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2010 MBP 15" Graphics Switching Issues - Kernel Panics, freezing, lockups, etc.

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I've been lurking here for a while, but finally decided to make a post.


Anyway, I have a 2010 15" MBP, 2.4Ghz i5, 10.7.4, fully updated, etc. The system seems to semi-randomly slow to a crawl, then panic or freeze. After looking through the console logs, and googling around and whatnot, I'm fairly certain it's related to the Nvidia graphics switching.


First, a program or two starts randomly beachballing, and one CPU core suddenly maxes out, according to MenuMeters. If you do nothing and just wait a minute or two, more programs start to beachball until the spinning beachball cursor ends up freezing too. Trying to Force Quit a frozen program usually results in the Force Quit window beachballing too. I managed to keep Activity Monitor open while it was happening a couple times, and kernel_task was the process eating up an entire core. Not looking good. No matter what you do, you'll end up having to hard reset sooner or later.


I upgraded the RAM and HDD a while ago, so I swapped in the original HDD and RAM, and even wiped the drive and installed a fresh copy of 10.6 Snow Leopard, and still had a random freezing issue. Same with a fresh install of Lion. Same after installing all the updates.


After a while, I figured out certain things that tended to trigger the crashing more often. Sometimes watching an HD H.264 video in QuickTime Player or YouTube/Flash would cause a crash. Even more often in Preview.app, selecting Tools > Adjust Color... would frequently cause the crashing. I'm guessing because these things are using Core Image/Video and GPU acceleration, it's triggering something. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's quite obvious something is wrong.


The thing is, some GPU intensive programs work fine. 3D games like Portal or Team Fortress 2 cause the Nvidia GPU to enable, but the games run fine.



Random excerpts from the logs:


This usually gets repeated a couple dozen times, but doesn't always occur when the system crashes:




7/27/12 4:56:21.000 PM kernel: IOSurface: buffer allocation size is zero

7/27/12 4:56:41.000 PM kernel: IOSurface: buffer allocation size is zero


These lines almost always occur around the time the system starts to slow/panic/freeze:


kernel: NVDA(OpenGL): Channel exception! exception type = 0x6 = Fifo: Parse Error
kernel: IOVendorGLContext::ReportGPURestart 
kernel: 00000069
kernel: NVDA(Video): Channel exception! exception type = 0x1a = Fifo: FBISTATE Timeout Error
kernel: NVDA(OpenGL): Channel timeout!


And when there's a kernel panic, there's more references to the graphics system:
Kernel Extensions in backtrace:
            dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOPCIFamily(2.6.8)[F63D4ABE-42DA-33EF-BADD-3415B0CB0179]@0xffffff7f80880000
            dependency: com.apple.iokit.IONDRVSupport(2.3.2)[4B3F84DC-18B3-3897-BC56-4E3940878047]@0xffffff7f808e3000
            dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOGraphicsFamily(2.3.2)[FE536983-1897-3D6B-965E-24B5A67080DA]@0xffffff7f808ab000
            dependency: com.apple.NVDAResman(7.1.8)[94BA87BA-B128-3310-9860-98EC67AB7FAF]@0xffffff7f808f5000


After googling around quite a bit, I found this Apple KB article and made sure I had the proper updates, which didn't seem to help any. I brought my MBP to the Apple Store, and a Genius ran a special diagnostic Video System Test designed to detect the issue. If it failed the test, I would probably get a logic board replacement covered under the program. It passed the test, which means my system is supposed to be fine. The guy thought it might be another issue related to the GPU unrelated to the KB article, and suggested a $400 board replacement.
The thing is, the issues I'm having are intermittent. Some days it will literally crash 5 times in a row when selecting "Adjust Color..." in Preview.app. Other times it'll seem perfectly fine. There were quite a few other forums with people describing the exact same symptoms, including this large discussion, and some people were claiming the test was flawed. They would have the test run, pass it, go back to the Apple store a few days later and test it again, and have it fail.
Not sure what else I can do. Guess I could spend $400 for a new board, resell the MBP and get a new one, or waste time and travel back and forth from the Apple store and hope it fails the test.

Edited by TD912 - 7/27/12 at 8:18pm
post #2 of 2
There's a thread about it here:


Some say they had the GPU/logic board replaced. Others say they installed the following video update:


If you haven't installed that update, try it and if it still crashes, try disabling automatic graphics switching in the energy saver system preferences. If that doesn't work, try rebooting into safe mode by holding shift and then reboot - that will rebuild the kernel caches.
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