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Per Westermark
02/22/11 04:57
Read: 1170 times

#181238 - Old fabs or old fab equipment
Responding to: Oliver Sedlacek's previous message
The big boys sometimes sells their old fabs. And sometimes just sells their fab equipment. But the end result is the same. For a quite low cost, a new company can start producing 8051 chips based on large-geometry technology. A fab originally intended to produce memories or PC-class processors in older geometries suddenly gets the capacity to produce huge numbers of tiny 8051 chips.

Oliver Sedlacek said:
The costs are eye watering, and they only get about 9 months to recoup them! A 0.13um second hand fab is comparatively cheap.

The costs are only eye watering for the current technologies. But the eye watering fabs did leave 0.13u a long time ago. They are using 45nm, 32nm and working with 28nm and smaller. But next question is how many 8051 chips that have reached 0.13u? Think about the costs for a 0.25u or 0.35u fab. 0.35u was "cool" 2003 but such a fab now is way cheaper even if started from scratch with brand-new equipment. It isn't research-level technology anymore. And old fab technology for making 8051 chips don't have any 9 month recovery time. They can use the same technology to bring out cheap chips for 5 or 10 years, which is why it is hard for NXP to keep their existing older fabs running with a reasonable profit margin.

Remember that 1990, 0.8u was quite ok. By todays standards, the larger geometries hardly requires any clean rooms ;) So for 8051 chips that doesn't need really high clock frequencies or really low operating voltages or power consumption, a company with a 0.35u or 0.50u fab can bring out cheap processors from a cheap museum-technology fab and kill most of the profit options for the companies with the 0.18u or 0.13u or 90nm fabs. Unless the guys with the 0.13u fabs makes sure they only produce chips where they take advantage of their ability to throw in 10k extra transistors without significantly changing the yield. Or where they can take advantage of smaller geometries consuming less power or operating at really high frequencies. In the end, low-end 8051 chips gets pushed out because third-world ancient-technology factories can make them cheaper. And with time, smaller and smaller companies will be able to go from 0.35 and 0.25u and instead use 0.18 and 0.13u, making the competition every worse.

There really are big reasons why more "system-on-a-chip" solutions gets introduced. Microcontrollers will not automatically gain large profits from smaller geometries, so companies must add extras to make their chips stand out. So in with mp3 decoding, USB and an LCD interface to allow MP3 players with a chip and a serial flash. Or continue with video decoding to get USB disks cabinets that plays songs and shows photos and video stored on the disk.

Our standard microcontrollers will get more and more mixed up, which will make it harder to create products that are produced for many years without serious component end-of-life problems. All because it is easy to produce chips, while copyrights and marketing policies makes it hard for smaller companies to pick up licenses to continue producing chips after the original manufacturer drops them from from the product line.

