ARM for server

By: RagingDragon (a.delete@this.b.c), September 23, 2009 11:13 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Ungo (a@b.c.d.e) on 9/22/09 wrote:
---------------------------
>Could they use magnesium instead of aluminum? Maybe, but aesthetics do matter,
>and aluminum offers some advantages there. Aluminum surface treatments (anodizing)
>are very attractive and can be made highly durable. Magnesium, on the other hand,
>tends to require paint to look attractive. Apple has had some bad experiences with
>the durability of paint-on-metal finishes in the past. The G4 "Titanium" models
>used painted titanium sheet for the skin, and users frequently complained that the
>paint was easily damaged (both by palmrest wear and scratches to the other surfaces).
>

Also, it's *alot* cheaper and easier to cast and machine large pieces of aluminum alloy than mangnesium alloys. While bulk pieces of magnesium (i.e. a hypothetical MacBook casing) are had to ignite, magnesium dust and small filings created during the machining process are *extremely* flammable. And magnesium fires are *extremely* nasty. These issues can be dealt with - but it will increase manufacturing expense, and then there's the risk of a large accident & scandal when entrusting moderately hazardous manfacturing to a Chinese factory (imagine the factory burning to the ground killing dozens of people).

Titanium and it's alloys have a relatively high melting point, which makes casting difficult and expensive. Additionally common titanium alloys are both strong and hard, this means they're hard to machine - compared to Aluminum machining Titanium takes longer, requires more expensive tools, and wears out those tools faster. Machining metal matrix composites (metals with ceramic particles embedded in them) would be even worse - the hard ceramic particles would quickly destroy cutting bits, probably requiring expensive plasma, laser or water jet cutting tools.

The laptops I've seen with magnesium alloy, titanium alloy or metal matrix composite frames all had cast frames with minimal machining (just the odd screw hole) and a non-structural platic casing. For a structure like the unibody MacBook case which requires complex casting and/or machining, reasonably light weight, and a somewhat reasonable price point, Aluminum alloy is probably the only acceptable material available.
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