Requirements for a Successful IC End-of-Life Planning

Previously, I advocated ditching obsolescence mitigation (OM) as outworn and flawed and laid out a fresh approach to the increasing gap between commercial semiconductor availability and long-term device requirements in aerospace and military system applications. (See: Military-Aviation Semiconductor Sourcing Remains Problematic and Get Strategic With Military/Aero IC Supply Challenges.)

This new approach is dubbed semiconductor lifecycle management (SLiM). It makes logistical and manufacturing support sense by addressing the problem in a new way. Taking the SLiM path also integrates business needs of commercial semiconductor suppliers and military/aero system contractors, making economic sense for both. This approach offers real monetary benefits. Here is a vision of the way forward.

At the core are long-term, profitable agreements between commercial IC manufacturers and military/aero supply-focused businesses. These set up profit-driven opportunities in advance of product end-of-life. They create wafer sources from several foundry partners that have been engaged early in the product’s life.

Additionally, integrated “back-end” services, essential to the manufacturing process, are planned for and financed by these agreements. These include assembly, testing, screening, and packaging. These are best combined into a single facility, not farmed out to myriad subcontractors that are likely to trigger potential security and inherently costly logistic problems.

The facilities should be certified and fully qualified by major certification agencies, such as the US Department of Defense and the European Space Agency to the most demanding quality standards. These include AS/EN9100 and QML Class Q and V standards.

Addressing the manufacturing process early on is critical to the successful long-term support of products based on semiconductor wafer banking. Wafer banking is one of the safest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways of extending semiconductor product life.

Agreements under the aegis of SLiM should be based on the following principles:

  • Delivering precisely what you promise year-after-year
  • Taking complete responsibility for products
  • Making customers completely satisfied with your quality and service
  • Avoiding last-time buy phenomena when commercial suppliers discontinue product lines, creating logistical expenses and aggravation for the military/aero contractor

The relationships with commercial semiconductor manufacturers are about being a partner they trust to provide the best support and the best quality of service to the markets being served. In such agreements for continuing product support, both parties must share interest in serving the after-market. Agreements must fulfill the conditions mentioned above, and these providers must be companies with the correct facilities, the right personnel talents, and good customer attitude.

A clear example of SLiM in action is an agreement that continues availability of high-reliability microprocessors based on a popular, but now discontinued, commercial microprocessor line. Based on wafer banking methodology, repackaged, selected versions of the still-popular product are tested and screened to an extended temperature range.

Most importantly, the agreements, put in place well in advance of end of life, continue product availability for on-going requirements in military and aerospace system applications. The component supply is effectively managed for as long as the mil/aero contractors require the components. This is the key value of SLiM.

— Joe Bronson is Director of Business Development at e2v Aerospace & Defense, Sunnyvale, Calif. He was previously president of {complink 4773|Sanmina-SCI Corp.}, a leading electronics contract manufacturer.

4 comments on “Requirements for a Successful IC End-of-Life Planning

  1. saranyatil
    January 7, 2011

    Thanks for the post Joseph

    definitely there should be a sequenced life cycle in the field of semiconductor for defence because the requirementa may shoot up suddenly its very uncertain. the dubbed concept of SLim is really good especially th e waffer manufacturing should improve and speed up their process.


  2. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 7, 2011

    The approach of wafer banking to ensure the supply of the outdated ICs is a good insurance  against the unavailability of old components. Here I would suggest another approach , that of portability. Most of the Semiconductor companies publish their product maps for the next 3 – 5 years and have planned phasing out of some component series while introducing  new generation components.  While designing the Electronics for military and aviation products if these product maps are taken into account and similar migration plans are made right at the time of initial design of the product then the problem of old parts becoming non-available can be solved by planned replacement of compatible newer components into the existing designs and thus keeping the product up-to-date.

  3. elctrnx_lyf
    January 10, 2011

    SLim is definitely an answer to the woes of many military and avionics OEM companies struggling to get the required supply of older components. But who is going to actively start doing this. Is it the OEM's that should be formed as an organization to encourage this practice or the component suppliers who will be also benefited by this Slim to have constant sales for years? This will also result in making the OEM's stick to the working designs for very long times with out regularly changing designs. In addition to this it is also important for the engineers to design products by getting in line with component supplier road maps to avoid the faster obsolescence.

  4. J-TX
    January 12, 2011

    Interesting, yet naive.  This approach would work for major components like the processors E2V provides, but the world of Mil / Aero Engineering is so comples and uses such a high mix of components, both Mil-Spec and COTS, that having this type of agreement in place for every component, even every manufacturer, is impossible.  And there are a number of manufacturers who wouldn't even hear of it.  They are driven by next gen technology and profit.  Then there are a lot of fabless companies that would go undeer if they had to manage a program like this long-term.  I think it is idealistic, but simplistic.

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