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IC Failures Linked to Resin Series?

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the hamstrung-hardware dept.

Bug 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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284 comments

hello! (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200134)

Down with Zionism! Down with Israel!

Re:hello! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200158)

Up with miniskirts!

Showboat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200136)

nothing to say ?

Finally found it... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200154)

OL' MAN RIVER

Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
colored folks work while de white folks play.
Pullin' dose boats from de dawn to sunset,
gittin' no rest till de judgment day.
Don't look up an' don't look down,
you don't dast make de white boss frown.
Bend yo' knees an' bow yo' head
and pull dat rope until yo're dead.
Let me go way from de Mississippi,
let me go way from de white men boss.
Show me dat stream called de river Jordan,
dat's de ol' stream dat I long to cross.
01 man river, dat ol' man river,
he must know sumpin' but don't say nothin',
he jus keeps rollin', he keeps on rollin' along.
He don't plant taters, he don't plant cotton,
an' dem dat plants 'em is soon forgotten
but ol' man river, he jus keeps rollin' along.
You an' me, we sweat an' strain,
body all achin' an' racked wid pain.
"Tote dat barge!","Litf dat bale!",
git a little drunk an' you land in jail.
Ah gits weary an' sick of tryin',
ah m tired of livin' an' skeered of dyin',
but ol' man river, he jus keeps rollin' along.

- Oscar Hammerstein II

red phoshorous??? (2, Interesting)

MoP030 (599234) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200142)

red phoshorous as a flame retardend??? it always burned quite nicely when I used to play with it...

Re:red phoshorous??? (3, Informative)

rokka (631038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200166)

Nah, thats white phosphorous your thinking about.

Re:red phoshorous??? (3, Interesting)

ktanmay (710168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200287)

Yes, initially I was thinking about yellow phosphorus, but its just white phosphorus with small amounts [du.edu] of red phosphorus in it.

Re:red phoshorous??? (4, Funny)

Absurd Being (632190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200215)

I really want to mod you as +1, Flamebait, but there's no option.

heh - this will be new copout... (0, Redundant)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200148)

... for the cheap, shoddy crap we have come to know and love.

No its not that its a badly designed lump of shit - its caused by the resin - really it is!

Re:heh - this will be new copout... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200173)

And if the environmentalists keep getting their way, there won't be any more ICs produced either, so then we won't have to worry about this anymore.

Re:heh - this will be new copout... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200306)

>And if the environmentalists keep getting their way

Yeah those damn peacenik hippi socialists that control the house, senate, supreme court, white house, wto, and all of those multi-national companies that are ruining this world or ours.

Re:heh - this will be new copout... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200356)

I couldn't have said it better.

Re:heh - this will be new copout... (2, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200497)

Yeah those damn peacenik hippi socialists that control the house, senate, supreme court, white house, wto, and all of those multi-national companies that are ruining this world or ours.

What worries me is that I can't figure out if this is meant to be funny or not. I'm sure there are people who genuinely believe this about the US government... well, maybe not the White House bit.

Re:heh - this will be new copout... (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200609)

What environmentalists? All our crap is made in third world countries!

Mercatur - drinking (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200151)

I can't believe the hot babe known as Mercatur would resort to drink driving...

http://www.mercatur.net/pages/guestbook.html

Is it a cry for help?

Re:Mercatur - drinking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200613)

Who cares? I'd rather stalk the BSD babe.

I can see the results here, oddly enough. (5, Funny)

Puggles (126272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200152)

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... :(

Re:I can see the results here, oddly enough. (5, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200193)

That's not resin...sounds like something stronger, such as a Skunk v - Northern Lights I hybrid.

Is it going my way?

Re:I can see the results here, oddly enough. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200227)

hey, cool! post a screenshot ;)

Re:I can see the results here, oddly enough. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200317)

Actually, every time I've seen that it was a problem with the CRT. The vacuum tube got hot, and melted the solder contacts on the board the tube is connected to. So now I've got three old monitors where the green contact is intermittent, leaving only blue and red. (And thus magenta.)

Re:I can see the results here, oddly enough. (1)

Puggles (126272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200347)

Only one problem: I'm using an LCD with a DVI connection.

It looks like every time I've seen a D-A converter fry, but I thought that by using DVI I was avoiding digital->analog conversion.

Anyway... It ain't the CRT! :)

Is this why... (4, Insightful)

AccUser (191555) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200171)

...most hard disk manufacturers have reduced their warrenties from 3-years to 1-year in the not so distant past?

