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Intel To Make A Greener Microprocessor

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the blooming-silicon dept.

Intel 229

crem_d_genes writes "According to the San Jose Mercury News, Intel is planning microprocessors that have a reduced amount of lead in them (reportedly 95% lower). It's about time a company started this - good job - and let's hope other tech companies take the hint. While many places in the US have banned the disposal of computer parts, there have been unintended consequences of the eco-friendly laws. Many 'recycled' computers currently get shipped overseas where parts eventually make their ways into the hands of workers who usually 'burn' the parts to get rid of plastic and recover small amounts of valuable metals. In the process they are exposed to the toxic compounds that are released. In other cases, lead makes its way into drinking water."

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229 comments

So, wait... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801158)

Superman will now be able to see what's going on inside my CPU?

Haha, just kidding, I own an AMD.

Reduced lead? (5, Insightful)

mkaiser (20342) | about 10 years ago | (#8801160)

Excellent idea.
Next step: reduce power consumption.

Re:Reduced lead? (4, Insightful)

Specialist2k (560094) | about 10 years ago | (#8801231)

Next step: reduce power consumption

This is definitely a necessity as the major ecological impact of modern consumer and IT products occurs during the utilization phase and not during the production or disposal phase.

Banias and Dothan (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | about 10 years ago | (#8801285)

Read the title for your reduced power consumption chips, which should be hitting the desktop within a few months or so. Banias is just wiping the floors with any competitors battery-life and speed wise, and their greatest competitor is actually themselves; those god awful Celeron notebooks with 30 minute battery lifes. But what's cheap usually outsells what's new.

I fully believe that Pentium V (Pentium 5, whichever they choose to call it), will be Dothan, introducing to the desktop for the first time a power-saving logic. Not only does this make sense for quieter, smaller computing (two of the biggest buzzfactors on the market right now; those micro cases and motherboards are selling like wildfire), it makes for cheaper, faster computing. I believe that the cluncky Pentium 4M will be dropped altogether, and the Pentium 4 technology (Tejas, the last NetBurst Archetecture chip I know of) will be integrated into the Xeon line to run head on verses the AMD64 chips (hince, the reason they're adding in the x86-64 extensions to that processor).

Long Live P6

Re:Banias and Dothan (4, Insightful)

sfe_software (220870) | about 10 years ago | (#8801364)

I think power consumption has always been a large factor. You can't increase switching speed and transistor count without either utilizing a LOT more power, or making the process more efficient.

Now granted, the "need for speed" in recent years has caused the net effect to be higher power consumption, but if consumption were anywhere near the level of older processors, but with the transistor count and switching speed of current processors -- we'd need some very serious heat dissipation.

Right now, speeds are fast enough that raw clock speed isn't as much of a concern for consumers any more. Even I don't feel the need to upgrade at this point, as the gains would be minimal. Any machine you buy new today will be more than sufficiently fast for what most users do, and most of them will play current and near-future games with ease.

So the push is now back to power consumption, just like when all the "Enegery Star Compliant" stuff first started appearing. Notice that most PC companies are making much quiter PCs, giving them smaller and more stylish designs, etc -- rather than having the fastest available CPU, etc. Lower power consumption falls inline with this, especially with making PCs quieter (less power means less required cooling, smaller power supplies, and ultimately smaller and quieter PCs).

It's all a matter of what's going to sell at a given moment. If we required more CPU speed, power consumption be damned. While we don't really need more speed, focus can go to power consumption and efficiency.

Re:Reduced lead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801315)

How about the environmentalists who are pressuring Intel to change processor design focus on the big issues of lead use rather than the couple of grams or milligrams in the microprocessor. For example, how much lead is in the monitor glass? Over a kilogram probably. Or how much is released in mining or burning coal? Or used in radiation shielding in nuclear plants ;) Surely they have a priority list rather than a shotgun (another lead user) approach.

Greener Chips? (0, Offtopic)

FS1 (636716) | about 10 years ago | (#8801165)

Hmm.. It seems Intel wants to bolster their image as of late. I guess AMD has them shaking in their boots.

Re:Greener Chips? (1, Interesting)

DeathPenguin (449875) | about 10 years ago | (#8801232)

Yeah, it would be like Hummer promoting SUVs that have very little lead, but still get 8MPG.

Re:Greener Chips? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801398)

How the shit - fuck is this 2 interesting. ?
You lot must mod your own buddies. Do you have a pretend you're my friend arrangement ?

Retards.

Re:Greener Chips? (1)

MrIrwin (761231) | about 10 years ago | (#8801431)

There are **other** initiatives that promote the reduction of power consumption in PC's. Note that the average consumption of a CPU in a typically used desktop PC can be quite low, how low depends more on the OS than the chip design.

Re:Greener Chips? (2, Informative)

sotonboy (753502) | about 10 years ago | (#8801233)

I suspect this has more to do with complying with the law than a desire to become more green. EU law requires Pb use to be reduced imminently. If they really wanted to become more green then power consumption would be a more profitable place to start. As would reducing the evil chemicals (and power) used in manufacture.

Re:Greener Chips? (5, Insightful)

joe_bruin (266648) | about 10 years ago | (#8801257)

actually, they are required to do this if they intend to keep selling chips in europe and japan. a recent group of laws in the EU (or is it some individual EU countries, i'm not sure) and Japan require that consumer electronics be nearly lead-free, both in the final product and in the manufacturing process. this includes PCB's and integrated circuits. most manufacturing operations, and any electronics makers that want to do business outside of north america, have been transitioning to lead-free products recently.

intel is meeting its upcoming legal requirements. the real win here (for intel), is turning something they are legally obligated to do into an "environmentally friendly" pr victory. the news media seems to be eating it up.

