Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Intel finds that Asian pollution makes computers sick, too

Source: Oregon Live

Intel’s engineers first spotted the issue a few years ago, when it noticed an unusual number of customers from China and India returning computers with failed motherboards. Once Intel noticed a trend, the cause was immediately evident.

The basics of the problem are straightforward. Copper is the essential element on an electronic circuit board, an excellent conductor of electricity that serves as a computer’s nervous system, carrying information and instructions.

But copper is also very susceptible to corrosion. And when the copper connections fail, the computer does, too.

“The copper is there to conduct the electricity,” said Tom Marieb, a vice president in Intel’s manufacturing group. “The more we eat away at it the less connectivity is left.”

Intel is intentionally brewing noxious air in a small chamber inside a windowless Hillsboro lab, to study the pollutants’ effects and, hopefully, devise a solution that protects the computers.

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