Re:Is this why... (3, Insightful)

dave-tx (684169) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200335)

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... (4, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200496)

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?

Re:Is this why... (1)

dave-tx (684169) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200575)

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?

I agree with you 100%. I would be happy to pay double for a hard drive that I know would be reliable for a long time. In addition to worrying about my data integrity, I also abhor the thought of needlessly contributing more garbage to landfills.

And yes, I know that I could double the cost by buying a second drive to mirror the first, but doing that is noisy and hot. And I'd still have to replace one every times one fails.

Re:Is this why... (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200636)

Personally, I would say that Wal-Mart does little different from K-Mart, Target, or any other discount retailer.

Intentional or Accidental? (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200172)

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.

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (2, Insightful)

dave420-2 (748377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200206)

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.

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200250)

Wtf? Engineers fault? Do you read Dilbert?

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (1)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200316)

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 ...

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200353)

Firestone's still not very popular, at least where I'm from.

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (1)

OolonColluphid (591237) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200531)

A lot of people don't, though. I drive an old (1985) Ford because the price was right and parts are readily available and cheap, so it costs me little to keep it running. However, after having the transmission give out on two late 80's Tauruses (or, to be more accurate, a Taurus and a Mercury Sable) a few years ago, I would be loath to buy a new vehicle from them. Same goes for GM. I owned an Oldsmobile that was so awful, there are not words to describe it. I also know a few people unfortunate enough to have actually owned Monte Carlos.

Similarly, after having two spectacular Western Digital hard drive failures, even though the drives were covered by warranty and were replaced, I switched to Seagate for my newest drive. Even when the things are replaced, there's still the hassle of having no computer for a few days and then having to reinstall and load backups.

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (0)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200494)

I guess you'd be suprised!

I used to work tech support, and most people insisted on getting the exact same HD as the one which just failed.

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (5, Insightful)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 10 years ago | (#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."

Re:Intentional or Accidental? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200409)

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.

They should add a moderation option. (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200419)

+1 conspiracy theory

All right. You blame the large corporations. I'll blame the environmentalists. It's a good thing there are always so many people to blame when things go wrong.

It's confirmed... (1, Funny)

BlastQuake (530459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200176)

IC's are dying

Re:It's confirmed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200667)

It's only confirmed if Netcraft sez so

Red Phosphorous... (5, Funny)

Bigman (12384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200178)

...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.

Re:Red Phosphorous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200339)

"Red Phosphorous"
Tweaker... ;-)

Damn the irony! (3, Insightful)

locknloll (638243) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200179)

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! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200276)

And I believe this is the real irony, not that rain-on-your-wedding-day crap.

Re:Damn the irony! (5, Interesting)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Adverse effects (1)

Geccie (730389) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200445)

I believe the same problems occured with the two space shuttle crashes. In the first one, the O-Ring sealant was changed to remove asbestos. This sealant became brittle during very cold weather. In the second case, the material sprayed on the main fuel tank was changed to remove CFCs. The result was poor adhesion. These facts were reported and known as well as the decreased reliability. However, it didn't appear PC to report them to the general public - Geccie.

Re:Damn the irony! (1)

absolut_kurant (152888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200654)

Well, the same thing was said about chlorofluorocarbons. And now all new fridges etc. are CFC free, and work well (or even better than before).

Trying to protect the environment is never a bad idea, IMHO. Give it some time and the kinks will be worked out.

sh*t (4, Informative)

real_smiff (611054) | more than 10 years ago | (#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 (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200337)

I thought the leaky capacitors out of Taiwan was a story from 2000. Four years later, it seems a little unfair to associate the two. (Who knows how rare these events are, anyway?)

Re:sh*t (3, Informative)

Plammox (717738) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200461)

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...

Frustration (-1, Offtopic)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200181)

'half the world's supply of 'IC Plastics'' and can result in 'sudden or premature end of life.'

Maybe this is offtopic and morbid... but...

If only this applied to people and Hollywood... It'd be such a beauty to watch the Grammys or the Emmys only to watch half of Hollywood's plastic-faced cronies drop dead in the middle of the awards.

Well, maybe not drop dead... but seeing them writhing around on the floor with their hands on their faces as their skin starts bubbling and boiling. It'd be like some sci-fi episode... Like the twilight zone... But the only Twilight Zone because those were good.

But no! This shit has to happen to hard drives! Only thing that I want *not* to fail end up doing so.

Doesn't that just suck?

Re:Frustration (-1, Offtopic)

troon (724114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200207)

You're a loony.

OTOH, you'd probably appreciate this [angryflower.com] .