Re:Greener Chips? (1)

Beeswarm (693535) | about 10 years ago | (#8801415)

Have you ever seen this warning?

This product is known by the state of California to contain lead. Wash hands after using.

This warning was printed on the front of the box my mouse came in. It isn't just the Europeans.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801166)

hehe

question (5, Interesting)

weekendwarrior1980 (768311) | about 10 years ago | (#8801169)

Why does x86 processors consume so much power? What is it about other processors like powerpc and transmeta that makes it more energy friendly?

Re:question (5, Informative)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 10 years ago | (#8801193)

Why does x86 processors consume so much power?

All don't. It's a marchitecture thing, Intel wanted high frequencies no matter what. As a result we have processors which do less work per clock cycle, huge pipelines and high power consumption.

All x86 processors don't have this issue. Via's C3 is miles away from Intel's Pentium 4. AMD is also somewhat better than Intel, and Intel's own Banias (Pentium M) is also rather low power.

The problem is, Intel's been brainwashing the public that YOU WANT A COMPUTER WITH MANY MANY GIGAHERTZ for so long now that the're more or less stuck with high power consumption until they have time to create a whole new architecture.

Re:question (5, Informative)

krosk (690269) | about 10 years ago | (#8801224)

The problem is, Intel's been brainwashing the public that YOU WANT A COMPUTER WITH MANY MANY GIGAHERTZ for so long now that the're more or less stuck with high power consumption until they have time to create a whole new architecture.

Actually, intel is moving away from measuring chip speed by GHZ. Wired just had this article [wired.com] about it.

Basically, Intel is a couple years behind AMD who is now using numbers like 2300+ to describe chip speed.

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801244)

You must be new here.

Re:question (5, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | about 10 years ago | (#8801251)

AMD may be using numbers like 2300+ to describe the speed, but in the end, when a person goes to their local Walmart, or Dell.com, or whereever they go to buy their next PC, they're only going to look as far as "hmm, 2300+ is bigger than 2200+". They're not even going to know what the actual speed difference is, because they don't care to know, just as long as what they're getting is faster. GHz IMO is at least a little more honest when it comes to Intel Processors because the IPC (instructions per clock) shouldnt change all that much from a 2.0GHz CPU to a 2.2 GHz CPU, whereas the instructions per clock on a 2600+ CPU can be drastically different from that of a 2700+ (in fact, it can be a whole different core). Also true for the Pentium 4's as well. Damn, we just need a standard... someone, anyone, PLEASE!?

Re:question (3, Informative)

MrIrwin (761231) | about 10 years ago | (#8801449)

Benchmarks. In effect AMD's 2300+ like rating is based on independently audited benchmarking which is then normalised to the Intel CPU speed.

IT purchasing is notoriously independent of standards, and it is not just clock speeds. We see jokes such as 500W PC speakers (supplied with a 20VA transformer) and the ubiquitous use of 'X' (4X AGP, 56X CDR).

Standards exist but, apparently, buying a PC is more of an emotial experience than a scientific one!

Re:question (2, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | about 10 years ago | (#8801470)

Sadly, Intel isn't Apple. Intel's never been about marketing their product based on how well it's completed a benchmark; just how fast it can clock matters to most consumers because it's a big, flashy number, and big flashy numbers are quiet distracting.

Apple got it right by using Benchmarks to sell their product, even if the benchmarks are strange and deceptive. Hey, lying, cheating, and stealing are what got Microsoft to the top, everyone's gotta play a little dirty.

And yes, buying a PC should be an emotional experience, as well as a scientific one. PC's, like Cars, are where us humans now spend a great deal of our lives. (nerds/geeks especially). We need to have some level of attachment to the machine we're using just so that it doesn't drive us mad.

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801455)

To be fair, said customer is thinking in terms of the response of the computer, and his/her user experience. To claim that it's just 'must have big number' is ridiculous and demeaning. People know 'the big number' means faster (from first-hand experience. The bigger-number chips historically have been faster).

Anyway. Back to the rant about ignorant regular people...

Re:question (1)

kdart (574) | about 10 years ago | (#8801474)

How about "bogomips"? ;-)

"I got more bogmips than you! "
"Yeah! prove it!"
"watch me 'cat /proc/cpuinfo'!"
"Oooh... duuuude...."

Re:question (0)

tarunthegreat (746088) | about 10 years ago | (#8801283)

Although it's a good thing they're moving away from the More GHz is Better! philosophy, their new branding will be just awful, and cause consumers a LOT of pain.

Hey the 3200 series computers cost $800, how come the 2100 series computers cost $1500?
And then the inevitable: "That's all dandy, but what's the clock speed?". I think they'd be better off keeping things simple:

Category I/Fast/Home-SOHO use
Category II/SuperFast/Medium-Large Business
Category III/!#@$!#@/Industrial Strength
Category IV/Only visible after smoking up...

Okay, maybe I've confirmed that I'm not getting any jobs in marketing, but seriously, they can come up with something better than the esiting proposal...

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801366)

Intel is just preparing for the day when nearly every computer is cheaper that $500 and even the idiots have figured out that Mhz doesn't really matter anymore.

