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More Semiconductor Suppliers Tout Lead-free Chip Packages

As part of a global effort to save the environment, Intel Corp. and National Semiconductor have unveiled plans to become lead-free by the year’s end. While Intel will begin eliminating approximately 95% of the lead from its processors and chipsets later this year, National Semiconductor has announced that it will offer lead-free packages for its complete line of ICs by the year-end. In addition, National will significantly reduce bromine and antimony-based flame retardants to make more environmentally neutral electronic components.

Intel entered this program last year with lead-free memory chips, and is now transitioning to processors and chipsets. Likewise, approximately 90% of National’s portfolio of 15,000 analog and mixed-signal ICs are available in lead-free package types. By the end of 2004, National intends to remove lead from all its chip packages. Lead was formerly used in the plating finish of copper leadframe-based packages. It also was used in the solder balls of array packages, such as Micro SMD, PBGA and FBGA. National will replace the lead in leadframe packages with a matte tin finish, and with a tin-silver-copper alloy in the solder balls. Once this aggressive program is fully implemented, National expects to replace approximately five tons of lead used per year.

“Samsung is currently using about one-half dozen different lead-free ICs from National Semiconductor in its flat panel display (FPD) products, which are sold worldwide,” said Soo Kyung Yoo, vice president Quality Team, Display Device Center, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. “In addition, we have aggressive plans in place to adopt National’s lead-free ICs for use in a wide variety of other Samsung products.”

In 2000, National began an intensive multistep program to reduce and eliminate lead in its semiconductor packages. Today, National has lead reduction goals in place that are substantially more aggressive than those in countries where the company does business. In addition to lead, National is eliminating halogen compounds, such as bromine and antimony, used in flame-retardants, which are used in mold compounds and organic substrates.

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