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  • EEVblog #123 – Top 5 Tips for Semiconductor Manufacturers

    Posted on October 29th, 2010 EEVblog 24 comments

    Yes, the drive time rant is back. Dave gives some choice advice to the semiconductor manufacturers.

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    • http://wavenumber.net Eli Hughes

      Triple kudos on the package tip! The Xilinx push towards chip scale is ridiculous. It cost me several $k to get a simple prototype pushed out….

    • http://truthspew.wordpress.com Tony P

      Are you sure you weren’t talking about Texas Instruments?

      E.g. It took a YEAR for me to get my eZ430-Chronos Development Tool.

      And you’re right – put the stuff out there through the mainstream jobbers like DigiKey and Mouser and even Sparkfun.com if you want it to appeal to EVERYONE. Don’t use half ass fulfillment houses.

    • Anthony C

      +1 to development tools. FPGA manufacturers are starting to see the light on this, I only wish microchip would get on board. I’d like to drop them on this project for an AVR – which has a great GCC toolchain but…

      …Atmel is boneheaded when it comes to DIP packaging. I have no idea why there is still no xmega/avr *with usb hardware* in a dip package. It’s what EVERYONE wants! So I’m sticking with microchip and their expensive optimizing C compilers.

      …sigh.

    • blackfin

      Good stock and sample availability is very important, don’t share your opion on the packages, I love the small packages.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        I love the small packages.

        So do I, but not having the small high density packages as the ONLY choice.
        Dave.

    • Jacek

      I wouldn’t insist so much on chips in DIP packages. They are expensive to manufacture, big (try to use a chip with more than 40-64 pins) and, in my opinion, useful mostly for quick prototyping on proto boards. For mounting on a PCB I strongly prefer reasonable SMD packages. It’s easier to fabricate a board at home (no need to to drill holes) and it’s faster to solder them. While the soldering time for DIP packages depends on the number of pins, for SMDs I find it almost constant.
      Just to avoid confusion: I’m not talking about professional or semi-professional setups. All of this is possible to achieve at home, with toner-transfer PCBs and a soldering iron or cheap hot air station.

    • John Dowdell

      Hurrah! as if from my thoughts to your voice.

      Yes! stock quantity=purchase confidence.

      Yes! Make the chip in multiple packages, even BGA – for some projects real estate can be paramount. But i’ll admit i’m still searching for a decent affordable desktop oven for work.

      Yes! free/affordable IDE/compiler/debuggers. I guarantee the first vendor to adopt this approach wins.

      Yes! to free, available stacks/libraries. And has to be readable by everyone outside of the vendor’s dev labs. Also i want to change the stack/library code then sell it in a final hardware product without having to disclose what third part codes and stacks i used.

      I would add one more point that goes the question of stock- Don’t spruke it if you ain’t got none. The marketers would probably faint at the very idea though. Freescale have been going on about the Kinetis ARM chips for a while now. They must be stocking them in the same wharehouse as hens teeth and rocking horse #@&!.

      JD

    • http://www.eevblog.com/ Jan

      Hi Dave,

      I fully agree to your terms about the package sizes!!!
      I WANT a Spartan 3 in a PLCC 84 package !!!

      The traffic sign in the background at the beginning of your blog is that 50 miles per hour or 50 kilometers per hour? I am asking, because you mostly mentioned the metric system (made for people with TEN fingers :-)
      Regards from Germany (near L

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        50km/h, it’s pretty much the standard in “built up” suburban areas.

    • http://electronicsdesigner.blogspot.com/ Mike

      Too right, there are way too many chips only supplied in leadless packages because they are aimed at HUGE corporations with massive development and production resources. The market really needs an FPGA with decent speed and a good gate count but in QFP or similar packaging that doesn’t require specialist gear and a minimum 6 layer board.

      Poor supply is becoming a real issue now, I start to wonder if even well stocked components are going to run out after a few months. Maybe it is a ploy to get you to build a huge quantity of stuff now rather than batches over a period of time.

    • xvd

      Yes, availability is the key. Who would use a part they can’t get their hands on? Maxim is a prime example from my point of view. I used to get their journal with descriptions of lots of cool devices, but they were usually nowhere to be found.
      And right now i’m having trouble with certain Atmel parts.

    • Simon

      This goes into the direction of open source:

      Avoid NDAs. I’m not gonna use a chip where I don’t readily find a complete datasheet on the net. I don’t want to sign NDAs to be able to figure out if the chip does what I want.

      I recently had to deal with Atmel QTouch chips. And it was impossible to find the datasheet online or get any example application by some random enthusiast. And you’re supposed to implement a Linux device driver and want to use the for-GPL-drivers-only parts of the Linux kernel. How is this supposed to mix with NDAs?

      SRSLY. WTF?

      Bye,
      Simon

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Oh yeah, forgot that one, NDA’s are pure evil, STOP IT!

