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Hardware Technology

VIA Announces Lead-Free Motherboard 347

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the earth-day-special dept.
linuxprox writes "VIA announced today that their AS-1210 motherboard will be the world's first lead-free motherboard. 'The transition to 'green' manufacturing for VIA has been very smooth and we have been able to ship lead-free processors and chipsets since the end of last year,' said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. 'The AS-1210 clearly demonstrates the technology leadership of VIA and Yamashita in being the first to market with a lead-free motherboard that meets the requirements of the international market.'"
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VIA Announces Lead-Free Motherboard

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  • more to read (Score:5, Informative)

    by tedtimmons (97599) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:36PM (#8944514) Homepage
    I was trying to figure out what the lead was used for (traces, solder, and capacitors was my best bet). The following link from Intel is a press release, but contains a good overview of lead use:
    http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/20 040407tech.htm [intel.com]

    And more from Intel:
    http://www.intel.com/research/silicon/leadfree.htm [intel.com]

    And more information from AMD:
    http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/TechnicalResou rces/0,,30_182_4040,00.html [amd.com]

    Disclosure: I don't work for, or own stock in AMD or Intel. I haven't purchased an Intel chip since the Pentium came out.

    -ted

  • by brxndxn (461473) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:36PM (#8944518)
    All my plans of turning worthless motherboards into precious pencils has failed!!
  • Green Computing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:36PM (#8944519)
    VIA Green Computing page [via.com.tw]

    It's too bad they don't do monitors. Those CRTs are the biggest source of lead in computers. Of course, I don't like electrons being shot at my face, so it's not all bad, but still. They are a pain to dispose of.

    Cross your fingers for affordable OLEDs. (fp?)
    • CRTs are a pain to dispose of?

      I put two to four of them at a time out there and the trashman hauls them away. For our regular $15 per month trash pickup.

      You probably just live in the wrong locality. I buy lots of used computers and scrap out a lot of stuff.
      • Re:Green Computing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot@c ... m ['lle' in gap]> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:23PM (#8945386)
        Technically, you're not suppposed to do this. Components like this, along with things like batteries, aren't supposed to go to the normal dump. They're supposed to be hauled to a special sectioned off part of the dump, and the days during which you can do this are limited. This is true where I live, at least (Central Virginia).

        Plus, my understanding is that outside of the States, regulations are even stricter. Of course, I've heard that in some countries, a recycling tax is added to items like computers, and the companies are thus responsible for the costs of safely disposing of/recycling the computers. Anyone who knows more about this care to share?
    • Re:Green Computing (Score:3, Informative)

      by BetaJim (140649)
      CRT's don't fire any electrons at you. They would never make is out of the glass envelope (lead-free glass or not). The lead is there to shield you from the low energy x-rays produced by the electrons striking the phospher, glass and other parts of the screen.

    • Re:Green Computing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HermanAB (661181)
      Well, at least the lead in the CRTs is inside the glass, in the form of a complex crystal, so it ain't goin nowhere...
  • Green? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Unnngh! (731758) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:37PM (#8944521)
    'The transition to 'green' manufacturing for VIA

    Aren't most Printed Circuit Boards already green?

    Ah, nevermind...

    • Re:Green? (Score:3, Informative)

      by DAldredge (2353)
      Well, they make some red and blue ones that they sell to the people that put windows on the side of their towers.

      I wish I was joking.
  • by Amiga Lover (708890) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:39PM (#8944543)
    New lead free motherboard*

    *Supply your own solder.
  • Oh lordy (Score:3, Funny)

    by boomgopher (627124) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:39PM (#8944549) Journal
    So I shouldn't have been eating my old motherboards all these years?

    Please confirm my Slashdot friends! Woe is me...

  • Whoopie! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SCSi (17797) <corvus AT vadept DOT com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:40PM (#8944553) Homepage
    Now I can let my toddler chew on motherboards without worrying about that pesky lead!
    Thanks VIA!
  • A nice start, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Darl McBride (704524) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:40PM (#8944556)
    This is really more of a touchy feel-good move than a substantive move in cutting back on the more dangerous parts of the motherboard.

    This doesn't do a thing about the lethal levels of sheel negceba that go through most boards, not to mention the chemicals used in most non-paper capacitors, which are not only lethal poisons, but as tasty as anti-freeze to most animals.

