In a bid to provide high-quality user experience and reliable operation of graphics cards designed by its partners, Nvidia Corp. has launched Green Light program. The program seems to work just fine, but recently EVGA had to disable an advertized volt-modding capability to comply, causing a debacle whether the program just limits innovation or actually ensures that proper products are on the market.
Earlier this week it turned out that EVGA had to remove EVBot voltage control tool from the bundle of EVGA GTX 680 Classified in order to "comply with Nvidia guidelines for selling GeForce GTX products" as no GPU voltage control is allowed for Nvidia-based graphics cards even with external tools. Apparently, EVGA removed the EVBot tool in a bid to comply with a little-known program called Green Light, which is Nvidia's way to control custom-made graphics solutions.
As it appears, Nvidia requires their board partners to validate their designs with itself before entering mass production, reports Bright Side of News web-site. Manufacturers of graphics cards have to send in their board designs for approval from Nvidia to meet its noise, power, voltage and heat requirements. If those figures are not met, Nvidia does not approve the card, which means that it loses GPU warranty, BIOS support and so on.
"Green Light was created to help ensure that all of the GTX boards in the market all have great acoustics, temperatures, and mechanicals. This helps to ensure our GTX customers get the highest quality product that runs quiet, cool, and fits in their PC. GTX is a measureable brand, and Green Light is a promise to ensure that the brand remains as strong as possible by making sure the products brought to market meet our highest quality requirements," said Bryan Del Rizzo, senior PR manager for GeForce products at Nvidia.
The Santa Clara, California-based developer of graphics processing units actually allows increasing GPU voltages so that graphics cards makers could release higher-speed solution. But the companies can only vary voltages up to certain levels without losing warranty.
"We support overvoltaging up to a limit on our products, but have a maximum reliability spec that is intended to protect the life of the product. [...] Regarding overvoltaging above our max spec, we offer AICs two choices: Ensure the GPU stays within our operating specs and have a full warranty from Nvidia; Allow the GPU to be manually operated outside specs in which case Nvidia provides no warranty," added Mr. Del Rizzo.
Nvidia's concerns are completely understood: it does not want to cripple its own Nvidia GeForce GTX brand even to set up performance records. But at the same time, by controlling what graphics cards makers can and cannot do, Nvidia controls its warranty replacement levels and, perhaps, more importantly, competition on the market of add-in-cards (AICs), which naturally gives the GPU developer a number of benefits. On the other hand, while some enthusiasts may be unable to get supercharged graphics boards with noisy coolers, they can get absolutely reliable products that will work for years and then mod them themselves.