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Longetivety and long Term Reliability of Today´s Integrated Circuits

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#1
Hi,
the average age of my audio equipment is some 30+ years,
the oldest being a Sony CDP-101, the most recent are a Buffalo DAC
and the Khadas Tone Board.
During those three decades since I bought the Sony and some other players
besides lubricating gear or swapping electrolytics, not much had to be done.
No failures, especially with the integrated circuits.

But I am wondering about current gear:
To my knowledge, currently a simple 78xx / 79xx
voltage regulator, an SA1695 transistor or an NE5532 opamp
(all in production since decades) might still have the same
package as when being introduced. (TO220 / DIP / TO-3)

But because of the evolution / miniaturization of the production process,
-and the smaller packages they are also made for- the density of the
components inside has risen.
So the same amount of heat origins from a smaller spot.
If my assumption is true, I am wondering about longetivety.

Would a currently produced IC last as long as ist original incarnation…?
Does anyone know anything about this or point to some Sources?
All the best,
Herbert
 
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solderdude

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#2
The biggest issue in longevity with current components is the density of parts on a small area and the speeds they operate at.
The complexity of chips (more parts can fail) and because of lower supply voltages the immunity to electrostatic discharges at chip level is worse can lead to higher latent failures when components are not handled appropriately.

The biggest longevity issues are due to software not being supported or outdated and above all non replaceable lithium batteries.
However, the lower costs of these highly integrated devices compensates for this.
We need to 'update' the hardware every few years to keep up.

Like you, I prefer well engineered equipment that can last decades, miniaturized multi purpose electronics alas do not fit in this category.
I don't expect my phone, PC, laptop, tablet, DAP, wireless devices to last as long as I would like.

That's progress in a nutshell... every advantage has a disadvantage.
 

DonH56

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#3
Failure in ICs is a huge subject and I am not sure where to even start. So I won't; IME what kills most consumer components is usually thermal stress (overheating) and/or under-rated passives for the job, particularly electrolytic decoupling capacitors, ESD (often causing latent defects), and stoopid human tricks like forgetting to kill power when pulling out a line-level cable or some such. One of THE biggest mistakes in audio history IMO was making the RCA connector such that the center signal pin makes contact before the outer ground, and thus the ground is removed before the signal when pulling them out. That way you can fry things coming and going, such a feature.

Poor design practices such as placing components too close together, or too close to heat sources (e.g. filter caps near output transistor heatsinks), and using components marginal for the job (e.g. capacitors rated just above the working voltage of the circuit) exacerbates the problem.

I've made ICs that last for decades by design so it is certainly possible.

/rant
 
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#4
I would like to see some proof that ICs last less today than in the past. From my personal experience, this is not the case. Batteries are failing, screens are failing, memories are failing, power components are failing, properly designed ICs are frankly difficult to break.
Dies are smaller, heat less, support higher temperatures and are in packages that have the same dissipation. Why would reliability decrease in the same environment?
 
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#5
I don't expect my phone, PC, laptop, tablet, DAP, wireless devices to last as long as I would like.

That's progress in a nutshell... every advantage has a disadvantage.
Well, my iPhone is from 2011, my Macbook from the same year, both up and running. and they are used every day.
I will listen to some good music on my iPhone4 after writing this, visiting friends nearby.
One reason to keep the Iphone4 is is´s good output stage and DAC, though being 16bit only.
As far as I know the output impedance is the lowest to be found in an IPhone.

The GPU of The Macbook fried twice, design error.
Thanks to a hack it is now running with the main processors GPU, without the hack it would be have rendered useless.
So to say an obsolence Apple was not willing to fix by Firmware. Only the batteries had to be changed.
So hardware can run long if you not want to use Apps and ratherv like to read articles instead of streaming videos or gaming

Are there any statistics or reports on the longetivety of integrated circuits, old ones with lesser dense packing
compared to new ones?
 
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#6
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#7
...there also seem to be severe problems with lead-free solder which seem to not have been resolved yet, and which may reduce durability drastically ...

