New Post: From Fab to Table: Librem 5 USA Supply Chain Security

Reopening this topic in the hopes that we can keep discussion on topic.

1 Like

So is CHEFS a bacronym, for real, or purely invented for the blog post? :slight_smile:

Purely invented for the blog post :slight_smile:

2 Likes

@Kyle_Rankin,
From the previous blog post on manufacturing the Librem 5 USA, I’m guessing that Purism is using bare PCBs fabricated by another company based in the U.S., and then doing the PCB assembly (i.e. populating the boards) in house at Purism’s Fulfillment Center in Carlsbad, California. Is that correct?

This part of the article suggests that the Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA are using different suppliers of components:

By starting with new, local suppliers, we had more direct control and knowledge of the quality of the ingredients.

Are you just talking about the PCBA, or are there different suppliers for components without model numbers like resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc. for the Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA?

(I’m assuming that components with listed model numbers like the ICs are the same between the Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA boards, since both models use the same schematics.)

1 Like

I don’t have all the details but yes we do the PCB assembly in house and we have different (US-based whenever possible) suppliers of components like resistors, caps, etc. compared to the Librem 5. One of the things that made it take longer than expected to bring Librem 5 USA to market was building those new supply chains.

To my understanding the components are generally the same part numbers even if they are from different suppliers, except in cases (like with the 4GB RAM module) we needed to make a compatible substitution because of availability.

2 Likes

Maybe it should be the time to change the description of the Librem 5 USA from: “The Librem 5 USA has the same features and look of the Librem 5 on the outside, but all the electronics will be made in our USA facility” to something more accurate and less missleading since it appear that the SoC, RAM, eMMC are not made in USA?

1 Like

If the SoC is made in china, that would be a bummer. Any clarification possible by Purism?

From what I read they come from Korea.

From the People Republic of Korea?

1 Like

The question about CPU, RAM and eMMC has come up a lot since our announcement so earlier in the week we added a section above the table of origin on the Librem 5 USA page to help clarify things. We label items like that “chips” and items like a completed PCBA “electronics” in case that helps clarify.

1 Like

I agree that having two (partly) different and independent supply chains does give you more reliability and fallback in case something goes wrong (today many talk about “resilience”, without remembering that it comes at a cost).
I also agree that having easier access in person (driving by land compared to using air/water transportation modes) does give you more and easier opportunities to discuss with suppliers in person and check things out on site, which is always a good thing with any supplier.

I do not agree that quality of parts/components/… gets necessarily better when taking them from a geographically near source. This is generally not the case with foodstuff, and even less so with non-perishable goods. I have seen non-perishable finished goods and parts of different kinds manufactured in different parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas, and my experience is that quality and provenience are not strongly correlated. The only correlation my experience tells me true is between cost and quality, but the two always decouple after a certain point.

TL;DR: :+1: for building a second supply chain; :yawning_face: for having it located in the US.

2 Likes

The i.MX 8M Quad is fabbed by Samsung in South Korea. TSMC in Taiwan used to make the i.MX 8M chips, but NXP switched to Samsung.

The DRAM listed on the schematic is from Micron, which does make a large proportion of its memory in the US. The DRAM model was changed in the Librem 5 USA, but I think it likely that the L5 USA is using a 4GB model from Micron, which is listed in the schematics as an alternative part (in a floating comment).
The eMMC was probably made in Japan. For more info, see: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Frequently-Asked-Questions#86-where-are-the-librem-5-and-librem-5-usa-assembled-and-where-are-their-components-made

If you want DRAM made in the US, the only option is Micron. Both Micron and Intel manufacture NAND Flash in the US, but Intel focuses on the SSD market for PCs, so Micron is the only option for phones. Kioxia in Japan makes the Flash for Western Digital.

As for logic chips, most companies are now outsourcing the fabbing of their chips to semiconductor foundries (TSMC, Samsung, GlobalFoundries, UMC, SMIC, Tower, Powerchip, Vanguard, Hua Hong Semi, BD HiTek, etc.). GlobalFoundries owns two fabs in the US and Tower Semiconductor owns two as well. I’d guesstimate those fabs represent 2% - 3% of the global foundry market share, so it would probably be impossible to make a phone using only chips fabbed in the US. I doubt that anyone makes a mobile ARM SoC inside the US. There are still some companies like TI, Infineon, Renesas, NXP and Qorvo that operate fabs in the US, but they are outdated and using older process nodes, so these companies outsource anything that needs a recent process node.

3 Likes

We have laws in America about truth in advertising that have legal ramifications. If you lie about where the product is made or its components…you get sued. You might call it the Assembled in the USA Librem 5…

This is a good start. Also, why not change the “All made in America” for “Mostly made in America”?. This Sentence makes no sense in regard of your newly added clarity.

2 Likes

My business partner used to work for Motarola, back in the late nineties/early 2000s. During that time he saw the ‘move operations to China’ phase. They used ISO 9000, among other systems, to codify and export all their processes, IP, etc.

The US was quite capable of producing semiconductors–just shortly ago! It was artificial economic forces which pushed it overseas.
Point is, it can surely come back. Unfortunately, it won’t be before a number of things collapse first that we’ll see it …

Nonetheless, there will certainly be stages in between now and then. Just look at the US auto industry; they have to figure something out fast! Dealers are having to stock up on used cars as a result of the chip shortage.
Hopefully, the dilemma will start a bigger movement to be self reliant again.

That said, I have to applaud the effort by Purism to build a US made phone–despite however much that ideal may fall short right now.
I’m just glad to see mentalities shifting here, because what we’re presently doing isn’t sustainable.

1 Like

If I tell you “I made a wooden chair in my basement,” you wouldn’t expect to find any trees down there. This is the same thing.

1 Like

Frankly, this cheerleading over a “USA-only supply chain” sounds like more of the attitude that the USA has to control the entire planet Earth.
About 50 years ago, President Nixon, at the time he opened relations with China, made a speech in which he said “Any country can be our friend.” Now, the attitude seems to be “Every country that doesn’t agree with us, about anything, is a potential enemy”. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: treat people like enemies and you force them to become enemies. I was excited about Purism when I heard about it. Now? As a non-American, I’ll look elsewhere.
Get a clue, people: peaceful coexistence means cooperating with others, not trying to destroy any other economy that looks like it might be successful. Trade. Sell them widgets, and buy their wodgets.

1 Like

It is not fair to blame Purism for being a US-based company. Especially with the wind changing every other US president.

Also us buying from Purism is way more impacting on opensourcesoftware than on the US economy.

1 Like

To balance out your point from another non-Amarican:

As a Canadian, I applaud not only the Purism made in America ™, I applaud American exceptionalism and American sovereignty.

While I support my Canadian brothers and sisters where I can, I ALWAYS look to purchase and support in any way that I can American exceptionalism and sovereignty.

We love America, we love American exceptionalism and we are willing to fight for American sovereignty.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.