embedded software boot camp

Size matters

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 by Nigel Jones

Periodically I get printed propaganda from the semiconductor manufacturers touting their latest and greatest ICs. Evidently the marketing folks are convinced that size matters because the size of the IC is almost the first thing they tell you now. A recent example from Maxim has the headline: “Smallest, Most Efficient and Flexible Notebook Fuel-Gauging Solution“.

Well size does matter. However, it seems to me that the industry has gone too far. More and more devices are being offered only in chip scale packaging (CSP). As a result, it is all but impossible to hand build a prototype, let alone cobble together a breadboard. The result of this is that in many cases it simply doesn’t make economic sense to use the part simply because CSP requires the prototype board to be machine built at a cost of thousands of dollars.

I think the manufacturers are aware of this problem and are trying to address it by offering evaluation boards. While these are OK for the breadboarding phase, they don’t solve the prototyping problem. Furthermore even if the project can justify the cost of machine built prototypes, probing the part or (heaven forbid) making modifications to the board is virtually impossible. The bottom line IC manufacturers. Offer all your parts in a package that can be handled by people. Please.

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