Growing through obsolescence
This is also what the company offers at component level, boasting the world’s largest wafer bank holding in excess of ten billion die in stock, 2” to 12” wafers, dating back to as early as 1968.
To support an increasing number of obsolete semiconductor components as they reach end-of-life (EOL) from an original manufacturer’s perspective, Rochester Electronics’ recent wafer bank expansion will now allow for upwards of 30 billion die total storage capacity, with box-level rental plans as well as customized secure storage room and box-level access control for its customers.
In order to bring back these wafers to life at any time, the company also offers extensive die processing services including wafer saw, pick and place, packaging, inspection or prototyping. And year-on-year, the fully-authorized manufacturer and distributor of semiconductors announces new partnerships, entitling the company to re-introduce many vintage ICs, either from legacy excess inventory or from original IP licensing.
It is in the military, the industrial or the medical markets that most of these components may become precious replacement parts, long life markets where the costs of re-design and certification may just outweigh the benefits of a more capable part.
“Sometimes, you are better off keeping the old parts in place just not to increase design costs by having to redesign your entire system”, explained Dan Deisz, Director of Design & Technology at Rochester Electronics. “Because everything cascades up, even for an equivalent part but at a different operational voltage, you may end up having to redesign your power supply. And often, a certification locks your design in hardware. So newer isn’t always better” Deisz concludes.
“We keep these obsolete components for as long as they are in stock, then we often have the original masks, or at least all the original IP, should we have to re-design them. So in effect we never retire any component from our catalogue” told us George Karalias, the company’s Director of Marketing & Communication.
As semiconductor nodes shrink too, fewer companies are able to afford new designs and fewer markets can justify the costs. Fab consolidation is bound to happen and some companies divest themselves of hardware to differentiate in software and services and leverage their IP.
When IBM sold its chip manufacturing capabilities to GlobalFoundries, it dumped about 50 to 60 product lines to Rochester Electronics, some of them still needed as maintenance or replacement parts in industrial systems.
“For many of our partners’ customers, we act as a safety cushion. Some customers will want the parts to be available for the next 25 years, way beyond the 2 to 7 years of market availability that some semiconductor manufacturers will offer or even beyond a company’s existence”.
While companies try to make the most of the newest design nodes, they seek high volume applications often tied to the volatile consumer market, and the obsolescence time frame shrinks. In essence, this is good business for Rochester, and the pace of things is accelerating.
At electronica, the company announced the Freescale 68020 processor and a full military version of the chip to be in production the first quarter of 2015. Plans are in the works for the rest of the 8-bit NMOS family of products featuring the 6821, 6840, and 6850 in addition to the 6809.
The company is also planning other Freescale microcontrollers, such as the 68HC05 and 68HC11, while Intel products such as the 80C186EA, EB, EC, XL, and the 80C188EA, EB, EC and XL are all into fabrication now.
Visit Rochester Electronics at www.rocelec.com