...and I'm not sure if, at least, the consumer industries' desire to resolve them is that strong, while, on the other side, many people have lost the sense for durability and don't demand it anymore...

https://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/background/

https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/app-notes/index.mvp/id/5250
There were a lot of worries, mainly with durability, when we started with lead free in automotive. These problems have been resolved during development10 years ago. At the end, we didn't see any problem in field with lead free solder.
Tin whiskers are not related to lead free, and are an understood problem that can be avoided with proper design and manufacturing.
 

solderdude

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#8
The problem with malfunctions in highly complex devices is that in most cases the actual problem is never diagnosed.
What most 'repair' shops do is flash software.. if that doesn't help they swap boards and if that does not help they simply bin it and give the customer a replacement.
In the last 5 years we have had to send in 3 phones a couple of times for 'repair'.
But at the same time I have an older phone and an old (low spec) tablet that still works perfectly.
I have had SMPS crap out on me within a year and have others that work flawlessly for over 10 years.
Those with an iphone 3 that still works and where the clock frequency is dialed back and no longer updated won't speak as highly of apple than owners with a still functional iphone 4

What conclusions can be drawn other than that longevity can be a lottery and that in highly integrated and complex electronics it is hard to say exactly why hardware failed and what part it exactly was. It was cheap ... it is simply replaced.
 
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#9
There were a lot of worries, mainly with durability, when we started with lead free in automotive. These problems have been resolved during development10 years ago. At the end, we didn't see any problem in field with lead free solder.
I appreciate your optimism (and, of course, I should have said more broadly 'lead-free' rather than confine it to 'lead-free solder'), in particular if your optimism is based on productive experience with lead-free (which I don't have as an hobbyist who uses leaded solder), and I wish you are/were right (with regard to the durability of my own lead-free devices)...

10 years - is that enough for a final judgement?

The papers I had collected were, indeed, not of the newest date, looked at them again (which was partly hidden: published later but referring to earlier studies).

I found instructions like that:

'The simple NASA policy can therefore be summarized:
Tin-Pb solders are required unless Pb-free
solder alloys are necessary to meet technical
needs such as high (or low) melting points,
material compatibility etc.
Pure tin termination finishes shall be avoided
whenever possible and shall be carefully
mitigated against the risk of whisker growth if
their use is unavoidable.'

DEVELOPING A NASA LEAD-FREE POLICY FOR ELECTRONICS
LESSONS LEARNED by Michael J. Sampson


Maybe you know: does NASA now allow lead-free?

So: Long live our devices!
 
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solderdude

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#10
Tin-Pb solders are required unless Pb-free
solder alloys
are necessary to meet technical
needs such as high (or low) melting points,
material compatibility etc.
When these are NASA rules than they do allow leadfree (Pb-free) solder it seems as it is clearly stated.

Also most available parts these days are pre-tinned with Pb-free solder which bonds well with both lead-free as well as leaded solder.

The PCB manufacturers that I am in contact with all mentioned that the 'lead-free solder problem' is no longer a problem.
In the early days when they were forced to switch to lead-free there were several problems.
For instance the leaded solder and leadfree solder could not be 'mixed' and gave problems after a while.
The current available lead-free solders do not have that drawback any more (so I am told) and haven't found issues myself.
All my reflow and repair is done using still available leaded solder.

I have to admit that now and then, on inspection, I find some whiskers here and there.
Also I find solderjoints that cause problems but only show on visual inspection with a 3D-microscope or after the joint was re-flowed (with added solder)
Also lead-free solder-joints look a bit like poor solder-joints as they aren't as shiny as leaded solder joints.
 

FrantzM

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#11
Well, my iPhone is from 2011, my Macbook from the same year, both up and running. and they are used every day.
I will listen to some good music on my iPhone4 after writing this, visiting friends nearby.
One reason to keep the Iphone4 is is´s good output stage and DAC, though being 16bit only.
As far as I know the output impedance is the lowest to be found in an IPhone.

The GPU of The Macbook fried twice, design error.
Thanks to a hack it is now running with the main processors GPU, without the hack it would be have rendered useless.
So to say an obsolence Apple was not willing to fix by Firmware. Only the batteries had to be changed.
So hardware can run long if you not want to use Apps and ratherv like to read articles instead of streaming videos or gaming

Are there any statistics or reports on the longevity of integrated circuits, old ones with lesser dense packing
compared to new ones?
My experience mimics yours. I have a Thinkpad 600 that is still running after 20 years!! An Original Iphone that is still running. Come to think of it people are not gentle with their smartphone or tablets, yet they work for what I would term "long time" As it stands it smells a bit, of nostalgia .... "Back in the days they made them to last , not anymore" .. Not always true.. these days cars warranty are in the 100,000 miles .. routinely, Cars are computer on wheels, chock full o' ICs...
We need metrics, numbers, stats not anecdotes to get to the bottom of this.
 
