Cloning an A/D converter that hit end-of-life presents engineering challenges

(Editor's note : Developing a “second-source” or “alternate source” IC (one which is form, fit, and functionally equivalent, to the extent possible) may seem like a quick-and-dirty way to break into market, perhaps grab some market share, and make some easy money, while providing some competition to the primary source and thus potentially lower prices to the component user.

Perhaps that’s sometimes the case, but often it is not so easy to develop that alternate. Also, sometimes the alternate source is a replacement for a part that is no longer available or supported, so it actually is vitally needed by the market.)

Data-converter products are widely available from multiple sources. However, there are very few pin-to-pin replacements or directly compatible products within the industry. Analog-to-digital converters of a particular resolution and speed offered by several suppliers may be very different in package size or type, pin-out, functionality, and performance.

Some converters may require multiple supply voltages, while others may require only one. Some may need multiple ground pins, while others may use separate analog and digital ground returns. The digital timing and analog front end are typically different between manufacturers. This dissimilarity came to light when a prominent military-equipment supplier was hit with an end-of-life situation for one of the A/D converters that was used in their equipment.

The supplier of radar systems was in urgent need of a drop-in, replacement A/D converter. They approached Datel seeking a “cloned” A/D converter for the obsolete model in the original design. Our engineering team accepted the opportunity but the challenges were more than anticipated. Certainly, the first task was to fit the replica in the same-size package and map the circuit to the same pin-outs.

Cloning an A/D converter that hit end-of-life presents engineering challenges “, which originally appeared at EETimes-Europe , looks at both the obvious and subtle design challenges of providing the replacement A/D converter; to see it, click here.

About the author

Tony Khazen is with the DATEL, a Business Unit of Murata Power Solutions.  Khazen has been with the company for 23 years, and started as a Design Engineer at DATEL in 1988. In 1992, he was appointed as Datel's Data Acquisition Engineering Manager. 

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