Librem 5 USA edition

What I understood is that 28nm HPC process belongs to TSMC and therefore i.MX 8M might be made in their WaferTech L.L.C., Fab 11, Camas, Washington, U.S.A.


For me at least, the security will only be proven once a number of people have watched the traffic in and out of the phone for a while, looking for unexpected data being sent to unanticipated destinations. However, if the PRC has included spyware components on the phone, I’ve already started to think about ways I’m going to troll them in an attempt to have to lowest social score of anyone on the planet.


:joy::joy::joy:that’s hilarious


If you are a high value target then this won’t be anywhere near good enough to “prove” anything. Look at actual publicly known cases of data exfiltration, remote command and control, and the like, and those are just the ones that we know about. Assume that the Chinese government employs thousands of smart people working on this day in day out. For most of us, if the device already contains spyware then we have already lost. Fortunately most of us are not high value targets anyway. :slight_smile:

Security is proved by verifying the hardware and the software. There are limits as to what can be achieved today, and some effort doesn’t survive a cost/benefit analysis.

LOL. New topic in Round Table? :slight_smile:


Are there any informations where the components of the not-USA phone are made/assembled?
I ask because of one aspect of the USA-option isn’t valued in the post and just slightly here in the comments. Its about the ability to choose where your money goes to (or ends up). To a suppressing regime/system that imprisons and fights its own ppl, or to a country where freedom (of people/speech/…) is of high value and protected by a alive concrete constitution. (btw.:I am not american myself nor do I live in USA, so don’t see this post any kind of patriotic)
So if production in the USA replaces production in China/Vietnam I would see it as a bigbig argument.
But if it replaces a production in Taiwan/India/… than there isn’t any advantage at all. As for me, I don’t trust US products more than any other products of real democratic countries. (but definitely less than products made in EU)
Additional wish: even if not so many parts of their products are made in China I would like to ask purism to put some effort into not producing their products in dictator-like countries. But in democratic, free countries. That way buying their product would also support real freedom (by not supporting oppression).


It may be helpful to quote the actual marketing info from Purism.

The Librem 5 USA is designed for individuals or organizations who:

  1. Have a hard requirement for where components are manufactured and sourced from
  2. Are concerned about hardware backdoors
  3. Need a secure supply chain
  4. Want to trial a USA made smartphone for larger organization adoption

where the first three items are particularly relevant and the second item may be of greatest interest to end consumers.

However that doesn’t stop you from buying for other reasons.

  • Where the money ends up, and
  • sending a message to a regime, and
  • labor standards

are all things that an individual buyer might consider.


Well… they have Ubports working on it already. That’s great. I didn’t jump on the Braveheart because it will be useless for me. There’s no much I can do to help other than ordering in advance and I don’t think they are looking for that kind of help. Anyway, I’ll keep an eye on them. Ubports has my respect and in the end I think I’ll be working on their side. I love that community.

I’ve seen videos of plasma mobile on a devkit, looking forward to trying to load it and help improve it in whatever way I can.

You’ve got some good points there.

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I don’t like assuming things I don’t know to justify what I disapprove. The truth is L5 project is in a bad shape, meanwhile the company is entertaining itself with other projects. Birch was shipped not being a functional device and what people are saying about it is that its going to take a long while for it to be a daily driver phone. BUT Purism is talking about a L5v2 and a USA version of L5. TO ME this is chaotic and I don’t like it. It seems to be the wrong attitude in this forum to point at what I don’t like about the way Purism is managing this project. Maybe I’m joining the wrong crowd. I’ll find out…

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Maybe it would better to write, then, “My opinion is” because unless you are working on the L5 project, you “don’t know”.


Then you know something you should share with everybody here. Birch has been a success and the internet is full of positive reviews, Kieran. Tell me…

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If you know the truth, cite it for us. With facts, not conjecture.

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“Lastly we are constantly making improvements to thermals and power consumption. With the current software image Birch devices will throttle and run through the battery quickly but we decided that we still wanted to get them into the hands of backers so that they can be part of the journey and experience the weekly progress our team ships to you. Over the coming weeks and months we will add software support for more hardware such as camera, video out etc.” By Todd.

And also: So it has shipped. Where are the reviews?
Read the complete thread including links.

That’s why I’ve said L5 project is in a bad shape. Purusm needs to focus on it. If you take your head out of the sand you’d be able to see it too.


I’m not sure if you actually don’t know what it is, or you just can’t quantify it with the available information. Trust of the supply chain is important to some and not others. Either way, the valuation is made individually by each consumer. The market is the aggregate of consumer valuations and purchase decisions.

It would be extremely unlikely if you had, as business schools, at least in the USA, teach Keynesian economic theory almost exclusively.

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Even if you don’t get the girl, tilting at windmills is not without merit!


Woah, that’s not an assumption the company has been on kickfurther 6 times

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I already posted where the major parts come from. You can figure out the rest by looking at the list of parts and this thread and looking at the list of silicon fabs in the world.

One difficulty is that a lot of companies like STmicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and NXP both have their own fabs and outsource their chips to foundries (TSMC in Taiwan, GlobalFoundries in New York, Signapore and Germany, Samsung in S. Korea, UMC in Taiwan, SMIC in China, etc.). Sometimes you can figure out where the chip is made by looking at the node size and type. China has pressured/induced many companies like TSMC, UMC, SK Hynix and Samsung to build at least one silicon fab in China, because they export huge amounts of their chips to China for PCB assembly, so there is a small chance that the chips were made there.