    Add to this the PCBs in the transformer that go with their power supply, and you've pretty much only addressed the fourth worst problem. The real problems have several orders of magnitude more impact on the environtment and worse -- solutions already exist to solve all three for prices only 5-10% higher than what they pay for existing chemicals!

    • Correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353) * <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:46PM (#8944607) Journal
      Just like how coal plants release more radition and heavy metals into the environment that nuclear plants. But which ones to the 'enviros' target the most, the nuke plants because it gets them more press.

      • Re:Correct. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ewhenn (647989)
        When you state that "coal plants release more radition and heavy metals into the environment than nuclear plants", do you mean as a whole, or per output unit. Surely there are MANY more coal fired plants than nuclear plants thus it might be easier to surpass the gross output. What we REALLY should be concerned with is Units of heavy metals per KWH (kilo watt hr) produced.

        • Re:Correct. (Score:5, Informative)

          by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:09PM (#8944814) Journal
          Per KwH.

          They also release a lot of heavy metals, so much so that warning about fish from lakes around most of the coal plants in East Texas have been issued due to their high levels of heavy metals.
        • Re:Correct. (Score:3, Informative)

          by AJWM (19027)
          It's per unit of power. In fact, were the extraction process easy, we'd get more energy out of coal by using its thorium content in a nuclear reactor than we do by burning the carbon. As it is, the thorium ends up as part of the coal ash (and the flue gases).

          Per KWH, coal plants are far dirtier than nuke plants -- in all senses of the word "dirtier".
      • By that insane logic a glassful of cyanide is safer than a glassful of ocean water, because the ocean has more net cyanide in it than the glass does. What makes nuclear waste dangerous is it's concentration.
        • Re:Correct. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shurhaian (743684)
          Except that A) nuclear plants don't release massive amounts of heavy metals and greenhouse gases(not nearly so much as coal, for sure) and B) the fact that the waste can be(well, is) concentrated makes it easier to deal with than the same waste being vented into the atmosphere.
        • No that is what makes it safe. To continue your analogy you can have all your cyanide in one place where it is easy to control and prevent others from getting or you can spread it all over every surface in your house. Which form would you rather have?

          • Re:Correct. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:11PM (#8945284) Homepage
            To continue your analogy you can have all your cyanide in one place where it is easy to control and prevent others from getting or you can spread it all over every surface in your house. Which form would you rather have?

            Well my analogy already showed how cyanide in the ocean isn't dangerous because it's so dilute, so you don't need to extend the analogy at all. And it falls apart at the point you're trying to make because it's extremely difficult to store it safely, unlike cyanide.

            There are several general responses to this assertion. The first is that we can just put it in a large, specially-made storage facility like Yuca mountain. Unfortunately not only is that still dangerous (and the danger is compounded by having so much of the material in one place), it's also very expensive and these things WILL fill up. We already have way too much waste now that we can't get rid of, so it boggles the mind how so many people here are arguing that we should increase the amount of waste a hundredfold by opening up many, many new plants.

            Another common solution brought up is to dump it into ocean trenches and let the earth's convective system draw it down and out of harms way. It's an interesting idea, but you can't just drop it at the ocean's surface over a trench and assume it will fall right where it needs to go. And the depths involved pose serious challenges to large scale movement of the waste down to the right place. Plus it is somewhat risky to just toss this stuff down there and assume it won't come back out until it's not radioactive anymore.

            I know it's geek chic to assume everyone against increased nuclear use is against it "just because they see the word nuclear", but it's just not true. I think nuclear plants can operate safely (with intense government oversight and regulation--no, this is not something that you want "the market to decide"), but I don't think it's a smart idea to put more into operation until we figure out something to do with the waste that's more clueful than sticking it in a hole in the ground.
        • Re:Correct. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:31PM (#8945005)
          Which is also stupid, because most of the "waste" that comes from nuclear plants is in the form of clothing, and other consumables not directly related to the operation of the reactor (but contaminated nonetheless).

          I had the opportunity to see some of the stuff that went into the big casques that go to Nevada. Pretty lame stuff. I was expecting 55 gallon barrels with glowing fluid coming out (not really, but it's more fun that way).

