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When You Really, Really Want to Upgrade a Tiny Notebook

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the faint-of-heart-attack dept.

Handhelds 104

Benz145 writes "The famous Sony VAIO UX UMPC may have been cancelled a few years back by Sony, but the community at Micro PC Talk won't let it die. Modder Anh has carefully removed the relatively slow 1.33Ghz Core Solo CPU and installed a much faster Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 (a process which involves reballing the entire CPU). On top of this, he managed to install an incredibly small 4-port USB hub into the unit which allowed for the further instillation of a Huawei E172 modem for 3G data/voice/SMS, a GPS receiver, and a Pinnacle HD TV receiver. All of this was done without modifying the device's tiny external case. Great high-res pictures of the motherboard with the modded hardware can be seen through the link."

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Hi-res picture you say ? (2, Insightful)

volcan0 (1775818) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878750)

Looks like hi-res does not mean the same thing for everyone...

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (4, Funny)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878960)

640 pixels ought to be enough for everyone.

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

Christopher Fritz (1550669) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879050)

These are 500px wide...

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (4, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879122)

These are 500px wide...

If 640 is enough for everyone, 500 should be enough for 78% of the population.

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880232)

These are 500px wide...

If 640 is enough for everyone, 500 should be enough for 78% of the population.

I'm one of the 0.16% of the population with a 1 pixel display you insensitive clod.

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881028)

Binary IS enough for everyone you whiny clod!

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881386)

I have 2,3 million 1 pixel displays, neatly lined up in 1200 rows.

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

Bastardchyld (889185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883610)

These are 500px wide...

If 640 is enough for everyone, 500 should be enough for 78% of the population.

I'm one of the 0.16% of the population with a 1 pixel display you insensitive clod.

I was like you Chris but recently I made the jump from 1px to 4px and I don't think I could ever go back everything is so crisp and fluid now...

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

RockWolf (806901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33890618)

I'm one of the 0.16% of the population with a 1 pixel display you insensitive clod.

I dunno, 49% of the population have a 1-pixel display, usually encoded as up or down.~

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33880214)

That was an extremely funny joke.

It just never gets old, does it?

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879102)

yeah, I didn't expect 100% crops of dslr shots, but these are nothing that any modern person could call 'high res'.

maybe they swapped out the smaller ones due to slashdot effect, to save b/w?

2 hints to the photo guy: put your camera on a tripod and set the f-stop to the smaller size (ie, larger f-number). you want depth-of-field in your shots. they are sorely missing that and macro shots need DOF.

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881100)

but these are nothing that any modern person could call 'high res'.

Now I know that "modern" doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. I've seen "modern art" from 1915 at the Art Institute. Playing Civ IV, I've entered the "modern era" as early as the 1600s.

I consider myself a modern person, and yet after the years I spent with amber displays, those are "hi-res pictures".

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879338)

Fiddling with the balls of your processor? Priceless!
Showing hi-res pictures in an article submitted to /. ? Connectionless!

Re:Hi-res picture you say ? (1)

Benz145 (1869518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881636)

Sorry about that, I'm working on getting them up in the post properly. The new Windows Live Writer is being a major pain. For the time being, you can check them out here: http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/9606/dsc00307cp.jpg [imageshack.us] http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/3953/dsc00306fp.jpg [imageshack.us]

Which OS? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878752)

All these hardware modifications and the guy probably still uses Windows.

Re:Which OS? (2, Insightful)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878816)

That modem and and tv tuner may only have Windows drivers available.

mac os x as well (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878894)

it's running mac os x as well

Re:Which OS? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879636)

Huawei GSM modems like E172 respond to standard AT commands and work on linux just fine.

Re:Which OS? (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880396)

Perhps I'm dense. And the problem is...?

Micro PC Talk? (5, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878780)

Then why link at umpcportal.com instead of linking directly to the story at micropctalk.com?

Re:Micro PC Talk? (4, Informative)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879154)

Because the story at micropctalk.com is just a scattered set of forum postings. I did some quick searching and found the pictures from the USB hub here [micropctalk.com] . I'm sure there's other bits of the story elsewhere.

