Leaking Capacitors Muck up Motherboards

Finger-pointing and fury as manufacturers try to dodge blame

5 min read

It has all the elements of a good thriller: a stolen secret formula, bungled corporate espionage, untraceable goods, and lone wolves saving the little guy from the misdeeds of multinational corporations. In this case, a mistake in the stolen formulation of the electrolyte in a capacitor has wrecked hundreds of PCs and may wreck still more in what is an industrywide problem.

Aluminum electrolytic capacitors with a low equivalent series resistance (ESR) are high-capacitance components that generally serve to smooth out the power supply to chips. Throughout 2002, they have been breaking open and failing in certain desktop PCs. Motherboard and PC makers contacted by IEEE Spectrum have stopped using the faulty parts, but because the parts can fail over a period of several months, more such failures are expected.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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