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Bug Hardware

IC Failures Linked to Resin Series? 284

MEW writes "According to this article, 'the semiconductor industry began using red phosphorus as a flame retardant instead of the Br-based compound it had used for years,' due to environmental concerns. By July 2002, 1000 tons of the stuff was used for about a billion chips, when they stopped due to high component failures. In particular Sumitomo Bakelite caused rampant failures in Fujitsu disk drives. There's still a lot of Sumitomo Bakelite out there, and we may see the worst of it soon, as components start to fail prematurely. This was posted by Spaceman on Macintouch who says that the bad material accounts for 'half the world's supply of 'IC Plastics'' and can result in 'sudden or premature end of life.'"
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IC Failures Linked to Resin Series?

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  • red phoshorous??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MoP030 ( 599234 )
    red phoshorous as a flame retardend??? it always burned quite nicely when I used to play with it...
  • by Puggles ( 126272 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:05AM (#8200152) Homepage Journal
    It's strange to read that, since the Digital-Analog converter on my video card apparently has died this morning when my computer turned on.

    On the plus side to this premature failure, Slashdot now looks extremely trippy... Those green bars keep blinking magenta!

    The down side is the contrast for text is really bad... :(
  • Is this why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AccUser ( 191555 ) < minus painter> on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:10AM (#8200171) Homepage
    ...most hard disk manufacturers have reduced their warrenties from 3-years to 1-year in the not so distant past?
    • Re:Is this why... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave-tx ( 684169 )
      That's a good question, but I think the reduction in warranty is related more to the economics of the hard drive market. Drives have become SO inexpensive now that it's not feasible for the manufacturer to warranty them for three years. If they kept the 3 year warranty, I doubt we'd be seeing the 2GB/$1 we're seeing now.

      Not that I'm defending the reduction in warranty, of course. I'm mad as hell that I've had many drives go bad in less than two years of service.

      • Re:Is this why... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] []> on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:56AM (#8200496) Homepage Journal
        It all comes back to the wal-mart conundrum. At some point the price reductions we demand from manufacturers starts to cost indirectly more that we are saving on the sticker price.

        With Wal-Mart they tend to employ a fraction of the people that a similarly sized retailer would, at a much lower wage. They also tend to drive other local retailers out of business, thus fewer people are employed for less money, lowering the Domestic Product for that community. In the case of a SuperWalmart, they also tend to depress the spending power of SEVERAL communities.

        In this case hard drives have become so "cheap" that we end up buying them at twice or 3 times the rate. Add it up, are we saving that much money?

        • Personally, I would say that Wal-Mart does little different from K-Mart, Target, or any other discount retailer.
          • Re:Is this why... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Sure, you can say it, but that makes you sound like a stupid ass. Target (for example) doesn't hire illegal aliens, doesn't lock their janitors in the building while they are working, doesn't make a business practice of hiring people "part-time" to avoid paying benefits, and the list goes on and on.
            • Re:Is this why... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:06PM (#8201874) Journal
              Actually, while you're right about Wal-Mart being worse than Target, K-Mart, etc, the points you raise are effects of their policy to keep prices low, not the -cause- of why they have low prices.

              Wal-Mart's practices are there because they need them to retain their low price leadership in an economy that has adapted to WM's first round of low price wars.

              You also don't mention the biggest key to WM's forced price lowering ... they are such a larger part of the economy that they are able to -force- manufacturers to sell at lower prices to WM that to other retailers. They have literally caused companies to move offices from across the country to Arkansas so that the companies can more efficiently "negotiate with" (read: cower in front of) WM. WM sets the hours and often has unofficial hiring authority over these Arkansan satellite offices. NO other retailer has ever had that kind of power.

              However, even that is not the -cause-. The cause is the willingness of most Americans to sacrifice their community retailers and specialty chains for lower prices and "all under one roof" shopping, even if as a whole the selection of products is lower. That short sighted view in the end causes the community as a whole to lose value (monetarily as well as socially), making Wal-Mart the ONLY long-term winner in that situation.

              The answer is as simple as telling an overweight person to diet and exercise ... people have to stop low-price gouging and shopping at the cheapest possible place. And it is just as hard to -convince- a person of that as it is to convince them to stick to a diet.

              BTW, yes it is true that K-Mart and Target -started- the concepts on a nationwide scale. However they never abuse their position (possibly because they never attained a position as strong as WM) like WM has.