MacBook Air (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878864)

That is badass! I wish something like this could be done with the MacBook Air. I'm in love with mine - unfortunately, Apple hasn't updated it in forever. If there was a service out there to help folks with MBAs, I'm sure there would be a long line of people.

Heck, I'm even willing to shell out 5k for a powerful MBA, but oh well.

Re:MacBook Air (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878892)

I'm even willing to shell out 5k

That's an excellent start when it comes to wishing for products from Apple.

Re:MacBook Air (0, Troll)

Dreth (1885712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883270)

And when you're a consumer whore. (And how!)

Re:MacBook Air (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878898)

Unfortunately, most MBAs are beyond hope. Sure, in our polite society we like to shuffle them along, giving them middle management positions and places in government bureaucracy, but we have yet to understand the fundamental problem that drives people towards getting an MBA.

Re:MacBook Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879566)

... but we have yet to understand the fundamental problem that drives people towards getting an MBA.

They weren't qualified enough to work the counter at McDonalds and needed something else to do?

Re:MacBook Air (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878908)

According to the Mac Buyer's Guide [macrumors.com] , it's way overdue too (days since update: 492).

Re:MacBook Air (4, Funny)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878924)

Who cares about updates to the Macbook Air?

All that matters is that it can fit in a manila envelope.

Re:MacBook Air (2, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880730)

The envelop, though could be upgraded to linen stock, or even one with internal impact resistant bubblewrap, which even features more air.

Re:MacBook Air (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879016)

That is badass! I wish something like this could be done with the MacBook Air. I'm in love with mine - unfortunately, Apple hasn't updated it in forever. If there was a service out there to help folks with MBAs, I'm sure there would be a long line of people.

I think there is probably more involved than switching out the processor. You'd have to replace the current with another one that would be okay with existing cooling/power requirements. Otherwise you'd melt something. I suspect that's why they went with a 1.33GHz Core 2 Duo as opposed to a more powerful processor. I think Apple last updated the MBA mid 2009 but it was only a processor upgrade from 1.6 GHz to 1.83 GHz and 1.83 GHz to 2.13 GHz.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879198)

Could be, but core i3, core i5 both should draw less power and produce less heat. Not sure how wildly different the pinout, voltages, and chipsets are though. I think with the newer core i3 and core i5 they got rid of the external memory controller -- so probably that means it falls into the category of major PIA for a do it at home job -- but a new motherboard should be able to be made to fit that machine.

Re:MacBook Air (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879324)

The original 1.2 GHz Core Solo (I think it was the Core Solo U1400) drew 6W TDP. The new Core 2 Duo U770 draws 10W. The lowest wattage Core i3 or i5 draws 18W. It's probably safe to assume the tripling the power requirement is a bit risky. As for the socketing, the original and new processor use the BGA479 whereas the ultra low wattage Core i3 and i5 use uPGA-989. So there would definitely be some work in socketing.

Re:MacBook Air (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880640)

I think with the newer core i3 and core i5 they got rid of the external memory controller
Indeed the MCH (northbridge) is gone and most of what was previously part of it is now in the processor with the physical layer for the video now in the PCH (roughly equivilent to the old southbridge/ICH). Further the memory type is DDR3 (the majority of core 2 systems used DDR2). Fitting an i series to a core 2 motherboard or vice-versa is just not going to happen.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882824)

I think there is probably more involved than switching out the processor. You'd have to replace the current with another one that would be okay with existing cooling/power requirements. Otherwise you'd melt something. I suspect that's why they went with a 1.33GHz Core 2 Duo as opposed to a more powerful processor. I think Apple last updated the MBA mid 2009 but it was only a processor upgrade from 1.6 GHz to 1.83 GHz and 1.83 GHz to 2.13 GHz.

