10 things to check when evaluating second source silicon/chips (in desperation)

Many OEMs are scrambling to find second sources (i.e. equivalent chips from other suppliers) to the chips in their BOM for which they have a shortage issue. This is causing companies to go to new suppliers they’ve never worked with, and who may not even have been around for very long.

Here are ten technical things to check when deciding whether to use a second source chip or not:

  1. Ask for a datasheet that indicates how each parameter in the electrical characteristics table is guaranteed. Each spec in a datasheet’s EC tables has min, typ and/or max. For parameters with min/max you want to check if every part is tested at ATE (automatic test equipment) to verify it meets the spec OR if the spec is guaranteed by a sample of units measured on the bench from a number of different lots when it was being characterized at the development stage OR if the limits are guaranteed by design/simulation. It’s important to understand this since you may be relying on a min/max for your system design that may not be ATE tested on every unit. For important aspects of the chips that are not listed as parameters, you need to understand how they are tested at ATE and how they were verified in simulation.

If you want to go deeper, you could start digging into what EDA tools are used (are they legit commercial tools?), dig through the supplier’s methodologies for verification (simulations) and validation (measured data), and even review tape out verification for the chip that interests you to ensure it has been thoroughly simulated. In reality, this is a lot of work and most suppliers will not provide this unless you are a special OEM to them. But it’s worth doing it if you can get it. My list only covers technical things, but you should of course perform other commercial checks as well.

In the end, field issues can be very costly and could lead to safety issues for your customers. So when evaluating a new chip supplier you need to make sure that you not only trust, but verify too.

CustomSilicon.com is the leading consulting firm in the custom silicon strategy and project management space for AR/VR, automotive, mobile, server, crypto, sensors, security, medical, space and more.

Raul has 20 years of combined experience in the system electronics and silicon industries. He is currently responsible for major system company’s custom silicon and sensor projects. Raul was the directly responsible silicon manager for 18 chips ramped to mass production at Apple for iPhone and iPad, and 23 total chips ramped to mass production counting projects where he was an expert reviewer. Raul was directly responsible for the development of mobile processor System PMICs for the iPad2, New iPad, iPad mini, iPad 4 and iPhone 5s. Other silicon included, backlight/display power for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, lightning connector silicon and video buffers. He managed supplier teams across the Globe.

Our network of experts provide our clients with an A+ silicon management team from day one.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Related articles:

Trust, but verify. How to catch peanut butter engineering before it spreads into your system — Part 1: Validation.

Trust, but verify. How to catch peanut butter engineering before it spreads into your system — Part 2: Verification.

Originally published at https://customsilicon.com.




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