Monday, July 14, 2008

Nokia urges consumers to recycle old phones

Only 3 percent of people recycle their mobile phones despite the fact that most have old devices lying around at home that they no longer want, according to a global consumer survey released by Nokia. Three out of every four people added that they don't consider recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it is possible to do.

The survey is based on interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. It was conducted to help Nokia find out more about consumers' attitudes and behaviors towards recycling, and inform the company's take-back programs and efforts to increase recycling rates of unused mobile devices.

"It is clear from this survey that when mobile devices finally reach the end of their lives that very few of them are recycled," said Markus Terho, director of environmental affairs, markets, at Nokia. "Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this. Nokia is working hard to make it easier, providing more information and expanding our global take-back programs." He added, "If each of the 3 billion people globally owning mobiles brought back just one unused device we could save 240,000 tons of raw materials and reduce greenhouse gases to the same effect as taking 4 million cars off the road. By working together, small individual actions could add up to make a big difference."

'Unaware' of recycling
Despite the fact that people on average have each owned around five phones, very few are being recycled once they are no longer used. Only 3 percent said they had recycled their old phone. Yet very few old devices, 4 percent, are being thrown into landfill. Instead, the majority, 44 percent, are simply being kept at homes never used. Others are giving their mobiles another life in different ways, one quarter are passing on their old phones to friends or family, and 16 percent of people are selling their used devices particularly in emerging markets.

Globally, 74 percent of consumers said they don't think about recycling their phones, despite the fact that around the same number, 72 percent think recycling makes a difference to the environment. This was consistent across many different countries with 88 percent of people in Indonesia not considering recycling unwanted devices, 84 percent in India, and 78 percent of people in Brazil, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

One of the main reasons why so few people recycle their mobile phones is because they simply don't know that it is possible, revealed the survey. Up to 80 percent of any Nokia device is recyclable and precious materials within it can be reused to help make new products such as kitchen kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metal musical instruments. Globally, half of those surveyed didn't know phones could be recycled like this, with awareness lowest in India at 17 percent and Indonesia at 29 percent, and highest in the U.K. at 80 percent and 66 percent in Finland and Sweden.

Green efforts
"Using the best recycling technology nothing is wasted," noted Terho. "Between 65-80 percent of a Nokia device can be recycled. Plastics that can't be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, and other materials are ground up into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads. In this way nothing has to go to landfill."

Many people interviewed for the survey, even if they were aware that a device could be recycled, did not know how to go about doing this. Two thirds said they did not know how to recycle an unwanted device and 71 percent were unaware of where to do this.

Nokia has collection points for unwanted mobile devices in 85 countries around the world. People can drop off their old devices at Nokia stores and almost 5,000 Nokia Care Centers.

Responding to the survey findings, Nokia is developing a series of campaigns and activities to give people more information on why, how and where to recycle their old and unwanted devices, chargers and mobile accessories. The company is also expanding its global take-back program by adding more collection bins and promoting these in store to raise greater awareness.

More firms endorse Symbian Foundation

The initial board members of the Symbian Foundation have welcomed the continuing support from mobile industry leaders for their plans for the initiative and the evolution of Symbian OS as an open platform for mobile innovation.

Plans for the Symbian Foundation were announced on June 24 with initial board members; AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, NTT Docomo, Samsung Electronics, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone, together with Symbian Ltd. An additional 11 organizations supported the announcement that day and nine more confirmed their endorsement of plans for the Symbian Foundation, including mobile operators 3, América Móvil and TIM; semiconductor manufacturer Marvell; and services and software providers Aplix, EB, EMCC Software, Sasken and TietoEnator.

"We were delighted with the broad support for plans for the Symbian Foundation", said Kai Öistämö, executive VP, devices at Nokia, on behalf of the initial board members. "We believe that this is a significant move for our industry and are pleased that these additional market leaders agree and are giving their support to the initiative."

Sematech: 450mm program is on track

International Sematech is moving full speed ahead with its 450mm programs, but the question is whether the industry can meet its lofty goals in building 450mm fabs by 2012.

On July 9, chipmaking consortium Sematech provided an update on its next-generation 300- and 450mm programs, saying that they are on track and making steady progress.