Actually, it's a bit simpler. The MBA just doesn't have enough space. The Core2Duo used in the MBA has an nVidia chipset, so you could get a decent GPU out of it. The MacBooks and MacBook Pros with the Core i3/i5/i7s have an Intel chipset, with the processor also having Intel graphics on it. This means Apple has to fit on a second nVidia chip onto the board in order to have better graphics capability (which is used by OS X for a lot of things - OpenCL, window compositing, accelleration, etc).

I'm sure Apple would've stuck an i3 into the MBA if they could, but the i3 CPU + Intel chipset + nVidia GPU just took too much space on the main board. So instead, they kept the old Core2Duo+nVidia chipset which saves a chip and gives you decent graphics still.

Or have we fallen in love with Intel graphics again? (I'm guessing Apple's last foray into playing with Intel graphics didn't go very well).

Re:MacBook Air (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883284)

Actually, it's a bit simpler. The MBA just doesn't have enough space. The Core2Duo used in the MBA has an nVidia chipset, so you could get a decent GPU out of it. The MacBooks and MacBook Pros with the Core i3/i5/i7s have an Intel chipset, with the processor also having Intel graphics on it. This means Apple has to fit on a second nVidia chip onto the board in order to have better graphics capability (which is used by OS X for a lot of things - OpenCL, window compositing, accelleration, etc).

I'm sure Apple would've stuck an i3 into the MBA if they could, but the i3 CPU + Intel chipset + nVidia GPU just took too much space on the main board. So instead, they kept the old Core2Duo+nVidia chipset which saves a chip and gives you decent graphics still.

True the Core i3, i5, i7 mobile models have integrated graphics but the use of these new models negates the need for a northbridge and southbridge. It would however take more engineering than a socket change. I suspect this is probably why they haven't updated in over a year. Also the power tradeoff is another problem. Using the integrated GPU would save on some power but keeping two GPUs running drains more power.

Re:MacBook Air (2, Insightful)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879204)

That is badass! I wish something like this could be done with the MacBook Air. I'm in love with mine - unfortunately, Apple hasn't updated it in forever. If there was a service out there to help folks with MBAs, I'm sure there would be a long line of people.

Heck, I'm even willing to shell out 5k for a powerful MBA, but oh well.

Ye gods! Apple came out with the 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo Mac Book Air on June 8, 2009. "Forever" is 16 months for you? What kind of culture hath Apple wrought?!!? Oh, right...

Re:MacBook Air (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879798)

This [macrumors.com] is the kind of culture they've wrought, where updates typically come annually. After all, if processors double transistor count every 2 years, surely Apple isn't too profligate in updating annually?

(I'll assume GP is an original MBA owner and hasn't noticed processor bumps, or is merely pining for the ability to self-upgrade. In the latter case, you know what you were getting into when you got an Apple, boyo.)

Re:MacBook Air (4, Insightful)

Beale (676138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880542)

In the latter case, you know what you were getting into when you got an Apple, boyo.

Or, to be honest, when you bought a laptop.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881016)

non-sense

i have a completely stripped thinkpad t43 on my desk at home (currently painting the plastic shell white, so all the gubbins are out of their home), its ram has already been upgraded from the default 512mb to 2gb, i could change out the cpu (a 1,86 GHz one) to a 2,26 GHz one. I can replace the combo-drive with a dvd burner / sata drive, i could upgrade the hdd to a larger one, the wifi card to a 802.11n model

laptops might not have the same upgradability as your average joe desktop, but most non-apple laptops have quite some capabilties to be enhanced

(oh, and before i forget, i also upgraded the OS to ubuntu 10.10..)

Re:MacBook Air (2, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880660)

In the latter case, you know what you were getting into when you got an Apple, boyo
s/apple/thin and light laptop/

socketing processors takes up vertical space which in the trend of making laptops thinner is at a huge premium. a few millimetres doesn't sound like much but when the whole laptop is only a couple of centimeters thick it's significant.

Replacing a BGA processor is possible as this article shows but getting the chips can be tricky (though interestingly farnell were promoting intel atom chips on thier front page recently...)

Re:MBA Owner! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880836)

Daddy? Can I have an MBA of my very own for Christmas? I promise to keep him fed and optimized!