Glancing through the list, I didn’t spot any chips that are obviously made in China and most chips are made in countries with high standards of living.

One misconception is that Taiwan is the same as China. I’ve been twice to Taiwan and it is a democratic country. It has decent labor standards and a very high percentage of the population is in the middle class. Singapore has a lot of silicon fabs, and it has a high standard of living, but it isn’t democratic. India is democratic, but has poor labor standards and pays low wages.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the US and South Korea, which are democracies, actually rank very low in the world in terms of workers rights. Here is how the International Trade Union Confederation ranks workers rights, on a scale of 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:

  • Netherlands: 1,
  • France: 1,
  • Germany 1,
  • Taiwan 3,
  • Singapore 3,
  • Mexico 4,
  • USA: 4,
  • India: 5,
  • China: 5,
  • South Korea: 5

I can’t comment about South Korea, but I can see why the ITUC gives the USA such a low rating:

  • There are no laws guaranteeing paid sick and maternity leave,
  • US workers don’t get much vacation time, which usually starts at 2 weeks per year,
  • Only 10.5% of American workers have a labor union to represent them and the tech industry engages in anti-union activity, so there are no unions for tech workers,
  • Many workers are part-time and have no health insurance, and workers lose their health care insurance if they lose their job.

Workers may have political freedom in countries like S. Korea and the USA, but that doesn’t always translate to tangible workers rights.

People working in fabs and electronics assembly have to work around a lot of dangerous chemicals and assembly work causes a lot of repetitive motion injuries. I get the impression that the environmental and health safety standards for workers are the best in Europe and Japan, then a step lower in S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the US, and then even worse in China, India and Vietnam (countries where there is a lot of assembly work).


I care far more about global workers rights and environmental protection than patriotism. However, if you want a phone that is 100% made in the US, you will have to make major trade-offs and it probably won’t be possible.

Purism has to work with the companies that it can find that have components that run on free software and it is much harder than you think. Let’s take just one example. Redpine Signals is headquartered in San Jose, California, but most of its employees are in India, so the M.2 card with the RS9116 will be assembled in India. Maybe if Purism sold 300k phones per year, it could convince Redpine to set up an assembly plant in the US. A more realistic option is for Purism to just buy the RS9116 chip and design its own M.2 card to hold it. Then, it has to find a subcontractor to assemble the M.2 card in the US, like it is having to do with the Gemalto PLS8 modem. However, most of the silicon foundry work (meaning fabbing chips for other companies) happens outside the US in Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore and China. GlobalFoundries is the only major foundry company based in the US, but it does half of its foundry work outside the US. TSMC and Samsung both have one fab in the US, but the vast majority of their fab are outside the US and their fabs in the US are not leading-edge facilities. Not only would Purism have to convince Redpine to change its foundry from TSMC to GlobalFoundries, but it would have to insist that the RS9116 only be fabbed in a US facility.

If we cross Redpine off the list, then the only way to get Wi-Fi 802.11n without binary blobs is to use an old Atheros chip that that has crappy reception (see all the complaints about the Wi-Fi for the Librem 13/15) and sucks a lot of power, so you get horrible battery life. I suspect the Atheros chip is also manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan. Maybe you can find an 802.11n chip that uses proprietary firmware but a free driver that was fabbed by GlobalFoundries in the US. Are you willing to live with that tradeoff? If not, you will have to use some ancient 802.11g chip, and you still might not be able to find one that was fabbed in the US.

OK, let’s look at the SoC. NXP is a company based in the Netherlands (which bought Freescale in 2015, which was spun off from Motorola in 2004). The i.MX 8M Quad processor in the Librem 5 was probably designed by engineers in Austin, Texas (it is hard to know, but that is where Freescale designed the older i.MX processors), It is fabbed by TSMC, a Taiwanese company. Maybe it was fabbed in Washington state (as @Quarnero thinks), but it also might be fabbed in Taiwan, Singapore or China. Over 50% of TSMC’s production is 28nm, so you have ask TSMC where it makes the chip.

If you don’t want to use the i.MX 8M Quad, then the only other decent options (if you care about software freedom and don’t want an included Wi-Fi/BT or cellular modem) are the RK3288 or RK3399 from the Chinese company Rockchip. GlobalFoundries is the principal foundry for Rockchip, so there is a 50% chance the chip will be made in the US, but you have to ask GlobalFoundries exactly where it makes the chip.

Now, do that same thing with the hundreds of components in the phone. Do you see how difficult this would be?
Maybe if you make 10 million phones per year, you can convince chip companies to switch their foundries to ones that will fab their chips in the US, but you certainly can’t make these kinds of demands when you have a company that makes 10k of phones per year.

Maybe if you didn’t care about free software or hardware kill switches (which require separated components), you could manage to build a phone with components only made in America, but the requirements of the Librem 5 make it impossible.


I agree with this post. And there was a proposal in the forum once to corporate with a project like the fairphone.

However if I look at the following:

  • regular Phone with Android and not highest specs amount 200 - 400 €.
  • high end phone with latest spec add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone with hardware kill switches, privacy main factor, running linux instead of android add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone which is produced fair, some kind of modularity but still running android (holidays, social security, no conflict materials, fair paid workers, …) like fairphone or shiftphone add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone produced ± complete in the US add at least 1000 €

amounts in € but will be ± in $ aswell I guess

if you combine all this you will:

  • probably not get any phone in the first place as you don’t have a focus
  • if you get a phone have to pay too much - remember that even with the focus they had the amount of buyers is rather low

I think we have to get to this final goal in steps.

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