              Economics will eventually right the situation, but the damage that will have been done by that point (which won't occur until WM has completely exhausted it's growth capacity AND product development has stagnated due to lack of competition) will be horrendous to everyone's standard of living.

              BTW, if you shop at "Sam's", you shop at Wal-Mart. Got a Costco or similar non-Sam's wholesaler? Go there.
      • Seriously... I've started to put RAID in all my computers, from linux boxen to vanilla windows desktops.

        I did this to my wife's win2k box a year ago, and she groused at me for monkeying around with her computer... until the Western Digital drive I purchased to put in that RAID (slightly over a year ago, heh...) noisily died yesterday. When I explained that we would have lost everything if not for the RAID I'd installed, she immediately became much more understanding.

        But... that's the state of data stora
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:10AM (#8200172) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps, just perhaps this was already known when the products were made/shipped.

    You cant believe that this wasn't tested before it was decided upon. They must have known the devices would fail prematurely, just after warranties expire.. If they didn't, then the engineers were not doing their jobs.

    Great way to get people to have to upgrade, when their existing equipment goes up in smoke in front of them.
    • Who's going to buy a disk of the same make after their first one crashes soon after purchase?? I know I'd not have confidence in the brand any more, that's for sure. This is a mistake, no doubt. It would be like Ford releasing a car that blows up in a huge fireball after a month.
      • You mean the Pinto?

        Seriously, Ford, GM, Chrysler, they've all put out some real stinkers. And yet, suckers (myself included) go back for more.

        Sure, things like the tap-the-rear-end-and-we-explode Pontiac Fiero hurt the bottom line short-term, but does anyone think about that today?

        Of course not ...
    • by fish waffle ( 179067 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:42AM (#8200368)
      You cant believe that this wasn't tested before it was decided upon.

      Conspiracy theories are by nature unassailable. However, according to the article there is a simple reason why it wasn't tested, and that is that it was an unexpected effect, for which there was no test:

      Most equipment and IC manufacturers perform reliability tests when adopting new encapsulation materials, and when shipping or receiving components. Even so, almost no problems were found at all this time, because this type of problem has never been experienced before. As one manufacturer commented, "This is the first example of this failure mode in the world. It's something that cannot be detected by existing reliability tests."

    • A quote from the article:

      "It's something that cannot be detected by existing reliability tests."

      You try to expect the unexpected, but I guess some slip by.

      The article doesn't explain enough for me to form an opinion.
  • by Bigman ( 12384 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:10AM (#8200178) Homepage Journal
    ...Does that mean if my chips glow red in the dark then its a bad thing?
    Perhaps I need one of those heat-sink thingies.

  • Damn the irony! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by locknloll ( 638243 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:11AM (#8200179) Homepage
    So they changed the material due to environmental reasons, but as it turns out, this new material produces a lot of unnecessary electronic waste that's pretty hard to recycle. That sucks.
    • Re:Damn the irony! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Angstroem ( 692547 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:41AM (#8200363)
      So they changed the material due to environmental reasons, but as it turns out, this new material produces a lot of unnecessary electronic waste that's pretty hard to recycle. That sucks.
      And more of this will come. Whether environmentalists like it or not, there are some matierials which are better suited than others for certain tasks. They might be poisonous, hard to recycle, but the stuff works without shortening the product's lifetime. What good is it, replacing those materials with lesser poisonous ones, which in term might be not so easy to recycle, cost more money to fabricate, and turn the product into a piece of dump within noticeable time.

      I'm just waiting for the new lead-free solder which will be mandatory in the EU from 2005 on... It's already known to cause cold solder spots more likely to happen.

      • Lead free solder is already mandatory in the UK for drinking water supplies (it's OK for central heating pipes), and I can tell you it really isn't as good to use as the lead stuff. Overheat it slightly and it runs straight out of the joint and drips on the floor.
      • Re:Damn the irony! (Score:4, Informative)

        by syphax ( 189065 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @11:17AM (#8201306) Journal
        Yes, I too pine for the days of leaded gasoline [], lead pipes [], CCA-treated lumber [] and asbestos []!

        And really, boiling down the two shuttle failures to material replacements? Perhaps a more important factor is its design [].
      • Whether environmentalists like it or not, there are some matierials which are better suited than others for certain tasks. They might be poisonous, hard to recycle, but the stuff works without shortening the product's lifetime. What good is it, replacing those materials with lesser poisonous ones, which in term might be not so easy to recycle, cost more money to fabricate, and turn the product into a piece of dump within noticeable time.