Re:Frustration (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200231)

Check out the movie, They Live.

Not surprising (3, Redundant)

Walkiry (698192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200183)

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? (3, Interesting)

glpierce (731733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200186)

If the fault is theirs, wouldn't anyone with a warranty be able to demand a replacement?

Re:Warranties? (0, Redundant)

platipusrc (595850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200204)

I'm sure that you've noticed, for hard drives at least, that many manufacturers have scaled back warranty support from 3 years to 1 year.

Re:Warranties? (2, Interesting)

glpierce (731733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200262)

Perhaps a Class Action suit, then?

Re:Warranties? (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200373)

I don't really think that's applicable. If they'd stopped servicing their existing contracts (read, warranties) then I could see it. People have been very aware of the warranties on their drives, though, so it's not like they've got a right to complain. (At least, in this case.)

Re:Warranties? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200625)

That's why I buy SCSI. I have drives from 1996 that still spin 24/7 to this day.

bwahahaha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200189)

Check out Eric Raymond's wife! [ibiblio.org]

Minger!

Re:bwahahaha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200269)

Is that you, Darl?

Power Supplies (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200199)

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 hilarious irony (2, Funny)

voss (52565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200205)

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.

Re:The hilarious irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200274)

Mod parent up +1 Insightful. This is an incredibly good point that deserves to be heard.

Re:The hilarious irony (0, Troll)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200372)

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.

Your confusing the envirnomental movement with the 'politically correct' movement demonstrates your shallow grasp of both. Your repeated use of the word 'probably' then indicates that you don't actually have any idea what you are talking about. Finally, your suggestion that paper comes from Asian rainforests demonstrates that you don't know the difference between hardwood and softwood. All in all, your stock is falling.

At a more general level, your post argues that we shouldn't try to be environmentally-conscious, lest we screw up

Re:The hilarious irony (2, Insightful)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200610)

No, his post argues that we shouldn't be faux-environementally conscious. Granted, he's not well-informed, but he appears to grasp the principle:

Act with knowledge of the consequences of your actions.

Re:The hilarious irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200421)

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.

No, your unbleached brown grocery bag probably didn't use that many nasty chemicals and probably came from some scraggly tree farm in Arkansas.

Note to oneself : Back Up Computer tonight (1, Informative)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200208)

hey you never know ;)

Re:Note to oneself : Back Up Computer tonight (-1)

dtl (670833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200450)

How is this off topic? Seems like a good idea to me. Although the OP should have a backup anyway.

Red Phosphorus in action (3, Interesting)

manganese4 (726568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200234)

Click here to see what happen when you hit Red [wisc.edu] Phosphorus

Just remember that everything carries a cost (4, Insightful)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200253)

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.

Re:Just remember that everything carries a cost (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200288)

And moderators, how exactly is this flamebait? Remember that "I don't agree with statement" is not equivalent to "flamebait." You want flamebait? Bite me, dickheads.

propagating the myth (2, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200329)

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.

Re:propagating the myth (1)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200439)

Good god, read between the lines, or at least look at my homepage. I don't think the world needs saving: I just want people to realize that they may make different choices in that regard if they understood how much it was costing them.

Re:propagating the myth (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200442)

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 biological system enough to make it incapable of sustaining humans. And in the end, that's all that matters, isn't it?

Premature component failure in healthcare... (5, Insightful)

emtboy9 (99534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200254)

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.

Re:Premature component failure in healthcare... (3, Informative)

imadork (226897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200386)

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.

Re:Premature component failure in healthcare... (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200435)

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 under warrenty. By the time the warrenty expires the damn thing is probably obsolete anyway. YANR to not buy expensive components on the bleeding edge.

Environmental concerns (-1, Redundant)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200267)

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.
I wonder how well this decision worked out for the environment, with all those IC's ending up in the garbage pile prematurely (and being replaced).

Re:Environmental concerns (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200360)

This just goes to show that this is all the fault of those friggin' hippies.

Come to California (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200628)

The "hippies" in the government here anally raped the state dry, and they *still* want to increase spending by leaps and bounds as they they drive their state subsidized SUVs and pass restrictive laws that apply to everyone except them.

Actually, I hope they do continue, because eventually people will have enough, and they legislators will wind up hanging from lampposts in Sacramento, and that fates too good for these miserable mothereffers.

"sudden or premature end of life" (3, Interesting)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200270)

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."

Another result of junk science (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200285)

Sumitomo stops using Br-based compounds because if they ever catch fire, some dioxins could be generated.