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#12
When these are NASA rules than they do allow leadfree (Pb-free) solder it seems as it is clearly stated.
Thanks for your comments, it's always interesting to get insights from practitioners...I've heard about the 'poor'-looking solderjoints, too, also about the difficulty to recognize a cold solder joint by visual inspection. And I heard that mixing leaded and lead-free solder may drastically lower the melting point of the solder etc.

I interpret the above quote differently, though, here's another quote from the same text:

'From the preceding discussion it can be seen that NASA
does not have to adopt Pb-free systems and would be
wise to avoid them as long as possible. It is more
straightforward to avoid the use of Pb-free solder than it
is to avoid pure tin finishes. At this time there is no need
for NASA to accept the use of Pb-free solders except in
special circumstances where the use of specialty solders
has always been permitted.'
 
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restorer-john

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#13
All my reflow and repair is done using still available leaded solder.
Same with me. The temperature differentials however when going from PbFree to 60/40 on hot air SMD rework are painful. They will have to pry 60/40 out of my cold dead hands...

I hate lead free. The entire process is yet another typical EU mandated phenomenally dumb idea. Incidentally, lead solder is still approved for internal implantable medical devices- not lead free...

Electromigration is the elephant in the room as densities increase both in silicon and on boards, along with lead free and smaller solder joints.
 

restorer-john

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#14
Thanks for your comments, I've heard about the 'poor'-looking solderjoints, too, also about the difficulty to recognize a cold solder joint by visual inspection. And I heard that mixing leaded and lead-free solder may drastically lower the melting point of the solder etc
Lead free solder joints are just terrible looking joints. If they look OK at first, they don't stay looking good for long.

The irony of lead free and SMD is that more landfill containing heavy metals is created. Less ability to repair, more energy and waste expended replacing and greater likelihood of groundwater contamination from landfill leaching entering groundwater tables.
 
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#15
My experience mimics yours. I have a Thinkpad 600 that is still running after 20 years!! An Original Iphone that is still running. Come to think of it people are not gentle with their smartphone or tablets, yet they work for what I would term "long time" As it stands it smells a bit, of nostalgia .... "Back in the days they made them to last , not anymore" .. Not always true.. these days cars warranty are in the 100,000 miles .. routinely, Cars are computer on wheels, chock full o' ICs...
We need metrics, numbers, stats not anecdotes to get to the bottom of this.
I like these Thinkpads, too. I had one from 2003 'til 2013 (T30) and now I have a T410 from 2011, it runs, and runs... these are rocksolid machines (which may have certain issues, though), I once saw a vid where they drove a car over one of them...

And I like their 'form follows function' - other producers work, if not with technical obsolescence, so with aesthetical obsolescence - in the first year they look fascinating - and people camp in front of the shops, when they appear - a few years later their design is hopelessly outdated. The Thinkpads remain forever young. And with a slim linux installed they are fast enough. (Thinkpads are generally very linux-friendly.)

Your Thinkpad, btw., is made with leaded solder (the 'good' one)...
 
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restorer-john

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#16
I like these Thinkpads, too. I had one from 2003 'til 2013 (T60/61, I think it was) and now I have a T410 from 2011, it runs, and runs... these are rocksolid
I love my Stinkpads. My favourite I still use, although it is from 2007 (Lenovo) but it's all IBM DNA. Best laptops ever made, the T and R series. Personally, I preferred the R series as they were more modular, more rigid and didn't have that sticky/rubber over the magnesium that the T series has.

Every other laptop, regardless of price or style was measured against Thinkpads.

The Thinkpads remain forever young.
They do, regardless of their age.
 
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#17
All my reflow and repair is done using still available leaded solder.
Few months ago, I had to repair my 'lead-free' computer screen, didn't work anymore, 2 electrolytes in the power supply were 'off' - I removed the lead-free solder with solderwick and did the repair, too, with leaded solder. That worked well. And cost me less than 1 Euro, btw. And I didn't enlarge the mountains of rubbish, as sideeffect...
 
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DonH56

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#18
I worked on a number of government programs for many years, military, NASA, and other. Lead-free solder was shown to be unreliable in the short and long term and its use in high-reliability applications was banned many years ago. There were some other issues that I do not clearly recall. Since that time it has gotten better as materials and procedures have evolved but AFAIK is still not allowed for high-rel applications. That said I have not watched closely the past few years and my current job is not related to gov't R&D.
 

restorer-john

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I worked on a number of government programs for many years, military, NASA, and other.
I bet those Alien spacecraft you got to work on in Area 51 didn't use lead free solder did they Don? ;)
 

DonH56

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#20
No.

Wait, I meant "no comment", of course... :D
 
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