        To the point where the "environmentally friendly" version might even
    • So they changed the material due to environmental reasons, but as it turns out, this new material produces a lot of unnecessary electronic waste that's pretty hard to recycle. That sucks.

      I believe that's one of Limbaugh's things, Liberalism (including environmentalism) always causes the opposite of its intended objective.

  • sh*t (Score:5, Informative)

    by real_smiff ( 611054 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:11AM (#8200180)
    first the leaky capacitors, now this. any way to find out exactly what this material went into? like a list of manufacturers using it? i bet not right! btw this was published in December 2002.
    • Re:sh*t (Score:3, Informative)

      by Plammox ( 717738 )
      Components using Sumitomo's red phosphorous injection mold compound are typically overmolded ball grid arrays (e.g. small form factor ethernet mac/phys) or small DILs (your average cheap component packaging technology for small circuits) As fas as I know, no one would use such mold compounds for capacitor dielectrics...
      • Small DIL? I don't see DIL in the same category as BGA. Like apples and elephants. Any chance you meant PLCC instead of "small DIL"?
  • Not surprising (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Walkiry ( 698192 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:11AM (#8200183) Homepage
    It's not good that a large number of components will be failing due to bad materials used, but it had to happen sooner or later. How many manufacturers are there for TFT displays? Laptops? Production of these parts is central to just a few very large manufacturing plants to save costs, and the "brands" just put the sticker (HP, Acer, Fujitsu, Samsung, you name it) and sell them at whatever price they want to charge.

    So, now it seems like one of them was using some cheaper/environmentally friendlier crap in the manufacturing process and it's coming back to bite everyone's butts. Surprise surprise!
  • Warranties? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by glpierce ( 731733 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:11AM (#8200186)
    If the fault is theirs, wouldn't anyone with a warranty be able to demand a replacement?
  • This is very interesting! Maybe all of those burnt out powersupplies I've seen (with blown ICs) may not be a resault of blown caps, but rather the cause. Hmmmm

    Of course, I've seen some nasty leaky caps too.

  • The Politically correct change in chemistry results in more equipment in landfills not less!

    This is almost as funny as all those dimbulbs who choose paper over plastic "to protect the enviroment" even though their paper probably used chemicals that polluted water, and the paper probably came from some asian rainforest.

    • by Orne ( 144925 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @11:56AM (#8201766) Homepage
      The classic example [] of this was the conversion of the basic "hamburger box" by McDonalds....

      "In November 1990 the McDonald's Corporation, largely in response to pressure from the public and from environmental groups, made the decision to replace Styrofoam "clamshell" hamburger containers with paperboard boxes." ... "The manufacturing process uses other resources, too--one study estimates that manufacturing a Styrofoam clamshell uses 30 percent less energy, and generates 46 percent less air pollution and 42 percent less water pollution, than does manufacturing a paperboard box."

      Not to mention the paper box insulates poorly, requiring more heat-lamp energy; and because paper has to be treated to repel grease, it decomposes slower than normal paper, and could not be recycled like the plastic-based styrofoam could.
  • by manganese4 ( 726568 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:20AM (#8200234)
    Click here to see what happen when you hit Red [] Phosphorus
  • by squarooticus ( 5092 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:24AM (#8200253) Homepage
    Just remember that everything carries a cost, including radical environmentalism. If you support making policy solely on the basis of someone's fears, then you'd better not whine when those policies cost you money, as they did in this case. Remember that saving the earth doesn't happen for free, and when you raise costs for those "greedy corporations," they just pass their cost right onto you, the consumer.
    • by N8F8 ( 4562 )
      And your statement yet again propagates the myth that the world needs "saving". How conceited we are to think that anything we do to this planet, a planet that has seen near extinction of every species serveral times, would be of consequence. The human species has only existed for a blink of an eye in the life of this planet. The human race may someday need saving, probably from itself, but don't shed a tear for the planet.
      • I disagree. It may be egostistical, but the human species is the only one that's been able to develop technology to the level of artificial chemistry and nuclear reactions and materials.

        The planet as a ball of rock is safe, for now. We don't have the means to apply enough energy to force a significant portion of its mass out of the local area in one punch.

