Our recent poll on what to do when you redesign a board or product provided some interesting insights.
We had 57 responders by the end of its run. The poll was set up as a “pick up to three” poll, so let's take a look at the top three choices:
- Part no longer available — 40.35 percent, 23 votes
- Need lower power — 36.84 percent, 21 votes
- Need more functions per square millimeter — 31.58 percent, 18 votes
Choice No. 1 is perhaps an obvious and rather mundane one — you can't get the part, you have to make a change. Choices No. 2 and No. 3 speak to something more important, though. The need for lower power and more and more functionality in a smaller space are choices that imply more sophisticated design work.
The lower power need likely comes from more portable products being designed for battery operation. Longer run time is the mantra there. To a lesser extent, green energy initiatives for line-powered equipment is driving some of this redesign.
The “more functions per square millimeter” choice ties in to the portable equipment to some extent. Portable equipment has obvious size constraints (or else it would not be portable), so squeezing lots of functionality onto each chip is highly desirable. With careful design effort on the part of the IC designers, more functions per square millimeter and lower power can actually happen together (or perhaps synergistically).
Two of the other choices that were ranked towards the bottom were “Need lower cost-to-performance ratio” and “Unhappy with supplier.” Everyone (or at least 26.3 percent of our respondents) wants a lower cost-to-performance ratio — no one ever says to their supplier or distributor, “Gee, this is a swell part; I don't think you're charging me enough. Are you sure you don't want more money?” If they did say that, we can assume they are very happy with their supplier. As opposed to unhappy, which 22.8 percent of our respondents were.
This poll has helped clarify things that are important to our design engineering community, but maybe we can fine-tune this a bit. We've tinkered slightly with the choices and changed the poll into a “pick one” poll. Take a look and make a selection. We'll let this poll churn for a while; and then report the results in a couple of weeks.
Feel free to add comments after the poll or below about what is important to you regarding analog ICs and the redesign of boards.