Corsair's VP of Marketing, Jim Carlton, speaks to Hexus regarding the Elpida Hyper IC situation:
HEXUS brought you the news, earlier in the week, that high-end component maker Corsair was pulling some performance DDR3 modules due to an unacceptable failure rate in their Elpida Hyper ICs.
We subsequently discovered that a couple of Corsair's new PSUs have had their listed 80Plus energy efficiency rating changed from Gold to Silver.
So we thought it was time to get to the bottom of things and fired over a few questions to Corsair's vice president of marketing, Jim Carlton.
[HEXUS] Corsair has had a few ‘interesting' developments in the last few weeks. We've seen you announce a hold on the Dominator GT and your two new PSUs mysteriously switched from 80Plus Gold to 80Plus Silver. What's going on? Inquiring minds want to know! Let's start with the Dominator GT.
[Jim] Okay, but please be gentle. I've only had one cup of coffee this morning.
[HEXUS] So why did the Elpida issue initially go undetected?
[Jim] First, I'd like to make sure that we clarify exactly what's behind the production hold on the Dominator GT. This is not a general Elpida problem-they make a lot of quality memory ICs. What we've seen is a higher-than-expected field failure rate with our Elpida Hyper-based Dominator GT modules. This is something the enthusiast community started to see a while ago, but we weren't sure at first if it wasn't just related to the fact that most of them were pushing them as hard as possible, upping voltages and clock dividers, pouring liquid nitrogen or liquid helium on them and so on.
Even though our modules have been shipping for a few months, the types of failures and the relatively low levels statistically speaking have meant that we could only recently properly characterize the failure rate. Because modules using Elpida Hyper ICs were found to have unacceptably high failure rates, we decided to take a pretty unusual step and put production of these parts on hold until we could find a solution.
We're working closely with Elpida engineers to isolate and correct the problem so we can get back into production as soon as possible.
Alternatives to Elpida
[HEXUS] What actions has Elpida taken so far and what do you want it to do?
[Jim] That's probably a question best answered by Elpida. Our engineering team is working with them to fully characterize the problem and find a solution. The specifics of what they are doing are way beyond a marketing guy to understand or describe!
I do know that they've correlated the failures and it appears at this time to be isolated to a few lots of early production ICs. We'll know more soon, I'm sure.
[HEXUS] Is it possible to make this a Dominator GT without IC's provided by Elpida?
[Jim] As far at the Dominator GT 2000C7 triple kits go, Elpida Hyper is currently the only IC that can achieve that level of performance on the Corei7 platform. We will put these back into production as soon as we can.
We have also been working with other high-speed memory ICs from Elpida and other chip manufacturers and I'll let you in on a secret: we'll be announcing new additions to the Dominator GT family in the next few days. These are modules we've been working on for other platforms and speed grades. So the short answer is yes, we can make Dominator GTs from ICs other than Elpida Hyper.
[HEXUS] How long do you think it will take for this issue to be resolved?
[Jim] I've asked this question of people far smarter than me and the best I can say is we don't really know yet. We're doing an accelerated lifecycle test with a pretty large sample size right now, and we need to see those results before we can really know the full answer.
Before we start shipping any Hyper-based parts like the 2000C7, we won't ship before we're very comfortable that Elpida has the issue completely isolated and solved at the chip level. That could take just a few weeks or it could take months.
The new Dominator GT modules I alluded to earlier will be shipping in a matter of days, using high-speed ICs other than Elpida Hyper.
[HEXUS] Other Manufacturers build modules based on Elpida IC's - How do you feel this is going to affect them?
[Jim] Are you trying to get me in trouble here [laughs]? I can't really speak for other companies.
We are generally very conservative when it comes to quality. We are very proud-justifiably so, in my opinion-of the quality of our products and we stand behind every module with a lifetime warranty.
We could probably just stick our heads in the sand, keep shipping the current Hyper-based Dominator GT kits, and live with the higher field failures (that, by the way, are affecting everybody as you can see from forum posts and enthusiast blogs all over the web).
But if you think about that from a customer's perspective, that's pretty crappy. Would you like to spend your hard earned money on a product and then be one of the unlucky ones that have an IC fail? Now you've got to contact the manufacturer, get an RMA, and wait for the replacement. In the meantime, your PC is dead, or you end up using some older, slower modules you stripped out of an old build. That's not the best customer experience at all!
We'd rather lose some sales in the short term and save that customer the headaches.
If he really wants the best 2000C7 kit, he'll wait until we get these kinks ironed out and pick up a Dominator GT when it's back in production.