AMD sued over allegedly defective chipsets

Looks like AMD has yet another problem to contend with: a lawsuit from the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of notebooks. Bloomberg reports that Quanta Computer has sued AMD in a federal court in California, alleging that the chipmaker peddled defective chipsets. Among other things, Quanta claims “breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, civil fraud and interference with a contract:”

AMD and its ATI Technologies Inc. unit sold chips that didn’t meet heat tolerances and were unfit for particular purposes, Taoyuan, Taiwan-based Quanta claimed yesterday in a federal court filing in San Jose, California. The chips were used in notebooks Quanta made for NEC Corp. (6701) and caused the computers to malfunction, according to the filing.

According to CNet News’ coverage, the chipset Quanta in question is the RS600ME. Wikipedia tells me the RS600 was released by ATI in the summer of 2006, before AMD completed its acquisition of ATI, and was designed to accommodate Intel Core 2 and Pentium 4 processors. (Yes, ATI made chipsets for Intel CPUs back then.) I assume the RS600ME is a mobile variant of the same silicon.

So, you know, the hardware involved is a several years old. Folks with recent AMD laptops probably have nothing to worry about.

AMD, for its part, says Quanta’s claims are entirely baseless. “AMD is aware of no other customer reports of the alleged issues with the AMD chip that Quanta used,” a spokesman for the chipmaker told Bloomberg. “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.”

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    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    Sounds like a case of “he said, she said”. Quite possibly both companies are partly at fault — ATI for playing things a little too close to the edge on the thermal specs of their chips, and Quanta with their cooling solution.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Quite possibly.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      For Quanta to go to court with allegations of contract breach, I’m not sure that it’s that at all. If AMD really said their chips could withstand temperatures that they actually didn’t, they’ll have proof of it, which will be quite difficult for AMD to dispute. If that happens, it’s all about how much Quanta will want to settle with and AMD is not really swimming in money.

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        Since when has “proof” been required to file a civil suit? It’s all about whether you think a jury will find that the preponderance of evidence is in your favor. And with a case involving engineering minutiae (as this one certainly will) it is going to be a crapshoot because most of the members of the jury likely will not have a technical background.

    • Abdulahad
    • 8 years ago

    I’m just wondering if Quanta’s lawyers are being paid by Intel…

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Such a dumb comment.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      LOL! AMD’s RDF is reaching Apple levels now!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    I think we all get to sue AMD based on their chipset drivers and performance related to them.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    It’s amazing how those laptops even managed to live 5 years. From experience most only survive 2-4 years.

    • thefumigator
    • 8 years ago

    What about nvidia’s 7000 series chipset for AMD laptops? those were out of specs and a batch just had its soldering melted like hot cheese.

      • Goty
      • 8 years ago

      That wasn’t just one batch, I think.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      1) If you’re talking about the so called “bumpgate” (named by the idiot Charlie and spread around by his followers), NVIDIA was sued to high heaven for that one

      2) What does that have to do with this story ? This is about AMD and Quanta…

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        I thought the name was clever and fitting.

    • ish718
    • 8 years ago

    I guess this is their(Quanta) chance to get some easy money.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      Am I missing something? All I can find on the Google is “Quanta expected to continue to be world’s leading notebook manufacturer in 2012”.

        • [+Duracell-]
        • 8 years ago

        Really? First time I’ve heard of them…

          • kalelovil
          • 8 years ago

          They are a massive notebook ODM, building to order many of the notebook platforms for companies such as Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, Apple, etc. who then place their own branding and bloatware on them.

          If you have a mainstream or budget laptop built within the last ten years chances are either Quanta or Compal was its manufacturer.

            • ludi
            • 8 years ago

            Well, 60/40 anyway. Quanta and Compal hold around 30% each of the OE market and most of the other 40% is divided between Wistron, Inventec, and Pegatron (former notebook manufacturing arm of Asus). Here are some 3Q10 numbers to back that up:

            [url<]http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-20/pegatron-aims-to-be-top-3-contract-manufacturer-of-notebook-pcs-ceo-says.html[/url<]

    • Yeats
    • 8 years ago

    Quanta f*cked up the cooling solution, looks to blame AMD?