MacBook Air is dead, long live... (2, Insightful)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880198)

Following the success of iPad, Macbook Air will be discontinued. Instead, Apple will release an ARM netbook running OSX for the rest of us. Something OEMs have been discouraged from doing as Windows7 requires x86. Stealing thunder from ChromeOS.

multi-core A4 CPU, touchscreen, keyboard and trackpad, OSX-lite for ARM. iOS apps via the store will be available via a compatibility layer.

All the OSX-ARM hardware drivers are available for Darwin courtesy of iOS. OSX apps can be recompiled via universal binaries.

This is listening to one's customers who like the idea of an iPad but would prefer the fallback option of a 'real computer' with a mouse/keyboard and the OSX experience. Stick in an open bootloader or Xen and you may even have a few slashdotters buy 'em!

Re:MacBook Air (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880960)

I don't know what the sales figures are(or even if Steve cares, he took the iPod mini out back and shot it when it was a literal best-seller and flash RAM was still pretty pricey just so he could replace it with something smaller...); but I'd be unsurprised if its the end of the line for the MacBook Air.

Intel's newer processors don't work, by design, with Nvidia's chipsets, and Apple is really hyping the GPU acceleration for their OSX-running products. This means that there really aren't any huge upgrade options easily available. The Core2 is still pretty decent; but it isn't new and Intel isn't making them any faster now than they were a while ago. Waiting for Nvidia and Intel to achieve legal togetherness might take a while. Cramming a discrete GPU onto a board and battery that size would be a fair challenge. RAM is cheaper and denser now, so you could certainly bump the onboard RAM a bit; but that'd be quite the underwhelming upgrade.

Perhaps more importantly, the thinnest CEO in the industry now has the iPad, and has shown a longstanding trend of disregarding what people say they want. Something based on an upclocked smartphone board is always going to be thinner and lighter and longer running than all but the most heroic novelty PC designs, and(for those not on the iDevice bandwagon) the full Macbook Pro is only slightly thicker and heavier than the Air is, visually deceptive tapering aside, and is more featureful, more powerful, and cheaper.

It is certainly possible that Apple will do some sort of update to the Air; but it would also be plausible if it turned out that they consider the Air to have been replaced by the iPad. The Air was always a bit underspecced and overpriced for running serious Mac applications, and there is now a lighter and cheaper option for running the email and web and light productivity/gaming stuff. There is also the incrementally heavier; but much more capable and somewhat cheaper Pro, for those who require the full Mac capability.

Were this the PC market, where there are numerous vendors, and most vendors have more chassis variations than Apple has product lines, this wouldn't be an issue. This being Apple, though, getting squeezed like that might well be a death sentence.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882380)

You can still have nVidia video, just not motherboard chipsets as I understand it. My recent Core i7-720QM laptop has nVidia graphics.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883532)

That is correct, Intel has done nothing to cripple PCIe on their parts(except some of the newer Atoms which, whether as a cost saving measure or to keep people from attaching capable GPUs only have a few external lanes available), so any discrete GPU will work just fine.

Trouble is, on a board the size of the Macbook Air's, and with a battery to match, a discrete graphics chip(plus some RAM for it) is going to be a real layout/power/thermal trick.

By using the Nvidia chipset, with integrated GPU, Apple got a (low end) Nvidia GPU along with the usual northbridge/southbridge stuff in almost the same space and power envelope as the Intel chipset would have occupied. If them move from Core2 to i3, 5, or 7, they will benefit some from Intel's consolidation of some chipset functions onto the CPU; but they will be forced to either go with Intel's integrated graphics, which don't suit their purposes(especially since the Air will likely be restricted to a lower clocked part by thermal/power considerations, and Intel integrated graphics performance varies according to the performance of the core it is integrated with), or dedicate board space and power/thermal headroom that they probably don't have to a discrete GPU.

In larger laptops, it isn't a huge deal, and the advantages of the i5s and i7s over the Core2s basically sell the new platform; but the Air just doesn't have much internal space.

