Author Topic: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon  (Read 1279 times)

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Offline shanekent

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Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« on: April 26, 2020, 12:27:17 am »
Hi All -

This is kind of an odd question/conversation and I'm curious as to whether or not anyone has had experience with something like this...

I'll try to keep this brief.   There is a very niche and specific chip that was offered a few years back in a 28-PDIP, 32-PLCC, and 32-TSOP packages while a few other chips in the same family were being offered in 32-PDIP, 32-PLCC, and 32-TSOP packages.   The manufacturer stopped making the 28-PDIP part that I am most interested, but continues to make the same part in its 32-PLCC and 32-TSOP as well as the other chips in the same family in all of its packages (basically just obsoleted the 28-PDIP package). I'm starting some conversions with the niche manufacturer to see if they'd be willing to do a large quantity run of the specific IC that I need in the 28-PDIP package that I need.  I am well aware that I will need to commit to a large quantity run if we do come to some agreement. 

My thoughts are that the silicon that they are casting into their 32-PLCC or 32-TSOP packages are likely the same since their electrical characteristics are the same (removing thermals from the equation).  So I'm assuming that they would able to install the same silicon into a 28-PDIP package after any upfront tooling costs are paid for, etc.   When this part was offered in a 28-PDIP package it had the same exact electrical specifications as the other packages and a near 1-to-1 pin numbering match to the 32-PLCC (the PLCC just had a few NC pins).

Have any of you had a similar experience to something like this?    Maybe folks who have experience in IC manufacturing can chime in about MOQs for runs like this, typical NRE costs, etc.

Kind of an interesting idea so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

-S
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Online coppice

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2020, 12:33:19 am »
Manufacturers are usually reluctant to introduce new packages for a single customer without a large up front payment. However, if they used to make the part in the package you want, so they have everything qualified, you might well be able to get them to bring it back. It will depend on who did the assembly and test for that package, and whether they are still in a position to do more. Remember, a lot of assembly and test places have dropped a lot of their DIP options.
 

Online wraper

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2020, 12:40:32 am »
Why not just place 32-TSOP onto adapter board?
 
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Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2020, 12:47:27 am »
That's an interesting point about the assembly and test places...  I hadn't thought about that portion.     Is it fair to assume that most manufacturers supply their die to a common assembly house to have them package it into the needed package?    Not something I had thought about as I figured the die creation and packaging happened in the same facility.

Surprisingly the 32-TSOP package is pretty hard to find as they appear to only do small runs.  Most of their common demand now exists for the 32-PLCC package so I've designed an adapter that converts that to the 28-PDIP footprint.   After adding it all up, the socket and the PLCC chip cost around $3 total at 10,000pcs.  I'd probably be willing to order close to 100,000pcs if the unit cost is less than $1.  I'm assuming NREs for an ask like this can easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars range.  Looking for some insight there as well.

-S
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Offline james_s

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2020, 12:53:08 am »
I know I've seen options to purchase bare dies, I assumed they were for use in ceramic hybrid circuits but there's no reason a 3rd party couldn't put them in a DIP package. One of those epoxy blob COB modules might be another feasible option.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2020, 01:00:23 am »
I know I've seen options to purchase bare dies, I assumed they were for use in ceramic hybrid circuits but there's no reason a 3rd party couldn't put them in a DIP package. One of those epoxy blob COB modules might be another feasible option.
Some things can be purchased as bare die. Some cannot. You usually need to buy a lot to get things as bare die, and you will be responsible for final test, after packaging. You'd may need to negotiate how that would be implemented.
 

Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2020, 01:02:40 am »
That's definitely another approach.  It would have to make a ton of financial sense for me to consider going in that direction because that sounds like a lot of risk with probably not a high throughput.

I'm curious as to what people think MOQs would be for something like this?  Has anyone made their own ICs as an individual or through their past experiences that has some idea there?

-S
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2020, 11:32:08 pm »
Chip_Quik is in the business of custom packaging.  They have a limited number of packages, but might be able to optain the packages you need.
Their main process is using acid to burn out the center of dummy IC packages, clean up the leadframe and then package your chip in the package.
Certainly worth the trouble of contacting them.  It would likely cost a few thousand $ to have these chips packaged, IF they can get the package you
need.  A few hundred parts is within reason for them.

Jon
 

Offline ANTALIFE

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2020, 11:40:48 pm »
OP not sure if you saw wraper's comment, why not just use an adapter board?


Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2020, 01:11:24 am »
Chip_Quik is in the business of custom packaging.

This is great to know, I'll reach out to them.   It would probably be most cost effective for the original manufacturer to do a rerun of the IC in the PDIP package as opposed to buying stock of the wrong package and then convert that to the new package.   Definitely something to look into, though...

OP not sure if you saw wraper's comment, why not just use an adapter board?

I've got an adapter similar to that designed up and it works, but it costs a couple of bucks at quantities lower than ~5000pcs. I spend a dollar or so for the fabrication and labor costs of the adapter board and then another dollar for the IC itself.     That's my main path forward at the moment, but it may be more cost effective to do the re-run of the PDIP package if the manufacturer is open to it.

Thanks for the additional ideas! Keep them coming :)

-S
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Offline james_s

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2020, 02:50:19 am »
Is this a product that you're still manufacturing rather than just servicing old ones? If so then maybe do a respin of the board to use the currently available ICs?
 
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Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2020, 03:00:52 am »
This is a product that is still being manufactured and the ICs plug into a module that is available to the end customer.  The end customer off-times will remove the IC from the module and plug in a new one that has been flashed with new and specific fuse settings to tweak the module's operation.   I can see a need for approximately 5000pcs or more needed a year for the next few years - that's on the low end of my estimations based on current needs.

-S
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Online magic

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2020, 08:08:19 am »
No experience here with packaging but some experience with tearing chips down ;)

Anything involving acid probably isn't going to be cost effective at industrial scale. I don't quite see the labor on that being cheaper than assembling an adapter PCB.
Analog IC performance may be sensitive to some details of the packaging process, particularly if it's plastic.
PLCC sockets are a thing so you could make a new board, but existing customers would be stuck with their old chips or forced to upgrade the board / get an adapter.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 08:12:09 am by magic »
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2020, 10:37:19 am »
Is it fair to assume that most manufacturers supply their die to a common assembly house to have them package it into the needed package?    Not something I had thought about as I figured the die creation and packaging happened in the same facility.
Depends on the specific part, and scale of the manufacturer. For example smaller "fabless" groups will have several different companies in their production chain and one of them will do package assembly, with tested silicon from a fab (or intermediate test house), and packaging supplied from yet another manufacturer.

The only person who can answer your questions on price/availability is a company with the rights to the chip you are talking about (the publicly visible brand on the chip may not be that company).
 

Online coppice

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 01:55:18 pm »
Is it fair to assume that most manufacturers supply their die to a common assembly house to have them package it into the needed package?    Not something I had thought about as I figured the die creation and packaging happened in the same facility.
Depends on the specific part, and scale of the manufacturer. For example smaller "fabless" groups will have several different companies in their production chain and one of them will do package assembly, with tested silicon from a fab (or intermediate test house), and packaging supplied from yet another manufacturer.

The only person who can answer your questions on price/availability is a company with the rights to the chip you are talking about (the publicly visible brand on the chip may not be that company).
Its not just fabless companies. Most people who do a large percentage of their wafer fabrication in house subcontract a large percentage of their assembly and test work these days.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2020, 11:07:47 pm »
Is it fair to assume that most manufacturers supply their die to a common assembly house to have them package it into the needed package?    Not something I had thought about as I figured the die creation and packaging happened in the same facility.
Depends on the specific part, and scale of the manufacturer. For example smaller "fabless" groups will have several different companies in their production chain and one of them will do package assembly, with tested silicon from a fab (or intermediate test house), and packaging supplied from yet another manufacturer.

The only person who can answer your questions on price/availability is a company with the rights to the chip you are talking about (the publicly visible brand on the chip may not be that company).
Its not just fabless companies. Most people who do a large percentage of their wafer fabrication in house subcontract a large percentage of their assembly and test work these days.
... for example. An example at the other end of the business size scale would be intel who were packaging their lower cost US fabbed processors in lower cost countries. But are there no fabless groups with in house packaging? No. Its pretty much impossible to say anything for certain about a part unless you are getting that info from the manufacturer.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2020, 01:33:23 am »
An example at the other end of the business size scale would be intel who were packaging their lower cost US fabbed processors in lower cost countries.
I don't think that is quite what you meant. All mainstream semiconductor packaging moved to lower cost countries in the 1960s, because it was labour intensive. It never moved back. Some of those cheap labour places, like Taiwan, are now high cost places, but the work stays there because of automation. The question is whether the packaging plant is owned by the semiconductor vendor, or is a subcontract specialist assembly and test house.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2020, 02:57:41 am »
Don't know how come you spend bucks on that adapter board.

