Santa Clara - Intel today announced it will begin eliminating approximately 95 percent of the lead used in its processors and chipsets starting later this year. The company is taking these in order to make it more environmentally friendly.
The company said, it will begin shipping the lead-free technology with select microprocessors and chipsets in Q3, 2004, and embedded IA processors in Q2, 2004. The company shipped its first lead-free memory chips last year.
Additional products will be transitioned as manufacturers become able to handle them. The new packages use lead-free solder balls, about the size of salt crystals, and represent the majority of lead used in Intel microprocessor packaging. For some time, Intel will still use a "tiny" amount of lead inside the processor packaging to connect the silicon core to the package.
"Intel shipped millions of lead-free Flash Memory components in 2003. Today's announcement is the next major step on the road to a lead-free product line for Intel's high volume CPU and chipset product lines," said Nasser Grayeli, Intel vice president and director of assembly technology development, Technology and Manufacturing Group. "Our goal has been to develop a total solution that addresses the needs and concerns of our customers and suppliers, from the package materials to motherboard manufacturing."
Lead has been used in electronics for more than one hundred years because of its electrical and mechanical properties. It has been a scientific and technical challenge for industry researchers to develop new materials that meet the performance and reliability requirements for the different ways lead is used in components, products, and assembly processes.
At the same time, various national bodies around the world have been working to reduce or eliminate lead and therefore the danger it represents to the environment and general health.