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Old 06-02-2011, 03:19 PM   #1
marcellodj
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Default Laptop reflowing improving reliability ?

Hello,
as many of people here, i see that approx 60% of failures on laptops coming on my bench are related to bga lead free soldering issues, that i solve via reflowing using profiling and so on (i have the proper tools, also for reball but it s too time consuming).

My success rate is approx 60% > 6 months, the 40% fails between 3-6 months.

My question is, regarding gpu nvidia/ati issues, underclocking them via bios mod or sw, may help they last longer??

Any experience or suggestion to share?
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

nVidia chips post nForce 4 should not be bothered with. A reflow will temporarily fix them but they will ultimately fail from the poor design of the euctectic substrate. Initially, the design flaw causes an accelerated case of BGA solder failure... The heat is excessive because of internal failures within the chip. When the solder is reflowed, the contact is re-established, but ultimately the chip itself just dies.

With ATI chips I've so far had a good success rate... Mind you, I;ve only actually reflowed one ATI laptop so far.

These are the laptops to avoid:
HP DV2000 Series - 14" Widescreen
HP DV6000 Series - 15.4" Widescreen
HP DV9000 Series - 17" Widescreen

These are basically all the same laptops with the same nVidia IGP, albeit with different screen sizes. They're not worth reflowing and they should be stripped for parts.
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:36 PM   #3
mattbrad2
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

I'd like to pipe in here about success rate on the HP DV series. I'd say around 90% of the laptops I've reflowed (mostly DVs) are now on their 2nd year of use. Now I probably just jinxed them all but to me, thats a good enough time frame to say its a success. I've got a process that I put a lot of trial and error into but at the end of the day, its really nothing special; just some proper profiling, temperature ramping and cooling. The key really is preventing these chips from running at these extreme temps of >70C. If you can get them down to idle temps of mid 50's than I really don't see a reason why they shouldn't last a long time after a reflow.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Yea, I understand that even with the inherent defects in the chips, the reflows do indeed work a lot of the time even for those nVidia IGPs. The problem with it is that I cannot charge a customer in good faith for it, and I'm not going to do it for free, so I just don't do it.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

mockingbird, I completely understand where you're coming from. I struggled with this same thing for the first couple months. I tried re-balling but couldn't justify the added cost. I even used my wife's HP TX tablet as a guinea pig. After 3 or 4 months though I felt like I could justify the labor charge and a 90 day warranty with it. I'd tell the customer up front that the process sometimes doesn't take. I also retail laptops so the thought was the customer would purchase a new laptop from me if the re-flow was a bust (win, win for me). It was a learning experience and a lot of fun. So far, about 1 out of 10 don't take well to a re-flow. Of course, clean the heatsink/fan and add a copper shim and you're good to go. The TX's also need some extra ventilation (drilling a few holes in the plastic housing under the GPU goes a long way). It's become one of the most popular services I've offered this past year. I'm going to miss it when these DV's stop being used. Occasionally I'll have a Dell or IBM with the same problem but the DV series will always hold a special place in my heart (and wallet)
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Mockingbird, have you figured out the reason for these Thinkpad R31 failures? The northbridge chipset is not heatsinked at all even it is BGA plastic package. The cousin to this R31 is Dell C610 and is functioning and is well heatsinked by design which I have both, two dead R31 boards and working C610.

Cheers, Wizard
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

I have good success with reflows but I do get the occasional rework. And you are right re-balling just takes way too much time.

Does anyone know if there is any way to bypass the dedicated nVidia chip on the intel DV boards and just use the intel northbridge for the graphics? I've never tried just to pull of the GPU and RAM, but I'm sure that there is something else on the board that differentiates the boards.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

So clues to a reflow last longer (assuming a job well done, with proper tools,flux,thermal profiling) seems to be better ventilation with additional drills on chassis and copper shims on gpu.
Regarding shims why not use fresh thermal pads like the 3M 5519?? are copper shims really better?

Best regards
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:32 PM   #9
mattbrad2
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

marcellodj - I haven't used anything but copper shims. The temperature drop is so great and the cost is so cheap, I can't imagine anything else being "better". I'm sure other methods could work equally well however.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Would you guys be willing to roughly detail what kind of profiling you use?

Also did not the lawsuit force nVidia to produce new "working" chips with a correct underfill? (fixing the bumpgate problem)
I've been looking for a "fixed" VGA card for my Dell M1710 laptop, the Quadro FX1600M from the Dell Precision M6300 apparently fits and works.
But I of course would not want to buy a card that will in all likelyhood fail again...
For now I replaced the original Geforce 7950GTX with a very slow ATI X1400 129MB card...

