Military Aviation: Re-creating a Critical Semiconductor Device

The Customer Challenge

Safety First In Military Aviation Semiconductor Device Replacement

Aerospace and electronics manufacturers can’t afford lengthy disruptions in production.  Manufacturers have strict time frames for delivering products, and if they can’t meet those deadlines, their business is at risk.  So when critical parts become obsolete, manufacturers must quickly find a reliable replacement so that they can continue production. Product obsolescence is becoming more pervasive as technology continues advancing, and manufacturers need to ensure continued supply of critical parts reaching the end of their lifecycle.  An aerospace and electronics manufacturer faced possible disruption when it learned that a critical part was being obsoleted.  This part was an application-specific integrated circuit in a current loop scheme that decodes signals - critical for the safe operation of an aircraft.

This aircraft was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of the Defense Department’s four armed services. This aircraft is unique because of its speed and flight range for mission versatility, including multi-mission capability for assault, combat support, special ops, transport, search, rescue, medevac and other military operations supported.

The aerospace customer needed to secure enough components to outfit the aircraft.  There were 36 devices needed - two for each of 18 sensors.  The manufacturer’s options for finding a replacement were limited.  It could put production on hiatus while it tracked down the original intellectual property (IP) and tooling, a near-impossible task.  It could also shop around for a replacement part on the “grey market” – which is risky because these products are often overpriced and counterfeit, and usually aren’t certified or qualified by the original manufacturer. 

The manufacturer could have also re-designed the part.  But this was rejected immediately because it would have required a lengthy and costly development, testing and military-level re-certification. The military customer most likely would have resulted in choosing a different supplier for the product in order to meet the time frame for delivery. 

The only reasonable option was to re-create the part.

The Rochester Solution

The manufacturer turned to Rochester Electronics to re-create the device, confident that Rochester had the knowledge and expertise to re-engineer the original IP, tooling, and finished device, providing an exact replica of the original device.

The manufacturer supplied Rochester with a source control drawing, an internal document detailing graphs, electronic data and verbiage detailing what the device needs to do, and two coveted “golden samples” - two of the original components from the company’s own inventory.

Rochester’s Design & Technology group successfully re-created a device that met the exact performance characteristics of the original component. The first step was to “decap” one of the samples by removing the top of the integrated circuit to expose the die within the package. The D&T engineers took some images of the die, then removed each layer, taking digital photography of each layer. This data was then turned into a GDS2 file, from which Rochester’s engineers created new die and finished devices.

Rochester Electronics’ ability to re-engineer the part saved the aerospace and electronics manufacturer significant re-design costs, and likely saved this aircraft project.  It also allowed the manufacturer to avoid sourcing a potentially inferior and unreliable replacement part on the grey market.  It’s been well-documented that many counterfeit parts fail in the field, risking the safety of personnel. 

For industries with long life cycles, Rochester can re-create the original device, avoiding lengthy expensive system re-qualification, re-certification or re-design.  The end product is a form, fit, and functional replacement guaranteed to the original data sheet performance.  No software changes are required. Rochester provides the world’s largest continuing source of EOL and active semiconductors.

About Rochester Electronics

Rochester Electronics is the world’s largest continuing source of semiconductors – 100% Authorized and licensed by over 70 leading semiconductor manufacturers.  Rochester manufactures and distributes EOL and active products for the industrial, transportation, military, medical, energy, civil aviation, automotive, and telecommunication markets.  Rochester services Distributors, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), Contract Manufacturers (CM) and Original Component Manufacturers (OCM).  Rochester offers authorized semiconductor product replication/re-creation services – form, fit and functional drop in replacement with 100% software compatibility, no errata.  With the capability to manufacture over 70,000 device types and 15 billion units in stock, Rochester is the Semiconductor Lifecycle Solution™, no other company compares to the breadth of Rochester’s product selection, value-added services and manufacturing solutions.

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