The consortium is up and running with its "factory integration test bed" facility for the development of 450mm fab tools. Sematech is also testing silicon wafers based on 450mm technology. And the group claims it has made progress on its so-called "Next Generation Factory" (NGF) program, geared to bring lower costs and reduced cycle times in 300mm wafer manufacturing.

Recently, Sematech unveiled two next-generation fab programs: 300mmPrime and the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative's ISMI 450mm effort.

Need for 450mm?
There is widespread support among the fab-tool community for 300mmPrime, which looks to boost the efficiency of existing 300mm fabs, thereby pushing out the need for 450mm plants.

The newer, more controversial ISMI 450mm program, announced last year at Semicon West, calls for some chipmakers to make a more direct transition from 300mm to the larger 450mm wafer size.

Many fab-tool vendors are reluctant to endorse the next-generation wafer size or devise 450mm tools, saying that it is simply too expensive. Many vendors claim that 300mm fabs are suitable for most applications and the real goal for the industry is to improve the productivity of current plants.

"There is still a lot of concern and debate" about 450mm fabs among the equipment makers, said Scott Kramer, VP of manufacturing at International Sematech, but "the tide has shifted over the last 12 months."

A few fab-tool and materials vendors have develop 450mm technologies, but many suppliers have publically slammed Sematech's 450mm program, saying the economics simply don't add up.

However, the mood is somewhat beginning to change, especially when Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd in May reached an agreement on the need for industry collaboration for 450mm wafers starting in 2012. Intel, Samsung and TSMC indicate that the semiconductor industry can improve its return on investment and reduce 450mm research and development costs by applying aligned standards, rationalizing changes from 300mm infrastructure and automation, and working toward a common timeline.

Intel, Samsung and TSMC represent a major chuck of the world's capital equipment buyers. Because those companies are pushing for 450mm fabs, it could jumpstart the development of the next-generation wafer size.

Many believe that 450mm tools will not be ready in the 2012 timeframe. Even Kramer acknowledged that the 2012 timetable for 450mm fabs is "very aggressive."

"Those are risky goals," he said.

300mm vs. 450mm
To jumpstart the 450mm era, Sematech last year announced a plan to devise a "factory integration test bed" facility for the development of 450mm fab tools. The proposed facility would help enable chip-equipment makers to develop the initial fab-automation gear, such as carriers, load ports, modules and other items.

Providing an update on the "test bed," Tom Abell, 450mm program manager at Sematech, said the facility is operational. At present, Sematech has put the "test bed" at the Advanced Technology Development Facility, the consortium's former R&D foundry. Based in Austin, Texas, that facility was recently sold to SVTC Technologies Inc.

The facility is using the first 450mm handlers from Brooks Automation Inc. and carriers from Entegris Inc. The pitch specification for these tools is 10mm. With the fab-automation gear, Sematech has demonstrated a 450mm wafer running at 100,000 cycles, Abell said.

Sematech is also in the process of developing a standard for 450mm silicon wafers. At present, there are five wafer-thickness standards vying for dominance in the arena, each with their own set of "tradeoffs," Kramer said.

Initially, Sematech is exploring 450mm wafers with an overall thickness of 925-micron. Last year, Japan's Nippon Mining & Metals Co. Ltd claimed to have developed the first 450mm polycrystalline silicon wafers. Sematech is testing wafers from Nippon Mining, but the consortium is also talking to other silicon wafer suppliers, Kramer said.

NFG Program
The consortium also claims it has made progress on its 300mm NGF Program, which focuses on global infrastructure for 300mm hardware and software. It includes 300mmPrime and is supported by ISMI's four other programs in continuous improvement, 450mm manufacturing, metrology, and environment, safety and health.

"The 300mm NGF Program offers a wider look at 300mm productivity with a broader set of initiatives—and it works for companies whose business plans don't necessarily include a larger wafer size," said Kramer in a statement last year. "Our priority is to extend productivity improvements to existing 300mm fabs in addition to supporting 'green field' facilities."

The overall goal of the program is to reach a 30 percent reduction in cost per wafer, and a 50 percent reduction in cycle time. Like last year, Sematech said it has not been able to reach those targets.

In new simulation data, the consortium claims it is coming closer to its goals. It has simulated a 30- to 40 percent boost in cycle times and 10 to-15 percent improvements in cost. In other data, it has demonstrated a 60 percent boost in cycle times and a 10 percent improvement in cost.

