Haunting application crashes.. NVIDIA driver or hardware issue?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by gr8bob, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. gr8bob macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    The problem with NVIDIA GPU's crapping out had been haunting me ever since the third month of my Macbook Pro ownership. I'm on my third NVIDIA GPU (1 MLB replacement, 1 MBP replacement) and those random application crashes still haunts me (check my siggy for the flickr gallery for all the explanation and photos).

    So for anyone that has similar configuration or just wanted to try out, please post some feedback on the result.

    System configuration:

    Early 2008 Macbook Pro (2.4GHz Penryn) 15.4" baseline model, production date: June 2008
    + 4GB (2x2GB) Kingston 667MHz DDR2
    + Leopard 10.5.2 Install > Updated to 10.5.4 and all the latest updates

    Connected with:
    - Dell 2007WFP via DVI-out (display on extended desktop mode as main display)
    - Dell display USB hub via USB (left)
    - Apple (aluminium) keyboard
    - Logitech MX Revolution USB (no Logitech software installed)
    - WD My Book Studio 1TB via FW800​


    Procedure of experiment:

    1. Warm up your machine/use it normally like you would (surfing, iTunes, etc).

    2. Set your screensaver to either Flurry or Arabesque and set it to start at 3 minutes (make sure your display doesn't sleep before the screen saver starts).

    3. Fire up iTunes, set it to Cover Flow view (with lots album cover arts and songs).

    4. Scroll around Cover Flow for a while and double-click on a random album to play.

    5. Move it to the extended desktop (not the main display with the menu bar) and let it play.

    6. Start playing a movie in QuickTime (tested using DIVX AVI + Perian 1.1 component), make it full-screen and leave it on the main display.
    This should make it as follow:

    [main display: Full-screen QuickTime movie] + [extended display: iTunes w/Cover Flow]

    7. Let all of them play for a while (a few minutes).

    8. Launch FrontRow (I did it via the Apple Remote), all background playback should stop.

    9. Select Music > Album > [Play some album]

    10. Let it play for 10 minutes or longer.

    After some time...

    11. If you have the remote, press the "menu" button to go out of playback. Press "esc" on the keyboard if you don't.

    12. Is your computer still responding? Does it wake up with display immediately? Check your system.log (Utilities > Console, under "Log Database Queries" > "All Messages") for "NVChannel(GL):..." errors (do a search on "nvchannel").

    I did from step 1 till 11 last night, lo and behold.. The infamous "NVChannel(GL)" error comes back to haunt me again..



    DISCLAIMER: Please try these steps at your own risk and make sure there is no running applications with unsaved work(s) on them. I am not responsible for anything that happened.

    More info:
    CPU was idling around 60 degrees Celsius, GPU was around the 60-70 degrees Celsius region.

  2. bigrell486 macrumors 6502


    Jul 10, 2006
    So, does this problem happen to you on its own or do you repeated go through these steps until you finally artificial induce a problem?
  3. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    I'm just retracing my steps last night before the errors occured. It happened the first time around. Other than that, the NVChannelGL error happens randomly with any application that uses a bit more of the GPU acceleration (which application in Mac doesn't?).

    I'm going to try it again to see if it happens.
  4. bigrell486 macrumors 6502


    Jul 10, 2006
    But your computer is displaying everything fine right?

    Or are you saying that log errors mean it will crap out on you soon?
  5. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    The GPU subsystem seems to have crashed after step 10. Display doesn't come back immediately after trying to wake the system up from screen saver and display sleep. Everything is still blank while the system still responds. By this time, normally it would've have excited Front Row and back to the desktop already. Only after a minute or so that the display started to "recover" where the album art (in Front Row) starts to appear, then the iTunes window starts to appear, and eventually the desktop came back. Still, Cover Flow in iTunes still blanked out, only appearing after trying to "scroll" it using my mouse wheel.

    I'm not neccessarily saying that the GPU is crapping out, but this is what I've experienced last time before my MBP exhibits random texture corruption.
  6. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I'm curious to know the exact nvidia 8600m gt cards in the 2.2ghz mbp with the 128mb vram. Seems like almost 99% of the people that have either the black screen of death (gpu crapping out) or some sort of graphical glitches are all from the 2.2ghz mbp.

    I've seen 2 or 3 posts with the 2.4ghz 2007 models complaining about their gpu dieing as well but it could just be the norm.
  7. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    UPDATE: It did it again.. I've retraced the steps, and the display subsystem seems to have crashed again.. spewing loads of NVChannel(GL) errors in the system log.

    However, I did try Front Row playback using 'shuffle all songs' and it doesn't crash, however during one of the song, there is some weird texture crap on the screen.. it disappeared after the album art 'flipped'.

    This time, Front Row crashed less than 3 minutes into the song when I select an album for playback instead of shuffling the whole library.
  8. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    My current MBP is a 2.4Ghz Early 2008 model, not the Late 2007 model. But my previous Late 2007 models did crap out on me so I guess that's a plausible claim..
  9. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I'm just curious as to the exact gpu model of the nvidia 8600m gt card with the 128mb vram. Maybe those batches in production have some issues?