Re:question (4, Insightful)

sfe_software (220870) | about 10 years ago | (#8801388)

Actually, intel is moving away from measuring chip speed by GHZ. Wired just had this article about it.

Basically, Intel is a couple years behind AMD who is now using numbers like 2300+ to describe chip speed.


The difference here is this: AMD's numbers were intended for comparison with a P4; for example, an Athlon 2600+ is supposed to be roughly equal to a P4-2.6 GHz. And to AMD's credit, most benchmarks showed that they were quite generous to Intel.

Intel designed the P4 to do less work per clock, but at a much higher potential clock. Thus even a P-III would out-do a P4 for the same clock frequency. Whether this was a marketing decision or not, I don't know...

Point being, Intel is getting away from clock-speed ratings for different reasons. I personally think that it's because demand has gone down significantly. Computers are today more than fast enough for almost everything the average user wants to do. Even I don't really need a faster machine at this point, and I write software...

So the market isn't going to be driven by faster CPUs. Most of my family won't buy a new PC based solely on that. But if the new machine was smaller, quieter, and more power-efficient, that might be incentive to upgrade (again, even I would probably go for that if it were at least as fast as my current PC).

It's all about market demand. For the last few years, consumers demanded faster CPU speeds; this has changed, and the smarter companies in this industry are changing as well.

Re:question (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 10 years ago | (#8801203)

I'd fathom that Intel would love for their chips to use less power, but they are more concerned w/ the Mhz race. So when they design their latest chips, power/heat are thought about, but aren't given as much concern as Trasmeta may give those issues. Notice how the newest Transmeta chip is only about 1 Ghz. Also notice how long that Intel has been at speeds greater than 1 Ghz (~3 years). So these companies like Transmeta spend a lot more time looking into power/heat issues, and it shows. They seriously lag behind Intel and AMD, but they provide chips to a niche market; small, embedded systems. The chips are plenty powerful for certain tasks, and people can put em damn neare anywhere.

Re:question (1)

weekendwarrior1980 (768311) | about 10 years ago | (#8801302)

So is it just a matter of more transistors = more power? I was thinking more in the lines of shortcoming of the x86 architecture, that makes it structurally inefficient. I am not trashing intel folks here, my prof told me that Intel probably had some of the best engineers in the world working on x86 stuff and the evolution of it has been nothing sort of remarkable.

Re:question (1)

sfe_software (220870) | about 10 years ago | (#8801409)

I'd fathom that Intel would love for their chips to use less power, but they are more concerned w/ the Mhz race...

I agree to an extent, but you have to realize how much thought must go into power consumption when you increase speed and transistor count. To get a higher clock frequency, and to pack more transistors on the CPU, you must lower the power consumption overall quite significantly.

The difference, of course, is that Intel's market is mostly performance machines where power consumption is secondary (IOW, it's not so much Intel that makes this a secondary concern, but the market).

Transmeta's market is all about power consumption; thus, their CPUs are designed to be more efficient, and slower.

AMD is more toward Intel in my opinion, though they've gotten a lot better (remember when the original Athlons were known to have major heat issues?)

To sum it up, I agree with you for the most part, but power consumption is something they all have to deal with quite heavily. That final balance, however, is mostly about what their target market wants.

Re:question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801213)

A large fraction of the transistors in a x86 processor are there allow backward compatibility with all the previous x86's, down to the 8086 processor.

So... (4, Funny)

scrame (767779) | about 10 years ago | (#8801176)

does that mean my processors wont taste like candy anymore? I guess Ill have to go back to eating the paint I chip off my walls.

There not doing it out of the kindness of... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801177)

There not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. Some countries (Japan) are phasing in laws that chips be made lead free. Otherwise, the can't be sold there. A Pb-free chip only cost 1-3 dollars more than otherwise in my experience... (consumer electronics ASICs)

They're (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801199)

They're, contraction of they are.

Re:They're (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801421)

If you used text-to-speech software you'd never know that the poster writes like a third grader. :)

Seriously, is using the right word so damn hard? Or should we forget all this written English nonsense and just post links to mp3s of us saying our comments, since nobody can seem to remember the definitions of the dozen or so commonly used words that sound or are spelled similarly? It's not like learning that "their" and "they're" (or "lose" and "loose, or "your" and "you're", or "to" and "too", etc...) are two completely different words is that hard... You probably spent more effort installing whatever OS you're running than it'd take to learn this little bit of grammar that makes it a hell of a lot easier to understand what you're trying to say.

Re:There not doing it out of the kindness of... (1)

reub2000 (705806) | about 10 years ago | (#8801294)

I wish these countrys would consider the impact this could have on developing technology. I'm not sure how much lead a cpu has, but 1 square centimeter can't contain that much lead.

Re:There not doing it out of the kindness of... (1)

Propagandhi (570791) | about 10 years ago | (#8801390)

As previously stated the cost increase will be fairly insignificant (otherwise Intel wouldn't be doing it).

And as for the amount of lead in a CPU being too little to do any serious damage I'll have you know that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water with more than 15 parts per billion of lead poses potential health risks. So (let's see if I can divide correctly) 0.000000015% is a health risk. Obviously even if the amount of lead is in the grams or milligrams range it's enough for just 1 cpu to cause serious drinking water risks.

Re:There not doing it out of the kindness of... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801360)

It will be forbidden in the EU, I think, in a year or two.

