nVidia retracts WHQL-certified "GPU Killing Drivers"
3/4/2010 by: Theo Valich - Get more from this author
Recently, nVidia posted a WHQL driver "Release 196.75". The driver brought WHQL-certified support for nVidia ION, recently renamed 300-series cards, Optimus-enabled GPUs and many more. However, the driver was quickly found to prevent the fan from spinning and caused a death of multiple graphics cards around the world.
Yes, you've read that correctly - the drivers had an extreme version of issue nVidia already experienced last year with one of past WHQL-certified drives, when the drivers broke fan control on custom-built GeForce cards. Unfortunately for a lot of customers, Release 196.75 brought nothing else but tears, as Internet Forums started filling with complaints about graphics cards that started to die out, most notably during Blizzard's StarCraft II beta test. Activision Blizzard was also first to react and made an official comment on the state of the drivers, advising its customers and testers to immediately go back to previous driver revision, i.e. Release 196.21.
We contacted Bryan Del Rizzo, nVidia's PR Manager for GeForce for comment:
"We are aware that some customers have reported fan speed issues with the latest 196.75 WHQL drivers on NVIDIA.com. Until we can verify and root cause this issue, we recommend that customers stay with, or return to 196.21 WHQL drivers
. Release 196.75 drivers have been temporarily removed from our Web site in the meantime."
Given that the most users that reported their graphics cards have died were using a custom-built boards featuring nVidia's favorite renaming chip of all times, G92 GPU [8800GT, 8800GTS, 9800GT, 9800GTX and the subsequent 55nm die-shrink: 9800GTX+, GTS 250]: GeForce 9800GT, 9800GTX and GTS 250 were particular victims of this issue.
The biggest question that now remains is how fast nVidia will handle this situation with the physically damaged users, as it is clear that board vendors will have to accept RMAs for the cards, and if there's one thing that we heard from nVidia partners here at CeBIT, that was a collective opinion that they've lost faith in the company. This driver situation certainly didn't help the situation and we see no other but to address those concerns in a separate article.