Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Asian Pollution Causing Computer Failures

Here's how bad the air pollution is in some Chinese and Indian cities: it can occasionally corrode computer circuitry, causing them to fail:
Intel engineers in Oregon are now discovering that rotten air is also taking a toll on electronics in China and India, with sulfur corroding the copper circuitry that provides neural networks for PCs and servers and wrecking the motherboards that run whole systems.

“We got the board and it was pretty obvious. You open the chassis up and you see blackish material on every type of surface,” said Anil Kurella, the Hillsboro material scientist who’s leading Intel’s research effort.
Intel has been looking at the problem for a year, and investigating using some material other than copper for circuitry, but hasn't found an affordable solution yet.

I suppose the problem is self-limiting: at some pollution level no computer can operate, at which point the large power plants that require them can no longer exist, solving the problem by way by self-strangulation. Which sounds like a John Brunner novel.

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