UPDATED 25-03-2011 10:59
Nvidia has explained that the problem stems from a combination of driver version and 'unsafe' voltage levels during overclocking. See the penultimate paragraph for the company's comments.
Owners of Nvidia's latest dual-GPU GeForce GTX 590 graphics cards are advised to make sure that their drivers are up to date, following reports of overheating conditions when overclocked.
Members of Swedish overclocking site SweClockers claim to have found a bug in the Nvidia 267.52 drivers which fails to engage the ramp-down safety mechanism built into the graphics card. This mechanism is designed to reduce the performance of the card if the temperature reaches a critical level, preventing damage - and when it's disabled, bad things can happen.
While users who aren't attempting to overclock the card aren't affected, a video of what can happen to a GTX 590 when overclocked on the old drivers has been released - and it's sobering viewing for anyone who has just spent a few hundred pounds on a graphics card.
Running on the older drivers, the card is overclocked by increasing the GPU voltage which increases the heat output - and smoke can be seen when a component pops due to the additional demand placed upon it during overclocking.
Users on the 267.71 drivers are protected against the failure, so if you're an early GTX 590 adopter it would be prudent to upgrade - even if you're not planning any overclocking.
"A few press reports on GTX 590 boards dying were caused by unsafe overvoltaging - as high as 1.2V vs. the default voltage of 0.91 to 0.96V - and using older drivers that have less overcurrent protection," Nvidia explained in response to our queries on the matter. "Rest assured that the GTX 590 operates reliably at default voltages, and our 267.84 launch drivers provide additional levels of protection." Nvidia also pointed us towards its knowledge base article on the subject.
If you're not convinced, the below video serves of proof of just what can happen if you decide to stick with the older drivers.