The bottleneck remains in moving the wafer lots from one tool to another. The goal is to process wafers without any delays, according to Sematech.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

It's final: Nokia concludes Navteq purchase

Nokia has completed its purchase of Navteq, a digital map information provider.

As part of Nokia, Navteq will continue to develop its expertise in the navigation industry, service its customers, and invest in the further development of its industry-leading map data and technology platform. It will continue to build out and expand coverage of countries already included in its database as well as add new pieces of both static and dynamic content.

Powered by Navteq's maps data, Nokia will redefine the Internet and connected experiences by adding context—time, place, people— to Web services optimized for mobility.

"Nokia and Navteq together make a powerful combination, and customers will benefit as the transaction enables Navteq to accelerate its expansion into new regions and introduce innovative new content. This is an industry poised for further growth and Navteq will play a major role in the field," said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, president and CEO, Nokia. "The addition of Navteq comes at the right time for Nokia's business, allowing us to create the leading location platform just as context-aware and location-based Internet services expand rapidly into mobile communications devices."

iPhone mania continues‏

Aside from some very surprising component choices in key parts of the upgraded communications section, as well as some software improvements and some basic design tweaks, the old adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' has clearly shaped the design of Apple Inc.'s iPhone 3G.

"It's incrementalism at play," said David Carey, president of teardown specialist Portelligent. "They learned a bit from their 'Touch' solution and replaced two boards with one."

Instead of trying to reinvent the device, Apple focused on enhancing the user experience and expanding its fan base. It has done this by not only expanding its geographical footprint and speeding up its wireless connection, but also through the iPhone applications development network. Clearly one of the bigger stories behind the 3G launch, the developer program will see Apple providing resources, real-time testing and distribution, to accelerate the delivery of more diverse applications to the consumer.

The success of that program will be determined over the coming months, but for those consumers with an iPhone 3G in hand, there will be little to 'oooh' and 'aaah' about, aside from the 3G data rates, where available.

Surprise design wins
From the outside, the phone looks very much the same, except for a plastic backing and a move away from a recessed headphone jack to a flush connector. It has the same look and feel and the same 2Mpixel camera feature. That said, it does add built-in GPS capability and MobileME application software.

Analysts from Portelligent, as well as TechOnline and Semiconductor Insights, were taken aback by the strength of Infineon's wins in the 3G communications portion, as well as the inclusion of TriQuint for three front-end modules.

"Infineon clearly made their mark on this board with four key design wins," said Allan Yogasingam, a TechOnline technology analyst. "And TriQuint really came from left field with their win their modules. I didn't see a single press-release or speculative article hinting at a relationship between the two companies. In today's internet world, that's a tough thing to keep under wraps."

TriQuint provides three power-amplifier (PA) front-end modules, the first is the TQM676021, which is an integrated 3V linear UMTS Band 1 PA, duplexer and transmit filter module, with output power detector. It supports high-speed uplink packet access (HSUPA) operation with transmission data-rates up to 10Mbit/s. Next is the TQM666022, a similar device, but for Band 2 operation. Finally comes the TQM616035 W-CDMA/HSUPA PA-duplexer module for Band 5 and 6.

Moving up the signal chain, Infineon won big. It supplies the UMTS transceiver, suspected to be the PMB 6952, as well as the baseband processor, which is actually a two-chip module in a single package. The first chip is the X-Gold 208 (PMB 8877), which caters to GSM/GPRS/Edge waveforms. The second chip is marked the PMB 8802 and is suspected to be the W-CDMA/HSDPA accelerator for 3G. While there's still some debate as to whether this combo package with Apple markings may in fact be Infineon's XGold 608 (PMB 8878), which TechOnline product manager Greg Quirk Quirk and analyst Allan Yogasingam expected to see, that chip has as yet not become available to verify under Semiconductor Insights' microscope.

"In any case, that it's broken into two chips is surprising," said Carey, given that both Nokia and Qualcomm have integrated both functions it into a monolithic die. However, there may be more to the decision than design choice. "We suspect the second die has something to do with one of the InterDigital patents," said Yogasingam, referring to an Apple, InterDigital patent dispute last year.

