", which bond it to a socket on the motherboard which has "fingers". The chip is then run through a reflow oven and bonded to the surface.

Sounds great, right?

There are many problems with this system. The right amount of heat must be used, the chip has to be placed perfectly, and older implementations seem to have minimal heat tolerances.

And then, when you factor in the normal expansion and contraction of the chip under heat conditions, you have a recipe for disaster.*

Mac Pros had this problem in their chipsets (I believe it was the northbridge that would go bad), MacBook Pros and Thinkpad T61s (as well as quite a number of others) had the issue with their GPUs. XBox 360s had a red ring of death problem that was associated with a cracked BGA mount, among other issues.

The problem that I have here, is not with the BGAs breaking themselves (although in my honest opinion it is the worst chip mounting system ever devised), but rather this: Why were these products not recalled after this problem became known?

Let us take the T61 and MacBook Pro as an example. Lenovo did open up an extended warranty plan (which expired in 2010 or 2011 as far as I know), as did Apple. However, there are still products with the faulty GPUs floating around. I know this because I had two of them!
Those products would likely not have been around had they been subject to a recall. Yes, it is highly possible that they could be, but they wouldn't be as easy to find as they are.

And what gets me the most is that sellers on eBay seem to want upwards of 80 bucks for NVidia based T61 motherboards, when IMHO they aren't worth 10 cents! If you want an Intel board, you have to pay upwards of 200 bucks, and for a system that I payed less then 100 for, no thank you.

In conclusion, while it has been improved the BGA sucks, this kind of thing may well happen again if we push thermal envelopes again, and any NVidia based T61 motherboard should be avoided (especially for 80 bucks!) because it WILL fail, it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when.


*: Later designs factor this in so it does not seem like a huge issue any longer.

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