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Keeping the Classic Mustang Running


Keeping the Classic Mustang Running

By Dale Lillard, President, Lansdale Semiconductor, Inc., Phoenix, AZ

Reprinted with permission from the November 2009 issue of US TECH

If you’ve never designed a nuclear power plant, you might not have given much thought to its electronic control system the nerve center of everything that goes on there. Just what kind of product technology should a nuclear power design engineer use to build that allimportant control system?

Bear in mind that this same control system will probably have a useful life expectancy of at least 50 years, be highly immune to noise and radiation, and preferably should be a technology that has proven itself capable of working in that environment.

The answer may come as a surprise: Motorola HTL (high threshold logic), a technology which was designed around 1965. This product family is not only still available at Lansdale but has seen a dramatic increase in sales in the last two years because of an apparent resurrection of an old design for new nuclear power plants now on the drawing boards. The choice to use HTL instead of 0.9V BiCmos logic for this application is obvious when you compare the products.  HTL is bipolar, therefore better capable of handling radiation than BiCmos. The HTL family, with its 15 volt logic, is highly immune to noise which is an issue for electronic equipment in nuclear power plants. The fact that the technology is close to 50 years old and still available from us while the latest technology has maybe a 5-year life expectancy, also might explain the decision to continue using HTL for another 50 years. We tell our customers we will make product forever.

Diminishing Sources

All Lansdale products are established diminishing-source technologies that have been discontinued by the original major manufacturers, but are still needed to support requirements for spares and the manufacture of mature designs. Based on their robust nature, shown in both their quality and their reliability, these products are also being used for new applications.

The MC3356, a wideband FSK receiver used in digital data communications is an example of how older technologies continue to support current markets such as the hospitality market.  This device is designed for CATV and FM communications equipment, serving as a key building block for media-centric applications. Customers are now designing this device and many others into new designs ranging from short range communication and networking to CCTV and television. The Lansdale product portfolio contains several of these general-purpose building-block devices that are becoming ubiquitous in markets such as science, networking, and industrial systems.

From the beginning, Lansdale Semiconductor, Inc. has specialized in aftermarket technology, manufacturing and supplying discontinued semiconductors and integrated circuits. The key is to develop and sustain strong relationships and partnerships with key suppliers such as Freescale (formerly Motorola Semiconductor) and Philips.

By allowing the original manufacturer to divest itself of a product it can no longer support, Lansdale gives users of that product the opportunity to keep their programs intact without costly redesign. This differentiates us from an excess inventory distributor; we have the ability to manufacture product for the length of the customer’s program and even longer if necessary.

Motorola is a customer that continues to use Lansdale as a source for extending the lifespan of products that have been discontinued. Many of the company’s applications are used in communications and networking programs that require support far beyond the technology life cycle of the original supplier. Lansdale has become a trusted partner by recognizing the need to keep important technologies viable. In turn, Motorola recognizes both our technical competence and our ability to handle their quality and longevity requirements and has made Lansdale the sole source provider for several of their applications.

Oldies But Goodies

Over the years, many product technologies have come and gone as customers demand more functions, better reliability, and lower cost. This evolution of technology has forced major suppliers to discontinue older technologies to make room for the new. Life cycles have grown shorter for these products as they become more complex. While this change is good for 99 percent of the users, there will always be a small percentage of the market that does not change because of the high cost to redesign and the risks of design failure with the new technology. The military market is a prime example of this. Over 80 percent of the weapons systems in use today were designed in the 70s and 80s when IC technology revolutionized system performance by shrinking size and increasing functionality. Those same designs are still advanced enough even today to keep number 1 in military weaponry. It is becoming harder to justify new products when the old designs work fine (F-22 versus F-15 or B-52 still in service after 50 years). In the end, life cycle management is as important as performance and cost in a system’s survival.

Lansdale recognized this concept in the late 70s when it purchased an old IC family from Raytheon Semiconductor called the DTL 100 series. When this product was discontinued by Raytheon, DoD came to the realization that the parts were still present in many weapons systems. The government dealt with the situation by making an end of life (EOL) buy with Lansdale, which caused us to realize that even the government did not have enough warehouse space to make EOL purchases for all of the products that would be discontinued in the future. This fact is especially true since accurate end of life forecasts are extremely difficult if not impossible because of the uncertainty of “usage”. It is like trying to buy all of the water pumps the world would ever need for all of the Mustang 5.0 engines. That is why there has been an automotive aftermarket supporting the automobile industry for 100 years, and why it is natural that companies like Lansdale created the semiconductor aftermarket to provide the same level of support for the semiconductor industry. We started the idea in 1980, and 30 years later our customers are still glad we did. 

Our success is based on our ability to manufacture all of the products listed in our catalog. We maintain an inventory of finished goods and can also assemble and test wafers to allow us to deliver freshly minted “old” product in 6 to 12 weeks the same part the OEM sold, using tooling from the original manufacturer. Our mission is to manufacture important and needed integrated circuits forever.  It seems impossible to some, but we have succeeded for 30 years. Clearly, it costs more to buy a part from us today than it did to buy it from the original manufacturer 30 years ago, but then it also costs more to buy a Ford Mustang today, especially one designed 30 years ago. Our commitment is to give the customer the option to continue using the part that works for them in their application. It has worked for automobiles for 100 years, and it works for semiconductors as well.

Contact: Lansdale Semiconductor, Inc.,

5245 South 39th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85040-0008

602-438-0123 fax: 602-438-0138

E-mail: chris@lansdale.com

Web: www.lansdale.com

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phone: (602) 438-0123
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