          Not only that, but 95% of the stuff produced (yes, produced) by our fission reactors can be recycled, and reused as fuel. The rest of the 5% is in such incredible demand from academia and industry (for research) that it could make a fortune alone. Except our country is too fucking stupid (and paranoid) to recycle spent fuel.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:00PM (#8944745)
      Paper capacitors and PCBs ? Geez, we're not talking about ENIAC's motherboard here. :-)

      Capacitors on modern surface mount motherboards are either ceramic (aluminum oxide) with metal (silver, palladium, tin) layers or "dry" tantalum caps. The ones you're thinking of are probably the "wet" tantalum caps which were wetted with sulfuric acid, which is certainly unpleasant although I wouldn't call it a lethal poison.

      You won't find any PCBs in the power supply transformer, either. Except in some very specialized high voltage applications, they've been banned for at least 20 years.

      I have no idea what "sheel negceba" is.

      Most of the lead in the environment comes from depleted lead-acid batteries, but there's no practical alternatives to those yet so tin-lead solder gets promoted to the top of the list.

      The biggest concern with lead-free solders is the higher temperatures they require to make them melt. Since all of the components on the board are also subject to this higher temperature, there can be negative effects on reliability.
    • by another_henry (570767) <slashdotNO@SPAMhenryhallam.cjb.net> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:28PM (#8944981) Homepage
      the PCBs in the transformer that go with their power supply

      I don't know about your other points, but PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) are most definitely not used in computer PSU transformers. Back in the 1960s they were used as a flame-retardant additive to oil in big "pole pig" transformers that supply houses or whole streets. When they were found to be carcinogenic (and only mildly so, I might add) use was discontinued and they are absolutely forbidden from being used in any equipment manufactured nowadays. In fact I think it's an offense to even own anything that contains them.

      FWIW I've heard second-hand stories of old electric company techs who would literally swim in the stuff. Cancer rates for them weren't significantly higher than the general population.

  • "Lead" (Score:5, Funny)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:40PM (#8944557)
    For some reason I thought that all of the discrete components were going to be surface mount instead of through the board when I read that the board was "Lead free"...
  • Lead-Free Mobo's (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Carlos Silva (773727)
    Of course i didn't RTFA but .. are they too expensive? I fail to see the consumer advantage on this kind of thing.. maybe they'll do some kind of special ad campaign.. Marketing guys just love to be able to say thing like "We're environment friendly" :-)
    • by Chilliwilli (114962) <tom.rathbone@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:23PM (#8944934)
      I believe it's called Corporate Responsibility, it's been suggested that as corporations power and reach overtakes that of most governments they will need to take on the governments responsibilities to sustain a health market place. You can look at it from another point of view if we all die or get fat or whatever) who's going to be around to buy mobo/burgers/stuff's then?
      • by dustmite (667870)

        No such thing as self-regulating "corporate responsibility". "Corporate responsibility" comes from a big (government) stick. The sudden move to lead-free is forced onto manufacturers by new regulations (EU regulations IIRC). You don't honestly think corporations came up with this all by themselves do you? Sure, I can picture it now, in a board meeting: "hey, let's raise our manufacturing costs by voluntarily reducing some of the polluntants in our products". Uh, riiiight. Now, back to the real world. Here i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:43PM (#8944584)
    The Nec PowerMate eco computer, released in 2002 supposedly has lead free solder on the motherboard. To quote a press release, "The unit also contains a motherboard made with lead-free solder, which protects both the individuals involved in reclamation, and the ground water in case of disposal". I assume this means that there is no lead in the motherboard? Unless capacitors or other parts have lead?
  • by valkraider (611225) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:43PM (#8944586) Journal
    50% more mercury...