    Also the issue your having.. I'm guessing its something with the software/hardware.
  10. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    Well, that's what I'm trying to find out.. is it a software issue or a hardware issue. I listed out the steps hoping to see if people can reproduce the errors by weeding out the variables..

    Another UPDATE..
    Retraced the steps again, this time removing the "Harmonic" widget (it's a lyrics thing for iTunes) from Dashboard before proceeding. Front Row didn't crash.

    The second time, restarted the machine, retraced the exact same steps (still without the Harmonic widget), Front Row crashed again with weird texture placement (missing album art, missing text, floating bits of album art) and NVChannel(GL) errors in system.log.

    This is what it last happened after exiting Front Row:

    FYI, this Macbook Pro had only been in use for around 3 weeks!
  11. deltaiscain macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2008
    I'm gonna try this, as soon is my video conversion is complete. Will see if there is a difference, because i have the 512mb gpu card
  12. deltaiscain macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2008
    Ok, i just did it, and i had no failure. The only thing that's different is that i don't have an external display, so i used spaces. This might be why it didn't crash. Also, my screensaver, Arabesque, started playing, 3 minutes after i started a song in Front Row.
  13. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    Probably that's the reason why. The GPU actually clocks higher (constantly at its maximum clock) when an external display is attached. You should try it a couple of times just to see if it happens. Mine didn't happen 1 out of 4 tries.

    I will try to the steps again later without the external display connected and see how things goes.
  14. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    It only crashes when an external display is connected via DVI. Doesn't work when it's on single display mode.
  15. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    That's strange, I've used my mbp on my sig to play mkv 1080p movies connected directly via dvi to my 52" sony bravia xbr4 and I've watched a movie back to back for a total of 5 hours plenty of times and I thought that my mbp's gpu diode would shoot sky high but surprisingly stayed very cool around 58C-62C.

    Maybe this happens if you use the 2nd display as an extender?
  16. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Just out of curiosity do you a PVA or S-IPS panel on your monitor?

    And I don't seem to be having this issue.
  17. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    1080p MKV playback apparantly doesn't stress the GPU enough if you're using VLC. My temp is also around the 60 degrees region during playback with VLC.

    However, playback with OSXBMC stresses the CPU and GPU a bit more since it tries to use both CPU cores and GPU for playback. Temp is usually around 65-70+ degrees Celsius, just at the edge before the fan starts to ramp up from 2000rpm.

    Yes, it only happens when it's on DVI and in the past I've had been using my display as an extended display too.
  18. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    From the service menu and screen characteristics (orange tinge at extreme angle), it seems to be an S-IPS panel. And yes.. it has some colour banding on some gradients. Bought it this year from Dell with 4 years of warranty :rolleyes:.. I wonder how are they going to do with it if it go kaput anytime soon.. (touchwood)

    Shouldn't be an issue with the display connected should it?
  19. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    But my whole point is that I still have it connected via dvi and it runs fine. I also have 20+ safari tabs open, azureus downloading 25+gb files and unison downloading 150gb files, parallels running windows vista running a couple of programs and the mkv movie playing.

    I just sold my mbp on my sig and I'm going to opt for the mac pro desktop.
  20. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    Did you have your display on extended display mode or in mirror mode?

    Did you follow the exact instructions as listed above?

    Do you have album art across most of your iTunes library?

    Just a few varaibles to weed out..
  21. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I havnt tried the extended desktop mode.. but I tried the itunes thing with the album works.

    I think it might just be a software.. maybe wait for the next update for the bug to be fixed?
  22. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    Tried it again this morning, it crashed more horribly that before (more weird texture), couldn't be bothered with more pictures, but there's some NVChannel(GL) errors in the system log.

    Did it the second time again, this time copying the movie off the FireWire drive onto the desktop. Front Row crashed within minutes on music playback (blank screen, not responding for a few seconds) but in the end no NVChannel(GL) errors.

    I might do a few more tests before I give up on this piece of crap commercial notebook.
  23. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    you should send it in to apple again, I think if you do it 3 times they will completely replace it with a brand new one.
  24. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    You should really try it in extended desktop mode. It's probably the only factor that matters.

    I've been waiting since 10.5.2 for them to fix this damn issue and apparantly it's neither fixed nor done anything to it..
  25. gr8bob thread starter macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    THIS machine is already a BRAND NEW replacement machine (sealed and delivered from Apple with full retail box) for my last MacBook Pro (2.2Ghz Merom/Santa Rosa) that had a logic board replacement (and some f-up done by the service centre).

    It goes like below:

    1. MacBook Pro (2.2Ghz Merom/Santa Rosa/128MB VRAM)
    - 3rd month of usage, NVChannel(GL) errors
    - 5th month of usage, graphic texture corruption
    - Did a logic board replacement. Service note onboard TEMP sensor faulty
    - problem not fixed, texture corruption still happens, condition was even worse than it was before taken into service..
    - brought it in for another service
    - machine got screwed up by the service centre.. WTF??​
    2. Replaced with MacBook Pro (2.4GHz Penryn/Santa Rosa/256MB VRAM)
    -this is where I'm at NOW..​

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