Re:MacBook Air (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881120)

That is badass! I wish something like this could be done with the MacBook Air. I'm in love with mine

Oh, you're the guy who bought one.

Pictures or it didn't really happen.

I did it wrong I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878906)

I put the Core Solo and other parts in a giant Dell 20" portable computer case.

Wow ... (2)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878922)

Just fucking wow.

This is some cool hardware hacking, and for all the right reasons. He just wanted to see if he could.

I tip my hat to the man.

_

Reballed? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878958)

What is "reballed" as in "reballing the CPU"? I am assuming it's repackaging the CPU or something, but I'm not sure. I read the article but that didn't offer much more insight than the summary.

Re:Reballed? (5, Informative)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878994)

What is "reballed" as in "reballing the CPU"? I am assuming it's repackaging the CPU or something, but I'm not sure. I read the article but that didn't offer much more insight than the summary.

BGA or "Ball Grid Array" chips don't have a standard socket and are attached to the board using literal balls of solder that melt when the whole thing is put in a re-flow oven. The chip is then soldered to the board. A good video on reballing a CPU is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97nxZwHG5bA [youtube.com]

Re:Reballed? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879020)

Ok, thanks! I'm not sure if I want to try that myself

Re:Reballed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879220)

If you are not sure you want to reflow BGAs yourself, you don't want to.

Re:Reballed? (2, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879396)

From the video that Cheerio kindly linked to, it does look pretty easy and straightforward though. But, come to think of it several years ago I was watching a glass blower in a shopping centre and that looked pretty easy as well but when I tried it at home I had to go to hospital and try and explain why I had burnt lips and a glass all over my nether regions :(

Re:Reballed? (3, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879680)

If you are not sure you want to reflow BGAs yourself, you don't want to.

I haven't got the balls for it.

Re:Reballed? (2, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881352)

I've got balls of tin.

Re:Reballed? (4, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879414)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97nxZwHG5bA [youtube.com]

I just watched that video. The BGA reballing process appears to be:

0) Remove all the old solder. First he melted it with a soldering iron and got a ball of solder, which he rolled off. Then he applied a solder wick (with the soldering iron to heat it) and scrubbed gently all over the chip package surface. Finally he wiped the chip package with a cloth soaked in some liquid (a solvent I'd guess).

1) Paint the chip package with some sort of goop.

2) Put a shield on the chip package. This shield has holes that match where the new solder balls must go.

3) Apply some sort of metal powder from a jar. The powder appears to be solder balls, each one just the right size to fit through the holes in the shield. He gently wiped the powder this way and that until there was one solder ball per hole (more or less). Then he took a pair of needle tweezers and carefully moved one ball at a time until there was exactly one solder ball per hole, with no holes empty.

4) Apply heat from a heat gun. Clearly this was to melt the solder balls and make them attach to the chip package.

5) Pop the shield off, and hold up the reballed BGA to the camera so we can see its perfection.

I guess the rest of the process is to very carefully drop the chip package where you want it to go, and convince the solder to melt. How do you do that? You mentioned a "reflow oven"? I Googled that, and there are lots of different ovens out there. I even saw a page for using an ordinary toaster oven [instructables.com] for the purpose.

Looks like pretty finicky work to do by hand, but not completely impossible.

steveha

Re:Reballed? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879476)

You could do it with a towel and a hair dryer if you really wanted it to.

In fact, I've repaired an xbox 360 using the towel and the units own heat. In my case, I was not replacing the processor, but rather I needed to melt the solder once again.

Re:Reballed? (3, Informative)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879514)

The key part in the begining was to apply a flux for lifting.

This protected the board and assisted in thermal spread.

Likely he was removing that with the solvent because it wouldn't be too helpful to have that on and attempt to re-attache to the surface.

Re:Reballed? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33882446)

0: Heat shield the board, heat the the chip (~500+F), remove the chip from board. Apply rosin (makes solder flow better + protects from oxidization) and solder wick to clean the board and/or chip.

1: Apply Rosin paste to chip, apply stencil to chip, then apply either solder dust or solder paste to chip.