        The planet, as a biological construct, is at risk. I'm not saying we could wipe off every bacterium on Earth, but we could certainly disrupt the biol
        • "we could certainly disrupt the biological system enough to make it incapable of sustaining humans. And in the end, that's all that matters, isn't it?

          Yeah, that is pretty egotistical.
    • by Red Rocket ( 473003 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @10:47AM (#8200951)

      ...everything carries a cost, including radical environmentalism.

      As does radical industrialism. Polluting the planet willy-nilly just so someone can make a buck has a huge cost but, unfortunately, that cost is not included in the price of the manufactured goods. The manufacturer has thus found a way to privatize the profits while he socializes the cost. It's one of the ways that our form of capitalism has become distorted from a sustainable form of capitalism. All costs should be included in the price of the product or it's not really capitalism.
      • by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:50PM (#8203193) Journal
        You are right, but measuring the economic cost of environmental degradation is a real difficult problem for two reasons. First, since few environmental goods are traded in marketplaces, it is hard to get the required price/quantity data that would enable us to measure the demand curves for environmental goods(*) and, thus, the cost or amount of compensation individuals would require in order to tolerate a given quantity of environmental degradation. This is based on the idea that if a tree falls in a forest and nobody gives a damn, is its loss really a cost? The second problem is defining how we should aggregate these individual costs. One rich enviromentalist (with a high demand for environmental goods) could swamp the (perhaps negative) demand by many poor people without jobs. Should many poor folks go without jobs in order to satisfy the desires of a few rich folks for a high quality environment? If I read the anti-globalization types correctly, they essentially say yes, while the pro globalization folks seem willing to ignore the environmental problems completely. There is a "correct" balance in there somewhere, but calculating precisely where is hardly an exact science.

        * Disclaimer: I used to do this for a living.
    • Yeah, it's much better when the cost of a destroyed environment is directly paid by the tax-payers, and the greedy corporations can't profit from it.
  • by emtboy9 ( 99534 ) <jeff AT jefflane DOT org> on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:24AM (#8200254) Homepage
    I have seen some pretty funny comments on this story, and some pretty interesting ones as well. Reading this story made me really wonder about some things.

    If this problem is as pervasive as it seems, exactly WHAT components are effected? I mean, think about this, how many of these plastics have found their way into things like Ventilators, internal defibrillators, external defibrillators like the LifePak series that is so prevalant on ambulances and in hospitals world wide?

    What about the machines that control your money in the bank (if you use such a thing as quaint as a bank ;) )

    Vehicle computers? or even... ACK, my PS2 and GameCube?!?!?!?

    Anyway, beyond hard disk controllers, I got the idea that there were a lot of different ICs effected here, which could explain a lot of problems, and could cause some pretty bad problems as well.
    • by imadork ( 226897 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:45AM (#8200386) Homepage
      If this problem is as pervasive as it seems, exactly WHAT components are effected? I mean, think about this, how many of these plastics have found their way into things like Ventilators, internal defibrillators, external defibrillators like the LifePak series that is so prevalant on ambulances and in hospitals world wide?

      Any equipment, from a single transistor to a microprocessor, that is used in life-support systems have a whole different qualification process, and the parameters are much stricter. I know that space-qualified chips often have their own fabrication process that is different than normal chips to make them radiation-hardened; I wouldn't be suprised if chips that are meant to be put into someone's body are fabricated using an older, more stable process, which wouldn't have had this change in the first place.

      And anything that doesn't make money when it's not available (like an ATM machine) will have scads of redundancy built in. If chips are dying in the field, odds are it's only resulting in more service calls, and perhaps marginally more downtime.

      I would think that some of the newer chips for game systems and PCs would be the first to show any ill effects from this problem, since they're likely to be in the newest processes to get the best transistor density. But it all depends on who fabbed the chip (which in all likelihood is different than who's logo appears on it), and whether they were using this process change at the time.

    • For the record, medical components croak on a regular basis. They have built-in checkers to detect when something goes tit-up, so an IC failure would be handled like any other failure. Annoying, but a broken unit is useless, not a health hazard, (and you either test the sucker before you take it out in the field or have a couple on hand ANYWAY.)

      Most other devices are like that too. They die completely rather than risk giving you a bogus answer.

      With any luck the part will fail while the product is still

    • I mean, think about this, how many of these plastics have found their way into things like Ventilators, internal defibrillators, external defibrillators like the LifePak series that is so prevalant on ambulances and in hospitals world wide?