The baseband's support memory comes courtesy of Numonyx, the Intel/STMicroelectronics spin-off. It includes 16Mbyte NOR flash and 8Mbyte pseudo-SRAM (PF38F3050M0Y0CE).

Rounding out the communications function is the Skyworks SKY77340 824- to 915MHz quad-band GSM/Edge amplifier module, the same part used in the original iPhone.

Power management in the iPhone 3G is split between two ICs: the communications portion of the device is handled by Infineon's SMARTi Power 3i, while system-level power control and management is handled by NXP (exact device to be determined, though Carey believes it's the #PCF50633, as per the original iPhone.)

The Linear Technology LTC4088-2 takes care of battery charging and general USB power control.

Built-in GPS
Aside from 3G capability, one of the big differentiators of the new iPhone device is its built-in GPS capability, which is provided by yet another Infineon chip, this time the PMB 2525 Hammerhead II. "In the old one [original iPhone], GPS was software enabled and was accurate to within blocks," said Quirk. "This time it's accurate to within meters."

The Hammerhead II integrates an assisted-GPS (A-GPS) baseband processor with a low-noise GPS RF front end and multi-path mitigation to avoid large errors in urban environments. While the die markings indicate it's actually a PMB 2520 Hammerhead I chip, Quirk pointed out that it's common practice take the same die, make some fairly simplistic connection or routing changes to alter or improve functionality, and then re-label it as a 'new' chip.

Memory support
For the main applications processor, Apple chose to stick with a tried-and-true Samsung ARM11-based design, with some tweaks, supported by 128Mbyte stacked, package-on package, DDR SDRAM, also from Samsung. Externally, the main memory comes in two versions for the iPhone: 8Gbyte and 16Gbyte NAND flash. In this case, it is 8Gbyte, but the source was surprising: Toshiba, in the form of a single-chip device segmented into four, 2Gbyte die (TH58NVG6D1D).

According to Quirk, the choice of Toshiba was unusual given that Apple had a "huge" deal to buy all Samsung memory. It also was reportedly discussing plans for volume purchase of NAND flash chips that will be used in all iPods and iPhones from June to December 2007 (Source: EE Times-Asia.)

"To see Toshiba makes me wonder if that deal is no longer in place," he said. Granted, those deals are aging, he acknowledged, "but now that the new iPhones have come out and seem to be using Toshiba, does this mean that Samsung is playing second string to Toshiba? It could mean some good stock boost for Toshiba!"

With regard to the current 16Gbyte maximum offered with the iPhone 3G, Quirk suspects that may not be enough, given that half a gigabyte can disappear for just one compressed movie. Add photos and MP3 files and Quirk sees that 16 Gbytes getting eaten up pretty fast.

The SST25VF080B 8Mbit serial flash chip from SST rounds out the iPhone 3G's memory support.

The tried-and-true philosophy symbolic of the new iPhone extends to the accelerometer, the LIS331 DL from ST, as well as the single-chip 88W8686 single-chip Wi-Fi offering from Marvell. The Marvell chip is accompanied on the back of the main board by a CSR BlueCore6-ROM Bluetooth chip, which surprised the analysts, all of whom were expecting to see the same BlueCore4 device used in the original iPhone.

Rounding out the main chips on the iPhone are the Wolfson WM6180C audio codec, which replaces the WM8758 used on the original iPhone, as well as the Broadcom BCM5974 touchscreen controller, National Semiconductor LM2512AA Mobile Pixel Link display interface and the Texas Instruments #CD3239 touchscreen line driver.

The new iPhone's touchscreen approach is the same as that of the iPod Touch, said Carey. The Gen1 iPhone had three chips for the touch screen solution: a Broadcom controller, a NXP 32bit uP, and a TI line driver. The Touch reduced this to just a revised Broadcom chip (which absorbed the microprocessor function) and the TI line driver. "The 3G uses the same Broadcom chip as the Touch, and an updated TI line driver (smaller chip)."

While Apple's rollout of the iPhone 3G may not have been met with the same frenzied reception as the original, its fan base remains strong, according to Yogasingam. "After spending the better part of the night with people waiting in line for an iPhone, I'm still amazed at how many people have embraced the Apple brand and are willing to do anything to be an early adopter of anything hip and new from Apple. Apple has this air with its fan base that it could do no wrong."

- Patrick Mannion