2: Remove stencil.

3: Place chip on level surface and heat for ~10 mins to the melting point of the solder. Because metals are magnetic, the solder will flow around and form a ball on the contact.

4: Cool.

5: Align on PCB. You need to get it 90% correct on a level surface.

6: Heat chip. The solder will melt and the same principal that holds the solder to the contacts will align the chip with the board.

7: Cool.

8: Test.

9: Enjoy Porn.

Done it a few times, SMT is the worst.

Re:Reballed? (2, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883198)

I guess the rest of the process is to very carefully drop the chip package where you want it to go, and convince the solder to melt. How do you do that? You mentioned a "reflow oven"? I Googled that, and there are lots of different ovens out there.

If you're using old-fashioned lead/tin solder you don't have to be all that careful about the alignment: if you have 10% overlap between the ball and the solderpad on most all the pads, the capillary action of the solder will cause the bga to self-align. (I do this on a regular basis with smaller but similar chips.) Now, if you're using modern no-lead solder it's more difficult. With a BGA you can do an okay job of alignment with a boom microscope set at an angle so you can see under the edge of the chip to the first row of balls: if you have opposite corners on the pads you're good.

And I use a hotplate and a thermocouple taped adjacent to the chip with the tip touching one of the pads. You don't want to overheat the chip itself -- no higher than 260C if you can possibly manage it. A lab hotplate is faster than a toaster oven, and you need to get the heat up fast enough the flux doesn't boil off before the solder reflows. Ideally you'd like it to reflow and hold above the liquidus of the solder (which is about 220C for lead and about 240C for no-lead) for 30 seconds, but managing that without going over 260C is pretty difficult. Then you cool it down pretty quickly. I use a hairdryer with the heat turned off so it's just blowing scads of cool air.

Likewise, by the way, I use a hotplate for adhering the balls to the BGA, rather than a hot air gun -- it's more predictable, temperature-wise.

Well, okay, all the above should be put in the past tense since as of a week ago we now have an OKI bga rework station, with a vision system that aligns the chip/board and places it, and a controllable temp profiler, and it's awesome. But I do have three years' experience hand-placing leadless chips and micro-SMD's, so I know a thing or two about it.

Re:Reballed? (4, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879008)

Well, I googled it, and - whoops! NSFW! NSFW!!!

Re:Reballed? (1)

Quartinus (1678656) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879010)

Reballing I believe refers to the soldering process. Most desktop processors have pins, which are clamped and so therefore easily replicable. In most embedded processors and netbooks, the processor is hard-soldered to the motherboard and therefore very difficult to replace. I think that this is referring to the re-soldering of the processor to the motherboard, or at least re-soldering the connections to the processor "pins" as it were. Correct me if I am wrong, of course.

-Quartinus

Re:Reballed? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880680)

Reballing is replacing the balls.

I haven't read TFA but i'm guessing he was reusing a processor taken from another machine since it's generally difficult to get intel processors in BGA form.

A ball grid array package has balls of solder on the bottom which are used to solder it to the board. These balls are only meant to be used once and will break up when desoldering. So if you want to reuse a BGA packaged chip you have to replace the balls first.

Re:Reballed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33889060)

But how do you get the chip of in the first place? do you just chuck the whole MoBo in the over till the solder melts? or do you just use one of those hairdryer things the guys uses in the video clip? wouldn't that also melt near by solder on the MoBo?

It looks intriguing, I might give it a go as a experiment - most likely results are that I will find out how fast a wrongly soldered CPU can start a fire.

Re:Reballed? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880018)

Google "Ball Grid Array" and see if that doesn't answer your question.

full size? where? (1, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878966)

I see no full size photos.

what I do see are crummy, not well focused pictures.

good effort on the mod, but it does seem a bit pointless if that kind of extreme soldering is involved. probably very unreliable, too, and totally unfixable if it ends up being flakey.

the ability to do rework is much harder than people think. things can work for a while and then crap out due to a bad solder joint that was hard to find.

