Gray market parts are a problem for all folks playing with hardware bits. For Bunnie Huang (leader of the 2009 Geek Tour), it caused problems for Chumby and he does not take these problems lightly.
With a little nitric acid and a high power microscope Bunnie starts to piece together
why some microSD cards work and others mysteriously don’t. From those observation he then tries to connect the dots within the razor thin margins of the microSD industry:
“I?d like to point out to casual readers that the spot price of MicroSD
cards is nearly identical to the spot price of the very same NAND FLASH
chips used on the inside. In other words, the extra controller IC
inside the microSD card is sold to you ?for free?. The economics that
drive this are fascinating, but in a nutshell, my suspicion is that
incorporating the controller into the package and having it test,
manage and mark bad blocks more than offsets the cost of testing each
memory chip individually. A full bad block scan can take a long time on
a large FLASH IC, and chip testers cost millions of dollars. Therefore,
the amortized cost per chip for test alone can be comparable to the
cost of silicon itself.”
It’s as if McDonald’s created so many hamburgers that it would be cheaper for them to smother the burgers in ‘special sauce’ (added cost) than it would be to make sure (test) the hamburger tasted good. Oh wait..
We gotta get our hands on some nitric acid and a good microscope!
New VoiceBox Arduino shield
. Make your project talk like Stephen Hawking
We are very interested in e-ink
and low power displays. While E-Ink
doesn’t want to deal with us (we’ve tried!), Kent Displays seems to have a very similar, zero-power retention display. These are not cheap! But it’s really weird to see these displays display a full graphic screen, and then remove them from power. We’re working on action shots and example code but we couldn’t resist posting these! Offered in a very large 320x240 pixel
and 240x160 pixel
Pololu has released some really nice little motor controllers. The Maestro
is a simple to use 6-channel servo controller, and the Jrk 12v12
can handle up to 16V and 12A all over USB!
Be sure to checkout our new products list
for a easy way to see all the great widgets we’re getting posted.