Re:There not doing it out of the kindness of... (1)

sfe_software (220870) | about 10 years ago | (#8801420)

A Pb-free chip only cost 1-3 dollars more than otherwise in my experience... (consumer electronics ASICs)

I believe your experience is quite different than designing billion-transistor, ultra-high-clock chips, though. When they make a major structural change (such as material type or die size), it affects all aspects of the process.

I'm not an engineer, so I don't know how much of an impact this particular change makes, and I don't know if it will increase the ultimate cost at all (who knows - material cost might just go down). I just think that throwing in a new rule (relating to the particular materials used) into the process at such a potentially deep level would cause a lot of changes to be made (ultimately the added cost may be mostly R&D recoup)...

Green friendly? (3, Insightful)

DeathPenguin (449875) | about 10 years ago | (#8801182)

Uhh, is the editor talking about the same company that requires 103W for the latest and greatest processor they have to offer?

Re:Green friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801210)

Ssshhhhh..... don't bring any extra relavent facts into this. We all know that reducing lead is helpful for the environment, and therefore outweighs anything they changed that might hurt the environment. You aren't trying to use logic in the domain of public opinion are you?!?!

Re:Green friendly? (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | about 10 years ago | (#8801234)

Okay, I thought I'd sit back and moderate on this one, but I'm already tired of reading the garbage.

Ever wonder why Intel's not been cranking out Prescott cored processors that run even faster/hotter? Is it because they couldn't just bolt a jet engine and a copper block to the thing and ship it? No. It's because they're shifting their attention (once again).

AMD fanboys listen up: Yeah, you guys are winning the strongarm race right now. You've got the faster middle-class processor (upper end desktop/lower- to medium-end server) and Intel knows this quite well. They could scale Prescott very quickly up, but so would come heat, and therefore energy prices.

Now, lets look at other moves Intel's made lately. They've announced they're going to a PR-rating for selling processors. What sense does this make if they're just going to ramp up their processors even faster clockwise? Why do they need to compare anything except clocks? Well, because AMD is wiping the floor with them, that's why.

90nm technology has also been undergoing perfection with Prescott, meaning lower voltages, higher yields, less wasted silicion on the wafer.

Both of these things bring us to the sucecssor to Banias, Dothan. Extremely large cache, 90nm technology, extremely fast CPU. Not only will this be one of the most (energy effecient/clock effecient) chips ever made, it most likely will be the next desktop processor. But, here's the kicker, for them to be able to do this, they need to take a short pause from ramping up their current technology's speed, and moving Dothan over to a bigger mass production line. This is why we find Intel pretty silent right now, and most likely the same with AMD (anticipation; AMD's a very reactionary company).

So, I'm very sure that this is one of the top priorities sitting on the desks of Intel Engineers, I applaud them for taking every step towards a cleaner environment while making my newest tech gadgets.

Re:Green friendly? (3, Insightful)

Yokaze (70883) | about 10 years ago | (#8801322)

> 90nm technology has also been undergoing perfection with Prescott, meaning lower voltages, higher yields, less wasted silicion on the wafer.

Not to mention increasing the higher leak current, the possibility to increase the clockrate to 5GHz, and higher power consumption. Oh, the 5GHz was an estimate of Intel. It is their current target for the end of the year. So, no Dothan on the desktop.

The 3.2GHz Prescott consumes even a fair amount more energy than its 3.2Ghz predecessor.

> Ever wonder why Intel's not been cranking out Prescott cored processors that run even faster/hotter? Is it because they couldn't just bolt a jet engine and a copper block to the thing and ship it? No.

No, it is because the mainboards and psu can't deliver the 100A those devices would require. And it is quite a problem to dissipate the heat of such a thing. Remember the new mainboard-layout [slashdot.org] which shoud cope with that thing? Also an idea of Intel.

> Why do they need to compare anything except clocks? Well, because AMD is wiping the floor with them, that's why.

Quite the contrary. AMD has introduced the X+ rating for that reason. The problem is totally self-made. They've developed a design which has a better performance (Banias/Dothan...) at even lower clock speed. Now they have a problem to place that chip against its own products.

Re:Green friendly? (1)

ciroknight (601098) | about 10 years ago | (#8801373)

Not to mention increasing the higher leak current, the possibility to increase the clockrate to 5GHz, and higher power consumption. Oh, the 5GHz was an estimate of Intel. It is their current target for the end of the year. So, no Dothan on the desktop.
5GHz may be their target, and they may hit/miss it with Prescott, but the fact is, what Prescott is for, has changed. They know as well as we do that this is a totally unacceptable chip for the desktop (except for the extreme high end, gamers, case modders), and likewise, they've made a motherboard format for those communities (Pico and Micro BTX). Prescott will most likely be dismissed internally as a mistake, passed into the Xeon line, where Tejas will pick up later. So, they're still hitting 5GHz, but it's a big whoop, as their desktop processor Dothon will be hitting 6000+ (and only running roughly 3.6Ghz, if my predictions on the scalability of Banias and Dothan hold out) The 3.2GHz Prescott consumes even a fair amount more energy than its 3.2Ghz predecessor.
If I were Intel, I'd (falsely) argue that the power it uses extra makes it a more reliable chip for a server, and therefore should be there. Companies are going to hate that it's a thermal hogg, but they'll buy because it's Intel, and they've got the best reputation. No, it is because the mainboards and psu can't deliver the 100A those devices would require. And it is quite a problem to dissipate the heat of such a thing. Remember the new mainboard-layout which shoud cope with that thing? Also an idea of Intel.
In fact, I believe they not only could, but are, delivering more than enough power, although your old 200 Watt would have to say goodnight. Most PC's built by Dell ship with a proprietary atx-like PSU running a measly 220 Watts or so, on the P4 line none-the-less. The power subsystem's there, but using it is more of a risk than anyone wants to take, no?

