Electronic Design

Getting The Lead Out

Consumer Consumer Consumer electronics contribute a significant portion of the lead found in landfills, potentially contaminating drinking water supplies and having other toxic effects on the environment. Intel will eliminate about 95% of the lead used in its processors and chipsets starting later this year.

Intel will begin shipping its lead-free technology with select microprocessors and chipsets in Q3, and embedded IA processors in Q4. These new packages use lead-free solder balls of about the size of salt crystals, representing most lead in Intel's microprocessor packaging. Instead of a lead-tin solder, the new flip-chip BGA package uses a tin-silver-copper alloy to connect the chip package to the motherboard (see the figure).

About 0.2 g of lead is still required inside the sealed package to attach the silicon core to the package. Intel is investigating solutions. The company has worked with industry consortia and the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances legislation committee to develop a solution for worldwide use. For details, go to www.intel.com.

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