IC Lifecycle Management Steps

7 Steps to Take if your IC Part is Obsolete

  1. If the IC is still available, buy up safety stock as soon as possible! Save parts for the re-design process.
  2. Find out from the original manufacturer if there is a second source. You may be able to use other parts.
  3. If more parts are not available, you will need to know how exact the replacement needs to be:
    • Does it need to be pin compatible?
    • What functions of the original part are important?
    • What specifications of the original part need to be met?
    • Do you need identical behavior? Meeting the original specs may not guarantee identical behavior.
  4. Budget at least 9 months to get new parts designed, produced and tested.
  5. If it is a custom part, do you have the original specifications, schematics, gds, and process information?
  6. If the original manufacturer is out of business, the part may need to be reverse-engineered. If you need to match identical behavior, then: 
    • Packages will need to be decapped to look at the original chip. 
    • Very old chips have simple layouts that can be imaged and mapped with a combination of manual labor and imaging software.
    • Electrical probing will be needed to verify device function. 
    • Cross sections of the IC can be made to determine the process or critical device structures.
    • This can be a time consuming process.
  7. If you decide to have a custom IC designed, then:
    • The most compatible and cost-effective process will need to be chosen.
    • Schematics will need to be drawn, simulated and evaluated.
    • Critical circuits (especially with device matching) will need extra scrutiny.
    • Layout, DRC and LVS will need to be done.
    • Mask making and production will take 2 to 4 months.
    • Production test development should occur simultaneously. You will need some original IC parts for testing.
    • You will need to bench test the new parts and compare them to the old parts to verify proper function.