      Then think about the people who lived in the areas where those manufacturing plants dump their wastes who contracted hideous diseases from them and needed these kinds of devices but had no access to them because they're typically in poor countries without advanced he
    • or even... ACK, my PS2 and GameCube?!?!?!?

      No kidding. My atari 2600 is still alive and kicking. Hope I can say the same about my dreamcast in 20 years, though I'm not too hopeful. What does one expect from a console with moving parts. Fortunately it's not hard to find backup units for cheap. (I love failed systems :)) By the time the last one craps out, maybe there will be a decent emulator.
    • I'm pretty sure that parts in an internal defibrillator won't use a flame retardant.
  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:25AM (#8200270) Homepage
    It's not the "sudden" part that bugs me -- electronics that croak usually do so in an instantaneous manner -- it's just the "premature" part.

    Here's an idea, rather than trying to sound like a lawyer, just say "chips stop working years before they're supposed to."

  • Lovely. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:30AM (#8200301) Homepage Journal

    So now we not only need to deal with bad components and stupid designs, but even the components of the components are bad.

    This really has to say something about society. A lot like the light bulbs in Forward the Foundation. Just how much useless, broken crap does the world need?

  • I've also suffered when my otherwise great and very silent Fujitsu HDD went down last year. I've read about the expected rise in Fujitsu's HDDs death ratio, so I had backed up all my sensitive data before my drive went down.

    By the way, I got it fixed afterwards. I'm not too much into technical details when it comes to microelectronics, but it cost me close to nothing compared with the cost of a new drive. I still bought a new one, actually, just to be sure, and I occasionally use my old Fujitsu drive to m
  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] []> on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:41AM (#8200365) Homepage Journal
    No better way to jumpstart the economy than to make people go out and re-buy all the expensive high-end components they...

    Oh wait, we don't manufacture anything in the US anymore. Well, bully for everyone else.

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

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Friday February 06, 2004 @09:52AM (#8200459)
      Broken Window Fallacy []

      Read it, learn it, love it, spread it.
      • Unfortunately, economics is rarely that simple. People make decisions as to
        whether to save money for later, or spend it now. The sum of those decisions has massive effects on the economy, by varying demand for consumer goods and supply of investment capital. The efforts of the economy to adjust to that demand involve hiring and firing people, building or not building infrastructure and so on, which has (at least) two effects:

        1. It may make people more, or less, inclined to spend rather than save
        2. It effec
  • I'm quite distressed at the number of posts from seemingly intelligent individuals decrying the impact of humanity on the environment and the earth in general.

    Peeps, I understand that there is a lot of hysteria and piss-poor science out there about the impact we have. For instance, the crying about beer bottles and 'littering' of that sort. Guess what? A bottle is just a funny-shaped rock, to nature.

    OTOH, there are impacts we have on the environment that have real dangers attached to them - specifically

    • Given our current technology, the Earth will definitely recover (biologically, and may take a long time) from anything we do. I suppose that it might be possible to wipe out all humans, though it would be awfully difficult.
    • Nice handwave.

      Yes, all it would take is one costal factory dumping some unknown magical substance that somehow can kill all of the phytoplankton on the entire planet.

      Also, if a group of space-traveling fairies decided to take off with our sun, things could get pretty bad.

      What substance, exactly, did you have in mind which could do such a thing?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's not the bottle itself dumbass, it's the strip-mining of raw materials and energy expending pollution it takes to make the bottle from sand as compared to melting one down and reforming it, that's why stupid assholes like yourself should recycle.
    • Guess what? A bottle is just a funny-shaped rock, to nature.

      Wow, I'd really never thought of it like that before. You're so right! I mean, short of some large, heavy, soft-footed creature (say, a human) stepping on it, a bottle is a rather harmless object. Made of one of our most inert materials, as well.

      Wish I had some mod points. Your post needs to be seen (and not just for the bottle comment, you make another good point).

    • But the ocean is a big, big place. Remember, the solution to polution is dilution.
  • They just show up somewhere else in the supply chain. Thanks to the grey market this stuff will be around for years.
  • Motivations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @10:10AM (#8200593) Homepage Journal
    The world according to slashdot:

    If I break it, it's an accident.

    If you break it, you're a moron.