Re:Green friendly? (4, Interesting)

sfe_software (220870) | about 10 years ago | (#8801444)

Quite the contrary. AMD has introduced the X+ rating for that reason. The problem is totally self-made. They've developed a design which has a better performance (Banias/Dothan...) at even lower clock speed. Now they have a problem to place that chip against its own products.

To clarify (and make sure I'm understanding correctly), Intel's "more MHz/GHz is better" marketing approach is presenting a problem to even themselves, much like it did for AMD a couple of years ago. Now that Intel is making more effecient (work done per-clock) processors, like AMD has been doing, simply comparing MHz among even just Intel processors is no longer a good performance measure, and might even make their new line appear slower (again, when comparing only clock-speed numbers).

It sounds like they're taking a step back from the P4 design, which were slower clock for clock than even their older (PIII) processors, but capable of higher clock speeds; so at the time the MHz myth worked to their advantage, where now it is no longer to their advantage.

That, and the market (in my opinion) isn't as speed-hungry as it was just a year ago. A quieter, smaller, more energy-efficient PC design is more likely to make the average user upgrade than a faster, beefier PC. Computers are "fast enough" for most people's needs (most of the time even for myself, a programmer and FPS game player).

Re:Green friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801338)

Intel are not moving to a PR rating.

They are giving their processors model numbers. There's quite a big difference.
The model number is not necesarily related in any way to performance. As such they will still be publishing the clock speed along with the model number.

Re:Green friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801374)

The point you neglected is that Intel is much more focused on cost that AMD -- they may be slower and kludgier, but if a Pentium costs half as much to manufacture as an Athlon, Intel will be rolling in the dough.

Can't dispose of computer parts? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801191)

many places in the US have banned the disposal of computer parts

What are we supposed to do with our old computers, a beowulf cluster?

Re:Can't dispose of computer parts? (1)

corporatewhore (308338) | about 10 years ago | (#8801230)

well, its hard to justify just throwing them away when you take into account the real cost of the machine (open pit copper mines, etc) and what exactly is involved in these beasts. How about a clearinghouse of some sort, I'll take anyone's old 486 or better boxens in exchange for free bandwidth for the 10^nth supernode ?

seriously - the third world would love a supply of last year's machines and some tech support to get up on the curve...

Re:Can't dispose of computer parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801248)

Your forgetting two things:
- some "old 486" boxens are BROKEN, they won't run
- working old boxens have abysmal MIPS/watt ratios

Re:Can't dispose of computer parts? (0)

corporatewhore (308338) | about 10 years ago | (#8801263)

make 2 working ones out of a those dead dogs stacked in the closet...hey i'm not offering a solution, just a suggestion...set the rest on fire and push them out in the road ?

Don't dispose computer, just install the right SW (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801250)

"Hardware is only as old as the SW it runs"
You can and should make "old" PCs new again with projects like RULE [rule-project.org] (temporarily on idle, will come back for Fedora Core 2)

Reducing waste (3, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | about 10 years ago | (#8801197)

I'm wondering what would happen if all manufacturers of electronic equipment were required to provide a 5-year warranty on all their products. Anyone think it would reduce the amount of cheap electronic stuff that ends up in the garbage after a week and contributes to pollution?

Anybody know how this is done? (4, Insightful)

benchbri (764527) | about 10 years ago | (#8801205)

Quote from the article:

"The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker, the world's biggest, said it is working with the rest of the industry to remove the remaining amount of lead that's needed to connect the processor's core with its packaging."

I read this and think solder. Anyone know what else they would use?

/uses lead as a paperweight

Re:Anybody know how this is done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801220)

Would you expect anything more (less?) from intel?

Re:Anybody know how this is done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801271)

Tin? Most solder is already partially (40%, IIRC) tin. The only difficulty with using 100% tin solder that I can think of might be a higher melting point. I have no idea what the melting point of tin is though; I'm just assuming it's higher than lead.

Re:Anybody know how this is done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801352)

Not the only reason, and hardly the most important one. The real reason is that any tin/lead allow other than 63/37 will exhibit a plastic state when cooling. What this means is that if you are a professional electronic technician, your job becomes a little more difficult because if you aren't really careful your solder job will have cracks in it. This isn't a problem for 63/37 since when the solder cools it goes directly from liquid to solid. So, even though it isn't really harder to make 63/37 solder than 60/40, the cost of is about 2-fold higher.

Re:Anybody know how this is done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801471)

Interesting. Is this a bigger problem for smaller soldering jobs, like surface mount components? The only soldering I've done is through-hole and wires (hobby stuff, kits and broken battery cables mostly), and I haven't really had any trouble with cracking using 60/40.

Offtopic whining: 40% tin? What was I thinking? I've got a spool of solder on my desk that clearly says 60% Sn! Well, I got the 40% part right at least...

Re:Anybody know how this is done? (1, Funny)

ColaMan (37550) | about 10 years ago | (#8801432)

er, lead-free solder?

Maybe some alloy with cadmium could replace it ;-)

hype (4, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 10 years ago | (#8801209)

If you think that even a 95% decrease in the lead in the microprocessor would have as much as 0.1% impact on the amount of lead in a desktop computer, think again! The lead in the solder on the boards and in the power supply is a far greater factor than the very small amount of lead in a CPU. Sure, you can say "any decrease is an improvement", and maybe it even really is (that depends an awful lot on what the lead is replaced with though), but don't let let yourself be fooled by someone pointing at the CPU and calling attention to it while the Intel chip is not the real problem.