      • FuturePastNow
      • 8 years ago

      That’s what it looks like to me. If it was used in several laptop models and failed in only one of them, sounds like some engineer at Quanta or NEC goofed.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Those that worked could’ve had different cooling solutions.

        The lawsuit seems to be based on AMD chips not meeting their “heat tolerances” – maybe AMD promised the chips could handle more heat than they did.

        Other AMD customers not complaining, or Quanta being able to use the design in other computer platforms isn’t enough to conclude that Quanta screwed up.

          • Lans
          • 8 years ago

          Well, Quanta obviously screwed up for letting the problem through as they are supposed to qualify their own products before mass producing them (i.e. they should have found the problem 5-6 years ago). The only question is did AMD/ATI screw Quanta over?

          [quote<]AMD, for its part, says Quanta's claims are entirely baseless. "AMD is aware of no other customer reports of the alleged issues with the AMD chip that Quanta used," a spokesman for the chipmaker told Bloomberg. "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."[/quote<] Sure, it is entirely true that it is possible the platform being referenced could have used a cooling solution well within the thermal specifications and Quanta's own design wanted a lighter/less costly/etc cooling solution. And it is also entirely possible that other companies simply used heavier/more costly/etc cooling solutions but I just can get over the fact that these are for profit companies... Why would all of them (besides Quanta) spend more than what they absolutely need to? Across all their designs? I think it is just too far fetched to be believable.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            We don’t know the details, so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.. For instance, it’s entirely possible that Quanta designed a very different, small-form-factor system with passive cooling, assuming the chipset was able to handle the heat (as per product specifications).

            And, it’s also possible that the problems manifested themselves only later in the product life cycle (thermal cycling messing up with chip solder over time… much like with NVidia’s “bumpgate”). Those kind of problems are really difficult to find in short-term burn-in tests – it’s hard to predict the future.

            Both Quanta and ATI in their respective product quality control tests did their best, I’m sure. It’s just that if the contract says ATI promised parts to meet some specific specs and they didn’t AMD/ATI is responsible. Of course, Quanta needs to show that they didn’t exceeded specified conditions.

            We shouldn’t be quick to say Quanta is at fault… we should let both Quanta and AMD have a chance to make their case in court, and decide then.

            • Lans
            • 8 years ago

            I mostly agree except part that Quanta might not be a fault. Regardless of which company, my opinion is the company designing the final product should be held responsible for having faulty products on the market. I just fail to see how you can hold Quanta blameless for “problems are really difficult to find in short-term burn-in tests” when presumably it would have escaped AMD/ATI’s labs and Quanta ultimately should have left room for margin of error due to viability in environment of end-users.

            I have voiced my reservations on the creditworthiness of Quanta’s claims but do agree is too early to say it is all Quanta’s fault and none of AMD/ATI’s. I never said that — all I am saying is Quanta has at least part of the blame and question is how much the blame can be assigned to AMD/ATI and yes we can decide that after the court case.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Something that fails over five years [i<]cannot[/i<] be predicted or tested for in advance with 100% accuracy. Sure, Quanta's customers blame Quanta for failed parts, but [b<]if[/b<] this was caused by a component Quanta bought from ATI, and ATI said the component meets a long-term spec when it doesn't, we can only fault Quanta for trusting ATI. It's entirely possible that it was a mistake by ATI's thermal reliability modeling people. If you buy an electric car, lend it to your friend, and the battery blows up killing your friend, is it your fault or the car manufacturer's fault?

            • Silus
            • 8 years ago

            Precisely. It’s the exact situation with NVIDIA’s chip failures. HP or whichever other company that was affected, had their customers bitch to them, which in turn would bitch to NVIDIA, since it was the chip designer after all and ultimately the one to contact when problems with chips happen.
            Still, what’s happening here is just the same old double standard. If Quanta’s claims are true, even though AMD designed the chips and sold them with specs that they could handle temperatures that they actually couldn’t, AMD is somehow not to blame for claiming false information. What ?!

            Bottom line is we’ll see if Quanta has proof of their claims, but if they do, it’ll be hard for AMD to counter them, since we are talking about contract terms. That’s binding and upheld before any court of law.