List of 65 messages in thread
NXP suggests 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 family for 8-bit replaceme        Jan Waclawek      02/21/11 04:03      
   Funny indeed!      Andy Neil      02/21/11 05:15      
      Rest of NXP's 8051 line to follow..?      Valentin Angelovski      02/21/11 05:37      
         comments      Erik Malund      02/22/11 08:23      
            I've been watching them for 20 years now ...      Richard Erlacher      02/22/11 08:40      
               So, what to do?      David Good      02/22/11 09:58      
                  Biting the ARM bullet      Andy Neil      02/22/11 10:27      
                  SST89E58      Jan Waclawek      02/22/11 11:15      
                  Well, if I had to do something ...      Richard Erlacher      02/22/11 21:32      
                     Linux?      Per Westermark      02/22/11 22:34      
                        Just a thought ...      Richard Erlacher      02/24/11 07:15      
                     Leaping to Linux would be ludicrous!      Andy Neil      02/23/11 00:17      
                        Unless...      Andy Neil      02/23/11 01:07      
                           The target wouldn't necessarily be the host      Richard Erlacher      02/24/11 07:26      
                              I don't ever build on target hardware unless target is a PC      Per Westermark      02/24/11 07:54      
                        Supplement - not replace      Andy Neil      02/23/11 01:21      
                           I can't disagree      Richard Erlacher      02/24/11 07:29      
                              Competition always needed      Per Westermark      02/24/11 08:05      
                              not everyone wants the 805x to survive      Andy Neil      02/24/11 08:29      
                                 newer '51 releases      Erik Malund      02/24/11 08:44      
                        It depends on your ultimate goal ...      Richard Erlacher      02/24/11 07:18      
                     Real cheap ARM eval boards      Oliver Sedlacek      02/23/11 02:19      
                        ADuC ARM      Jan Waclawek      02/23/11 02:23      
                           Nearly, ADuC702X      Oliver Sedlacek      02/23/11 04:11      
                        Yes! Lots of Real cheap ARM eval boards!!      Andy Neil      02/23/11 02:36      
                           Why go cheap ...      Christoph Franck      02/23/11 03:19      
                              Prototyping can interfere with extras        Per Westermark      02/23/11 03:30      
                                 "nfity" != "useful" or "helpful" (necessarily)      Andy Neil      02/23/11 03:59      
                                 That's often a problem with EvK's      Richard Erlacher      02/24/11 07:36      
                                    50/50 Agree/Disagree      Andy Neil      02/24/11 08:21      
                                       Perhaps you're right about the second point      Richard Erlacher      02/25/11 02:05      
      Cortex-M0s      Christoph Franck      02/21/11 06:00      
         "low end"      Andy Neil      02/21/11 06:18      
            How low is "low" ?      Andy Neil      02/21/11 06:22      
            money      Jan Waclawek      02/21/11 06:30      
               Depends on view      Per Westermark      02/21/11 07:07      
                  the small embedded view      Jan Waclawek      02/21/11 07:38      
                     yes      Per Westermark      02/21/11 08:22      
                        applications of low pin count      Jan Waclawek      02/21/11 08:35      
                           Either help with real-time or with wire count/length      Per Westermark      02/21/11 08:47      
               Money and technology      Oliver Sedlacek      02/22/11 01:23      
                  ARM core already tiny enough that you gain no more      Per Westermark      02/22/11 02:24      
                     Fab costs      Oliver Sedlacek      02/22/11 03:58      
                        Old fabs or old fab equipment      Per Westermark      02/22/11 04:57      
               Other Meanings      Andrew Ayre      02/24/11 03:14      
   Colonial English      Andy Neil      02/21/11 14:32      
      No new models      Per Westermark      02/21/11 15:07      
         End of the roadmap      Andy Neil      02/21/11 15:49      
   Anachronism      Andy Neil      02/21/11 15:50      
      Quite common to extend meaning of old terms      Per Westermark      02/21/11 16:35      
   a bit related      Erik Malund      02/24/11 09:23      
      Doesn't add any advantage so totally cornered      Per Westermark      02/24/11 09:34      
         16-bitters      Jan Waclawek      02/24/11 11:11      
            I think you missed the point      Per Westermark      02/24/11 12:28      
   NXP 8051s      Jim Granville      03/08/11 20:33      
      you are a bit slow      Erik Malund      03/09/11 06:23      
         you are a bit slow      Andy Neil      03/09/11 09:14      
            lots of power needed to swing 5V devices      Per Westermark      03/09/11 11:06      
               not just the swing      Erik Malund      03/09/11 11:58      
                  The area myth gets busted      Jim Granville      03/09/11 13:28      
                     Long time since chips started to get different scaling      Per Westermark      03/09/11 13:48      
         Wide Vcc is growing trend      Jim Granville      03/09/11 12:10      
            no such ceiling, just no avoidance      Erik Malund      03/09/11 12:49      
      3V3 or 5V      Per Westermark      03/09/11 06:41      
         Oxide thickness      Jim Granville      03/09/11 13:39      

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