I was just thinking that if new chips have been made then laptops that have failed due to the bumpgate issue could be fixed by replacing the whole GPU with a new one?
When buying new it also saves the trouble of a re-ball job. (The settlement only applied in the US and I'm from Europe...)

http://www.nvidiasettlement.com/
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:38 PM   #11
marcellodj
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Short version:
- preheat bottom @ 180c (approx 10mins)
- when bottom is @ 180, top (measured on side of bga) is approx @ 140c i start top heater, 1c/s, when reach 230c, start count 36 seconds, then power off top & bottom
- cool down the board

note: temperature reading depends on termocouples used and tool setup.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Quote:
Also did not the lawsuit force nVidia to produce new "working" chips with a correct underfill? (fixing the bumpgate problem)
I've been looking for a "fixed" VGA card for my Dell M1710 laptop, the Quadro FX1600M from the Dell Precision M6300 apparently fits and works.
But I of course would not want to buy a card that will in all likelyhood fail again...
For now I replaced the original Geforce 7950GTX with a very slow ATI X1400 129MB card...
No. They supposedly released 9xxx series chips with the new substrate, but when it was analyzed, it was revealed that it was a lie. All they were trying to do was get rid of old stock with lies.

X1400 is a step down from a 7950gtx to say the least, but X1400 is no wimp. It's 128-bit, still a lot better than any integrated video.
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:37 PM   #13
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Most of this reply is not directed at you mockingbird, it's to provide background for others reading this thread...

Yea, the AMD Radeon X1400 is ok, but it can't do 720p or 1080p H.264 offloading and that is why I want to replace it (The 7950GTX can't either for that matter)
I'm aware that the 9xxx series is faulty aswell
Hell most of 9xxx cards where just 8xxx cards rebranded, same ASIC and all!

But to my knowledge they did eventually change the Hitachi Underfill used for the GPU (The connection between the GPU and it's green packaging PCB with the solder balls on it)

FYI Bumpgate is just a play on words (Watergate)
I.e. the coverup nVidia did up untill they where dragged to court and forced to pay settlement fees, this should be enough for anyone to not buy cards from this dishonest company ever again.
Both AMD and Intel have handled issues like these much better, AMD with the TLB / B2 stepping bug (free replacements and a patch circumventing the issues but reducing performance)
And Intel with the recent Cougar Point / B3 stepping issue with their chipsets, doing a full recall of products and covering all expenses...
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Quote:
But to my knowledge they did eventually change the Hitachi Underfill used for the GPU (The connection between the GPU and it's green packaging PCB with the solder balls on it)
No, they didn't, not until the generation after 9xxx (Which I believe is called "Fermi"). They claimed to have, but the chips were examined and found to have the same underfill as before.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:15 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

I follow this as a guideline:
http://www.altera.com/literature/an/an353.pdf

Look for the section called pb-free reflow profile recommendations.

Its a good idea to put some kapton tape on top of the GPU to prevent the substrate from popcorning. I also use a pre-cut template of metal foil tape that is placed around the GPU in an effort to protect the surrounding components.

Be patient and don't skimp on the cooling off part of the process. Use a few drops of liquid flux underneath the GPU and be sure to remove any epoxy holding the chip down to the board. You want the GPU to level itself as the solder is reflowing. From start to finish it shouldn't take more than about 6 minutes.

A buddy of mine uses a jig he came up with placed around (and under the corners) of the GPU while placing a weight directly on top the GPU while reflowing. It works for him but I haven't had the need to go this far yet. Everyone it seems has their own methods.
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

If you put weight on top of it while the solder is molten, won't you flatten the BGA solder?
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:12 PM   #17
mattbrad2
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

The idea is the jig is really just a spacer placed around the corners of the GPU to keep it from crushing the solder underneath and at the same time, levels the chip. It's actually a really neat set up but I use an IR lamp to do my reflows so I'm more worried about damaging the chip itself. You could really only pull this off with hot air I think.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

my bosses idea:
tell customers its a dead laptop, nothing he can do (explains the chip problem), offer to transfer the customers data to a new laptop for no cost, as long as they 'donate' the laptop, then he gets this middle eastern guy at a local electronics shop to put a intel board in for I think about $80, sells it for $200-300something I dont' know I haven't actually worked in the shop for a long time
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:24 AM   #19
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

Thank you so much both mattbrad2 & marcellodj for detailing the profiling process, I hope I'll have better luck next time I try it out on something while following your advise

mockingbird; Yea, I know they lied and said they changed it for the 9xxx series, and then the next series too.
But did they not then produce new old parts? (With the same old part numbers, just new stepping)

Stuff I read on the net implies so, like this article I already linked:
http://vr-zone.com/articles/3-year-o...resh/6515.html

And also the nVidia settlement page says that:
"If you have an Apple or a Dell computer, your computer will need to be sent to a repair depot so that the NVIDIA GPU can be replaced."
"Your computer will be returned to you after the NVIDIA GPU is replaced."


You mean they just replace it with the same crap that will fail again?
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Old 06-07-2011, 03:05 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Laptop reflowing] improving reliability ?

@Per ,
if interested on reflow process take a look also to these interesting readings:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/19747980/X...on-by-Manncorp

and in general search on the old google for "ipc reflow standards" ...lot of docs.

I would suggest you also to visit xbox and ps3 hardware scene, where the home made reflow process was born, eg:

http://forums.cvxgameconsolerepair.c...forum.php?f=46

but they are dozens of forums focused on ps3 or xbox reflow tecniques.

best regards.
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