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Nvidia Corp., a leading developer of core-logic sets and graphics processors, said that the problem with Serial ATA controller on its latest high-end core-logic sets is solved, however, some users are still reporting problems with Serial ATA operation on systems running nForce chipsets from the company.

Earlier users in several forums, particularly, in EVGA and Nvidia tech support forums, reported about “lock up” and “disk error” issues with Serial ATA hard disk drives and RAID capabilities of the Nvidia nForce 680i SLI core-logic. Some end users even could not install Windows XP operating system, whereas others could not use their systems flawlessly for long and some even reported data corruption. The majority of customers, however, reported no problems. Later on EVGA and Nvidia issued a BIOS version that should fix the problems and make the systems more stable.

“The problem that some users were experiencing related to signal timings on the motherboard. The new BIOS (P32) corrects this,” said Drew Henry, Nvidia’s chipset chief, in an interview with [H]ard|OCP web-site.

Nvidia now blames its internal quality assurance process for not detecting the issues early and claims that in future there will be no such situations when end-users discover issues not seen by the core-logic developer.

“We should have caught this in our internal QA process. Unfortunately, we didn't, and we have adjusted internal processes to make sure that this does not happen again,” Mr. Henry said.

It is unclear what exactly prevented Nvidia from detecting the mainboard issues. But judging by the claims EVGA made in its tech support forums, it took the companies about 22 days to replicate the problem in the labs.

Nvidia now states that the problem is not with its nForce 680i core-logic, but with motherboards produced under Nvidia’s supervision by an unknown contract manufacturer.

“This is not a MCP issue. It's really a board issue, and in this case, only with the motherboards that were designed and manufactured by Nvidia. In fact, boards built by other manufacturers that use the same MCPs, including the Asus Striker Extreme, Asus P5N32-E SLI, and the Asus P5N-E SLI motherboards, are not affected,” Mr. Henry said.

Meanwhile, Asustek Computer’s support forums are full of claims about problems with the respected mainboards powered by Nvidia’s nForce 680i SLI core-logic. Some users are reporting Serial ATA problems, others are questioning memory module compatibility, a number of users are complaining about sound issues and at least two users said their systems simply reboot themselves or behave unpredictably. Not every end-user also claim that the Serial ATA issues are solved in EVGA forums as well.

Nvidia says that while the chipsets contain no problems, different mainboards may have different characteristics, which, in some hardware configurations, may cause problems and in some cases may cause the problems not to emerge. The new BIOS version should correct the situations.

“There are statistical variations in electrical characteristics between boards, which in some cases, can mask the underlying issue. The BIOS adjusts timing in a way that avoids this condition,” Mr. Henry said.

Asustek Computer did not comment on the news-story. Nvidia also did not comment on the fact why end-users with Nvidia nForce 4 and 5-series chipsets were also experiencing problems with Serial ATA hardware.


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