    :)

    It's a joke people...
  • by pangloss (25315) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:45PM (#8944602) Journal
    my pre-1963 computer only takes leaded!
  • No leads? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pyrrhonist (701154) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:46PM (#8944616)
    How do you connect peripherals? Oh wait...
  • It shows that VIA care's about the Earth.. (and conviently released this info on Earth Day).. What other companies are working toward's being 'green' so I know what to buy in the future?
    • My employer, for one. See this here Lead free packaging schedule [cirrus.com]. We're not completely in production yet, but are making our way there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:48PM (#8944636)
    They don't do this out of altruism, they have to if they want to sell their products on the EU market, since from 2006, all electronic products will have to be lead free.
  • I really do wonder if they have got all the kinks worked out. You never know when some odd interaction of materials, manufacturing processes, and customer environments won't create reliability problems.
  • Thanks EU! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taped2thedesk (614051) * on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:53PM (#8944684)
    Interesting to see a company that is succeeding with lead-free... They are requiring the phase-out of lead-free components by 2006, and now a lot of companies are scrambling to change their product designs and processes to make this possible. I haven't heard of much success in this area.

    I think electronic components have a blanket exemption for now, but this exemption is coming up for review soon. Just to be safe, most companies (including mine, which is part of an exempted industry) are trying to come up with lead-free products.

    Not sure how much of an effect this will have... I remember reading that on average, electric components are less than 1% lead. In addition, the substitutes being explored to replace lead solder (silver and antimony) may actually cause more groundwater pollution, because they are more soluble. Doesn't seem like it's much more than a feel-good measure.
  • A telling story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dc_dog (767092) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:56PM (#8944714)
    The House Small Business Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight held a hearing today on "Green Gazelles." The term is used to describe a fast growing business that utilizes environmentally friendly processes in its operations. Look for this trend to contine as a niche market for consumers who are willing to pay more for "green" products. Of course, there is no official certification to determine whether your business is "green" or not so feel free to turn off some lights in your store and advertise away!
  • How about..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @05:59PM (#8944738)
    No water needed for making? What was it? 150 gallons of water just to make memory sticks?
    • And poof, that water was gone. You cannot get it back, it has been obliterated.

      The only way to get that water back when an ice comet crashes into the earth, and you don't want that to happen.

      We're all going to dehydrate because of RAM!
  • by irrelative83 (715424) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:08PM (#8944811)
    there are more important issues regarding PCs and the evironment. Why don't PC manufacturers make computers that use less power? Nvidia's new graphic card needs a 450 watt power supply - so what if the mobo is lead free? The thing still draws enough power to burn twice as much oil as needed.
  • props (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IggDawg (772649) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:09PM (#8944817)
    It's cool that they're getting into the push for lead-free electronics. It's certainly not easy or cheap to validate lead-free components. I work in acoustic micro imaging, so I look at the insides of ICs, MEMS, and other electronics all day. we get a lot of work from companies doing moisture sensitivity level testing for lead vs. lead free parts. The lead free parts have to go through a hotter solder reflow profile, so any moisture will cause even more damage. The insides of most of the parts look like someone set a bomb off. it takes them a long while and many iterations before they can pull it off right.

    So, props to them for getting with it.

    disclaimer - I don't work for these guys, nor do I buy their products. I'm just a concerned scientist :P.
  • Lead free? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spudley (171066) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:16PM (#8944879) Homepage Journal
    A lead-free motherboard? No leads? How am I going to plug anything into it?

    Or do they mean no lead-time...? it gets delivered as soon as you order it. Now that would be nice.

  • Just wondering... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cyno01 (573917)
    How is lead bad for the environment? I know its bad for us, and IIRC ducks, but how does it harm the environment? All the plants i buy for my fishtank come with lead clips around them, the guy at the fish store said lead is one of the few metals you can use in a fishtank. How could lead use in mobos(i assume the solder, so they're using straight tin or what?) be bad for the environment. Or is this just something from marketing, since people see stuff on the news about kids getting retarted from eating lead
    • Re:Just wondering... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkMan (32280) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:08PM (#8945273) Journal
      The origin of the problems is typical heavy metal toxicity - lead has many available electron orbitals that can form weak bonds with proteins. At the active sites of enzymes, where there are many ligands on the protein, the heavy metal can sit in there, and bind tighter than the intended species. This essentially blocks the action of those affected enzymes. Different heavy metals have different affinities for different enzymes [0], so have different effects, but that's the general mechanism for heavy metal poisioning.

      The next problem is that because the metals bind to proteins, they stay there, so that as each plant or animal is consumed, there is a concentrating action as you move up the food chain. Thus, for example, herbivourus fish might collect a small quantiy of mercury, the fish that eat them have more, and the tuna that eat those have even more. Ok, that's not lead, but I can't reacall a specific example for lead at the moment - the principle still holds. It's worth noting that the typical human diet puts them at the top of the food chain.