    • Duck

      You forgot to mention tip #6. A micro should support a +5V Supply! I have been surprised how few of the newer product offerings don’t support a +5V supply! This may not be a big deal for just a microprocessor with straight digital interfaces but for a microcontroller with A/D it sure is nice having the dynamic range this affords.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Yeah, it would be nice. A consequence of the shrinking geometries though.

    • Richard

      As usual, your rant hit a nail on the head – I’m referring to your packaging argument.

      It would be interesting to know from the manufactureres how many DIP packages are sold vs. chip scale or TSSOP? If the answer is “hardly any vs. teeny packages” then maybe there is another perspective: discontinue the DIP entirely!

      In return, the manufacturers will provide the part attached to a DIP carrier PCB for no additional cost over single quanties of the chip scale packages. This prototype option would only be available in small quantities, although for popular items, second sources (sparkfun, etc.) could get in on the act and make them more available. The manufacturer would also make the prototype item available through their sample program.

      Another benefit is that the PCB could either come with or have open pads for the necessary decoupling capacitors.

      Perhaps the manufacturers could (god forbid) get together and decide on a sort of standard for the carrier boards – only the part and decoupling on the top surface. Pads could be provided for ancillary parts on the bottom (smt crystal for example). Soldering 0805 sized parts is not particularly difficult, so completing the board would be very “do-able”.

      I’m not suggesting an Arduino-like solution, just the bare basics for the part itself – no hint of the application.

    • Neil

      I agree about the packages, but there is a good reason for the BGAs and the like. Good EMC performance requires small loops, good chip grounding and the like. Leaded packages don’t offer as good a performace as smaller BGAs – not to mention it makes your board size bigger using leaded chips.

      Therefore it is simple economics – the manufacturers will make what will sell in the largest quantities. Generally BGAs or very fine pitch leaded. Most produce the lowest end versions in something that can be soldered by a small company making their own prototypes.

      Neil

    • Kalle H

      I don’t really agree on the package thing, even as a hobbyist who makes (and solders) his own boards I find pretty much anything else than BGAs possible (and fairly easy) to solder and manufacture boards for (and I don’t own ANY special tools really, I even expose my boards with a 10$ ikea table lamp). QFNs and such need a hot air station but thats just like 100-200$. BGAs (and some specialty packages) are pretty much the only thing thats “unusable” for hobbyists and low volume manufacturing imo.

    • stoianchoo

      Wow, I am a 100% with you on the software and packages – the need for arduino type easy software dev platforms and a some sort of dip is a major factor for a hobbyist. The opensource Eclipse platform is another great thing for deveoping (any) sofware but even the avr plugin seems stopped developement for some years – WHY. These companies pour millions of dollars for marketing but the opensource needs very little money because the community will help!

    • anoncoward

      I strongly disagree on the packages. As a hobbyist, hand solderability is important.

      My opinion on packaging:
      passives: 0402 wherever practical
      3<x<8 pin: SOT323-like package
      8<x<12: SOP, DFN if required
      12<x<24: TSSOP
      24<x<144: TQFP or QFN
      144<x200: BGA is generally the only option here.

      Sure, something weird like PQFP-208 can be found and is quite handy for a 1-off, but I would prefer denser packages for any products.

      Then again, I use 0402 for all passives even for prototypes that I solder by hand, and I’m considering switching to 0201.

      • anoncoward

        Eugh, I submitted my post incomplete. Fixed version:

        As a hobbyhist, hand solderability is important, but packages like DIP are excessively large and rather unwieldy to use with anything dense, so it ends up being more convenient to use

        My opinion on packaging:
        passives: 0402 wherever practical
        3<x<8 pin: SOT323-like package
        8<x<12: SOP, DFN if required
        12<x<24: TSSOP
        24<x<144: TQFP or QFN
        144<x200: BGA is generally the only option here.

        Sure, something weird like PQFP-208 can be found and is quite handy for a 1-off, but I would prefer denser packages for any products.

        Then again, I use 0402 for all passives even for prototypes that I solder by hand, and I’m considering switching to 0201.

    • anoncoward

      Eugh, I submitted my post incomplete. Fixed version:

      As a hobbyhist, hand solderability is important, but packages like DIP are excessively large and rather unwieldy to use with anything dense, so it ends up being more convenient to use

      My opinion on packaging:
      passives: 0402 wherever practical
      3<x<8 pin: SOT323-like package
      8<x<12: SOP, DFN if required
      12<x<24: TSSOP
      24<x<144: TQFP or QFN
      144<x200: BGA is generally the only option here.

      Sure, something weird like PQFP-208 can be found and is quite handy for a 1-off, but I would prefer denser packages for any products.

      Then again, I use 0402 for all passives even for prototypes that I solder by hand, and I’m considering switching to 0201.

    • anoncoward

      lame, something is wrong with posting. minor changes to previous posts don’t go through, and are replaced with the old version.

      anti-multipost feature bugged?

    • סולידטרסטפיי

      Appreciate it for helping out, wonderful information. “Whoever obeys the gods, to him they particularly listen.” by Homer.