((( Never mind that any vegetable that burns also frees up dioxins, since a few billion years ago, or that Ben & Jerrys ice cream includes a significant amount of dioxins )))
http://www.junkscience.com/nov99/bjpress.htm

Of course, the enviroradicals convinced the silly Europeans to legislate against Br compounds.

Now, you are seeing billions of failed IC's thrown into landfills or incinerated because... as usual the tree huggers did not do a cost/benefit analysis; they simply scared willing politicians into avoiding trace-level, junk science "contaminants"... ... at any cost regardless of scientific/economic rational value.

Explosive? (1)

CompWerks (684874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200298)

Keep your Potassium chlorate [wisc.edu] away from your motherboard!
or you may have some explaining to do. :-)

Lovely. (2, Insightful)

Trillan (597339) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200301)

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?

Is that for the warranty issue? (2, Interesting)

oujirou (726570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200330)

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 move large quantities of data between offices.

If that switching was the reason for companies to drop their warranty period to just one year, it's bad again -- doesn't it mean that HDDs are now expected to die sooner? I've had a 4GB Seagate drive on my 24/7 routing machine for five years now and I'm not sure I'll be able to find a new drive this small so that the router's old motherboard could handle it. And I'm certainly not up to buying new hardware every once a month.

Space Shuttle Blew up due to Environmental Concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200338)

The foam on the last space shuttle was used because it was more environmentally friendly, even though it was inferior. At least that's what I read (just put 'space shuttle foam environment' into google). I'm not saying that all involved can see the consequences of their actions. But millions of electronics failing doesn't seem environmentally friendly either. People need to study and balance concerns. The key thing that equals health is money. We're all for a clean environment. But after a certain point there are diminishing returns which aren't worth the investment.

Re:Space Shuttle Blew up due to Environmental Conc (4, Informative)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200521)

The foam on the last space shuttle was used because it was more environmentally friendly, even though it was inferior. At least that's what I read (just put 'space shuttle foam environment' into google).

I expect you read this [capmag.com] article in Capitalist Magazine [capmag.com] . The title of the article, "Earth Worshippers Cause Death in Space", really brings home the high levels of dispassionate reporting and journalistic integrity enjoyed by the magazine. Truly, everything they say must be true.

Re:Space Shuttle Blew up due to Environmental Conc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200560)

No, that wasn't the original article I read. But the overall point, even if the foam story is not true, stands. Protecting the environment at all costs or making environmental decisions without studying impact isn't smart and can be dangerous. We saved the environment but ended up killing thousands of people?

You're just as bad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200606)

Because you have a different ideological slant, you attack the source rather than the points made. You're the other side of the same tiresome coin.

Re:You're just as bad (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200640)

Because you have a different ideological slant, you attack the source rather than the points made. You're the other side of the same tiresome coin.

Rubbish. If a Columbian drug baron tells me that cocaine should be supplied to children, it is perfectly germane for me to question their motives for making the assertion, irrespective of whether the assertion has merit or not.

Re:You're just as bad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8200669)

Constructing a straw man and attacking it hardly makes you look any better.

Great... (4, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200365)

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... (5, Informative)

danheskett (178529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200459)

Broken Window Fallacy [wikipedia.org]

Read it, learn it, love it, spread it.

Environmental Deception? (2, Insightful)

NixLuver (693391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200379)

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 chemical ones. Everyone yells about the rainforest and connects it to free oxygen - but that's not the truth, is it? 97% of the earth's free oxygen is released by phytoplankton in the top 12 inches of the ocean. This area is also the very base of the food chain.

All it would take is for one coastal factory to dump some complex chemical enzym or catalyst into the ocean and it could be all over but the shouting and bleeding. We could wipe out all life on land and the earth would recover; kill the ocean, and we're done for.

Re:Environmental Deception? (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200537)

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.

Re:Environmental Deception? (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200579)

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?

Re:Environmental Deception? (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200659)

Well, a couple of litres of transformer oil that was recycled as food oil managed to bring down Belgium's food production chain, hurting the economy (Ouch. Don't tell Bush's ex-business partner Osama). So dioxins can be a pain.

Red Phosphorus Components Never Die (1)

xyote (598794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200438)

They just show up somewhere else in the supply chain. Thanks to the grey market this stuff will be around for years.

Motivations (4, Insightful)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200593)

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.

Red Phosphorous ? (1)

supertsaar (540181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200597)

They should have used Red Mercury ! [tripod.com]

New material (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#8200655)

Now they say they'll be replacing the red phosphorus with red kryptonite. Just who's behind this, anyway?
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