    If a corporation breaks it, it's a conspiracy.
  • Now they say they'll be replacing the red phosphorus with red kryptonite. Just who's behind this, anyway?
  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @10:24AM (#8200687) Homepage Journal
    I have seen many comments here about environmental fanatics who won't look at the scientific facts, and in the end we get lots of wasted electronics in landfills. An Anonymous Coward especially talked about "billions of ruined components in landfills".

    First of all, the reason many European countries have limited or banned the use of certain flame retardants is that these chemicals are not released only in fires, but in everyday use of electronics. They show up in the blood of office workers, and especially high concentrations in people working with electronic recycling, and they also show up in nature: /107p643- 648sjodin/sjodin-full.html
    Note that the article ends by saying not that the industry will go back to using the old materials, but that they will try to develop other alternatives than this failed one.

    Second, we don't know for sure that this "mass failure" of electronics will occur. Some of the right wingers who are screaming about the cost and are fond of quoting the junkscience site seem to be taking this mass failure as a fact, like it already happened. Who are jumping to conclusions now?

    Third, even if the new material leads to product failure, why only blame environmentalists, how about Sumitomo developers?
    • Man, I admire the people who were able to isolate flame retardant compounds in the blood of office workers. Given the life hygiene of most office workers, such infinitesimal chemical traces would be hidden by the ton of crap clogging their bloodstream.

      Heck, my blood is perpetually brown since that project where I lived for 3 months on espresso and sandwiches. And of course, office workers at SCO have green blood from breathing the same air as Demonic Darl.

  • hold on a second (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @10:27AM (#8200713) Journal
    instead of the Br-based compound it had used for years,' due to environmental concerns. By

    Very good memetic work. What are we to learn here? Listening to Environmental concerns lead to bad products. But wouldnt it be more correct to blame the industry's poor choice of substitute instead of trying to infer that making Environmentally necessary changes lead to failure?

    using toxic substances in industry is not an option. The real problem is their bad solution to change.

  • Is there a list of products/manufacturers that have parts out ther ethat contain this material?

    It would be good to start collecting a list of known devices and models that are subject to this otherwise undetectable manufacturing defect.

  • What this is (Score:4, Informative)

    by Quantum-Sci ( 732727 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @10:58AM (#8201079) Homepage
    Red phosphorus is mixed with the packaging resin, which encases chip die and lead frame. It's about 2-3% of that black plastic.

    Apparently red phospherus enables an internal short, probably by reacting with the resin to make a carbon channel. This is my best guess, given the info we have.

    The majority of US chip companies these days are just design labs. They hire Asian chip foundries to actually render their designs to product, and it appears that they are the manufacturer. More and more the large chipmakers are doing this too -- farming out production. This new process would be used on commodity chips first, like logic and memory. Unlikely to be in high-end chips like processors, A/D, etc.

    Some here deride the environmental reasoning for the change. It's pretty stupid to not care about dioxin, no matter where it is. These Exxon fascists would also say that global warming is a myth, because it's cold today... well it's warmer than it was 20 years ago. In about 30 years, you'll be paying for dikes to protect New York and Los Angeles from being flooded, ignorant bastard. Weather will be erratic and catastrophic. But that's not your problem today, now is it? Anti-environmental/anti-intellectual clods should be the ones who suffer for their short-sighted ignorant views, not the world as a whole. But unfortunately that's not how things work.

    • Re:What this is (Score:4, Informative)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:24PM (#8202122) Journal
      These Exxon fascists would also say that global warming is a myth, because it's cold today... well it's warmer than it was 20 years ago. In about 30 years, you'll be paying for dikes to protect New York and Los Angeles from being flooded, ignorant bastard.

      The whole warming measured since the late 19 century, is only 1 degree Fahrenheit. (Among other sources, try EPA: ent/climateuncertainties.html ) That's it. 1 degree Fahrenheit in more than a _century_.

      So if we're talking "warmer than it was 20 years ago", we're talking a difference so small that it won't even show up on your thermometer.

      EPA's own site again says "IPCC projects further global warming of 2.2-10F (1.4-5.8C) by the year 2100." They also repeat several times that it's _"uncertainty"_, or "likely, but not certain". So even taking the most pessimistic figure there, you will _not_ need dams in 30 years.

      What environmentalists conveniently forget to tell you, however, includes:

      - Satellite data actually indicates a global _cooling_ over the last two decades. So there goes your "warmer than it was 20 years ago" myth.