I would not trust this long-term.

Re:full size? where? (4, Insightful)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879034)

We apologize that this was not a Serious and Constructive article about the Serious and Constructive uses of Serious and Constructive computers.

We humbly suggest that if you are keenly interested in Serious and Constructive uses for Serious and Constructive computers, that you seek out Serious and Constructive forums.

Those of us that appreciate what is known as a "cool hack", on the other hand, will not miss you one little bit.

"I would not trust this long-term."

As it's not YOUR computer, it's not your worry, is it?

Re:full size? where? (-1, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879062)

(why so serious?)

boggled by what your trying to say. is english not your first language?

Re:full size? where? (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879130)

Says the person that can't press "Shift" and the first letter of each sentence. Or put a paragraph together. And let's not bother with your use of "your".

As has been pointed out already, this is just an example of someone hacking a device to improve it. Whether or not it's flakey doesn't really matter because he's showing that a tiny device can be improved - meaning that if you do get it right then you may be able to keep using the device, rather than it just sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Some people call this kind of activity a "Hobby". Go look it up. I'm sure you could find one that interests you.

Re:full size? where? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879256)

Says the person that can't press "Shift" and the first letter of each sentence.

Oh irony, you heartless bitch. Critique not others, lest people point out you failed, too.

Re:full size? where? (0, Offtopic)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881728)

I used 'your' correctly.

so funny to see the correctors needing correction, themselves.

as for capitalization, its VERY common here and elsewhere on tech forums for engineers not to bother with capping sentence starts. old style thing that is not needed. you can read my text just fine and know where the start and end is. typing caps is painful (for older guys like me, yes, shift keys are a pita).

lets see what you'll find in this reply to criticize. but to call someone out for not using caps is just absurd. so many tech people follow this style, its fully validated these days and actually quite common.

for *formal text* I will take the effort; but not for informal chatter. not worth the pain (literally). ...and there's actually more explanation than (note proper use of word) you deserve.

Re:full size? where? (0, Offtopic)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882886)

boggled by what your trying to say. is english not your first language?

I used 'your' correctly.

Yes. Yes you did. Once.

Re:full size? where? (-1, Offtopic)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879270)

boggled by what your trying to say. is english not your first language?

You're.
You're.
You're.
You're.

"You're," as in 'You Are'
"Your," as in "Your stupid post was moderated as Insightful."

Also, learn to capitalize the first letter of sentences, and proper names, like 'English.'

Is English not your first language?

Re:full size? where? (1)

whoop (194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881544)

"I would not trust this long-term."

As it's not YOUR computer, it's not your worry, is it?

Yes, this is a grave concern to Slashdotters everywhere. We here believe there can be only one of anything in the universe. If we allow this technology to continue, there will only be tiny PCs in the world with a bunch of crap soldered in.

KDE vs Gnome? No, use twm. Vi vs Emacs? No, use cat. Tivo vs MythTV? No, don't watch TV. Ipod vs Zune? No, torrent it. Android vs Iphone? No, use just a plain phone, dammit! Xbox360 vs PS3? No, give me PC games.

Now, recite it 500 times, "There can be only one," and you will gain Enlightenment*.

*may require an apt-get as well.

Re:full size? where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33890912)

I own one of these myself and would not mind doing this
10/10

regards

Fitvideo

Why? (1)

yoblin (692322) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878970)

Why would you need to reball the CPU to install a new one? Doesn't that just reinforce the existing connections?

Re:Why? (1)

peterbye (708092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33894666)

Presumably because the replacement was not new, it was removed from another device.

Another Tip O' The Hat (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878978)

Let's suspend the "Redundant" mod for this particular occasion. This is really, really beautiful work, and if a bunch of Slashdotters offer Anh all kinds of applause for this mod, he deserves every bit of it.

Re:Another Tip O' The Hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879294)

Watch SONY brick it with a firmware patch.

Re:Another Tip O' The Hat (1)

steeleyeball (1890884) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880090)

You calculated your velocity, are you sure you don't mean your momentum Mr. Heisenberg?