The adapter can be had for pennies. A PCB of that size, 2L design, is no more than 1 cent in China.

The SMT cost would be comparable, then the metal pins, if you can provide a sample, it is easy to find a metal workshop to clone it and another plating factory to plate it, all for pennies.

I would be surprised to spend anywhere more than $0.5 on that package, and that's considering low quantity ($1k).
 

Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2020, 04:15:10 am »
I would be surprised to spend anywhere more than $0.5 on that package, and that's considering low quantity ($1k).

At 10,000pcs, my current breakdown for a basic 28-PDIP adapter is approximately $0.65USD for the bare board, assembly, and cost of pins. I'd be more than interested in chatting with you a bit more if you have any suggestions for cost reduction.

Approximately $0.072 is from the fabrication, $0.375 is from the assembly, and $0.20 is from the pins.     There's another $0.077 from taxes/fees and shipping. That doesn't include the additional 25% tariffs being collected at by US customs at the moment.

-S
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Online blueskull

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2020, 04:26:06 am »
Approximately $0.072 is from the fabrication, $0.375 is from the assembly, and $0.20 is from the pins.     There's another $0.077 from taxes/fees and shipping. That doesn't include the additional 25% tariffs being collected at by US customs at the moment.

So your biggest cost item is assembly. Here's how many assembly factories work, they charge SMT service by part count, and THT by pin count. You need to convince them that your THT, despite having many pins, is only made of two SIP parts that can be automatically soldered with flow soldering. At 1000pcs, they can set up a flow soldering rig for you.

For the pins, my recommendation is to find a metal punching workshop to get custom made pins instead of using COTS.

Alternatively, you can redesign your carrier board to use standard square pin socket, so you can use those dirt cheap 0.1" square pin headers, instead of proper thin DIP pin headers or expensive machined round pin headers.
 

Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2020, 04:57:53 am »
For the pins, my recommendation is to find a metal punching workshop to get custom made pins instead of using COTS.

You pretty much read my mind here.   I've found some houses in Shenzhen that are going to etch/stamp a length of 14-pins out of a nickel/copper/stainless steel (depending on what I tell them) and then plate those parts in tin.   Those pins will be dropped into the adapter board and then wave soldered.  Then the top runner piece of metal that is holding the pins needs to be cut off.   I'm wondering if the metal house might be able to make the point where the pins are attached to the runner a bit thinner than the rest of the metal such that a simple bending motion on the runner will be enough the break the pins off of the runner. Kind of like how a paperclip snaps off after a few bends....

Even then, the problem with this design is that the individual IC that the adapter is designed for costs approximately $1.25USD at high quantities which turns the finished assembly into $1.75 at high quantities assuming I can reduce the cost of the adapter board to $0.50/pc.     

This is kind of the reason that I was interested in exploring a repackaged silicon into the PDIP format that I need.   If the per unit cost of the PDIP ICs is less than the finished assembly at or around those same quantities, then I would prefer that.   It takes a lot of the logistics out of the situation as well as worrying about my customers mishandling the adapter and complaining.

-S
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Online coppice

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2020, 12:11:00 pm »
For the pins, my recommendation is to find a metal punching workshop to get custom made pins instead of using COTS.

You pretty much read my mind here.   I've found some houses in Shenzhen that are going to etch/stamp a length of 14-pins out of a nickel/copper/stainless steel (depending on what I tell them) and then plate those parts in tin.   Those pins will be dropped into the adapter board and then wave soldered.  Then the top runner piece of metal that is holding the pins needs to be cut off.   I'm wondering if the metal house might be able to make the point where the pins are attached to the runner a bit thinner than the rest of the metal such that a simple bending motion on the runner will be enough the break the pins off of the runner. Kind of like how a paperclip snaps off after a few bends....

Even then, the problem with this design is that the individual IC that the adapter is designed for costs approximately $1.25USD at high quantities which turns the finished assembly into $1.75 at high quantities assuming I can reduce the cost of the adapter board to $0.50/pc.     

