BGA Chip Reballing Rework
One of the most complex issues we deal with at PCFIX is Ball Grid Array (BGA) chip failure. BGA chip failure is characterised by a lack of display when turning on your PC or laptop, as the VGA graphics chip in your machine is usually BGA-based. This a complex repair to undertake as the chip connectors are underneath rather than on the side, meaning they are impossible to repair with soldering irons or SMD rework stations.
At PXFIX we have a BGA rework station - something which around 99% of laptop repairers do not have. This unit can remove any BGA chip, let it be Southbridge / Northbridge controller and VGA Graphics Chips. This enables us to repair laptops that other repairers cannot salvage.
A WORD OF WARNING
A lot of laptop repair centres state they do BGA repairs, when the fact is they don't have the right equipment to carry out this work. The majority attempt to heat up the chip using a hot air gun. This is the worst thing to do as the chip can blow and also the air flow can blow other components off the motherboard.
Some repairers may claim to have an InfraRed Reflow station - even if that is the case you should be aware that there are currently over 30 'rip off' InfraRed Reflow stations on the market, which are all sub-standard. There is only one company in the world which provides patented InfraRed Technology for BGA reflow. We are pleased to have access to one of these genuine patented stations which are used by the likes of Dell, IBM, HP, Cisco, Siemens, Marconi, Nortel for in warranty repairs.
BGA Reballing and Replacement:
Another effective way of resolving GPU chip problems is to reball the chips themselves. This can be of benefit in the case of thermal cycling, which causes the following in lead-free solder over time:
- Weak bonds
- Solder voids
- Build-up of organic matter
- Cracking brittle joints
- "Black pad" caused by the formation of brittle intermetallic layers
- Pad Cratoring, It is the space left vacant when a BGA ball pad lifts off the board
These issues are all caused by the number of thermal cycles the solder spheres go through. With the lack of heat dispersion, the solder spheres fail more quickly.
The effects of thermal cycling on BGA packages have increased in recent years. New regulations state that all consumer electronic items must only use lead-free solder, which is much more brittle and affected by thermal cycling. Because of this, the best option is to replace the solder. We are able to reduce the damage each thermal cycle causes by using our heat sink modification to reduce the run heat of the GPU by 30%.
The majority of our No Fix No Fee and warranty return laptops are due to BGA IC related issues.
BGA ICs include graphics ICs, Northbridge, Southbridge, RAM ICs, CPUs, network controllers, Sound ICs, etc.
As BGA packages become more and more popular with manufacturers, we are seeing more of these issues arising.
Due to the size and thickness of the BGA ICs, not all BGA package ICs can be reballed. However, we use a reflow method as well as our own flux formulation to address these issues. This combination of reflow and reballing works 80% of the time without failure.
Unfortunately, in more complex cases, there are two layers of solder balls - the bottom layer can be seen and reballed, and the top layer is sealed under the top silicon device. There is no safe way to remove and reball these devices. In these cases your repair will be subject to our No Fix No Fee promise. However, these top solder balls are not as susceptible to the effects of thermal cycling, meaning that they only fail a very small percentage of the time. When this happens we will replace the BGA IC altogether.
Are replacement service for faulty BGA ICs is priced on an individual basis. Please note that the cost of a replacement BGA IC will be added to the Fixed Rate Motherboard Repair Fee. Typically £10-20, we will advise of the costing and lead time .
Our first priority will be to repair the laptop under the Fixed Rate Fee i.e reflow or reballing and only a fraction will need to be quoted for extra BGA IC costs. This is to keep cost for you to a minimum. Please note we shall also be advising and quoting customers to replace BGA ICs if we believe the BGA IC is faulty. This applies for new repairs and warranty repairs.