I estimate the result of analog integration in mobile devices amounts to a savings of about 700,000 miles of copper trace — enough copper to circumnavigate the Earth 28 times. This is one example of how analog integration is helping the environment and leads me to claim that “Analog integration is saving planet Earth.” Here's how I got to this conclusion, what inspired me to go there, and a few other important considerations.
At a recent Maxim offsite meeting, we participated in a team-building exercise that had a deep effect on everyone. Given 45 minutes, two-person teams had to assemble a prosthetic hand that would be donated to amputees in an impoverished country. This made me think about the big picture. Is there any way that analog integration can help society?
After the offsite meeting, I began thinking it would be useful to give an example quantifying the benefits of analog integration. So while waiting for a flight in SFO airport, I drew up the quick analysis shown in Figure 1 :
I looked specifically at smartphones, feature phones, readers, and tablets. I considered the cumulative forecast shipments over four years from 2013 to 2016, which totaled 9.2 billion units. Because mobile devices are projected to have such high annual unit volumes, I realized that reducing the number of discrete components, IC devices, and material yields a significant conservation of our natural resources, which directly helps our environment. Therefore, I conclude that “Analog integration is saving planet Earth.”
Back at the office, I looked more closely at the numbers and realized my first draft estimates were conservative based on a more realistic BOM like that shown in Figure 2 :
This information is also found on page 12 of this document. Here's a summary showing how analog integration is saving our natural resources:
- A two-IC solution versus a nine-IC solution (Figure 2 ) dramatically lowers the chip-to-chip interconnects, which eliminates about 700,000 miles of 1 oz. copper signal trace (8 mil width). This equates to about 158,000 pounds (79 tons) of Cu reduction and a cost savings of close to $585,000. Estimate based on delta 7 devices, 2.5 traces/device = 17.5 traces, 7mm length/trace.
- 9.2 billion mobile devices using a two-IC versus nine-IC solution, like that shown in Figure 2 , saves about 3.32 million pounds (1,661 tons) of material comprising lead frame, bond wires, mold compound, die-attach epoxy, and silicon.
- 221 billion resistors and capacitors (assume 0402 components), each weighing about 1.5 mg, translates to 731,000 pounds (365 tons) of material conservation. See delta-BOM in sketch.
As analog engineers driving high levels of analog integration, we should feel good about our contributions toward helping the environment and conserving our natural resources.