            • Lans
            • 8 years ago

            Well if you talk about double standards, it seems like after 9/11, the modus operandi now is presumed guilt and defendants need to prove their innocence? That is IF Quanta proves their claim but they haven’t? That is my main beef with the statements made so far. Just because Quanta claims AMD/ATI wronged them doesn’t mean it happened but on other hand they must admit some fault for letting stuff get pass them even if it really comes down to them trusting AMD/ATI.

            In HP/Nvidia example… you are assuming I’ll say it is all Nvidia’s fault and that is just your fantasy!

            • Lans
            • 8 years ago

            Except you didn’t design or build the supposed electric car?

            EDIT: Nevermind with what I was going to say about if you did build the electric car… Short of it is your liability would be vastly different if you did build the electric car (even with off the shelf/commercially available components).

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      It could go either way; neither Bloomberg nor CNet gives much by details. It’s possible that the error was Quanta’s. However, it’s also possible that a batch of chips had a manufacturing defect in the packaging assembly similar to what gave Nvidia much grief, or that ATi had published an incorrect set of thermal specifications leading to failures in that particular design. Either of those cases could be ATi’s liability, depending on what kind of terms were negotiated in the original contracts.

      • xeridea
      • 8 years ago

      Well this is america where you can sue your neighbor for their kids playing basketball in the driveway to loudly, so they figured they could sue AMD for something 6 years ago in something that Quanta screwed up. Does it really take 6 years to figure out your cooling solution sucks? I don’t think laptops that old even exist.

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Does it really take 6 years to figure out your cooling solution sucks? I don't think laptops that old even exist.[/quote<] 1. They may have suspected there was a problem several years ago, and are just getting around to filing the suit now. 2. We've got several 6-year-old laptops here at the office where I work.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      You’re kidding right ? Did you even read what Quanta claims ?

      “AMD and its ATI Technologies Inc. unit sold chips that didn’t meet heat tolerances and were unfit for particular purposes, Taoyuan, Taiwan-based Quanta claimed yesterday in a federal court filing in San Jose, California. The chips were used in notebooks Quanta made for NEC Corp. (6701) and caused the computers to malfunction, according to the filing.”

      They claim AMD told them that the chips handled a certain heat, yet they didn’t. If that’s true, how is that Quanta’s fault ?

        • just brew it!
        • 8 years ago

        Well, he *did* end his post with a question mark… and it’s a legitimate question to ask. Just because Quanta claims something in their suit doesn’t mean it’s 100% true; could be their management playing CYA.

          • Silus
          • 8 years ago

          Just as AMD saying it’s not true, doesn’t mean it’s 100% true, yet the OP makes an assumption that it’s Quanta’s fault.

          Qunata claims AMD breached contract agreements and so they go to court. If they have proof, then AMD needs to pay. If not, AMD might counter sue for false allegations or something of the sort. It’s in the courts hands, where there should be no assumptions.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        Uhm, that’s just legal speak for “you suck, we’ll sue.”

        Just because I allege that you breached a contract we had, doesn’t mean you actually breached that contract, or if you did, that the compensation I am requesting is reasonable. Hence, the existence of a forum where we can debate it before a judge.

          • Silus
          • 8 years ago

          And that’s why they’re going to court…and prove (or not) their allegations. Yet the person I was replying to, already assumed that it’s Quanta’s fault.

    • south side sammy
    • 8 years ago

    I’d like to know when somebody is going to sue nvidia for all those boot leg chips on the 560’s ???? hey, I can’t be the only one that read/heard about this….. ?????

      • Yeats
      • 8 years ago

      But… but… right now we’re talking about the issue between Quanta and AMD, how does Nvidia figure into all this? Answer: they don’t.

        • Silus
        • 8 years ago

        But that’s what happens around here…story about a possible AMD screw up and somehow NVIDIA should be blamed for something completely unrelated with that story. That’s what you get from the gazillion AMD zealots in here…fanatics to a level that only Apple followers know how to be.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t know please link a story.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 8 years ago

    So it took Quanta 5 – 6 years to realize they *might* have had bad chips?

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      ^^ Obviously not a lawyer, and likely someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of extensive dealings with the courts.

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