Obsolete Chips – The Ultimate Guide

An obsolete chip is a type of integrated circuit (IC) or an ASIC that is no longer in production or is no longer is available in the market. This can include chips used in early computer systems, analog circuits, or older generations of digital circuits. Obsolete chips can also refer to those that have been replaced by newer and more advanced versions.



Obsolete chips can become difficult to find or acquire, as they are no longer manufactured or produced in large or small quantities. This can make it challenging to repair or replace older electronics that rely on these chips. In addition, obsolete chips can also pose a security risk if they are used in critical infrastructure systems, as these systems may not be able to be updated with the latest security patches and upgrades.


Despite the challenges posed by obsolete chips, some hobbyists and vintage electronics enthusiasts continue to collect and use these components. Obsolete chips can also have historical significance, and serve as reminders of the evolution of electronics and computing technology.


In summary, an obsolete chip is a type of computer chip or integrated circuit that is no longer in production and therefore no longer available. While obsolete chips can pose challenges, some devices can be re-engineered and reproduced by ASIC companies and thereby extending the life time of the ASIC. If you want to get a price offer for making a new chip, click here.


What is an Obsolete ASIC/Chip?


ASIC chips are a type of integrated circuit that can be found in everything from computers to cell phones, and they play an important role in many industries. But what exactly is an obsolete integrated circuit? And how can we avoid becoming part of the growing list of companies dealing with outdated technology? In this article, we will discuss these questions and more as we explore the world of ASIC chips. Read on to learn all about why these chips matter and what to look for when considering replacing them.



Planning, Maintaining, and Replacing an Obsolete Chip


If you have an obsolete ASIC chip, there are a few things you can do to plan for its obsolescence. First, you should consider the lifetime of the chip and when it will likely become obsolete. Next, you should think about what will replace the chip and how to transition to the new technology. Finally, you should develop a contingency plan in case obsolescence happens sooner than expected.

The Lifetime of the chip: When will it become obsolete?

The first thing to consider is the lifetime of your ASIC. When was it manufactured? How long is its projected lifespan? If your chip is nearing the end of its projected lifespan, it may be time to start planning for its obsolescence.


What will replace the chip? How to transition to new technology?

Once you know when your ASIC is likely to become obsolete, you need to start thinking about what will replace it. There are many options for replacement chips, but not all of them will be compatible with your existing system. You’ll need to do some research to find a replacement that will work with your system and then figure out how to transition to the new technology. This may require some changes to your system, so it’s important to start planning early.


Develop a contingency plan: What if obsolescence happens sooner than expected?

No matter how well you plan, there is always a chance that your ASIC could become obsolete sooner than expected. For example: production will be reduced at a later date and a last-time-buy (LTB) option will be presented if the standard IC’s sales volume or revenue falls below a specified level and continuing to provide the part is no longer cost-effective.


How to Deal with an Obsolete Chip?


If you have obsolete chips in a product or system that you are designing or maintaining, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Identify which chips are obsolete and determine their function and role in your product/system.
  2. Search for replacement chips that can perform the same function as the obsolete chips. This can be done by contacting the original chip manufacturer or authorized distributors, searching for compatible chips from other manufacturers, or looking for the available stock from third-party sources.
  3. If no suitable replacement chips can be found, consider redesigning the product/system to use modern components or a different approach altogether.
  4. Test and verify the compatibility and performance of the replacement chips or redesign them before implementing them in your product/system.
  5. Develop a plan to manage the supply of replacement chips or redesign components to avoid future obsolescence issues.

It is important to note that dealing with obsolete chips can be a complex and time-consuming process. Seeking advice from experts and experienced engineers can be helpful in creating a successful plan for dealing with obsolete components.


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What is a “Last Time Buy”?


A “last time buy” (LTB) is a procurement strategy used by companies to purchase a large number of electronic components or products before it is declared obsolete by the manufacturer or supplier. This is done to ensure that the company has an adequate supply of the component to continue production or maintain existing products for a certain period of time. When a product is designated as a “last time buy” (LTB), it means that the product is nearing the end of its life cycle and will no longer be manufactured. This designation is typically made when there are newer, more advanced versions of the product available. The decision to make a product obsolete is not always an easy one, as it can have a significant impact on customers and the overall business. There are many factors that must be considered before making the decision to end the production of a product, such as:


  • The current and future demand for the product
  • The availability of alternative products
  • The cost of continuing production
  • The impact on customers and the business


The last-time buy strategy is often used for components that have long lead times, are difficult to find, or have a high risk of obsolescence. While it can be an effective way to mitigate the risk of component obsolescence, it also comes with its own set of challenges, such as the upfront cost of purchasing a large number of components and the potential for excess inventory if the components are not used before becoming obsolete.