Re:hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801288)

From the article: A typical computer processor and monitor contain five to eight pounds of lead

That sounds like a really heavy processor.

They should consider reducing the power consumption of the power LED as well, because a typical computer power LED and mainboard consume... well, a lot of power ;-)

a new Viet Nam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801441)


It's a quagmire.

Reservists are being killed. Rumfeld wants to keep the troops that are there now even longer.

SUPPORT THE TROOPS! Toss out Bush - bring them HOME.

(Policticians love to say that a comparison with Viet Nam is "dangerous". Yes, it is - for the ones that sent us into Iraq.)

Alternative heating. (2, Funny)

AndyFewt (694753) | about 10 years ago | (#8801215)

With the amount of heat the chips give off, you can keep entire rooms warm. My p4 3.2ghz keeps my office warm when its cold. I also have a 1.2ghz p4 sitting next to it but that doesnt give off much heat. Just a thought.

Re:Alternative heating. (1, Funny)

tarunthegreat (746088) | about 10 years ago | (#8801326)

So basically what you're trying to say is that by creating faster, power-hungry processors, Intel is scoping out new markets that can really use that 'power'(like Siberia..)...while at the same time working for the benefit of mankind, by reducing lead and keeping us warm.... This will be a problem for Bangalore. The temp over there is already on the higher side, it's mostly summer all yr round...

How much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801216)

95% lower... Is there really a lot of lead in microprocessors, or is it just marketing?

Re:How much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801236)

Good question.

As far as we know, maybe Intel has been artifically adding 20 atoms of lead to their otherwise lead-free processors, planning ahead for a nice "95% reduction" PR move in 2004, and a "now totally lead-free" PR move in 2008.

How much lead is present in a microprocessor? (5, Insightful)

unixwin (569813) | about 10 years ago | (#8801223)

Question:
Intel to Reduce Chips' Lead Content ?

Answer:
For environmental reasons, Intel Corp. plans to reduce the amount of lead in its microprocessors and chip sets by 95 percent starting this year.

Real Answer:
A European Union directive requires manufacturers to ban the use of six specified hazardous substances, including lead, after July 2006

My question:
So how much of lead is there actually in a microprocessor/flash? 95% reduction is great, but without an actual number a comparison is pointless.

Re:How much lead is present in a microprocessor? (4, Informative)

mhifoe (681645) | about 10 years ago | (#8801321)

The Register [theregister.co.uk] has an article [theregister.co.uk] with more info.
A flip-chip package currently contains 0.4 grams of lead. A tiny amount compared to that in the solder in a motherboard, let alone a monitor.

Possible Solution to Terrorism? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801238)

In the process they are exposed to the toxic compounds that are released. In other cases, lead makes its way into drinking water.

Perhaps the older parts could be given (or sold!) to any number of Islamic countries that foster a "idiots-with-guns" mentality. Eventually... no more terrorists.!

where's the 8 lbs of lead?? (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 10 years ago | (#8801253)

on the site [state.me.us] linked to in the article they claim "A typical computer processor and monitor contain five to eight pounds of lead..."

Now I've never cracked open a monitor so I don't know if they really contain 8 lbs of lead, but where is all this lead in a PC? The entire motherboard can't weigh more than a pound or two so that's not it. The case? No, that's sheet metal. Is it in the hard drive? Average mid-tower PC probably doesn't weigh much more than 8 lbs total so I can't imagine where all this lead is at.

Also monitors are rarely thrown out. I've gone through about half a dozen PCs but kept the same monitor. They're just too freaking useful, even old 14" monitors are great for a second PC and still easily sell on eBay. Are these broken monitors people are tossing out?

Re:where's the 8 lbs of lead?? (4, Informative)

JKR (198165) | about 10 years ago | (#8801268)

In the monitor glass; the alternative is not having children ;-)


Seriously, look at the bigger monitor tubes (especially in the EU); they have a radio-dosage sticker certifying the level of beta radiation emitted, usually at the preset acceleration voltage.


Jon.

Re:where's the 8 lbs of lead?? (5, Informative)

mhifoe (681645) | about 10 years ago | (#8801275)

All the lead is in the monitor glass [howstuffworks.com].
The amount of lead in a base unit is limited to solder and tiny amounts within the ICs.

Bravo! (1, Interesting)

kdachev (471319) | about 10 years ago | (#8801258)


Thumbs up, Intel!

Lesser power consumption, better optimizing compilers, new technology in place of the older x86 and creating more jobs are still in your list... don't forget it! :)

I myself have doubts they are doing this only because of environmental reasons..., but nevertheless it is a step in the right direction.

What a Load of Twaddle (5, Insightful)

nukenerd (172703) | about 10 years ago | (#8801284)

Ist This is Intel, so we are talking only about the processor and other chips, not the whole machine? Vast majority of lead is soldering to the motherboard and other printed circuits - outside Intel's control.

2nd You won't stop 3rd world countries trying to kill themselves. A colleague of mine once worked for a crane company who sold to India, among other places. He went out there to check the new installation of a new crane once and found they had removed all the hand rails around ladders and platforms etc and sold them for scrap! You cannot impose western standards on these places.