      - In fact, out of that scary "century of warming", about 70% of the warming happened before 1940. Go figure. So all this wasteful industry sprouting everywhere, actually _reduced_ the heating rate?

      - There's plenty of evidence that weather has been even warmer before -- e.g., peaking around 1000 A.D. -- without any industrial emissions. And wouldn't you know it, back then, the ice caps did _not_ melt and submerge the world in water within 30 years, like in your horror story. It takes one helluva lot more time, and one helluva lot more heat to melt any signifficant portion of those.

      - A century of data is a spit in the bucket on a planet where ice age vs warming cycles take 100,000 years. And where by any logical reasoning, we're stil on the rising phase from the last ice age which ended 16,000 years ago.

      I.e., so far: You're taking data from 1/1000 or 0.1% of the cycle length, and whose amplitude is known to be less than the normal fluctuations over the last millenium (itself just 1% of the cycle.) I.e., you make a whole scare story based on the _noise_, not the signal.

      But furthermore:

      - There's strong evidence that the heating and cooling cycles actually follow changes in the sun's brightness. (E.g., see how the recent flares caused a warm winter. Now think smaller changes. Fractions of a percent per decade.) I.e., pay attention: it's getting warmer when and because the sun sends more warmth this way, not because of scary greenhouse gasses.

      - Only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions are from man-made sources. So even if the whole humanity stopped using cars, burning anything, and even breathing, it would still make buggerall difference.

      - A lot of those "feel good" environmental measures actually use _more_ energy. (E.g., yes, melting a bottle, compared to melting sand to make a new one). A lot of those cause _more_ polution. (E.g., cleaning the used paper of ink.) They aren't there to save the planet, they're there just to make some retards feel good about themselves.

      So what do we have here? You actually have no clue what you're talking about, you make some false predictions that aren's supported by any data (not even the environmentalists' handpicked set), and you call anyone who disagrees with something unproven "These Exxon fascists".

      No, if there are "fascists" out there, it's self-appointed inquisitors like you. The ones who don't care about science, nor about the scientific process. Science is actually _supposed_ to question everything. You've got your dogma, and everyone who dares question it, is automatically a heretic who should suffer for his transgressions. (As spelled out in your message.)

      Sorry, dude. That kind of attitude may have been all the rage in the 1600's, but today it's just sad.

  • by digrieze ( 519725 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @11:02AM (#8201124)
    For what it's worth, the folks arguing about environmental impact of the new vs. the old resin are missing a big part of the picture. The costs in time and replacement to organizations is a lot more than just buying a part.

    To use the Fujitsu drives for example. Data lost on a failed drive has a value and may be non recoverable. Most places don't do daily backups, but even the changes in data over 24 hours can be significant and add the cost of the employee's salary in time in recreating the data. Replacement of drives known defective and not failed costs in time for data transfer and drive replacement in addition to purchase and validation of new drives. After the drive is replaced if it contains sensitive data it has to be disassembled and destroyed properly. After all that it makes it to the landfill.

    Figure it this way:
    $30 - 1 hour (failed) attempted data recovery
    $60 - cost of replacement drive
    $30 - 1 hour installation and reghosting of new drive
    $100 - 4 hours recreating lost data
    $15 - 30 min manual destruction of old drive
    -$60 assume reimbursement for drive (not guaranteed)
    =$175 because it was defective material!

    Multiply that by the Fujitsu disaster (one and a half dumpster loads of drives after destruction, as I remember) and the cost gets up there. Remember, you may get the cost of the drive back, eventually, but never the cost of your labor.

    Oh yeah, and you're still filling up the landfill.

  • I'm going to go out of my way to buy Fujitsu when I can. The fact that they can figure out the root cause of a new type of failure so quickly is very impressive. They should be commended.
  • This is at least the industry's second major embarrassment in as many years. Anyone remember the leaking capacitors []? Widely deploying a new material without first testing it is akin to making major changes to a production piece of software and shipping it as soon as you get it to compile. Worse, even, because hardware isn't so easily "patched," and is much more likely to find its way into systems (i.e. automotive controllers) whose failure can actually kill people. If I were a buyer for an IC manufactur

    • umm, the leaking capacitors were made by a Taiwanese company that stole the wrong formula from their Japanese competitors. It was a classic case of let someone else do you work for you, then steal it and profit. Whoops!.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.