What is the “End of Life” for ASIC?


An obsolete ASIC chip is no longer being manufactured or supported by the company that designed it. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including changes in technology or market conditions. When an ASIC becomes obsolete, it can be difficult or impossible to find replacement parts or software updates. This can make it difficult to keep using the device, and eventually, it may need to be replaced entirely.


“End of life” (EOL) is a term used to describe the stage in a product’s life cycle when it is no longer being produced, sold, or supported by the manufacturer. The decision to declare a product EOL is typically made when the product is no longer economically viable or when its production is being replaced by newer models or technologies.


When a product reaches its EOL, the manufacturer will typically notify its customers and distributors of the product’s discontinuation. This can involve a “last time buy” offer for customers to purchase a final batch of the product or any components that may become scarce after EOL. After the EOL phase, the manufacturer may provide a limited period of time for supporting the product with maintenance and repair services, but eventually, these services will also end.


The EOL phase can have significant implications for customers who rely on the product for their operations, especially if there is no replacement or migration path available. In some cases, customers may need to find alternative products, redesign their systems or procure a stock of spare parts to ensure their continued operation.


What is a Life Cycle of a Chip?


As chips are designed, they go through a process called the product life cycle. This life cycle has four phases: design, manufacture, use, and end-of-life. At each phase, the chip is subjected to different tests and quality checks.

The first phase, design, is when the chip is created. The engineer designs the chip using software tools. Once the design is completed and verified, the production files are then sent to the foundry, which is the company that will make the silicon wafers. The foundry uses this files to create masks, which are used to etch the circuitry onto the silicon wafer. Once the wafers are complete, they are sent to the assembly plant.

The second phase, manufacture, is when the chips are assembled onto packages and tested. The assembly plant takes the silicon wafers and dice them into the packaging. They also add bonding wires, which connect the silicon wafer to the lead frame (the package). After this, the chips are tested for defects. If any defects are found, they are fixed and then retested until they pass muster. Once they’re determined to be functional, they’re ready for use.

The third phase, use, is when customers purchase chips and put them into their systems. Depending on what type of chip it is (e.g., microprocessor or memory), it will be used differently.


 In summary, the life cycle of a chip, or integrated circuit (IC), typically consists of below stages:


  1. Development and Design: This is the first stage of the chip’s life cycle, during which the chip is designed, tested, and optimized for a specific application.
  2. Manufacturing: Once the chip is designed and tested, it is produced in a manufacturing plant. This involves the creation of the semiconductor wafer, the application of circuit patterns on the wafer, and the testing of each chip.
  3. Testing: After the chips are manufactured, they undergo testing to ensure they meet the required specifications and quality standards.
  4. Introduction and Sales: The chips are then introduced to the market and sold to customers for use in their products.
  5. Growth: As the chip gains acceptance in the market and its applications expand, its sales and market share growth.
  6. Maturity: At this stage, the market for the chip stabilizes, and sales growth slows down. Competing products and technologies may start to emerge.
  7. End of Life: When the chip is no longer economically viable or is being replaced by newer technologies, the manufacturer may declare it “end of life” (EOL) and discontinue its production and support.


The length of each stage in the chip’s life cycle can vary, depending on various factors such as market demand, competition, technology advancements, and the product’s design and application.


Silicon Wafer Fab Process Lifetime


The lifetime of a silicon wafer fab can vary, depending on various factors such as the size and capacity of the facility, the level of investment in maintenance and upgrades, and changes in market demand and technology advancements.


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A modern silicon wafer fab can have a lifetime of around 20-30 years or even longer if it is well-maintained and updated with the latest equipment and processes. However, some older fabs may become obsolete due to the cost of upgrading or the availability of more advanced technology.


During a fab’s lifetime, it may undergo several upgrades and modifications to keep up with changing market demands and technological advancements. For example, older equipment may be replaced with more advanced tools to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and increase production capacity. The fab may also change its process flows and layout to optimize manufacturing operations.


Ultimately, the lifetime of a silicon wafer fab depends on many factors, including the rate of technological change, the level of investment in maintenance and upgrades, and the competitive landscape of the industry.


If you want to get a price offer for making a new chip, click here.