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HQ 962750

January 10, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962750 gah


TARIFF NO.: 8473.30.1000

Mr. Johnny Lee
BJ Customs Brokerage Co.
P.O. Box 91034
Los Angeles, CA. 90009-1034

RE: Central processing unit chip; HQ 963262.

Dear Mr. Lee:

This is in regards to a ruling request, dated March 18, 1999, that you submitted to the Customs National Commodity Specialists Division, New York, on behalf of Ocean Information Systems Inc., for the classification of a central processing unit (CPU) manufactured in Malaysia and imported from China. Your letter was referred to this office for reply. We regret the delay.


The merchandise at issue is an AMD 80386-40 CPU (model AM 386). The integrated circuit (IC) is housed in a plastic quad flat pack for surface mounting on a printed circuit board (PCB). It has been modified to simulate a pin grid array package (PGA). The CPU has 40 MHz speed and it is for use on the 80386 “motherboard.” There is a PQFP socket mounted on the PCA socket. It is advertised as a high performance, low power, 32-Bit embedded microprocessor, providing reliable long-term supply. A sample was submitted.

The CPU chip has been fitted into the center of a one and one-half inch square printed circuit board (PCB). The board contains the pins to simulate the PGA configuration. The PCB provides the electrical connection between the leads on the Tape Carrier Package (TCP) and the pins. Four capacitors are mounted on the bottom of the PCB. While they are not necessary for the functioning of the chip, the capacitors extend its life. The modifications adapt the package for a different type of mounting, and protect the chip from power surges.


Is the CPU chip more properly classified as a part of an automatic data processing machine (ADP) of heading 8473, HTSUS, or an electronic integrated circuit or microassembly of heading 8542, HTSUS?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs.

In HQ 963262, dated January 10, 2000, Customs considered the classification of similar merchandise, and in particular, the scope of heading 8542, HTSUS. Heading 8542 provides for electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

We believe that the AMD 80386-40 CPU is advanced to a state beyond what is contemplated by note 5(B) to chapter 85, heading 8542 and its EN. The CPU chip is a monolithic integrated circuit, defined in note 5(B)(a), mounted in a case with terminals or leads. At that point, it meets the terms of the heading 8542 EN (I)(1)(i) which states in part that:

Monolithic integrated circuits may be presented:

(i) mounted, i.e., with their terminals or leads, whether or not encased in ceramic, metal or plastics. The casings may be cylindrical, in the form of parallelepipeds, etc.

However, the CPU also is constructed so that it can be surface mounted through a pin grid array (PGA) package onto a standard “motherboard”. Specifically, it is fitted into the center of a one and one-half inch square printed circuit board. Four capacitors are mounted on the printed circuit board. Pins were attached to the board. Thus, the new package contains, in effect, a second layer of circuitry that is designed to allow it to be mounted on a “motherboard”, balance the power within the entire package, and protect it from power surges.

Note 5(B)(b) states that:

Hybrid integrated circuits in which passive elements (resistors, capacitors, interconnections, etc.), obtained by thin- or thick-film technology, and active elements (diodes, transistors, monolithic integrated circuits, etc.), obtained by semiconductor technology, are combined to all intents and purposes indivisibly, on a single insulating substrate (glass, ceramic, etc.). These circuits may also include discrete components.

The modifications do not meet the requirements of note 5(B)(b) to chapter 85 for the new package to be classified as a hybrid integrated circuit due to the fact that the microcircuit is not built up on an insulating substrate on which a thin or thick film circuit has been formed. See heading 8542 EN (I)(2) concerning hybrid integrated circuits. The modified CPU chip has multiple electrical functions, and is therefore outside the scope of the term microassemblies as it is defined in note 5(B)(c), and as it is further described in its EN (II). Finally, the EN to heading 8542 directs that the heading excludes:
assemblies formed by mounting one or more discrete components on a support formed, for example, by a printed circuit and assemblies formed by adding to an electronic microcircuit either one or more other microcircuits of the same or of different types or one or more other devices, such as diodes, transformers, resistors.

The basic CPU is combined with four capacitors on a second printed circuit board. Thus, the AMD 8036-40 CPU meets the above description, and is not classifiable within heading 8542.

Heading 8471, HTSUS, provides for automatic data processing machines, among other things. Note 5(A)(a) defines automatic data processing machines to mean, in pertinent part:

(a) Digital machines, capable of (1) storing the processing program or programs and at least the data immediately necessary for the execution of the program; (2) being freely programmed in accordance with the requirements of the user; (3) performing arithmetical computations specified by the user; and, (4) executing, without human intervention, a processing program which requires them to modify their execution, by logical decision during the processing run;

The AMD 8036-40 CPU chip does not contain the main storage (memory) or control elements necessary to meet the terms of chapter 84 note 5(A)(a) as an automatic data processing machine, classifiable in heading 8471. See the EN (A) to heading 8471, which describes the processing capabilities of a complete central processing unit.

Heading 8473, HTSUS, provides for parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8469 to 8472. The CPU chip was designed for incorporation on a “notebook motherboard”. Following note 2(b) to section XVI, the modified CPU chip is a part suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of heading 8471, and is classifiable with those machines. It therefore meets the terms for classification in heading 8473. We have classified devices similarly lacking the complete note 5(A)(a) capabilities as parts of ADP machines in heading 8473. See, e.g., HQ 953403 and 956993, both dated March 28, 1995. In agreement with the legal texts and this precedent, Customs believes the AMD 80386-40 CPU chip is classifiable as a part of an ADP machine.


AMD 8036-40 CPU, modified to simulate a Pin Grid Array (PGA) package, is classified in subheading 8473.30.1000, which provides for parts and accessories of the machines of heading 8471, not incorporating a cathode ray tube; printed circuit assemblies.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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