Re:Another Tip O' The Hat (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33891542)

Yeah, you're right...I've just been too lazy to change it.

hi (0)

osinviet (1920496) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879006)

i fell Sony VAIO very nice

External case? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879150)

All of this was done without modifying the device's tiny external case.

Yes, but did he have to modify the device's internal case? That would be impressive if he didn't.

Instillation? (1)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879162)

What exactly is it that they are instilling with that 4 port USB hub?

Re:Instillation? (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880138)

They're instilling it with the sacred and revered ability to generate lots of "A USB device has requested more power than the hub can provide. Windows cannot enable the device. Remove the device and restart your computer" error messages.

(It's an unpowered hub by the looks of it; best not plug in anything that wants more than the default 100mA...)

Re:Instillation? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880992)

On the actual forum threads, they were discussing locations to steal +5v power for the new USB peripherals. Apparently there was some Japan-only daughtercard offering whose connector cable was still present on international models that had a line, as well as some motherboard locations. That only solves the power problem, of course, not the "Windows sees an unpowered hub with 2 amps worth of devices hanging off of it" problem; but a substantial percentage of cheap 'n cheerful unpowered hubs lie horribly about their capabilities, including generally reporting themselves to the OS as being powered hubs.

On the minus side, this is all kinds of horribly spec-violating, and can turn what should be a trivial debugging exercise into a mess of hardware swapping; but it certainly does reduce the number of visible issues(which is presumably why the bottom-feeder market does it) and comes in quite handy if your crazy hacking plan involves a means of powering the devices independently...

More components, more heat? (1)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879246)

I'd guess he's going to need added ventilation, especially with a 3G modem and more powerful CPU. I'm not convinced this thing is stable or has anywhere near decent battery life.

That is novel... (1)

sc0p3 (972992) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879248)

"...further instillation of a Huawei E172 modem for 3G.."

Instillation is... "the introduction of a liquid (by pouring or injection) drop by drop"
I never thought of connecting a modem like that.

Re:That is novel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879454)

So that's where T-1000 is hiding. Formed into a Huawei modem chip after falling into the vat.

what the hell guys. (2, Informative)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879422)

this is like 2 years old.

Re:what the hell guys. (0, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880234)

this is like 2 years old.

You like 2 year olds! Where's the report button....

Re:what the hell guys. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33881420)

Posting ac from my fone. Im serious, this. Is old as dirt.

In related news, I just finished... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879666)

...modding your mom!

Re:In related news, I just finished... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879990)

Sweet dude! I just modded yours! It felt like rain on my reballs.

replacement of soldered CPU... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33880274)

Is anyone selling this service? For the rare occasion when it is desired to perform such an upgrade, even if it means a couple CPUs/motherboards as casualities?

Re:replacement of soldered CPU... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33880894)

Yes. This Anh dude (who we previously heard about for a Celeron->Pentium swap on the Eee 701) does have a standing offer to mod other UXes, and sometimes other (e.g. Eee) machines, but it's an "email for availability and pricing" thing.

Re:replacement of soldered CPU... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881024)

I don't know of any reasonably standardized retail offering, probably because of the rarity of consumer-level demand, and the fact that the service would cost a factor of ten what the next generation of the device would cost(except, as here, where there was no next generation...); but circuit board rework is an established market(for more complex/expensive boards, reworking ones that are slightly defective after automated production is cost effective, and for prototyping/debugging/preproduction it can be an essential part of the process), for which all sorts of equipment vendors exist, and BGA rework is just a subset of that, so it is quite probable that there exists an engineering or prototyping house that would be happy to rework your board, for the right money.

Probably not a "Here is the web store, supply credit card number and we'll send you a box, send in your device and it'll be back in a week", ColourWare style operation; you'd likely have to actually call somebody and talk it out and you probably wouldn't like the price; but board rework isn't secret lore or anything, just a part of the production process that you don't usually see.

Come on, where do you get this crap? (-1, Flamebait)

Tolkien (664315) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881116)

Core Solo? Wtf?
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