3rd Not just 3rd world countries. I work as a safety engineer and anyone, even supposedly "sensible" workers within my own industry (they have to pass various aptitude tests here), have limitless imagination in devising new ways to try to kill themselves. Only constant monitoring and supervision stops them from doing so. We can only leave 3rd world countries to regulate themselves.

4th Sounds like a publicity gesture by Intel to me. "Lead" is one of those trigger words which switches people into self-righteous mode. These gestures always seem to work - even among people of above average knowledge and intelligence. Just watch the posters here for example.

Now, where's that asbestos suit.

Re:What a Load of Twaddle (1, Insightful)

tarunthegreat (746088) | about 10 years ago | (#8801329)

You won't stop 3rd world countries trying to kill themselves

U also won't stop first-world countries from trying to kill 3rd-world countries either.

Watch out for unwanted side-effects (2, Insightful)

pe1chl (90186) | about 10 years ago | (#8801292)

There always is a risk that first generations of such environmentally-friendly products have some kind of malfunction, and need to be returned and replaced. This has happened in several cases, including in the semiconductor industry.
Probably the dump of failed environmentally-friendly but useless products damages the environment more than the originally replaced product.

I would wait for the second generation of such a processor before buying it myself or recommending to buy a lot of them at work. For me, the amount of lead that could be in a single processor and could be saved in the next, is not worth the risk of having it fail.

Publicity Stunt? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801296)

Intel probably has good intentions on their move to reduce lead use in CPUs, but how much lead can there be in your average modern CPU? A few grams or less?

How many dead computers does it take to have the same enviromental impact of a discarded transformer?

Anonymous Joe

Lead is the least of our worries (5, Interesting)

pdxdada (684092) | about 10 years ago | (#8801306)

It really is. On many levels modern chip production is horrendously bad for the environment. It's a little known fact but pure silicon doesn't exist naturally on earth, it's a multistep process with some really nasty chemicals to produce it. Lithography is again a multistep process with some truly nasty chemical waste including some strong acids. The machines used to "dope" silicon to produce p/n junctions are often sold off cheep to hobbiests because of the large costs associated with cleaning and recycling them. If you find one don't take it, often they explode if opened. Then let's not forget that the next gen P4 is slotted to run, at what, 150 watts?

Oh, but wait, atleast now there'll be a quarter gram less lead in my computer.

Most people have all the computing power they need. It's time more people worry less about clock speed and more about their electric bills and what happens to all those chemicals after Intel's done with them. Cheers.

It's just PR (4, Interesting)

RockyMountain (12635) | about 10 years ago | (#8801308)

The announcement is just PR!

I'm not denying that the lead reduction is real. It is real.

But this isn't anything unique to Intel, and it isn't done out of the goodness of their green little hearts.

Every IC manufacturer, in fact practically every manufacturer of anything electronic, is already investigating lead reduction or elimination at some level or other. Not all are making a public hoopla about it, though.

Lead free solder requires the development of new alloys and new processes. The changeover isn't trivial, but some promissing candidates exist. Typically they have very high tin content, plus some mix of Silver, Copper, and Antimony.

There are several reasons for this trend: Regulatory changes (pending in the US, and I think already passed in Europe?), Liability/Insurance cost (employee lawsuits), and waste treatment cost, including waste water.

My opinion: I don't beleive lead in electronics will ever be totally eliminated, nor outright outlawed. I'm no solder/process expert, but those I know tell me that leadless soldering presents many challenges. More likely in my opinion, regulations will take the form of taxes and fees on lead content, driving manufacturers to use it only where no good alternative exists.

Re:It's just PR (2, Informative)

mhifoe (681645) | about 10 years ago | (#8801424)

The directive [ul-europe.com] comes into force in Europe in 2006.

The main problem relates to the higher temperatures needed to melt lead free solder. These higher temperatures can stress components and are particuarly worrying in products that have to last 20 years.

Pb Free - Not just Intel (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801313)

I suspect this is related to the EU directive.

I work for a European Semiconductor company, and have some involvement in our drive to be lead free, so i know a little about this.

Lead is used in the lead frame of the chip, as the coating to make it solderable, and also in some BGA packages as the balls. Pb is not used in the actual chip manufacture.

There are alternatives to Pb, but normally they require higher temperatures for soldering, which have an impact on the package thermal characteristics and material, which in turn may have some influence on the performance of the chip itself, so these changes have to be handled carefully.

At the moment the US does not have a deadline for phasing out Pb (I think they refused to sign up?) but the EU does, so if Intel wants to sell chips in the EU, or Japan, they have to provide Pb free alternatives.

One person mentioned that this is a small percentage compared to the rest of the Pb in a PC - which comes from the solder mainly, but what you should remember is that the EU directive applies to ALL Pb products, and therefore all circuit boards will be Pb free too.

It's only in the US that you might get a Pb free chip, with no reduction in the ammount of Pb in the rest of the machine.

This is a lot of work for a lot of people. It's not a small change, and all companies have to do this, not just Intel.

Chemophobes - Metalic lead not a danger (2, Funny)

xtronics (259660) | about 10 years ago | (#8801317)

Lets see - the lead ore is in a toxic lead oxide form - smelted into metallic lead (much safer) - Now it is baned from burying it again??

Too many idiots in this country that think they know science when they are really just confused by some activists statistics.

The "*ell" with it - I'm going up stairs to sleep with my wife - and I will completely ignore the fact that the potassium in her body exposes me to some extra radiation. - Good night!