This is kind of the reason that I was interested in exploring a repackaged silicon into the PDIP format that I need.   If the per unit cost of the PDIP ICs is less than the finished assembly at or around those same quantities, then I would prefer that.   It takes a lot of the logistics out of the situation as well as worrying about my customers mishandling the adapter and complaining.

-S
Most of the machines used to stuff through hole boards can form pins on the fly, from a reel of wire, and insert them. They can insert a square pin into a tight round hole, getting reasonable grip from the corners while allowing solder to flow. The was an economically import way to make low cost connectors in the 1970s and 1980s, when TVs, stereos, and other high volume low cost equipment was built from numerous boards with interconnecting leads. Those were mostly single sided boards, with pins making a very tight fit, but it works with PTH boards too.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2020, 06:00:27 pm »
Quote
This is a product that is still being manufactured and the ICs plug into a module that is available to the end customer.  The end customer off-times will remove the IC from the module and plug in a new one that has been flashed with new and specific fuse settings to tweak the module's operation.


Perhaps you are missing an opportunity. If customers often swap IC's, maybe there's a better way. Instead of making your product into a PDIP form factor to be compatible with thru hole dino-poop, you could make and sell an adaptor that they can plug in and leave in the DIP chip socket to bring this dinosaur into the 21st century. Maybe this way you can make the adaptor an upsell, and your firmware modules can now be made with edge contacts or square header which is cheaper and easier to source and assemble and way more robust than PDIP pins what are made to be inserted once. You retain the full margin on your firmware plug-ins, and you get customers to switch over to your paradigm for future modules.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 06:14:45 pm by KL27x »
 
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Offline Oldtestgear

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2020, 11:26:14 am »
I worked in the semiconductor industry with manufacturers & a specialist die distributor that also repackaged bare die. I quit to take early retirement in 2005, so my knowledge may be sadly out of date.

- It was very rare that the semiconductor manufacturer will sell die / wafers at a price similar to the finished part.
- Quantities could vary from a few thousand parts MOQ to many times this.
- Assembly used to be inexpensive if using an off shore sub contractor.
- Test was always a challenge for memory & micro products. Particularly if full parametric testing was needed. Most manufacturers would not share test tapes or procedures meaning that  testing was often left to the discretion of the company doing the job. Some testing was really comprehensive if done by a reputable test house. Sometimes a lot was ignored in the hope that the customer would not find out. We had a few instances where we had to step in & try to sort out a job that another company had screwed up.
- Die can be shrunk or changed quite regularly, especially if this improves the yield. What used to fit happily in a 28 pin DIP may not fit so well now if intended for a PLCC or similar.
- Each semiconductor vendor will have their own criteria for wafer or die sales. Direct sales will always have to be cost effective. Shipping wafers is not a simple task if the manufacturer does not do this on a regular basis.

I have negotiated contracts with Intel (they DID NOT sell wafers ordinarily), Cypress Semi., Zilog & many others where they did not offer the part required by my customer. Some of the discussions took a year or more to set up an agreement. All looked at the $ value as the first step. Insufficient $ value meant instant refusal. I enjoyed the challenge of dealing with these companies & some of the terms imposed were truly hilarious. One company in Silicon Valley refused to deal with us through their European Office. They genuinely demanded that we hand carry a bankers draft from the UK for $125000 & collect the wafers from their office. Great fun getting that sum through US Customs as we had to declare any monetary instrument of more than $10k.
 Happy days when the world was a simpler place to do business in.

Phil
 
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Offline shanekent

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Re: Working with a Manufacturer to Repackage Their Silicon
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2020, 04:44:37 am »
Thank you for that insight, Phil!

I ended up speaking with some of the executive management team at the manufacturer's USA branch this afternoon and I got some useful information.  They are willing to look into my request to have the obsoleted 28-PDIP package brought back to life, but the MOQ for such a design is 500,000 pieces.    Not much of a surprise, really.

It turns out that they'd be willing to make smaller runs, but the limiting factor is actually the lead frame manufacturer that they use.   The lead frame manufacturer won't even begin looking at projects like this until we're talking about that quantity of units.  Obviously I'd be able to find a lead frame manufacturer in China that would be willing to make smaller quantities, but it would be nearly impossible to convince this manufacturer to use a lead frame provider that is completely unknown in their eyes.

500,000 pieces might be possible for me to convince my client on, but I'd have to push hard.     Useful information regardless so I figured I'd share it!

-S
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