      There is a difference between lead as a metal, and lead in a compound. It should be clear that the lead that is the problem is bioavailable lead - a solid lump of the metal might not be the biggest source of lead - although I suspect that chewing on a block of lead would be as bad, or worse than the paint.

      With lead in a fish tank, I suspect that the lead forms a thin layer of an oxide or similar, that reduces the rate the metal dissolves at. This is similar to aluminum and chromium, but I think it's less efective. The small lead released would probably be less damaging to the fish that the effect of other metals (for example, iron would make the tank acidic, aluminium would make it alkaline, and so on). That's a case of minisming hard (although I'd suggest that a plastic would probably be better).

      [0] Non enzyme proteins tend not have that many bindable sites, and those that do generally don't suffer much. It's principly enzyme blocking that's a problem, in general.
  • by Ark42 (522144) <slashdot@@@morpheussoftware...net> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:20PM (#8944905) Homepage

    Without lead, am I going to be able to desolder the exploding tawain capacitors in order to replace them with good ones, or do I just have to buy a new computer every 6 months now?

    (note to mods: if you still havn't heard of the capacitor problem, go google about it before modding)
    • What, you think they'll weld them into place with copper or something?

      No lead just means using a silver/tin or such solder instead of lead/tin. You can still use normal soldering equipment.
  • by Tribbin (565963)
    http://computerfan.de/fun/HP_Gabon.jpg
  • by whovian (107062) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:23PM (#8944933)
    I will feel soooo much better when my son pulls chips off his motherboards and sticks them in his mouth [ashcraftandgerel.com]! Thanks VIA!!!!
  • Oooo shiney (Score:2, Funny)

    by mog007 (677810)
    The article has a site load meter... and it's not entirely red yet... what's the matter with us fellow /.ers? Have we become weakened?
  • by feelyoda (622366) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @06:38PM (#8945066) Homepage
    just thought I'd give pause to all those that think they are fighting the pig capitalisms in their green efforts.

    If you view environmental concerns as a luxury good, it makes sense that people only addressed such issues after the average person in society accumulated a fair ammount of wealth.

    to quote the Cato Institute [cato.org] here: [cato.org]

    President Bush today commemorated Earth Day in Maine, where he is touting his environmental policy and highlighting his plan to restore wetlands in the United States.


    "Earth Day is traditionally a day for the Left -- a celebration of government's ability to deliver the environmental goods and for threats about the parade of horribles that will descend upon us lest we rededicate ourselves to federal regulators and public land managers," writes Jerry Taylor, Cato Institute director of natural resource studies, in "Happy Earth Day? Thank Capitalism." He argues that businessmen, not bureaucrats, "deserve most of the credit for the environmental gains over the past century."

    "Indeed, we wouldn't even have environmentalists in our midst were it not for capitalism," Taylor writes. "Environmental amenities, after all, are luxury goods. America -- like much of the Third World today -- had no environmental movement to speak of until living standards rose sufficiently so that we could turn our attention from simply providing for food, shelter, and a reasonable education to higher 'quality of life' issues. The richer you are, the more likely you are to be an environmentalist. And people wouldn't be rich without capitalism."
    And to say that without capitalism there wouldn't be polution to begin with, is to say that it is bad that technology that allows humans to look beyond the brutish nature of the world.

    Happy Industrial Revolution Day!
    http://while-true.blogspot.com/
  • The solder problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 22, 2004 @07:32PM (#8945451) Homepage
    Modern soldering practice is incredibly sophisticated. Soldering down a ball grid array surface mount package requires very tight control of the temperature and the physical properties of the solder. The components can only take soldering temperature for a short period.

    The trouble with lead free solders is that they all have considerably higher melting points than lead-based solders. The "standard" lead-based solder has a melting point of 183C. The best available lead-free solders have melting points in the 220C range. That's a big jump. All the manufacturing processes have to be reworked. Some components need to be redesigned for higher soldering temperature tolerance. Some components must be repackaged in different plastics. It's not trivial.

    Here's a good summary [circuitree.com] of the issues.

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