Re:Chemophobes - Metalic lead not a danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801389)

Who cares what happens when it gets dumped into a landfill -- I'm worried about what happens to the lead when somebody dumps the chip into an incinerator. I DON'T want to be breathing the lead from my chips.

aQazaQa

No deposit No return (1)

zakezuke (229119) | about 10 years ago | (#8801324)

In some places, a deposit is required for disposable goods, usually things like soda / water / beer bottles / cans / jugs / whatever what have you. There was a time when it was the norm to provide reuseable containers made out of glass, which gets reused but this is no long the fasion. Simply put, it's more cost effective let the consumer junk that bottle, and not worry about the cost of disposal. This keeps prices down and everyone's happy.

If manufacturers actually took into account the cost of disposal, it would likely raise prices but could have the benifit of actually not making its way into landfills. The design can actually in theory take into account the fact that all materials used be recovered. Unforunatly I can't see this happening anytime soon.

Since 2000 I've gone though the following CPUs
Pentium 166
pentium 200
AMD k6-3 400
Pentium III 500 [motherboard change]
Pentium III 733
AMD athlon 1700xp (motherboard change]

I have found homes for all the the above... but pretty damn soon they will reach end of life and no bugger would want them anymore. Chances are it'll just end up in a landfill at such time.

Eutectic alloys vs pure tin (4, Interesting)

haggar (72771) | about 10 years ago | (#8801327)

Many have already written that the lead is in the glass of the CRT. If I'm not mistaken, lead is added to glass to improve it's clarity.

However, the lead in the soldering alloy is significant, too: the so-called "eutectic" alloy contains 37 to 40 % lead and the rest is tin (Sn).
Eutectic alloys have a lower melting point than any of it's components. That's exactly the reason why lead is added to tin, in soldering alloys.
Another very efficient dopant is silver - it decreases considerably the melting point. Unfortunately, it's expensive.

Tin is basicly innocuous, while lead is toxic. The problem with lead is that it causes a chronic poisoning called saturnism, where your brain suffers considerable damage - in fact, largely unrecoverable.
I should add here that there are historians that think one reason for the fall of the roman empire lies in the use of lead cups for drinking wine. These lead cups were quite popular in the roman army, and it's not inconceivable that this might have decreased the soldier's mental and physical abilities.

The problem with the lead-free soldering technologies is exactly the higher melting temperature of pure tin compared to the eutectic alloys. Reflow and other technologies have to be fine-tuned for higher temperatures, and the risk of damaging some of the components is significantly higher. I, for one, prefere much more to use normal, eutectic alloy for my hobby work.

Re:Eutectic alloys vs pure tin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801412)

Actually, the lead is in the glass of crt's to absorb the xrays that the device produces. There is a reason there is an xray warning inside the chasis, when it comes to tube replacement.

Maybe someone will finally answer my question... (2, Funny)

ChiralSoftware (743411) | about 10 years ago | (#8801383)

I send a lot of things to /dev/null. How do I empty the bit bucket in an environmentally sound way?

--------
WAP hosting [chiralsoftware.net]

Fair trade (-1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#8801391)

Let's hope the foreign workers burning off the lead benefit from their improved wages, and US labor/environmental leadership, enough to stop that poisonous process in their own countries. Americans fought and died to protect us from that kind of expoitation. They will also find it harder to compete with us, when they're not subsidizing their employers' costs with their lives.

Recycling (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801403)

Since we're on the topic of greenery; I have a bunch of junk electronic equipment I need to get rid of and do not want to just throw it in the trash for obvious reasons. Can someone recommend (preferably the SF Bay Area) a place to take this stuff?

Problems with gold (2, Interesting)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | about 10 years ago | (#8801417)

Some twenty years ago, my friend and I we made some about a kilogram of pure gold from computer parts by dirty and costly chemical work, mainly from russian mainframe parts (remember "Minsk" anyone?). One russian card contained 10x more gold than japanese memory card or french connector mainly because of thickness, western parts are practically of no use.

The problem with the pure gold was it was contaminated with about 0.9% of mix of platinum and iridium so it was much harder then normal soft pure gold. It was not usable for local dentist nor for making jewellery.

We did not find any usable process how to separate platinum and/or iridium from the gold, so the only practical purpose of the pure gold was.. a magic stick.

Fuddy-duddy leftie destroying the environment (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8801423)

haha, yeah all you fucking lame politically-correct leftie slashdorks have been destroying the environment with your chronic computer use. fuck you!!

I May switch! (1)

BeCre8iv (563502) | about 10 years ago | (#8801440)

I am very concious of the eco damage caused by my computer habit- not that less PB makes much difference in the light of manufacturing techniques.

Lead is expensiv and if you make chips by the truckload there is significant savings to be made on logistics.

But if by some quirk of fate, Intel actually start to givashit I may actually pay a little more for an Intel.

'burn' (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 10 years ago | (#8801464)

workers who usually 'burn' the parts to get rid of plastic and recover small amounts of valuable metals

I don't know why the submitter/editor put quotes around burn; there is nothing metaphorical about this. The parts are burnt in a fire to get rid of plastic coating from wires, etc, to make separation of copper and other metals easier.

It's happeneing elsewhere too (4, Interesting)

__david__ (45671) | about 10 years ago | (#8801467)

Coincidentally, just this week a Japanese customer of ours asked us to modify our firmware on our embedded device to support a different flash chip because the only one we currently support uses lead. We happily oblidged. So Intel definitely isn't the only company out there trying to be more "green".

-David
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